How a castle and cottages create the perfect combined holiday

Last time we described how they couldn’t be more different as holiday hot spots on their own. This week, we explain how Aldourie Castle and Cottages, booked together, create the holiday of a lifetime…

The beauty of a private Highlands country Estate

It’s not every year you get to explore at leisure a centuries-old country estate in the heart of Scotland. So, when you get the chance to stay in an exclusive use property that is surrounded by 500 acres of grounds – some wild and rogue made up of woods, forest floor and hidden treasures; some neatly trimmed gardens and hedgerows – it’s best to take it…
aldourie castle loch ness

Fitting for larger parties

Say you are looking for somewhere private and exclusive to host your large family get-together. But the problem is that you have family dotted around the world. You need a place that is easily accessible (an airport nearby and direct flights from major cities a must). You also need a location that is not only beautiful but peaceful and extremely homely too.

Now, say your family is larger than a group of 30 people and you’re struggling to tick all the above boxes. You are also struggling to allocate everybody a room for the night. Many exclusive use properties or luxury destinations in Scotland are converted stately homes or mansion houses. The trouble is they have a small number of bedrooms (usually the original bedrooms of the house). So the property itself is too small for your family stay. A hotel, although it has plenty of space and many guest rooms, does not have the exclusivity ultimately required.

Choosing an historic Estate is the best option because there are usually other properties within the grounds that guests can stay in. For instance, the four traditional holiday cottages on the Aldourie Estate. You can spread your family group out across the entire grounds, where each cottage is within easy walking distance of the Castle. As a result, your bigger party (up to 50 guests at Aldourie) can be accommodated.
Garden Cottage Loch Ness

Another benefit of stay in the Castle and cottages: you have more settings and window views to experience.  Although Aldourie Castle is a luxury in itself, its captivating aura and interior beauty can sometimes be all-consuming. (Be prepared to enter another world when going on an Aldourie holiday). Many private stay guests say they want to explore more of the grounds next time. Therefore, having your family of guests spread out across the parkland means ample reason to roam around.

Best of both worlds

From romantic lie-ins in wooden beamed bedrooms overlooking Loch Ness to showering in a turret and wandering through formal gardens like a Downton Abby character, your experience of ‘Castle’ and ‘Cottage’ could not be more different. Guests don’t have to decide which of these holiday types they prefer when taking over the whole Estate. Both are there for the taking to enjoy whenever they please.

Some mornings you might want a complete five star service at your disposal. And also a large Scottish cooked breakfast on tap. Other days you could want to light the fire yourselves, cook your own eggs and bacon and wash up your dishes whilst admiring the woodland view through the window. At Aldourie, two types of holiday can coexist just minutes apart.

Pier Cottage Loch Ness

Roam down the back garden of Pier Cottage to the shoreline to watch the boats bobbing on the marina. Later, take the family dogs for a walk in the woods (all four cottages are pet-friendly).

Later, sit out on the Castle terrace facing Loch Ness and take afternoon tea. In the evening everybody can reconvene in the Castle to eat banquet style on long tables in the Main Hall. A multi-itinerary for a multi-generational holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

Historic living in the 21st Century

Some just wish to take a short break or luxury stay for the moments it brings and the memories it generates. Others look for something with more meaning and like to know the history of the place they are occupying. Stay on an historic Highland estate making use of both the quaint cottages and the large house and see just how life used to be for the wealthy and fortunate Scots.

Adventure through the ample grounds, which change from season to season and look at the archives in the library to read up on the Scottish clan history. Realise the proximity of the cottages to the castle, and get a feel for how an estate would run. Taking over a Highland retreat of today is not only a luxury family holiday but a learning curve for children and adults alike.library books Aldourie Castle Scotland

The variety of outdoor sports and activities groups and families can take part in together are also another pull for making good use of your exclusive use property and grounds.

Fresh air combined with majestic views across wild scenery make for longer days no matter the time of year and give you more energy to enjoy your stay.


