10 tips for hosting the perfect summer garden party: part 1

As summer begins it’s time to start thinking of entertaining al fresco. Whether your garden space is small and intimate or large and lavish, these top tips make the ideal guide to hosting the perfect summer garden party. Aldourie Castle loves to throw a good outdoor party and we’ve highlighted some personal Castle choices throughout.

Consider your guest list

When it comes to deciding on your garden party guests list it’s important to think about what will create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. At Aldourie we specialise in hosting the ideal house party of up to 30 guests taking exclusive use of the Castle and grounds. Social gatherings such as birthday celebrations, anniversary dinners or reunions are mainly made up of close family and friends. Therefore, we suggest this mix of guests as the ideal for your perfect summer garden party. Invite too many guests and you lose the intimate atmosphere. Likewise, invite distant relatives or friends of friends and you risk your party lacking familiarity and easy conversation.Milestone Birthday in a Scottish Castle

Have a theme to focus on

The process of choosing a theme for your perfect summer garden party can be fun. Involve the children in sharing ideas too so they feel they’re involved in the party from the start. Having a well-chosen theme gives focus to the social gathering and makes it easier to plan the rest of the party set up. Ideas you could consider are nautical/beach, contemporary, Nordic or vintage.

Aldourie Castle Estate’s chosen theme: this would have to be the Scottish Highlands; scattering tartan blankets and cushions and offering a well-crafted whisky cocktail.

Tablescape – create a beautiful dining setting

Think ‘tablescape’ over party decorations. Food and drink are more often than not the focus of any party, indoor or outdoor, so make the most of showing these off to their full advantage. The table, whether a sit-down meal or buffet setting, should be the focal point of your party scene. All the better if it sits against the backdrop of a stunning natural landscape. Also, by making an effort with your artistic table arrangements you relinquish the hassle of having to decorate each and every nook and cranny of your party space. Less is more, as the story goes…Milestone Birthday in a Scottish Castle

Delicious food and drink for your perfect summer garden party

You can host a winning summer garden party that will indulge your guests and be the talking point at social gatherings for months to come. How can you do this? By serving delicious, well-thought out food and drink throughout the day and into the evening. If you plan ahead with your food and drink choices you can create the perfect al fresco dining experience.

The key is to opt for dishes that complement the season, using fresh ingredients and local produce. On hot days be sure to have jugs brimming with ice cold juices, Pimms and cocktails. On warm days keep the wine flowing and have a welcome drink ready for all – champagne, anyone? If there are families on the guest list then remember to feature some fun, child-friendly food and drinks too.

Aldourie’s dishes: a Loch Ness inspired fish course (possibly salmon to cater for the majority of guests) and Scotland’s own colourful, summery cranachan for dessert. Delicious!

Create pretty flower displays

Nothing helps to create the perfect summer garden party more than a beautiful display of fresh flowers. If you’re lucky enough to have a colourful garden complete with all the blooms of the season then why not pick some for your table centerpiece? Depending on your choice of party theme opt for either formal or wild flowers. The scent of the florals will also add to the guest experience of your perfect garden party so remember this when choosing what to place where; evoking people’s senses when they least expect it adds a touch of magic to your showcase.Milestone Birthday in a Scottish Castle

Aldourie’s flower choice: a selection of blooms freshly picked that morning from our wild flower garden. This would be a perfect tribute to the wild Scottish Highlands landscape that surrounds the 500 acre Estate.

Keep your eyes peeled for our second installment of our 10 top tips to the perfect summer garden party. Why not book Aldourie if you’re looking to hold a milestone birthday in a castle or enjoy a family reunion castle stay. We specialise in exclusive family holidays on Loch Ness in this private use Castle and whilst you’re here why not let us host your perfect castle garden party over summer. Email info@aldouriecastle.co.uk or visit our castle hospitality webpages for more information.

READ PART 2 of our SUMMER GARDEN PARTY blog post here for more outdoor party inspiration.


Cranachan: taste of springtime during a castle stay in Scotland

The nights are lighter for longer. The days are warmer. We’re feeling more optimistic by the day. It’s the start of spring. And what better way to celebrate than by tasting the delights of the season during your castle stay in Scotland? One of the most favoured desserts is an old-fashioned pudding known as cranachan. It combines freshness and creaminess with whisky comfort and is very light making it so easy to devour.

Aldourie’s chef loves the Castle and grounds during spring. The colours on the Scottish Highlands’ Estate change from golds, coppers, oranges and reds to crisp greens and bright yellows almost overnight. The lift in the weather makes everything appear clearer too. And the appetites of our exclusive use guests change also. Gone are the preferences for succulent meats, rich sauces, toe-warming soups and puddings. Our guests are now craving fresher, lighter and more colourful desserts. Because Aldourie Estate now features its own kitchen garden our exclusive use house parties are keen to sample some of the fruit grown within those stone walls. And Chef is only too happy to oblige creating some old and new berry-based puddings.

Cranachan: a fresh, fruity spring recipe

Below is a recipe loved for its creamy texture, sweetness and fruity tang as well as the unmistakeable Scottish ingredient: whisky. Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert and a delicious alternative to trifle. It is both pleasingly colourful and cooling on a warm spring day.

During the months of April, May and June, private house parties at Aldourie request this dessert time and time again. The Castle’s private chef would like to share one of his favourite and most popular spring puddings with you to make at home during the warmer and lighter months ahead.Cranachan - A Taste Of Springtime

570ml/1 pint double cream
85g/3oz porridge oats
7 tbsp whisky
3 tbsp honey
450g/1lb raspberries

Toast the oats in a frying pan (be careful not to burn them). Lightly whip the cream until it creates soft peaks. Fold in the whisky, honey, oatmeal and raspberries. Serve in dessert glasses with a scoop of berry sorbet and garnished with a few raspberries.

