Couples’ holiday hideaway on Loch Ness: PART 1

Today’s world brings with it so much stress and busyness that it’s important that we all take time out once in a while to enjoy the simple things. Not only that, but, as a couple, to keep the romance alive and make lasting memories, depending how frantic your own lives can be on a day-to-day basis, it can be necessary to ‘get away from it all’ in order to truly appreciate one another and put ‘life’ into perspective.  We think the Scottish Highlands, and in particular Loch Ness, is the ideal holiday destination for 2017 and beyond; to unwind, enjoy one another’s company and reflect on your past year together. You will soon realise – there is no doubt about that – that such a place as Loch Ness- with its wild terrain, beautiful scenery and calming water lapping on the shoreline, is a sanctuary for lovers.

Browse the holiday cottage websites, go online to see photographs of the Highlands of Scotland and order brochures to your door. Everywhere you look, from the Internet to hard copy books, from promotional literature to blogs, this surreal-looking place dangles a carrot promising pure escapism. But, unlike many places, the moment you drive over the border into the Scottish Highlands and of course anywhere in the surrounding rural areas of Loch Ness, and lay your eyes on this overwhelmingly spectacular and other-worldly scenery, you will discover an unbeatable haven; one that has not been oversold or exaggerated – but is, in fact, just as you imagined. What a good start to any holiday!Aldourie Castle treehouse - views-46

Loch-side cottages make a romantic retreat

Some couples like to stay inland and be enclosed by the glorious remoteness of the famous Highlands. Others prefer to be on the actual shoreline of Loch Ness, as close as possible to the enticing romance of the unruly water. Here at Aldourie Estate – an ideal hotspot for a romantic break in Scotland – our traditional, cosy holiday cottages combine wild, rural bliss with waters’ edge making your stay here utter perfection.

Here, in the private lush grounds of a country Highlands Estate, couples get to appreciate nature right on their doorstep. Look out of the window whilst you wait for the perfect mug of morning coffee to brew and see roe deer playing in the woodlands and quietly munching on the brambles outside your garden fence. Their delicate, gentle nature makes for a most peaceful scene only accentuated by a dense backdrop of tall and wide-set centuries’ old trees with their leaves rustling up high in a gentle morning breeze. Everything about Aldourie culminates to embody a couples’ cottage retreat on Loch Ness.

Traditional Highland cottage interiors spark romance

There are four completely individual – each in their character, layout and physical location – holiday cottages on Loch Ness at Aldourie Castle Estate. Two of these that really entice couples to book are Ivy Cottage and Pier Cottage, both very different but both offering a couples’ holiday hideaway on Loch Ness.ivy cottage aldourie castle estate loch ness

Ivy Cottage sits slightly away from the loch itself and on the edge of the Estate and its main pulls are its two – how nice to have a choice! – gorgeously presented en-suite double bedrooms set in the eaves of the property. Each has a similar interior design with naturally finished or antique wooden furnishings. Windows on both sides of the bedroom let you see the clouds idly pass by whilst enjoying your first hot drink of the day from bed after a long-awaited lie in and dark wooden beams overhead bring a simple nostalgic charm to the peaceful holiday dwelling. The rooms are spacious yet intimate and one has an elegant free-standing bath in a corner below a skylight – lie back and you really can watch the world go by.

Downstairs at cosy Ivy Cottage you’ll find a bright dining kitchen complete with all the modern appliances that make dining and living simple, freeing up more time to focus on and enjoy your romantic short break or cottage holiday together. A Comforting richly coloured lounge with open fire and snug sofas invite couples to cosy up with a glass of wine once the evenings draw in. Outside, a pretty floral garden parted by a typical narrow cottage path to your front door from a romantic gated archway, is your surrounding paradise. A beautiful stone sitooterie is great for alfresco dining whilst watching the Highland cows in the adjacent field.Aldourie Castle, loch ness -55

The sound of the waves from a cottage idyll

Pier Cottage, by contrast, is located on the edge of the shore of Loch Ness where on a breezeless day as you sit in the garden you can hear the gentle lapping of the water as its waves break along the sand. With three double bedrooms you choice of outlook is varied; opt for the view of the loch with its distinctive Highland hills or the fairytale woodland setting. A recently renovated kitchen provides a large space in which to enjoy preparing and cooking food during self-catered stays with your loved one.