What lies within; Aldourie grounds and gardens uncovered

Garden Bedroom inside Aldourie Castle seems to hint at the outdoor enchantment of this exclusive use rental property on the shores of Loch Ness. Its pastel coloured walls are peppered with delicate floral pattern camouflaging the hidden door to an adjoining daffodil-yellow bathroom, itself laden with nostalgic prints of the ethereal Scottish Highlands. Above a grand mahogany four poster bed cascades rich green fabric and the windows opposite tease guests with picture perfect views over neat lawns, ancient bridges and wild forests.luxury group accommodation Scotland - Aldourie grounds

Introducing the secret gardens of Aldourie: woodland walks, adventures in the arboretum, green houses brimming with life, lush orchards, fresh herb gardens and more…

Greenhouses for the green fingered
The greenhouses at Aldourie have long since been part of the private Castle’s charm and have stood in the vast clearing behind the dense arboretum for over a century. The past year has seen a lot of hard work by the Aldourie Estate’s gardeners go into the redesign and reconstruction of the greenhouses to better show off their shimmering glass panes and reveal the colourful treasures within.

At the end of summer 2016 Aldourie Castle’s private guests will be free to wander across and pick their own goodies from the greenhouses to enjoy back inside the luxurious Castle. In the kitchen Aldourie’s personal chef will whip up something delicious to bring in the new season and the Castle can celebrate its reconciliation with the Estate in using own-grown produce to feed its guests.

Fairytale woodland ignites imaginations
The enchanting woodland on the Aldourie Estate is a labyrinth of paths and clearings housing an abundance of wildlife varied enough to represent the whole of the Scottish Highlands.Aldourie woodland exclusive use stay Aldourie grounds

The 500 acre Estate is made up of part woodland and part parkland so you can imagine how much green there might be in and around the exclusive Castle’s grounds. Children enjoy their land of make believe exploring the woodland; making their own Easter trails and finding Santa’s Grotto at Christmastime. Just as much, adults love the romantic walks and catching a glimpse of deer playing in the moonlight on summer evenings.

Herb garden gives taste to Castle menu
It’s not only the home grown salad that will be causing a stir in the Aldourie kitchen. Our keen gardeners have been working on the formal gardens making a specific area dedicated to a variety of herbs. These will eventually be hand-picked by our chefs on a daily basis to help flavour the already delicious dishes made for the Castle’s exclusive use guests. The pretty patch is already underway and brimming with possibilities. The hospitality team at Aldourie look forward to its official launch when the private hire property in Scotland can state that it uses herbs cut fresh from its gardens to flavour each and every dish on its menu. Just another way in which the Highlands Estate gives back to the Castle and its loyal guests.fish dish luxury exclusive use scotland - Aldourie grounds

Arboretum has endless adventure
Filled with trees of every kind the Aldourie arboretum is a haven for adventure, freedom and fun. A nature lover’s paradise it houses surprises at every turn (we won’t tell you all of them as they won’t be a secret, then) and wondrous playful elements such as the majestic tree house on what could easily be the tallest stilts in Scotland. Discover the secrets of Loch Ness from your personal hiding place and then clamber down to find the novelty Nessie made out of a fallen tree trunk.

Mini orchard; a little piece of serenity
A year ago the gardeners at Aldourie decided to create a little piece of sanctuary in the form of a cluster of fruit trees; a mini orchard on a sprawling country estate. Not only it a beautiful place to perch oneself with a good book it’s also yet another area of the private hire property’s grounds which is laden with fresh food. Guests can grab a bite to eat en route to the ancient arboretum or take back a basket full to the kitchen and request a dessert of their choice. Dotted with snow drops in winter and blue bells in the warmer months the mini orchard paints a colourful picture in these endlessly enchanting Scottish grounds.Aldourie Castle Scotland parkland Aldourie grounds

So the next time you pass a large manor house, stately home, great hall, or even a terracotta Castle with real turrets, sitting serenely in the middle of its private Estate, think of all the possible secrets those grounds could hold and what enjoyment and freedom acres and acres of land can provide not just for those who once lived amongst it but for the people of today who arrive for a luxury holiday, a friendly visit or simply to explore all the beauty that the Scottish Highlands’ back yard has to offer.


