5 amazing reasons to stay in a castle

In case you need persuading we’ve listed our favourite five reasons why you might want to stay in a castle. Of course, we could have focused on the exclusivity of some castles, perfect for private family holiday rentals. Or we could have enticed you with talk of luxury bedrooms and spectacular window views. Instead, we’ve considered what might come to mind when conjuring up the image of a castle in your head. If you had never considered a stay in a castle, whether for a luxurious group holiday or special birthday celebration, it’s time to give in to your inner romantic and realise the wonder behind every castle wall.
Aldourie Castle Loch Ness bride internal spiral staircase stay in a castle

They’re in fairytales

Once upon a time people would get married in a church. Then came the shiny, swanky, spotless hotel and that became the ideal wedding venue. But nowadays, brides want it all – and that can often mean getting married in a fairytale castle…but, of course!

Not only can couples officially ‘get married’ but they can also stay in a castle overnight and so can their guests. Whether for your intimate nuptials or full blown celebrity wedding, insist on posing for photographs in the highest turret and use the spiral staircase as part of your walk down the aisle. Because surely, if they had gotten the chance, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty would have done the same thing.

Holiday and history in one

Traditionally, one of the main reasons a castle was built was to ensure protection from enemy armies. They had cold rooms, grey stone walls and floors, and tiny windows to lessen chances of danger getting in. Some castles, in Scotland most definitely, remain precisely this way to this day. These Scottish castles are fabulous for tourists wanting to get a feel for life in the olden days. However, they’re not so enticing for the luxuries one longs for when escaping for a week or two’s holiday. Now that the exclusive use property has taken off like a cannon ball, many castles have been restored and renovated with more opulence and comfort than they’ve ever had before.

old photo Aldourie Castle Estate exterior stay in a castle

Large families searching for that special reunion location can stay in a castle equipped with everything expected of a luxury holiday rental. These range from impressive technology to a five star hospitality service. The added benefit is the history that comes with a castle, from architecture to stories of the past within. A castle stay is ideal for a multi-generational holiday. For example, mum might enjoy the peace and quiet of the old library but granddad will have a whale of a time taking the kids around the nooks and crannies of the castle giving them history lessons mixed with old Scottish fables. See some photos of Aldourie Castle long ago on our History page.

They make a perfect ‘spooky’ Halloween retreat

From ghost stories round the fire, to Hide and Seek that could last a day, a castle is an Aladdin’s Cave of adventure for a Halloween stay. Not every castle is destined to be haunted, but because of its history it’ll most certainly have ‘atmosphere’. Whether a castle built for battle or an old mansion house converted into one like Aldourie, it will have an interesting past.

Aldourie Castle Estate Loch Ness Graveyard stay in a castle

Wouldn’t it be exciting to stay in a castle with a group of friends over Halloween? You could enjoy themed outdoor activities (arranged by the castle staff) and then make your own fun inside? You could indulge in a Halloween feast and decorate the halls with cobwebs, have a Fancy Dress evening and even carry out a Murder Mystery dinner. Thrilled by this idea? Read our Halloween House Party blog post for many more reasons to stay in a castle over Halloween. It includes lots of spooky ideas for Aldourie Castle – which has its own graveyard, you know?

You can make good use of the moat

Many castles designed for exclusive use or private hire, and notoriously Scottish castles, will feature their own moat. Quaint as this may seem, the moat surrounding the castle was, again, there to make it difficult to attack. If you are lucky enough to stay in a castle with a moat you can access, we suggest family fun activities such as zorbing, outdoor water sports like canoeing and, if the weather permits, wild swimming. Though we are not sure how wild swimming in a moat could be. In Aldourie’s case, the Castle has something better than a moat; it  has magnificent Loch Ness on its doorstep. Let us arrange a ride on the Nessie Hunter, private boat trips to Fort Augustus and water activities in front of the Castle. Water sports are a wonderful way to get everyone in a group stay involved in the holiday fun.

speedboat loch ness Aldourie Castle Estate stay in a castle

Castles unleash children’s imaginations

Nobody should really require an introduction to this point, but if in doubt; think Disney. Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Shrek each have castles at the core (and heart) of their stories. Imagine telling the kids you’re all going to a land Far Far Away to stay in an enchanted castle. (The journey to the Scottish Highlands where Aldourie Castle is located, for example, could definitely qualify depending on where you live). Now, surely that’s better than DisneyLand!