The property – which as close to Loch Ness as you’re going to get – is spaciously set across one floor and is especially cosy during autumn and winter stays with its open fireplaces, comfy carpets and rugs underfoot, and multi-doored living rooms. It is however equally as inviting in spring and summer having so many windows to let in fresh air and light. With land on all four sides and doors on three sides it houses much choice so couples who stay at Pier Cottage will never be bored – even on a rainy day. Its main garden is a haven; enjoy a refreshing afternoon drink in the sun or get the barbeque on after a stroll down to Aldourie Estate’s pier. Watch the sun go down over the rugged mountains beyond the shimmering lake and realise your romantic holiday cottage stay of dreams, on Loch Ness.Aldourie Castle, loch ness -65

A stress-free existence is everyone’s dream but it’s rarely achievable all of the time. That is why holidays are so important; not just while you’re on them but the anticipation of them too. Looking forward to something you really “can’t wait” for can bring about the excitement a child experiences leading up to Christmas, and as a couple, that excitement can be doubled. The true beauty of a trip to the Scottish Highlands, whether for a weekend break or two weeks, is its feel of ‘magic’. From the scenery you will see and the land you’ll discover- if only from your cottage window – your couples’ holiday hideaway on Loch Ness can be anything you want it to be.

Our next chapter in the Aldourie blog will focus on the activities couples can do on and around Loch Ness – venturing further off the Estate to explore what the Highlands has to offer then coming home to your peaceful place. Not too long to wait…


The best holiday cottage tours near Inverness

Aldourie Castle Estate is located just a few miles from the centre of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. Its peaceful setting and convenient location make it the ideal place for exclusive use stays and cottage holidays.

The private Estate hosts numerous guests at any one time, for example, we might have a private house party of guests in the Castle, a family of four in Gate Lodge and a group of cycling friends at Pier Cottage. Each individual or group will have different expectations and ideas for their holiday on Loch Ness so we decided to provide a generic guide to some of the best tours in Inverness, making sure to encompass the variety of day trips available.

With so many fantastic tour operators providing an excellent array of tours across the Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness, and operating from the convenient location just a few miles down the road in Inverness, this guide consists of a select few Aldourie favourites.Aldourie Castle, loch ness -55

Walking or cycling tours

One of the very first requests from guests we usually have is for details on scenic walks and cycling routes around Loch Ness. Some like to go it alone, following a map or their noses and discovering as they go. Others like a guide to show them the best places to walk and cycle for the most spectacular sights and views.

Happy Tours, among its many destination tours, offers a truly wonderful tour of the mesmerising and ethereal Isle of Skye. Once you’ve been transported up the never-ending roads that weave in and around its stunning landscape rising and falling in gentle waves, be prepared for some serious scenery that will literally take your breath away. From romantic glens and shimmering waterfalls to wild hilly terrain and historic landmarks with an atmosphere all of their own, this varied and beautiful Isle of Skye tour also includes a stop off in the traditional harbour town of Portree. Here you can refuel with a seafood lunch ready for more unforgettable views, including the Cuillin Mountains, Old Man of Storr and the Kyle of Lochalsh.A couple walking on the Old Drovers' Road in Glen Coe, with the famous Three Sisters of Glen Coe in the background

For a real sense of freedom and a chance to use your own bike – great if you’ve booked a cycling holiday on Loch Ness – opt for the Loch Ness cycling tour from Inverness. Explore Loch Ness at your leisure with this independent one-day tour where you are completely in control of your time having received a trusty map with set of directions at the starting point of Bellfield Park. From there, you are taken along a journey – and an incredible one at that – into miles of peaceful rural Scotland where you will experience the utter joy of speeding passed spectacular unspoiled scenery accompanied by no other sound than the crunching of your tyres. Weave along winding country roads intermittently slowing down to capture the essence of those quaint lost-in-time villages seeping character and layers of intriguing history.