Historic Aldourie Castle past and present – in pictures

Grand Designs
We were amazed at the similarities in these two pictures taken over one hundred years apart; but as its main reinvention was carried out prior to Aldourie becoming a Castle i.e. from a mansion house to a castle the exterior’s form remains pretty much the same today.Aldourie Castle historic property Historic Aldourie Castle

Notice how the shape of the historic Scottish Highlands property remains although certain features have been given a face lift, such as (although not so obvious in a black and white photo) the paint colour of the Castle turned cream along with the terracotta tones of the main turret wall. Also added was the hedging on the newly created sun terrace.Horse Drawn Carriage Aldourie Castle - Historic Aldourie Castle

Aldourie Castle is now clean shaven with no hint of the once ivy-clad walls – (in their place a few very subtly placed drainpipes, but we won’t dwell on those) – on the now 5 star luxury private hire property.

The same trees, as ever, still stand proud; in one photo wintry skeletons, the other boasting the lush leaves of summer. Architectural design has always been well thought out; see how there are more windows than wall in order to appreciate the enchanting views of Loch Ness that has long reflected Aldourie Castle and will continue to do so for hundreds of years to come.unique weddings Aldourie Castle golf buggy - Historic Aldourie Castle

Transport for guests
We love the differences displayed in these two images of guests arriving at Aldourie Castle; the lady of the house, a friend or perhaps a nanny come to take care of the children trots up by horse and cart riding herself, stopping just outside the Castle door while the bride-to-be is chauffeured, speeding along in a golf buggy, by the Best Man through the ever enchanting woodland of the Scottish Highlands Castle overlooking Loch Ness. The latter, we find, is a great way to get around the 500 acre Estate especially when pressed for time. It’s very nifty.Historic garden party Aldourie Castle - Historic Aldourie Castle

We appreciate the effort in attire too; of course one would be expected to dress up on one’s Wedding Day but a huge fancy hat with a bow simply in the name of popping in for a cup of tea is something to be admired.

Garden Party on Loch Ness
This photo we know was taken of Aldourie Castle in 1897 and the colour image just a couple of years ago. It’s wonderful to see how little the Castle has changed from the outside. A garden party of yesteryear looked pretty much the same as an outside celebration or family party would today in that the lawn facing Loch Ness is used to its full advantage and made a feature of with props.marquee wedding Aldourie Castle Estate - Historic Aldourie Castle

Bunting was used for the Jubilee celebrations of the 19th Century and ironically nowadays bunting is back in fashion for outside or garden party style events such as weddings and birthday parties, both of which are often held at Aldourie Castle.

Nice to see the grounds were then kept trim and pretty for such an occasion and that the idea of the garden party has not lost its appeal over the many decades and in fact has actually become a very fashionable way to celebrate large events in the 21st Century.

A fashionable set of wheels
One of Aldourie’s first cars; what a striking motor that was! Compare it to the types of vehicles that pull up outside the Castle door today; corporate hospitality events and car product launches see brightly coloured metal heading down the drive at a speed only these characterful drivers (photo 1) could dream of.old fashioned car Aldourie Castle Estate Historic Aldourie Castle

Today’s use of Aldourie Castle, although a luxury home for the holidays, is still a private hire property and therefore not an actual home for one family seven days a week. As a result this Loch Ness Castle in the Scottish Highlands witnesses the arrival and departures of dozens more cars nowadays – and not least because there are many more on the roads.

What must it have been like in days gone by at Aldourie? Originally a house party property in Scotland’s majestic Highlands (and way before that a large house with land frequented by many a Highland clan), this imposing Castle has seen the future unfold before its very eyes and inventions such as the motor car travel and change through time.car launch Aldourie Castle private corporate venue scotland Historic Aldourie Castle

Our historic photo archive depicts residents on the Estate; nannies, children, dogs (look out on our social media pages as we post these regularly) and there is a sense of calm and tranquillity in these images that, even in the day when grand estates held house parties every week, presided over the entire Castle and grounds. Was this due to fewer cars? Did peacefulness exist more in simpler times? If only these Castle walls could talk…

The wonderful thing about Aldourie, however, is that it is peaceful here every day; guests book to take exclusive use of older properties with acres of land for this reason alone, bright red Ferrari parked outside or not.historic Aldourie Estate Scotland Historic Aldourie Castle

Castle pets
Here we have a picture of what looks like the Aldourie Estate grounds being used as a pit stop for some cowboys or a ranch. Either way, the Castle makes a great backdrop to the horses and the image shows just how versatile these 500 acre grounds next to Loch Ness can be (nowadays we hold falconry days, archery lessons and Segway rides in front of the exclusive use property).Loch Ness Lizzie Aldourie Castle grounds Historic Aldourie Castle

The more modern looking photo stars Aldourie’s very own beautiful retriever, aka Loch Ness Lizzie. Our loyal canine friend regularly keeps a beady eye out on the Estate for long lost clan members and likes to befriend the many families and parties of guests who come to stay at Aldourie. And of course it goes without saying that she particularly favours other dogs who visit with their owners for short breaks in the four holiday cottages on Loch Ness.