Other traditional Scottish berry and fruit desserts to try:

There are few people who can resist a pudding even after they are considered ‘full’ from their main course. If you are one of these people, we salute you, because it’s a rare thing indeed for an exclusive use guests to forego something sweet during a castle stay in Scotland. Favourite finishes at Aldourie include:

Cranachan - A Taste Of Springtime

Raspberry Coulis
White Chocolate Mousse with summer berries
Blackberry Sorbet
Scottish Berry Brulee
Apple Shortbread Pie
Glazed Strawberry Galette Black Bun
Scottish Shortbread served with strawberries
Empire Biscuit
Dundee Cake

Where is best to enjoy cranachan in Aldourie Castle?

Exclusive use Castle stay house parties dine in various rooms in the Castle depending on the time of day. A mid-morning treat of cranachan would be best enjoyed from the cosy yet light Lairds Room. On a sunny spring day cranachan after a salad lunch is best tasted outside in the Castle garden admiring views onto Loch Ness. The imposing Main Hall would be the chosen space to eat cranachan as part of a Scottish feast. Here exclusive use house parties frequently gather around the large long oak table for celebration supper in true clan-like fashion.

Last but not least, the beautiful Dining Room is the ideal for dining alongside family and friends. Come dinner time at the Castle we light the candles as the conversation and wine start to flow. Stunning parkland views will accompany your cranachan; your fourth delicious course cooked by Aldourie Castle’s personal chef.Our dining room is perfect for Castle stay house parties

Look out for more recipes from Aldourie Castle by signing up to our newsletter through our blog web page. In the meantime, enjoy a glass of fresh, sweet and cooling cranachan in the comfort of your own home this spring. And don’t forget to post us a photo on Aldourie’s Facebook or Twitter page saying which room you enjoyed eating it in.


Experience the Black Isle during an exclusive use stay in Scotland: Part 2 – food and drink

Our last blog post featured Part 1 of your exclusive use stay in Scotland incorporating a trip to the Black Isle. It focused on the history, culture and scenery that this majestic part of the Scottish Highlands offers the discerning tourist. This beautiful part of the world should definitely be a on the tick list for anyone visiting Scotland as a luxury travel destination.

From coastal walks to castle ruins and the quaint towns and villages in between, we showed you how to best enjoy the wonder of the Black Isle from your luxury holiday on Loch Ness. This week we’re introducing Part 2 of our post which focuses on the Black Isle’s dining and drinking scene. We pay particular attention to the tourist hot spot, The Black Isle Brewery. Hop on board for a taste of what’s on the menu in this remarkable and thriving peninsula in Scotland.

Dining out in the Black Isle

The Black Isle region spans from the village of North Kessock all the way up to the town of Cromarty. There are many haunts to sample good food and drink (we are in Scotland after all!). But here are just a few well selected cafes, bars and restaurants to delight during your exclusive use stay in Scotland.

A favourite amongst exclusive use Aldourie Castle guests:

Many of the Castle’s guests book a luxury multi-generational stay at Aldourie. Therefore, they are often looking for family-friendly places to eat when adventuring outside the five star property. The hotel based restaurant Chanterelle Kinkell  has just the right amount of everything you’d want from a dining venue. It has featured on many an itinerary of guests during their exclusive use stay at the Castle. And it’s not too far up from Inverness.

Aside from its name drawing in the crowds for its simple allure, Chanterelle Kinkell is a brand new restaurant. It offers dining throughout the day including lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Within a peaceful, stylish setting the restaurant provides a friendly atmosphere, well presented and delicious cuisine and a fine wine list, all alongside striking countryside views. What’s not to love?

Best places to eat for lunch in the Black Isle

Fortrose Café is a delightful place to stop off to have a tasty lunch if you’re travelling as a family. Conveniently placed on the high street it’s a high quality and friendly place to eat. It masterly combines a stylish, cosy atmosphere with great food. If you have little children with you during your exclusive use stay in Scotland, you can keep them entertained. The kids’ corner  is greatly appreciated while you sit back with a mug of freshly ground coffee. From cakes to light lunches and warming pies on a chilly spring day, you’ll find something for all your party. Dining here will set you on your way for an activity-fueled afternoon.

Aldourie also recommends Applecross Walled Garden not just for its charming location, which features beautiful flowers and wildlife. Whether you sit inside or out on the elegant garden chairs you can enjoy creatively prepared dishes, delectable afternoon teas and fruity homemade juices. Coupers Creek in Cromarty is a café-come-gift shop. Its nostalgic stripy tables perfectly complement the colourful Highlands gifts on sale. The tempting hot and cold sandwich menu also features traditional ice-cream sundaes and milkshakes.

Excellent seafood at the heart of the Black Isle

It depends what type of dining experience you prefer during your exclusive use stay in Scotland as to where we would recommend our guests book a table. Here we’ve selected a few seafood restaurants because in the Black Isle there’s nothing but water all around. Seafood is the speciality here so here are Aldourie’s top 3 seafood restaurants for exquisite food within a unique setting.

Sutor Creek in the historic town of Cromarty is famed for its wood-fired pizzas and tranquil harbour location. It is committed to serving locally sourced cuisine from the ‘Black Isle’s natural larder’. Dishes range from exceptional meats and vegetables to edible flowers and foraged mushrooms.

Looking to eat off the beaten track during your adventurous exclusive use stay in Scotland? Try SALT Seafood Kitchen in the heart of the long linear village of Achiltibuie, between Ross and Cromarty. This is a wonderfully Scottish-sounding restaurant in which to enjoy a true Scottish dish.

On the waterfront on the shores of Loch Carron sits Plockton Shores restaurant, a small friendly village eatery with heaps of local flavour. Enjoy a bowl of fresh mussels overlooking bobbing sailing boats, chirruping wildlife and the loch.

Beer drinking and dining at the Black Isle Bar

This famous tourist destination in the Highlands is a well-loved haunt for many exclusive use stay guests at Aldourie Castle. Predominantly a brewery specialising in world class organic beers brewed in the Highlands, it is also a stylish bar. The welcoming Black Isle Bar features all the Black Isle Brewery’s drinking produce. It also boasts a deliciously rustic food menu all produced from the on-site farm and other local organic suppliers. The tourist attraction is situated near Inverness as you approach the Black Isle. On your exclusive use stay in Scotland, you can either enjoy it going up to your destination or back down.