Towards the end of your route, stop off in Dores, which is just around the corner from Aldourie Estate, for a café lunch or a bite at Dores Inn, and simply enjoy your beautiful surroundings of majestic Highland hills and a glistening Loch Ness. Take a break from the seat with a stroll along Dores Beach’s shoreline and realise just how lucky you are to be able to both cycle and holiday on Loch Ness at the same time. Should you require them, you can hire a top brand bike and accessories from Bellfield Park hire shop. From Dores, you can either take the flat route adjacent to Loch Ness or head uphill to appreciate the unforgettable view across the famous water.cycling-in-scotland_1675665348

Whisky (tours and tastings) tours

There are endless whisky tours available around the shire of Inverness. We chose this one because it combines over a full day two of the famous distilleries in an area that is host to over half the distilleries in Scotland, each in entirely different settings. The Speyside Whisky Discovery Tour is run by the Hebridean Explorer. From Inverness enjoy the 1hr 15 minute drive towards the heart of the lush hills of Speyside before arriving at the traditional and authentic surroundings of the Macallan Distillery complete with nostalgic-looking signage and bouts of fog-like steam filling the air. Here you will experience their ‘Six Pillars’ tour culminating in a tasting of four specially selected malt whiskies, including their 12 year-old Sherry Oak and 18 year-old Fine Oak.

Afterwards, visit Aberlour village for lunch before heading to the ancient parish of Dufftown, in which sits Glenfiddich Distillery. Here, stone walled paths intercept white wash warehouses with grey domed roofs against a backdrop of thick green forest; a postcard worthy scene. You will take the ‘Explorer’ tour before tasting another four drams of signature malts.macallan-distillery

Experiencing a whisky distillery tour makes you feel as though you’re tasting the true essence of the Scottish Highlands, both literally and metaphorically. It is designed to make you feel ‘at home’, as almost any place in Scotland is: from the moment you enter the door and are greeted by genuinely friendly staff to the passion each worker seems to have for their brand, the drink itself and the overall culture that whisky evokes; their endless knowledge and palpable pride to the peaty, malty aromas of the distillery warehouses and the immaculate, ordered setting of the tasting room and gift shop. The entire process from start to finish is a history lesson and cultural experience in one; whether it’s an hour long or a day trip, for that period you are transported, abundantly impressed, a whisky convert (if not already a lover). You will always remember your last distillery tour, and look forward to the next.

If you get the bug why not book on some more whisky distillery tours for the rest of your short break, taking your pick of the crème of the crop in the scenic splendour of Speyside. A fan of the dram? Have a read about three other distillery suggestions in our place of interest blog post.

We look forward to posting our second instalment of Tours in Inverness which will feature the best wildlife and nature, boating and cultural tours in and around Inverness and Loch Ness.


Top 10 family attractions in Inverness

On the Aldourie Estate in Scotland we are lucky to welcome a variety of guests to stay in its four beautiful Highland holiday cottages all year round. Some are cycling groups of friends with an holiday itinerary as long as their arm whilst others are go-with-the-flow families looking for a relaxing yet fun-filled short break. We also love hosting couples who are looking for sanctuary and space and time to enjoy with only one another because, if you can’t do that on Loch Ness, where else in the world can you do it?

The latter type of holidaymakers tend to prefer long drives out to the hills and ambling around peaceful villages they have seen in magazines or in films. So, we have produced a list for the those who wish to explore the local area of Inverness for family attractions because it in fact boasts a deceivingly ample offering of tourist destinations that can often get overshadowed by the wild calls of the idyllic, majestic countryside that is the Scottish Highlands.fortgeorge_139291289

River Ness

If refreshing walks and scenic beauty are your idea of a day well spent then a trip along River Ness is a must. It is about 12 miles long and flows from the north of Loch Ness to north-east in Loch Dochfour. In the summer bask in the warm and peaceful riverside whilst relaxing and taking in the freshly-scented air. In winter, we hope you’re lucky enough to witness the mountains top with snow for truly breath-taking views. To add a touch of magic to your cottage holiday in Inverness, head south in the evening to the Ness islands in the middle of the river and stroll the walking paths linked by little bridges. Lit up against the dark skies, they make for a beautiful moonlit walk.

Fort George

Situated at the edge of the Moray Firth facing harsh North Sea winds, this remarkable fort is well established for tourists yet maintains a strong sense of authenticity due to its current use as a British Army barracks. The impressive landmark overflows with both historical charm – step inside its pretty chapel – and fascinating facts – muse the battle relics in the museum. Cleverly laid out for visitors to experience Fort George in its full glory, you can appreciate the on-site picturesque architecture whilst walking the original fort grounds. As you cross the drawbridge you are taken back to the year 1727, bracing the sudden winds to cross over a wide killing ground.  Enjoy a picnic outside or visit the café for a warming soup or coffee.Inverness-Botanic-Gardens

Inverness Botanic Gardens

Plant and flower lovers will adore this celebration of natural life with its well-kept ecosystems. Descend a delightful stone staircase with wrought iron railings into a botanical paradise peppered with archways in stone walls, columns and statues. Sit by the small but perfectly formed fountain and let its trickling sounds relax you for a while as the kids play in the maze. A lovely day out for families, the memory tree is particularly appealing as are the greenhouses, a great learning experience full of a variety of plants.