What does Exclusive Use of a private Castle actually mean?

The first thing to know when you hear the words ‘Exclusive Use’ in reference to a hospitality venue or private property is that it’s most likely a very special and unique place indeed. And secondly, if it’s a historic property, that it is unlikely to be open to the public, making it an even more exciting and intriguing place to visit. Thirdly, this phrase means that the property is available only for private hire by an individual or group. There is no rule who that individual or group may be; it could be a family reunion of numerous generations, a corporate booking or a close group of friends sharing an idyllic holiday.

The library has hundreds of books Use of a private Castle

All of the above outlined attributes of our beloved Castle go down very well with guests. They like to know they are staying in not only a beautiful property but a special venue that can be experienced only by those who feel it worthy enough of hiring the place privately for themselves or their group. This private Scottish Estate and the enchanting Castle that sits within it is classed as a private historic property rather than a public place owned by any of the national heritage organisations that look after buildings and gardens, such as the National Trust or Historic Houses Association.

These organisations are brilliant at up-keeping hundreds of beautiful properties that are dotted around the UK and are responsible for opening their doors during certain time of the year for the public to visit and enjoy. (This is not always the first wish of their current owners but in fact a necessity to keep the contents and the properties themselves in existence). If owners are lucky enough to not to have to rely on The National Trust and HHA for their services and therefore tick all the boxes and have means to operate as a private hire property then this opens up a whole new set of opportunities for such heritage buildings.

4. Aldourie Castle from Loch Ness Use of a private Castle

Setting up your own heritage Estate as a private hire property however is not as simple as listing it on a few websites and telling some travel agents where it is located. There is hard work to be done in making it ready for the guests you want to attract. For instance, health and safety regulations have to be adhered to and any overnight accommodation has to be guest-ready (not like the red-roped bedrooms you see in various stately homes that, although look inviting and exciting to experience, would probably leave you with a bad back by morning).

Like any top hotel, private use venues have a priority; to satisfy guests with an exceptional service and comfort so they either book again for next year or recommend the property to family and friends. All this means research into what other exclusive use properties are offering on a service and comfort level, and aiming to match or go a step further than them. It then also means investment of pieces such as incredibly comfortable items befitting the property. There is a certain knack needed here which is why so often a professional interior designer is hired; the furniture must be attractive, coordinating, comfortable, endurable and at the same time, if in a historic setting, should appear as if it was placed there hundreds of years ago. The same theory applies to the decoration of floors, walls, ornaments and artwork etc. You get the idea! There is so much to prepare for before a property can even be considered as being hired out to the luxury travel market.
Use of a private Castle - red room

Now you realise that the properties you see available for ‘Exclusive hire or Exclusive use are those which are in-keeping with their original era through design, style and architecture but have most definitely been through a period of transformation and modernisation of their facilities, both inside the property and in the grounds. This is no mean feat and, as with Aldourie Castle, often takes years of vision, research, preparation, hard work and perseverance in order to achieve the final outcome. Guests who hire an exclusive use property therefore appreciate what they are getting in return.

for  there is something quite special and mystical about being able to staying a week, or even just overnight, in a country house or castle that was once lived in centuries ago by families and welcomed intriguing historical characters as visitors for weeks on end. Aldourie itself was such a Castle, complete with house party staus and part of a celebrated and popular sporting Highlands Estate.

Privately hiring this Castle as your own home lets you and your guests share in the memories of years gone by, family secrets and as many historical facts as you can possibly take in. Exclusive Use is what is says on the tin: special, privileged and entirely yours.