There will be boundless opportunities already on offer in many castle grounds. For instance: treehouse antics, woodland to explore, a game of Tag/Tig in the parkland, Billy Goat’s Gruff if there’s a bridge and stream. Kids can create their own fun on a rainy day playing Make Believe, having the authentic props to hand. Should a back-up be needed most exclusive use castles have a dedicated games rooms where you might find a billiards table, large screen TV and board games – but we’re moving onto Times of the Modern Castle now, and that’s another story.

Aldourie Castle Estate loch ness treehouse in woodland stay in a castle

For some of you, the thought may never have crossed your mind before reading the amazing reasons above. But, if you do decide to stay in a castle maybe consider this Castle on Loch Ness. The Aldourie experience would provide you with memories to last a lifetime. On top of that, it could end up being the staple family holiday for generations to come. Make your own history at Aldourie and enquire about exclusive use availability at: info@aldouriecastle.co.uk.


Small winter weddings in a castle

Bring the year to a fine end with an intimate and atmospheric Highland Castle wedding

Is it the warmth of a roaring fire cosying up the room as you enjoy traditional Scottish cuisine for your wedding breakfast or the crisp, cool wintry air outside allowing you to snuggle further into your white fur cape placed delicately over your shoulders, that makes you want to book your small winter wedding at an enchanting Castle in the ethereal Scottish Highlands? There are many reasons for you to want to have a winter wedding at a luxury hire property and we at Aldourie Castle are firm believers that small, intimate weddings with just a select few guests of family and close friends is perfectly placed in this fairytale Castle.

Margaret Soraya wedding photography - Weddings in a Castle

Arrive in style wrapped up warm in a fur or velvet wedding dress and cape

One of the many benefits to having a winter wedding is that your wedding dress can be as heavy with as many layers of material as you wish without the worry of over-heating during your Big Day. Why not theme your dress around your venue – Game of Thrones or fairytale themed small weddings would befit the Highland Castle on Loch Ness. Then add some luxury to your attire with beads, diamante, lace or fur; any of which would be in-keeping with the winter season.

Be brave and bold with colour

We’re guessing that if you are choosing to hire a luxury turreted Castle in wild open grounds for your small wedding then you probably like to do things a little differently. If you think there may be too much white around on your wedding day then opt for a rich, decadent shade of crimson or emerald green for your wedding dress to contrast well against cool wintry settings. Choosing a bolder colour adds to your confidence on the day and makes such a statement amongst the atmospheric light blues and greys of winter. The cool striking backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, either wild and blustery or still and snow-topped, make any winter wedding photograph a work of art. Imagine your bridal gown in the foreground adding so much interest and depth to the look and feel of your wedding day.

Margaret Soraya Photography shows the wintry magic of Loch Ness

Hot beverages create a party spirit!

Champagne is the traditional option for the wedding ‘toast’ and adds elegance to your wedding; something you wouldn’t want to be without in an enchanting castle on Loch Ness. But you could opt for an alternative for your guests to drink at your small wedding reception. Pimms is ideal in summer so why not try the perfect match for winter and allow your guests indulge in the spiciness and festiveness of a glass of mulled wine. Many a bridal party at Aldourie Castle favours this festive tipple at their small winter wedding not least because it eases winter chills, warming the hands and hearts of guests as they wander the snowy woods and parkland or take in the views over the Loch from the glistening shoreline.

Theme it ‘Winter’

So many luxury castles and houses were originally designed for huge parties but Aldourie Castle with its intimate relaxing rooms, cosy nooks and hallways and individual character bedrooms was made for small, private parties. Because we are relaxed and want you to feel at home here you really can let go when theming your intimate wedding. Although the magnificent baronial interior of the Staterooms speaks for itself there is opportunity for personal touches; take advantage of the historic feel of the Castle and invite your guests to attend a small royal party in Winterfell and indulge in a private Game of Thrones style wedding. This doesn’t have to be corny – you go for outlandish glamour or stick to an impressively stylish but subtle theme. Lastly, ensure your flowers choices are brimming with rich colour and the occasional sparkle of silver or gold.

Margaret Soraya wedding photography - Weddings in a Castle

And finally…Let it Snow!

How many of us worry about the weather, generally; not just leading up to a wedding day. Avoid the stresses associated with hoping and praying for ‘nice weather’. What many a photographer may never tell you is that a bright sunny day is not necessarily the ideal scenario for capturing the best images. By choosing to have a winter wedding, by default you’re more likely to expect it to be cold, possibly frosty, a chance of rain or even a blizzard. But once you have accepted that will more than likely be weather to expect during your intimate wedding celebrations you can start to get excited about the possibilities of extreme weather forecasts such as a gentle smattering of snow. What conjures up romance more than a gentle snowfall outside whilst you make your eternal vows in the cosiness of a castle? It will only add to the excitement of the day. And what’s more, it means you can relax your feet in wellies under your wedding dress for some of the photos – and nobody will be any the wiser!