Why do exclusive use guests of Aldourie go there?

There are so many reasons why this place is such a popular tourist destination for those travelling to Scotland from overseas or the UK. The Brewery’s beer is its obvious pull – there’s nothing like grabbing a table here and rejoicing over a freshly pulled pint of craft beer and a wood-fired pizza and crisp salad. The perfect lunch. The popularity of the Black Isle Brewery could just as easily be its rags-to-riches start up story: unemployment led the determined David Gladwin to produce a world class beer in an environmentally-friendly way.  

Beer tasting at the Black Isle Brewery

What does the tour involve and what will you see and learn?

The Black Isle Brewery uses only the finest malt and hop grown on farms and without any chemicals, ‘just as nature intended’. It houses its own organic farm where it grow malting barley for brewing and even has a dedicated brewery house cow, who eats the malt from the brewery mash tun and in turn provides the brewery with 20 pints of fresh, creamy milk every day. On the tour you will venture outside to witness the brewery’s self-claimed ‘beautiful, unspoilt, unpolluted, wild, and more than a little bit wet, highland home’ that keeps its staff and owners very happy indeed.

Black Isle brews up to 10,000 litres of beer a day, which is then packaged in bottles, casks and kegs. It is later shipped all over Scotland, the UK and around the world from Sweden to Japan. The brewery makes a variety of beers including a wheat beer and a blonde ale. All the beers are organic and suitable for vegetarians, as they do not use isinglass in the brewing process.

Black Isle Brewery’s recommended beers for Aldourie guests during an exclusive use stay in Scotland:
Blonde
Goldfinch
L’ile Noire
Yellowhammer

As with any brewery or whisky distillery tour, there’s the opportunity to purchase what you’ve tasted as well as little trinkets and memorabilia perfect as Scottish Highlands gifts for back home or as a reminder of your exclusive use stay in Scotland. During the busy summer months tours run on average twice per hour. Please refer to the website for tour details and opening times: https://www.blackislebrewery.com/tours/

Now the entertainment and cuisine of the Black Isle has been catered for with this article we look forward to completing our Highlands tour with a look at some of the best towns and villages in the Black Isle. For more information on hiring our Aldourie Castle for an exclusive use stay on Loch Ness in Scotland please visit our ‘Contact’ page on the website.


Experience the Black Isle during an exclusive use stay in Scotland

The Black Isle is a peninsula in the Scottish Highlands, just north of Inverness. It’s a wonderful place to explore with family, friends or a loved one during an exclusive use stay in Scotland at Aldourie Castle. The Black Isle is surrounded by water on three sides. To the north is the Cromarty Firth, to the south the Beauly Firth and the Moray Firth marks its east. The Isle also has rivers to its west; water, water, everywhere. You can imagine the views to be had during a day of walking there.

Wildlife, woodland and water

This famous spot in the magnificent Highlands is home to nature and history in equal measure. So, there is lots more to see besides the stunning views that come with its many walks. The Black Isle is well known for its rich farmland and showcases neatly ploughed, lush green fields over-spilling with crops. This itself is enough to draw large numbers of tourists annually to the Black Isle Show, the largest agricultural show in the north.exclusive use stay in Scotland

Aside from farm animals, the Black Isle is home to a variety of Scottish wildlife. During your exclusive use stay in Scotland on Loch Ness, you may think Aldourie Estate is brimming with nature. But just wait till you get here! Watch the dolphins swimming and playing in the water or catch a glimpse of a deer or two wandering through shrubbery on land. The water is also home to otters and seals whilst some days the sky can be filled with soaring osprey.

The green landscapes are reinforced by the sprays of endless trees. Amongst the flora and fauna look for the towering Scots Pine, just one of three conifers native to the UK. Through all this woodland you can see Ben Nevis on a clear day.

An historic Highlands paradise

The Black Isle is also steeped in history with its fair share of castles, cairns, a cathedral and a host of museums. There are few holiday destinations that can offer such a large number of historical sites amongst such natural beauty. The Scottish Highlands always comes up trumps for this. The self-contained peninsula is home to numerous historical plots from different eras from Medieval to Georgian.

Kirkmichael Church has long been neglected and left to ruin but recently it has reopened to visitors, complete with a lovely cemetery to wander around. Guided tours will inform you of its local and associated families’ history. Redcastle was, until recently, one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland, with evidential links to William the Lion in 1179. This ruins creates a haunting skyline silhouette worth gazing at and gives some perspective to your exclusive use stay in Scotland in a luxury private Castle. Cromarty Courthouse, on the Isle’s museums, houses an excellent detailed exhibition including an audio tour for keen tourists.exclusive use stay in Scotland

Fabulous walking in the Black Isle

Just like the vast culture of the Black Isle there is a walk for everyone on this charming Highlands peninsula. This is in terms of both the length and the topography of walk. From short circular woodland ambles to long distance coastal trails, you can find something to suit you or your group. Take a look at the walking map and guide page of the Black Isle website which includes a detailed map ideal for planning your walking routes.

A highly challenging walk:
A favoured walk by exclusive use group stays is the 147-mile John O’Groats Trail. It conveniently starts at Inverness, home to Aldourie Castle, and ends at the pretty civil parish of Alness. This stunning but serious coastal walk is set in two stages and features a mix of shorelines, cliff tops and back lanes as well as the hallmark highland footpaths.

An easy walk:
During their exclusive use stay in Scotland many previous guests of Aldourie have enjoyed rambling through the country lanes of Rosemarkie. This is an enchanting village at the bottom of the aptly named Fairy Glen. Stop for a romantic picnic at the falls partway through the delightful wooded glen. Learn about its quaint intimate history as you stop at the spring then leisurely stroll past the pockets of floral parades.exclusive use stay in Scotland

An interesting walk:
McFarquhar’s Bed and Cave is a ‘there and back’ style walk combining coastal highlights and geology, with some climbing both ways. Groups of friends who’ve stayed at Aldourie Castle have enjoyed this walk over the years. This is because it captures a bit of everything but is great for the non-rambler who appreciates scenery. Expect to see seals and dolphins around the Moray Firth and historic gems in Cromarty village.