Why choose private castle rental for film sets at Aldourie

Viewers have been presented with countless historic properties on their TV screens in recent years, which are being used as filming venues for period dramas, feature films as well as stately backdrops for outdoor cookery programmes, documentaries and roadshows. Aldourie Castle is the perfect setting for a private castle rental for film sets, in so many ways – ideally located with large spaces, acres of idyllic grounds, available for private use and featuring the most stunning interiors.

Private Castle Rental for Film Sets

We have had a major filming session over the past few months, which we look forward to announcing very soon. But in the meantime we do our best to promote the Castle to filming location agents and scouts as the ideal historic venue and grounds for any type of filming. We think Antiques Roadshow, for instance, would be very at home at Aldourie. Here are just some of the reasons why…

A helpful and supportive team
We shall start with the basics. A film crew is already scheduled with back to back tasks once they are set up on location so what is helpful to them, although it’s probably the last thing on a director’s wish list, is a friendly and supportive logistics team. Especially great at hospitality the team at Aldourie are only a phone call away to be on hand at the Castle or anywhere on the parkland (we simply jump in the Jeep!) to provide everything from lunch to photocopying.  Our five star service is also put to good use as everything is done with efficiency and a genuine Scottish smile – enough to help even the most stressful of filming days.

Private Castle Rental for Film Sets

Scenic surroundings
Beautiful settings are surely sought after in a filming location. We only have to look outside the window of the Aldourie Estate office to see the striking and mesmerising Highlands’ landscape, complete with picture perfect mountains and endless wildlife.  Spend a day, a week, a month or longer at Aldourie Castle and filming will not be a chore. It is a permanently peaceful place. Whether the film crew are on a tea break or filming the next outdoor scene the enchanting and atmospheric outside setting at Aldourie combines relaxation and inspiration with a striking backdrop.

Heritage and architecture
Aldourie and its magic can offer the filming location scout something different from the norm.  Housing centuries of heritage in portraits, characterful features, high ceilings and heirlooms the atmosphere of the Castle’s rooms themselves lend it naturally as a perfect period setting for filming. The colours and interiors of the staterooms can apply themselves as a backdrop for royal weddings and society parties whilst the cosiness and intimacy of the bedrooms could showcase Aldourie as a private yet stately mansion house.

Private Castle Rental for Film Sets

Expanse of land
A family graveyard, a tree house and marina with its own pier, old derelict buildings and bridges can be found at Aldourie, located not far from Inverness but cocooned in a private setting. And that’s not all. Tree lined paths, green countryside, pretty formal gardens, spooky woodland, trickling streams, unspoiled parkland and four characterful cottages in their own Loch Ness wilderness are captured within 500 acres of land right on Aldourie’s doorstep. And all this versatile space is available for private hire at any time of the year.

 

Overnight accommodation and private space for actors
Aldourie Castle and the cottages combined sleep over 50 guests making the Aldourie Estate perfect for actors who would otherwise have to find accommodation elsewhere. This way, they can be as close to the filming location as possible and the spacious bedrooms and en suites give them private time away from filming to look over scripts and take a break between scenes. Perfect for private castle rental for film sets and production crews.

Private Castle Rental for Film Sets

Variety and convenience
Choosing to film their next big TV drama, advert or feature film on such a varied location has all sorts of benefits for a production company. Private castle rental for film sets has multiple benefits for example; everything is within walking distance at Aldourie Castle. Parkland strolls for those creative thinking sessions, inspirational views and beauty spots to explore and healthy yet delicious food and drink available on request – ideal for tight filming schedules. Production teams can take a short break from filming to enjoy a stroll amongst the delightful formal gardens and orangery, allowing five minutes to themselves on a bench amongst the winding paths. There is endless car parking and flat outside solid ground space for setting up filming equipment and access to the Castle from the main road, air and rail links couldn’t be easier.

Private Castle Rental for Film Sets

The list goes on but the best way to appreciate what this unique and captivating Scottish estate can offer as a filming location is for you to visit it. We are optimistic Aldourie’s next filming adventure is just around the corner; after all, as a Castle taken straight out of a fairytale, we are confident that when Disney finds our hidden location they’ll wonder how they ever managed without us. So, if you are looking for a private castle rental for film sets, then why not get in touch with us via our easy to use online form or give us a call via our website?