For couples searching for the perfect winter wonderland venue, Aldourie Castle near Inverness still has small winter wedding dates available from November to March 2016.

Celebrate with only your nearest and dearest family and friends in what will be one of the most memorable days of your lives, in an enchanting location on wondrous Loch Ness.


Luxury hen party weekend in Scotland

A Royal Night Out? This week’s new film release depicts the royal princesses escaping the Palace’s grandeur for more excitement. However, we suggest, if a home is adorned with beauty, space and luxury, it’s more fun staying in. Here’s how to hen party in style inside your own private fairytale Scottish Castle.

You are organising your best friend or sister’s hen party weekend but not sure what to do or where to go. Ideally, you want to encompass all the traditional traits of a sophisticated hen party in one well executed, yet still impulsive and exciting, weekend. Already sound like a challenge?

Your idea is for all the girls to have the opportunity to dress to impress – but still be pampered, enjoy some fine dining (and wining) – but also Afternoon Tea (Betty’s, Harrods or even Savoy style), whilst  luxuriating in a beautiful setting – preferably befitting a princess. A lot to ask for in one weekend? We don’t think so! And, we have the answer to your prayers: Private Castle Hire in the heart of beautiful, enchanting Scotland.

Aldourie castle , Loch Nes, tea and champagne Luxury hen party

All under one roof

There may be dozens of castle turrets at Aldourie, but there is only one roof; making your private hen party stay here a most intimate and personal celebration for the bride and her closest girlfriends. Unlike a hotel, hen party guests can wander through the Castle at their leisure making use of each room for those ‘spontaneous’ and sophisticated hen party games: Hide and Seek, Narnia style, anyone?

Our expert hospitality team also invites you to share your plans for your stylish, glamorous hen party weekend. That way, you are still staying in control but we do all the hard work to perfect the stay of your dreams. There is no need to venture to the nearest cocktail bar for the all-important Cocktail Making Session; we can organise that in the Castle’s Main Hall. Because we are so sure of our 5 star status and work with a variety of trusted suppliers we promise to deliver any of your chosen events with style, impeccable service and professionalism.

Bespoke and personable

Aldourie is a place without boundaries, where guests are encouraged to explore and free to roam and use their imaginations. We want your hen party to be a magical experience you tell your grandchildren about. Instead of a formal long list of ‘hotel’ rules, we ask you simply to respect the history and beauty of this private hire property in the spectacular Scottish Highlands. We have found this helps you and your party to relax.

Jacobite cruises loch ness Luxury hen party

Where else, even in the most luxury hotel in the UK, could you take over the outdoor grounds with just your hen party? Maybe for a price you could, but it possibly wouldn’t feel as personal and special as having a medieval Castle garden, woodland and moat (aka marina) all to yourself. Any outdoor activity akin to hen party fun, such as zorbing, can be arranged on Loch Ness itself or around the luscious green parkland. Both feature a breath-taking backdrop of the Scottish Highlands that could knock you silly!

Exclusively yours

Why share your special hen party celebrations with anyone else? At Aldourie Castle on peaceful Loch Ness shores ensconced in stunning Highlands hills and surrounded by thick forests, you and your party of close girlfriends could be the stars of your favourite Disney film or fairytale book. At Aldourie the only way we do anything is by exclusive use, so be prepared to enter the world of your dreams; be pampered, spoiled rotten, indulged and possibly have the best weekend of your life, so far…

Luxury and grandeur

The delightful individually styled bedrooms add such grandeur and luxury to your hen party weekend. Designed in a unique style of their own each bedroom can be assigned to your hen party princesses to suit personality and taste – now, that’s something you wouldn’t get in a hotel. Lady Grey bedroom with its huge en-suite bathroom is a bride-to-be’s dream; a high up turret fit for a queen where you can slip into cosy dressing gowns with your friends, sip champagne and await your personal pamper or spa experience. Try a luxury bootcamp or morning group yoga session on the lawn by Loch Ness to really get into the spirit of your hen party weekend.

Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Boots n Paddles Luxury hen party

A perfect hen party setting

Located in the midst of a 500 acre estate, behind a tall original Castle wall resides a 17th Century masterpiece. Perfectly formed to cater for your sophisticated hen party weekend away in Scotland, this luxurious private hire property could get lost in layer upon layer of vast green landscape. Considered by all who’ve experienced its magic to be a very special venue, Aldourie Castle is a hen party location with history, character, charm and magnificence combined; the perfect start to wedded bliss.