Towns ‘a must’ to visit in the Black Isle

Here is just a selection of places worth a visit, each with their own distinct heritage.

Fortrose is the largest town laying on the southern coast of the Black Isle. Architectural loves will appreciate its ornate Victorian buildings amongst its older history – Fortrose Cathedral was built in 1250 A.D. Follow the narrow twisting roads to its bonny harbour and secluded beach for quality time in a true Scottish Highlands town.

Avoch is a traditional and tranquil fishing village on the east coast with a long heritage. Fishing for herring and sprats in the Inverness and Beauly Firth provided much of the local living for the village which was to last over 100 years. Finally, admire the old town, passing the fisherman’s dock and up Henrietta Street to see the row of low white-walled fisher cottages.

A day out in the Highlands during your exclusive use stay in Scotland is not complete without a little whisky on the side. Muir of Ord, home to the Glen Ord Distillery, features a thriving and dynamic community. The historical village boasts three churches and is a pleasant place to stop for lunch and a spot of shopping.exclusive use stay in Scotland

Look out for our blog post coming soon on the varied towns and villages of the Black Isle, which delve much deeper into those mentioned above.

The beauty of the Black Isle is yet another gem that the great Scottish Highlands has to offer both its locals and tourists. Exclusive use stays in Scotland become even more spectacular and exciting with wonderful places like this to visit. Make the very most of your luxury holiday on the shores of fabled Loch Ness by getting out and about off the Aldourie Estate for a day or two to explore the famous Black Isle and its much loved countryside, coast and villages.


January progress in the Castle grounds and gardens

What’s been happening on the Estate recently? The gardens have endured a rather cold winter and are currently either covered in snow or frozen at the moment. The consistent cold temperatures mean that it’s tricky to get really into the soil but our dedicated team of gardeners are not easily defeated and love a challenge so Aldourie’s Castle grounds and gardens are back to thriving as never before. Here you can see some stunning images taken by our head gardener, Duncan, during a magical snowfall on the Highlands’ Estate.Castle grounds and gardens

An enchanting winter walled garden

The glasshouses have a surreal feel about them when coated in snow and it gives exclusive use guests at the time such pleasure to walk amongst them. The Castle team are looking forward to spring and summer when the newly refurbished architecture can really come into its own for guests. It’ll then be warm enough for them to enjoy sitting, drinking and dining in the buildings whilst watching the world go by in the walled garden.

Here you see one of our lovely team members, Fe, planting a fruit tree in the Castle’s new orchard at Garden Cottage, situated just behind the walled garden. The orchard featured a variety of different plums, a few apples, a medlar, a quince and a damson. The wildflowers you see have since been cut but they will regrow in the spring.

Conservation at Aldourie continues to thrive

The orchard area is attached to the walled garden but forms the new garden for the cottage, which is a lovely little orchard with wildflowers growing under the trees, helping to attract pollinators. As always, Aldourie is striving to cultivate an estate in complete harmony with its main aim of conservation, by planting new and tending to the old. Come rain or shine, our gardening team is committed to conserving every inch of the 500 acre Estate.Castle grounds and gardens

You may recall Aldourie’s ambitious plans for the four main garden areas we developed over 2017. Part of this was to bulk plant across the woodland to increase our plant collection. Well, this work has indeed begun during the cold, wintry months of December and January. We have been planting approximately 400 new rhododendrons in the arboretum.

These comprise many varieties to build upon the collection we already have. See this beautiful image of the generous flower the moment they arrived at the Castle; an exciting moment for the passionate gardening team! Plans continue to add to the collection of colourful rhododendrons in the spring.

Aldourie gardening team expands for 2018

The other exciting news is that we have taken on a new Assistant Head Gardener, Chris Smart, so Aldourie Castle’s team has grown to four. Yes, we really do cover all that ground with this small but talented and capable team.  Chris joins Duncan, Sarah and Fe at the right time meaning he can settle in before the major planting of no fewer than 35,000 plants on the Castle grounds and gardens begins in spring.

Castle grounds and gardens

Just like the hospitality team inside the Castle the outdoors team is always having to make forward plans and be extremely organised. There is a set itinerary for each of the four spaces on the Estate. We need this in order to stick to the proposed time frame for the grounds and gardens project as it moves into its second year. “Once new planting begins in early March the team of four will be really busy planting, mulching and watering, etc. so I wanted to make sure we were ready for that,” says Duncan.

As winter turns to spring at the Castle on Loch Ness

From now on and over the next few weeks Aldourie’s gardening team are preparing the soil in the new beds for planting. We are also continuing to keep on top of the woodland garden – pruning and digging out all of the unwanted plants that have regrown. Soon, the contractors will be back on site to complete the architectural elements of the walled garden including hanging all of the gates, building and installing the fruit arches and cages and finishing the cold frames. The look of this thriving garden space will change yet again in no time.

We look forward to showing you more of the Castle grounds and gardens progress as it develops and comes into fruition. Keep a look out on our social media pages for snapshots of work in the gardens, which we continue to share with all our Aldourie followers.


The joy of soup in winter – Scottish castle dining

Minus temperature outside? Feeling under the weather? All done in? Or tummy-rumbling hungry? The best cure for any of the above has to be, without a doubt, a bowl of hot soup. Aldourie’s chef loves the castle and grounds during autumn and winter for Scottish castle dining. The colours on the estate change along with the weather and guests’ appetites also change. Gone are the desires for fresh salads and cool, refreshing desserts. All they really want – like most of us during the wintry months – are succulent meats coated in delicious sauces, warming soups and comforting puddings – the more custard the better!