Ship Space

Again, another family attraction must-see is Ship Space, a free to enter interactive maritime museum. It houses an amazing collection of relics from the Titanic as well as its main attraction, the impressive 88ft outdoor replica. Located along the Caledonian Canal, visitors can explore its various exhibits, photographs and information about various ships, including film footage of divers going down into the sunken Titanic. This family hotspot will have the kids’ imagination whirring and it’s worth dedicating an hour to get the best out of this unique exhibition. This is an eclectic space full of different levels so, although fabulous for exploring, it’s not ideally laid out for disabled access.

ship space inverness titanic model

The Highlanders’ Museum

Residing in the walls of Fort George (detailed above) the Highlanders’ Museum featuring The Queen’s own collection covers three floors of the Lieutenant Governors’ House. It represents three of the four famous Scottish regiments which The Highlanders descend from; originally Highland clans of the 1700s. Refurbished to a high standard this is a fine attraction showcasing important Scottish history in impressive, authentic surroundings. This museum has an extensive collection of thrilling artefacts so if you are factoring this visit into a tour of Fort George, remember to allow plenty of time to peruse at your leisure.

the highlanders museum

Eden Court Theatre

Whether it’s to delight over a nostalgic ballet, go to the cinema for the latest flick or dine out in contemporary surroundings, this ambient Inverness venue is a cultural and social hub featuring light, airy spaces that will bring even more fun to your cottage holiday on Loch Ness. Couples and group stays can break up their action-packed adventure holiday in Scotland with a sophisticated evening out with drinks, dinner and a music concert. Or families who book their Loch Ness cottage holiday over winter can go to see the Christmas pantomime at this family-friendly attraction in Inverness. Oh, yes they can!

 Greig Street Bridge

Having been described as “bouncy” and “elegant” by Loch Ness holiday cottage guests, wouldn’t you want to give it a go? A footbridge with an impressive view of the city of Inverness, Greig Street Bridge crosses over the River Ness and so provides ample opportunity to stop not only to admire its fine ironwork frame but also the castle and churches on each side of the river. In spring, take a walk at your leisure and stop to look at the daises on the fresh green banks or on a sunny autumn day enjoy the bridge’s peacefulness and gentle swing as you watch the rippling water below and the richly –coloured Highland leaves flying on the breeze.eden court theatre

Inverness Cathedral

Grandiose with exquisite detail this striking cathedral is a credit to Inverness. Situated on the riverbank it makes a captivating postcard picture for your photograph travels. The historical space is a hive of stained glass and beautiful sculptures found through magnificent arches framing beautiful mosaic flooring. You will find a sense of Scottish spirit and a peaceful atmosphere within these walls whilst outside you can enjoy its eye-catching architecture against a wild Scottish Highlands’ canvas.

The Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre

It’s what it says on the (tartan shortbread) tin; a wonderfully traditional shop to stop off at during your Highlands short break, great for tourists who want to remember their Scottish holiday in style. With everything you could ever want as a Scottish holiday gift or to remind yourself of the Highlands and Loch Ness, this friendly store specialises in making kilts and will happily take your own material and fashion it into a wonderful outfit. Perhaps you’re planning a small wedding on Loch Ness and brought your chosen tartan along for the groomsmen’s kilts. Yet another cosy little place in Inverness to make a lasting impression.inverness cathedral

Old High St Stephen’s Church

Aesthetically very different from the cathedral the ancient stone work and bonny pointed turrets make this church a tourist attraction in its own right. Old High is a fascinating building that has been in use since Celtic times and, inside, leaflets will provide interesting facts on the clans and families who used to attend there. This a brilliant add-on for holidaymakers spending a day in Inverness as the church is only a stone’s throw from the centre. Explore its beautiful cemetery and be amazed at the clever and enduring architecture before entering the doors and losing yourself in its historic stained glass stories.

As you will have realised there is more to Inverness than initially meets the eye and it’s not simply a convenient airport for landing flights from London Heathrow and other major UK and international cities – although that is quite a pull, we admit. Inverness is a tourist city in its own right and the ideal holiday destination for short breaks where a bit of culture and history is just as important as freeing loch walks and dramatic landscapes.

