Dalhousie Castle and Spa, Scotland

Dalhousie Castle, Scotland, Edinburgh

Imagine a magnificent 13th century fortress where you can live in baronial splendour, set within acres of wooded parkland on the banks of a picturesque Scottish river. Dalhousie Castle, 20 minutes’ drive south of Edinburgh is Scotland’s oldest inhabited castle. These days, only the thick foundation walls and stone vaults are original but Dalhousie’s 700-year history is reflected in its sensitive restoration.

I am more than happy to add my name to its list of notable guests including Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and Edward I, who stayed before defeating Scottish legend William Wallace.

Dalhousie Castle, guest room, Edinburgh

There are 29 individually styled bedrooms within the castle walls, many bearing the names of historical figures including the aforementioned Queen, Oliver Cromwell and the lovelorn Lady Catherine, one of the castle’s resident ghosts. Happily, we’re not bunking down with her this evening, instead staying in a sumptuous four-poster themed room. Its exposed stonework, deep red walls and elaborately carved four-poster bed is so beautiful that on first sight we need to pick our jaws up off the antique rug.

We visit the castle’s falconry, home to a collection of much-loved birds of prey, before enjoying a close encounter with Bandit the boobook and Bob the barn owl. Then it is off to the library to sip on a pre-dinner whisky or two and nibble on cleverly crafted canapés in front of the fireplace.

Dalhousie Castle, Scotland, castle stay

Our sublime multi-course dinner of modern Scottish cuisine is served by candlelight in a barrel-vaulted stone dungeon. It is an incredible experience, using only the finest local ingredients. If this is Dalhousie’s take on prison food, they can lock me up and throw away the key. But only after I’ve been granted a last request of a few indulgent hours in the castle’s Aqueous Spa, with its hydro pool, mud baths, Turkish steam bath and a menu of relaxing and therapeutic treatments, because a girl needs to feel her best, even if it is for an extended stay in a medieval lock-up.


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