Our Chef has some delightful recipes he brings out year-after-year as well as, new dishes to impress the gourmet connoisseur. One in particular at the castle we all love for its simplicity, homeliness and heat is the ‘Spiced Butternut Squash Soup’. It’s devoured time and time again by guests and once an exclusive-use party has sampled this particular version, they usually request it numerous times throughout their stay at Aldourie.  Here, the castle’s private chef would like to share his favoured, yet simple, autumnal dish with you, so you too can enjoy it at home during the cold, festive months ahead.

Warming winter recipe: Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

2 tbsp olive oil sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ medium chilli
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2 celery sticks
1 medium onion, chopped
pinch cumin seeds
½ tsp chilli powder
pinch smoked paprika
2 pints veg/chicken stock
splash cream

 

Chop all the vegetables and sweat in a pan with olive oil. Add the stock and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add splash of cream.

Other traditional Scottish soups to try:

A soup is tastier if it is rich in ingredients and some of these Scottish traditional dishes are also particularly rich in proteins and vitamins.

Scottish Castle Dining

Bonfire Warmer Soup
Scotch Broth
Cullen Skink
Potato-Leek-Mushroom Soup
Scottish Oxtail Soup
Golden Vegetable Soup
Highland Chicken Soup
Haricot Bean Soup

Where is best to enjoy a bowl of soup at Aldourie?

Exclusive use house parties of guests dine in numerous rooms in the Castle depending on the time of day. A mid-morning mug of soup might be best enjoyed looking out onto Loch Ness from the cosy yet classical surroundings of the Laird’s Room. This room is also the closest room to the kitchen for quick access to refills!

The grand main hall would be great for a soup feast, ladle and all. Gather your friends round the large long oak table for a clan-like supper in true Scottish castle dining. The cosy dining room is perfectly designed for eating in, so try here for an intimate candlelit dinner beginning with a soup dish starter. The parkland views will help you relax and conversation will flow for hours as you enjoy four delicious courses cooked by our Highlands castle’s personal chef for that ultimate Scottish castle dining experience.Scottish Castle Dining

When is the best time for Scottish castle dining?

You cannot beat the feeling of a good soup that is both rich in taste and nutritious, trickling down your throat, when you’re either peckish, tired or cold. At Aldourie castle, you could easily be all three of these at the same time if you choose to enjoy one of the many outdoor activities on the Highlands estate during the autumn/winter season.

Boat ride – during a stint on Loch Ness hunting for Nessie or simply absorbing the spectacular scenery, private groups of guests are always ready to be fed. Out on the exposed Loch you have the wind rushing in your face and all that water around makes you hungry for soup.

Segway ride – the Aldourie parkland is made up of 500 acres of woods, parks, walks, gardens and more. Segway rides let you see more of the grounds than you would on foot. During the autumn and winter months you use up so much energy and will return to the Scottish castle searching for something warming like a bowl of soup.Scottish Castle Dining

Archery or clay pigeon shooting – these are popular outdoor activity sports at Aldourie and our chef likes nothing more than rewarding a hard afternoon’s play with one of his delicious soup recipes.

Look out for more recipes from Aldourie Castle by signing up to our newsletter through our blog web page. In the meantime, enjoy our ‘Spiced Butternut Squash Soup’ in the comfort of your own home this winter. And…Don’t forget to post us a photo on Facebook or Twitter saying which room you enjoyed eating it in and what outdoor activity inspired you to make it.


Revitalised gardens and grounds heighten exclusive use experience

Aldourie Castle and Estate underwent some renovations during 2017. We are always looking to add to the exclusive use experience of our private guests and beauty of the Castle and Estate. We coated the exterior of the Castle with a limewash harl (we’ll cover this more in the next post), revitalised the old walled gardens and carried out further landscaping around the Castle. However, behind reviving this 17th Century exclusive use Estate, there’s a lot more meaning than initially meets the eye.

The gardens design team

The plan was to develop the gardens to create a fitting, high quality setting for the Castle. We employed a head gardener Duncan Hall, who is passionate about innovative landscaping for historic settings. Duncan and his dedicated team have been thrilled to work alongside landscape architect, garden designer and writer Tom Stuart-Smith, an inspirational leader in his field. Aldourie Castle Estate feels privileged to have Tom designing the revised estate including the four main garden areas (detailed below).exclusive use experience

Formal Garden: on the Castle’s doorstep

The main Castle Garden (to the west) creates a formal setting for Aldourie whilst hinting at playful associations with the property. The turret-inspired topiary trees and historic references like the planned fortress-inspired bastions are good examples of this. The already impressive space combines order with fun to heighten the exclusive use experience. The idea is for the garden to be used and enjoyed by private guests, despite its formal layout.

Walled Garden and Glasshouses: for ‘living off the Estate’

This garden has a rugged feel in comparison to the Castle garden and has been restored to a very high standard. It features attractive dry walls made with a local stone. As guests walk into it tey definitely feel as though it belongs in the highlands. Its central area is primarily for vegetable and fruit production (including high value crops and soft fruit). These are used to supply the castle kitchen as well as the other Wildland properties. Do you remember the 18th century glasshouses being restored in 2016? Now they also grow fruit and veg and are open for exclusive use guests to wander through.

exclusive use experience

Arboretum: historic discoveries through hard work

This has been a major renovation. The gardening team unearthed a fine tree collection dating back to the 19th Century. The Castle is now committed to nurturing them all. All design elements have been carefully planned, for example, the winding paths and interweaving plant patches at the foot trees. These will, in effect, guide Castle guests from one garden to another allowing no aspect of the arboretum to go undiscovered. The burial ground is also a significant historical feature. Tidying this area has helped to preserve its ornamentation and archaeological relevance.

Parkland: keeping it green

There are further plans afoot to create a landscape of wild meadow and Highland cattle. But for now, the parkland starts to rejuvenate with new trees. Guests will notice that an Estate railing clearly separates the Castle setting from the wider park.exclusive use experience

Head Gardener, Duncan, comments on the parkland design; “The new trees have breathed some life into the park, which is the first part of the Estate that guests will experience as they enter the main drive. Enticing views of different parts of the estate are revealed encouraging guests to explore, as well as stunning views across the wider landscape of Loch Ness.”