Look out for our next blog post where we’ll invite you to explore the best tours around Inverness, from wine tastings and boat trips to nature spotting and sight seeing.


How best to experience the Scottish Highlands this winter

There are endless reasons to book a week’s stay in a holiday cottage in the Scottish Highlands this winter. Firstly, it is guaranteed to warm your soul – and that’s without topping up the wood-burning stove with a healthy supply of logs. A country Estate in the heart of the Highlands complete with a castle available for private hire and a few traditional Loch Ness holiday cottages, is the most perfect way to start to make the most of your short break in Scotland’s most peaceful and beautiful region.

From top places to visit for a cup of hot chocolate to the finest whisky distilleries and the most bracing walks and breath-taking landscapes, read on for some of the Highlands’ most favoured highlights in the most renowned locations.

The Isle of Skye - Scottish Highlands
Excursions to the Isle of Skye or Loch Lomond the Choice is Yours

Explore the Isle of Skye

As with any scenic and popular holiday destination, locals are proud of this area of Scotland and not without reason. So, before sinking into a deep hot bath or curling up on the sofa with Harry Potter, be sure to plan your short break itinerary, making the most of local knowledge, in order to put your time to good use. We suggest up there on your list should be the isolated and mesmerising Isle of Skye.

This remote part of Scotland is a perfect trip to allow you to experience the most spectacular views of the Highlands and Skye is easily accessible from the Aldourie holiday cottages, as long as you don’t mind an early morning start. Widely appreciated for its rugged landscape, historic castles and pretty fishing villages, we advise jumping in the car at day break to make the most of the three hour journey.

Once you have arrived in the region, enjoy coastline walks and narrow lochs, not forgetting to stop occasionally to admire Skye’s dramatic mountainous backdrop and wild, cascading waterfalls. During winter you would expect to come across an abundance of Highland cattle congregated between snow-capped peaks, and on the clearest of days be enchanted by the view out across to the Outer Hebrides. The Isle of Skye’s colours you will capture both with a camera and simply by being in the moment may strike walkers, hikers and cyclists as ethereal and those of you driving may have to get out once in a while to let the air hit you and make you believe it. After embracing the magic of the highest points of Skye why not meander among the pastel-coloured houses of Portree where you can find a handful of traditional pubs full of Scottish character as well as a host of pretty clothes and gift boutiques.

Loch Lomond in Winter Scottish Highlands
Enjoy Loch Lomond in Winter

Get up close to Loch Lomond

A trip to the Scottish Highlands would not be complete without taking the ‘low road’ out to the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. Famed for its folklore, castles and golf – there’s no getting away from it up here – its central spot crossing the Highland border is also a pull for water sports, hiking and camping during winter short breaks in Scotland. The colder months showcase snow-capped peaks which frame the famous lake and have given Loch Lomond legendary world-wide appeal. Its mysterious forests that weave through and cluster among the mountains have inspired many creatives including artists and songwriters over the years.

During winter, cloudless blue skies illuminate the pristine waters of Loch Lomond. Whether you’re on holiday for the challenging hikes or simply ambling along simple scenic trails there’s a winter walk perfect for you and your family or group of friends. There are a host of walks on the east or southern sides of the loch including Drymen and Balmaha which have striking views and the promise of summer’s plentiful nature. Listen out for the characteristic call of the winter geese flying overhead in Trossachs National Park and take a trip to Stirling and the Forth Valley for its medieval Castle. Don’t forget to nip into MacGregor’s Market in Killin for a mug of scrumptious hot chocolate.

A must-see is Loch Lomond’s lively city life, which encapsulates a thriving food and drink scene. The famous Scottish landmark also features a variety of creative villages. We recommend a trip to Luss during a snowy winter, a traditional village whose steeple church and bridges would befit the front of a Christmas card.

Luss scotland winter Scottish Highlands

Loch Ness

With such a scenic and adventure-filled itinerary for a cottage holiday in Scotland it may be easy to oversee the location you are actually staying at. We must not forget our own home in the Scottish Highlands, and invite you to explore the wonder of Loch Ness, from its vast open water and the legendary Monster to getting up close and personal to Aldourie Castle on the Loch Ness shoreline.