Focus is on the exclusive use experience

The landscape of Aldourie Castle and Estate is of outstanding scenic value. It’s therefore vital that the design and gardening work serves to enhance its beauty. It forms an archetypal Scottish Baronial scene highly visible from the northern shores of Loch Ness. One of the key reasons for revitalising the Castle and grounds was to compound the feeling, during an exclusive use experience, of staying in such a historically valued, spectacular location.

The initial warm welcome at the Castle now extends to the entirety of the 500 acre Estate. Guests are now encouraged to really discover the gardens, to explore and play, and feel the heritage beneath their feet. Regular pruning of tree branches in the walled garden will offer glimpses of the estate and wider landscape. This will entice exclusive use guests to wander further afield.exclusive use experience

The ‘farm to table’ aspect of this particular garden will also transcend to the guests’ experience. This will allow them the opportunity to pick their own fruit and veg for the Castle’s chef to cook that day. The idea is to reinforce the exclusive use experience at every opportunity. As a result, exploring the beauty and history of Aldourie Estate becomes an integral part of their stay.

Look out for our next instalment of the Revitalisation of Aldourie Castle & Estate. For more information on exclusive use of Aldourie please visit our Private Hire pages or contact the main office through our online contact form.


Exclusive use luxury golfing holiday near championship courses

What’s the best thing about a luxury golfing holiday? Is it the fact that you’re one of a kind, all holidaying together with the same sport in common? Or that you get to play your favourite sport all week long with no interruptions of family or working life? Or it is the restfulness and the peace, and the luxury it comes with? We have an inkling at Aldourie that it’s something to do with all the above.

Luxury golfing holiday

Aldourie Castle Estate on Loch Ness is situated only six miles from Inverness Airport. This makes it one of the most convenient luxury travel destinations in Scotland. During your golfing holiday in the Highlands your exclusive use party would use Aldourie Castle as your luxury base. From here you could experience unique, five-star hospitality including luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms. You’d also experience exquisite home-cooked food cooked by Aldourie’s private chef, and exclusive use of a privately owned Castle. All this is set within a 500 acre estate in the spectacular and tranquil Scottish Highlands.

As part of your exclusive luxury golfing holiday on Loch Ness you would also receive a private concierge throughout your stay. Aldourie’s hospitality team is renowned for being discreet. Our dedicated hospitality manager would also arrange, should you request it, daily transport to and from your golf course/s of choice. The combination of the beautiful exclusive castle and grounds alongside golfing at your favourite golf courses in the Scottish Highlands creates a perfect luxury golfing holiday. We’ve put together information about all the nearby award-winning or championship golf courses. This will hopefully make planning your golfing holiday at Aldourie as easy as possible.

Nairn Golf Club

Nairn is one of Scotland’s finest golf courses and has a picturesque location tucked into the shoreline of the Moray Firth. A famous location for a championship golf course which was founded in 1887. Its origins were as wild as the Highland terrain itself; an untouched wilderness overrun with heather. Now a beautiful lush green land with testing peaks and troughs, Nairn is home to both professionals and amateur golfers.

Special feature: No matter where you play on this classic golf course during your luxury golfing holiday you can admire the surrounding spectacular scenery. From every hole golfers will glimpse the calming waters of the Moray Firth.

Visiting golfers: The sophisticated-looking website makes it very easy for individual golfers or groups of golfers to book a tee time and any required equipment. The golf club features all the standard facilities, a selection of bars and a modern clubhouse.

Castle Stuart Golf Links

Described as ‘A beacon reaching out to golfers throughout the world’, Castle Stuart is evidently very dear to the Scottish Highlands. Like Nairn, this championship links course also looks out over the Moray Firth and is the closest professional course to Aldourie Castle Estate.

Links courses have many distinguishing features, Castle Stuart in particular. The main difference from other courses is the topography. This one features rumpled fairways and natural bunkers guaranteeing you a challenging day of golfing. Infinity edges serve to accentuate the spectacular Scottish Highlands landmarks along the Moray Firth skyline. Step forward Chanonry Lighthouse and Fort George. A ‘landscape mosaic’ refers to the varied texture and colours that form the course itself. The land at Castle Stuart changes with the seasons bringing a rich tapestry and a rugged beauty to the golf course.  This heightens the experience for anyone privileged enough to play here during a luxury golfing holiday.

Special feature: The clubhouse at Castle Stuart is an architectural joy. It’s a circular drum sat in the midst of this wild terrain looking out over the waters. It was designed to showcase the panoramic spectacle of the surrounding landscape. What a dream for golfers and nature loves alike to sit here and appreciate the unmatchable beauty of the Scottish Highlands.luxury golfing holiday

Visiting golfers: Castle Stuart’s link course is part of a large resort featuring a wide selection of eateries and other facilities. The excellent website provides a fully comprehensive guide to the links course. This includes a map, aerial flyover and a virtual tour of every hole. This is very handy for golfing enthusiasts meaning you can concentrate solely on your golfing experience as soon as you get to Castle Stuart.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

The history of this Scottish Highlands’ golf course is nearly as impressive as the golfing itself. Royal Dornoch is a 400-year-old golf course. In 2016 it celebrated this incredible heritage with a year-long tribute to the sport. The celebration also touched on the course’s impact on the local community and town of Dornoch. It originally started as a 12-hole ladies course before becoming an 18-hole course in 1999.

Royal Dornoch is a ‘must-play’ golf course by professional standards. Like Castle Stuart is also one of the finest links courses for a luxury golfing holiday in the Highlands. It boasts a beautiful, ‘spellbinding’ setting that despite its well-maintained structure has a sense of wild abandon about it. This is yet another championship course (why would you want to golf anywhere but the Scottish Highlands?). It’s ranked No 5 in the world, and No 1 In Scotland (Golf Digest, 2016).

Special feature: Royal Dornoch is set against the backdrop of the Dornoch Firth. The course is separated from the water’s edge by a strip of pure white sandy beach. This freeing course will bring you back to nature and, as its website states; ‘it all feels very humbling’.

luxury golfing holiday

Visiting golfers: Royal Dornoch caters for frequent visitors and loyal members so the standard of everything here is exceptionally high. Golfers who visit this course will receive a relaxed and informal golfing experience. And in addition, just like at Aldourie Castle, a traditional Highland hospitality. Guests can enjoy a variety of dining experiences here throughout the day.

Why choose luxury exclusive use accommodation over a hotel?

Aldourie Castle is just six miles from Inverness, the gateway to the Highlands. It is within close proximity of main roads, an international airport and rail station. This alone makes it an ideal luxury travel destination for large groups. You will not find that all exclusive use properties have an easily accessible location however, but many, like Aldourie, will feature their own private grounds. Aldourie Estate is made up of woodland, open parkland and landscaped formal gardens. The Castle is literally on the shores of Loch Ness so you’ll find plenty here to keep you entertained when you are not golfing away from the Estate.

You get a much more personal touch when staying at an exclusive use property. The Castle has its own personal chef who manages a small hospitality team during your private dining experience. Imagine returning from a day of luxury golfing to be catered for in a magnificent Castle by a small but dedicated team of staff. It doesn’t matter what hotel you stay in in the world, you are never as privileged as when you stay somewhere that is exclusively yours.

 

luxury golfing holiday

Luxury exclusive group accommodation

After a long day of golf with your group, you’ll no doubt be harbouring a few aches and pains and ready for a good night’s sleep. Your first thought might be to retreat to your room with your drink of choice and indulge in a deep, hot bath. The 13 bedrooms at Aldourie, like in many exclusive use properties, are individually designed and finished with exquisite attention to detail. Your private bathroom will also be unique as well as spacious featuring either a free standing tub with shower or walk-in shower. The privacy you receive, as both a private group and an individual guest, at an exclusive use property such as Aldourie, is second to none. It’s truly worth looking for somewhere as unique and exclusive as our beautiful Castle on Loch Ness. That way you are guaranteed a luxury golfing holiday to remember for years to come.


How to enjoy the great outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate

There’s lots to enjoy on a Highland estate on the banks of Loch Ness. No need to always hire outdoor activity companies when nature provides more than enough to entertain, teach and experience. Children adventure, explore and play during luxury family holidays giving you time to yourselves to relax. Couples can escape into their own romantic world for an afternoon. And families can spend quality time together using the grounds as they wish and discovering small, simple pleasures outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate.outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate

Wildlife spotting

Let’s start with the simple things nature has to offer: wildlife in its natural habitat. The Aldourie Estate is home to a wide variety of Scottish Highlands’ wildlife. Make your own fun acting like the animals you seek to find. For instance, there are dozens of pretty little roe deer all across the Aldourie Estate. They are particularly delicate creatures and make little sound. If you’re quiet enough, your footsteps won’t distract them and you could end up getting up close to these beautiful animals. Look out for them running across the parkland at dusk or looking for tasty brambles in pairs at the edge of the woods. Look up to the sky for your next character; you may just see osprey soaring over the open grounds or woodpeckers climbing to the tree tops in the heart of the woodland. The red squirrel home to the highlands is a real sight for sore eyes. It may come out to play if you happen to stumble upon its dwelling or stay in one place long enough. If you take a keen interest in Scottish wildlife then you may wish to explore some wildlife spotting locations outside Aldourie Estate.outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate

Hide and Seek in the arboretum

Does anything sound more exciting than that? This outdoor activity is ideal to play in all weathers in any season here at Aldourie Castle. Who needs a garden maze when you have acres of foliage and tall oaks to hide behind? Your seeker should give you all at least a minute to set off on foot to your desired hiding location. Then, once you’re past the clearing the (outdoor) world is your oyster. Hide and seek outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate is exciting; for one thing, if it rains it’s even more difficult to be found.  If you’re staying over Halloween why not double the excitement by looking for hiding spots in the old family graveyard. During the winter months it’s bound snow at some point in the Highlands. Why not wait for a snowfall then venture off to the Castle ground’s arboretum to crunch your way through the undergrowth. Don’t forget to cover up any footprints!

Play make –believe in the tree house

The spectacular tree house at Aldourie blends synonymous with its surrounding environment. You can pass it and not know it’s there. It was built into the thick of the trees on the outskirts of the woods on the verge of Loch Ness. The impressively designed tree house is perfectly positioned for light and shelter and capturing fantastic views. Here you can bring your camera, hide from the rain or bring a good book or a pal or two. Absorb nature’s peaceful sounds and the fantastical scenery of the distant wild Highland hills. Use your imagination and pretend your captain of a great ship. Bring a pair of binoculars with you and look out to sea (or even more exciting; try to spot Nessie out on Loch Ness!).outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate

Read a book of fairy tales in the formal gardens

Family house parties thrive at Aldourie because of all the experiences to appreciate within unique and unforgettable settings. Curl up with your little one on a bench in the pretty Castle gardens. Then read them their favourite stories as delightful floral scents fragrance the air around you. Fairy tales lend themselves easily to the outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate, which itself is full of adventure and magic. Just another example of how to have outdoor fun for children in the Scottish Highlands.

Get close to nature in the parkland

We’ve so many ideas for you and your young family to take advantage of on the 500 acre Estate. Springtime daffodils make for pretty photographs. During this happy season toddlers love chasing the bees from flower to flower and looking for ladybirds in the grass. Children can also clamber onto the small old bridge and look down on the small stream. Watching out for tiny fish amongst the rockeries and pebbles is a sure way of keeping their interest in the outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate.

Beach walks on Loch Ness

Strolling along Dores Beach on Aldourie Estate allows for a relaxing break in your day and offers a little gentle exercise. Let a fresh water mist on a calming breeze accompany your walk. The beach is great for varied company whether a family fun day or a romantic moonlit stroll. Or maybe you’d like some timeout on your own to reclaim your thoughts before your business meeting during a luxury corporate stay in the Castle. Take your shoes and socks off and have a splash about on Loch Ness’s southern shoreline; surely one of the most liberating ways to enjoy the outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate.outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate

The reason you book an exclusive use stay at Aldourie Castle is up to you. You may wish to hire the Castle to host a family house party or celebrate a special birthday of a close friend. But the large private Scottish estate is always there for you to enjoy at your leisure. For availability of our private hire property in Scotland please call 01463 751309 and speak to the hospitality manager. Our team at Aldourie will be happy to chat through the requirements of your exclusive luxury stay on Loch Ness.


48 hours in an exclusive use executive retreat

Arrive to an exclusive concierge

You’ve enjoyed the convenient flight to Inverness Airport or furthermore taken the swift route up the A9 to Inverness. Now you’ve arrived at your destination and you’ve driven through the large iron gateway to Aldourie Estate. Next, experience the long winding drive through glorious parkland that takes your directly to the door of the Castle. Secondly you’ll be greeted at the big Castle door by the property’s hospitality manager. A small but dedicated team will make sure you and your business guests experience only the highest standard of hospitality during your stay. You have arrived at Scotland’s most welcoming exclusive use executive retreat.exclusive use executive retreat

5-star 4-course dinner

As with any private hire property in Scotland, the quality of food at Aldourie Castle is of the highest standard. The competition for luxury exclusive use executive retreat is growing therefore no private use property can rest on its laurels.  Lucky for you; our guests. You are about to be spoiled by a succession of sophisticated dishes. All Aldourie’s cuisine is planned, prepared and cooked by our private Castle chef. Dinner is a treat offering the finest meat, fish and game from the Scottish Highlands alongside the freshest local produce.

Your first evening’s meal might consist of the following mouth-watering cuisine:
Applecross scallops with crème fresh and chorizo.
roasted loin of Speyside lamb cooked with olives and rosemary.
Passionfruit meringue with strawberries.
Selection of Scottish cheeses with oatcakes.

Rest in private group accommodation

Here are a few of our beautiful bedrooms, all with four poster beds and private bathrooms. They offer the ideal setting for an exclusive use executive retreat for corporate and business group stays.

Lady Grey – this room is a sophisticated suite perfect for your top client. Its regal red decoration and dark wooden furnishings make it warm and luxurious. Besides, a large bay window looks over the Estate makes for a light and spacious room to impress.exclusive use executive retreat

Fraser Wing – allocate this relaxing executive suite to your CEO or Chair. It features a separate living space to relax and rejuvenate whilst calming autumnal tones decorate the bedroom.

Old Nursery Wing – this is a nostalgic space with loch views, perfect for creative thinking. Light, airy and atmospheric, this room is full of character.

Multi-functional luxury meeting spaces

To say there are no rules at Aldourie, an exclusive use corporate retreat on the edge of Loch Ness, would be a little unwise. However, we have simple rules that are easily played by. And we certainly have none when it comes to how you wish your business meeting or event to pan out. The expertise of our hospitality manager and team will be at your disposal, however, and can greatly simplify your workload. Trust us to advise on the best spaces and rooms for specific tasks and events.

Generally, the Castle features a sophisticated design and an informal atmosphere so can befit any corporate requirement. Aldourie’s public rooms are listed here with their helpful descriptions:

Library – cosy decoration with lots of natural light results in a great room for brainstorming sessions
Drawing Room – the spacious and large L-shaped room features copious amounts of light and varied views. Making it ideal for presentations and small conferences.
Lairds Room – Furthermore the Laird’s room with its large oak table with comfortable chairs is ideal for a BoD meeting or private, interview/catch up meeting.
Main Hall – this has just had a stunning new makeover and makes a great welcome area and networking space. In addition you can also order a hot or cold buffet lunch can be served and guests can retreat to the terrace overlooking Loch Ness.exclusive use executive retreat

Midday food designed to spur you on

Our Chef is keen to provide healthy nutritious food for all our corporate guests during the day. This helps the brain take a well-needed rest and encourage enthusiasm for the afternoon ahead. Fresh cold meat, eggs, salads and slow burning foods like healthy potato salads and herb infused pastas. A light buffet will be just the ticket to get the creativity flowing for that brainstorming session in the library.

Finally, Afternoon Tea will be served; the perfect break needed to make the most of those last few hours of business during your exclusive use executive retreat. Try fresh juices and fruit if you still have a challenging meeting ahead. Consequently you may wish to reward yourself for that afternoon presentation with one of Aldourie’s home-baked cakes. A selection of hot drinks will be available throughout the day.

Pre-dinner drinks

Enjoy these either indoor or outdoor before commencing another sit down dinner in the dining room. As with any exclusive use Castle, you will find an array of spirits and liquors lined up just waiting to be appreciated. Clock that 50 year-old whisky and furthermore sample a night-cap whilst listening to the gentle tide of Loch Ness. After a day of hard work treat yourselves to some bottles from the Aldourie wine cellar, which can be expertly chosen by our hospitality team to accompany any dish.

Corporate activities to beat all outdoor experiences

Consequently you’re now on the second day of your exclusive use executive retreat and the important issues have been tackled at yesterday’s board meeting. Today is all about staff teambuilding and building morale within your team. Enter the best location for outdoor activities in Scotland: Loch Ness. Aldourie’s hospitality team can arrange a stream of corporate teambuilding events and activities alongside trusted local suppliers. These can include any of the below and more besides:exclusive use executive retreat

Nessie Hunter boat rides
canoeing/kayaking
water zorbing
4×4 driving Loch Ness shore

The 500 acre Aldourie Estate is also a fantastic location to carry out corporate outdoor activities. From Segway races around the parkland to team treasure hunts in the woodland, there is so much fun and adventure to be had during staff away days. Archery on the lawn or falconry are exceptional experiences not to be missed when you’re doing business in a spectacular Castle.

For more information on exclusive meeting hire or corporate teambuilding opportunities at Aldourie Castle Estate, please contact the main office via our enquiry form. Alternatively, you can phone 01463 751309.