Its epic size and folklore sea creatures apart, Loch Ness has so much to offer the curious nature-loving tourist during winter. From some of the most famous whisky distilleries – Glen Ord and Tomatin are among some of the best distilleries near Inverness –  to exhilarating boat tours and picturesque woodland walks, the heart of Scotland’s culture is within reaching distance. If you’ve come to the Highlands to relax during January or Februray, we at Aldourie can suggest and endless array of villages and towns each accommodating and friendly and worthy of a postcard home. Enter Beatrix Potter style tearooms, gourmet restaurants and beautiful interior home shops all awaiting your visit with service and a smile.

Beauly means ‘beautiful place’ and that is just what you’ll find only 20 minutes from any of the Scottish holiday cottages on Aldourie Castle Estate. With a traditional Scottish Highland pipe band and quaint row of central shops you will encounter a real feel of Scotland here. Take a break from shopping at Corner on the Square for a truely delicious sandwich and slice of homemade cake then walk it off around the pretty Priory ruins.

Beauly Priory Scottish Highlands

Some of the best boat cruises on Loch Ness depart from Fort William, itself a extremely scenic drive away from your base on Aldourie’s Scottish Highland Estate as do the most bewitching winter walks that lead higher and higher into utter wilderness. You will find your local area around Dores Beach on Aldourie Estate to house a couple of traditional pubs ideally located for holiday cottage guests visiting Loch Ness. There’s no excuse not to pop in for a quick drink in traditional Scottish surroundings, especially when the walk home looks out over the spectacular Highlands of Scotland and a moonlit Loch Ness.


Christmas & New Year stays in Scotland

Why not make Christmas 2016 the year you decide to do something different? But why wait until the New Year to make your resolutions? Set a date now and start looking forward…

The beautiful, unassuming yet captivating Scottish Highlands does not ask anything of anyone. It looks down from above at all its worth – the majesty of its hills, the uniqueness of its landmarks and the intensity of its history. The vast wilderness of the Scottish Highlands is always there, like any other landscape, continuing as usual underneath these huge ever-changing skies.

Imagine entering a world like no other; a freeing endless space just waiting to be discovered by someone new. Whether your Christmas family holidays are usually land based with cycling routes and long country walks or water based with loch cruises, dolphin watching or canoeing, there is everything in the Highlands to keep your boredom at bay and your imagination running wild.

So, where do you stay in order to appreciate and experience a really traditional Scottish Christmas and New Year? Here at Aldourie we have the best of both worlds: catered exclusive use stays with lashings of luxury or self-catered stays in the heart of the Highlands countryside. Both are tempting, we agree, and also offer instant access to the famous waters of Loch Ness.

A cottage Christmas

Children and adults alike will enjoy at least some of what the Scottish Highlands has to offer, if not all, through a traditional short break stay over Christmas weekend in either Gate or Pier Cottage, the perfect family or couples’ holiday cottages on Loch Ness. Christmas is a social time for street festivals, festive markets and parties as well as intimate family time exploring landscapes, unearthing history and tasting fabulous food together. Couples can escape to the Highlands of Scotland to experience the romance of its magical landscape so much of which can be found in the deep valleys of the country’s mountainous walks.

Scotland has so much to offer. There are cities for the vibrant souls who are looking for a festive party atmosphere and there are quieter destinations like the quaint towns and villages of Dornoch, Fort William and Glencoe to name but a few. In the latter you will find delicious festive food and drink, picture perfect snow-topped views and a variety of frosty walks and cycle paths. Further up out of the towns there are even some well coursed mountain biking routes, ideal for the adventurers amongst you. Fancy some culture? Scotland’s rich history will captivate and shock you.

New Year in a Castle

Fancy gliding along Loch Ness through the darkness and spotting beautiful Aldourie illuminated through the trees on New Years’ Eve? We can organise a cruise or speedboat ride so that you can experience just that. In fact, just about anything is possible with an exclusive use stay at Aldourie.

Some firm family favourites of previous exclusive use New Year’s house parties are archery in front of the Castle, falconry days and walking on water (or zorbing) – a great one for the kids as the minimum age is five years old. For those who want to explore the nature-filled Highlands independently during the festive season Aldourie can recommend the best walks and cycling routes but if you prefer a guide we can organise that instead.

After so much fun and activity to help bring in the New Year you can relax back at the Castle with a spa treatment or two; our favoured supplies can offer a personal service during your stay – a hot stone massage or an Indian head massage would go down a treat after a day hiking the hills of the Black Isle or taking in the rich culture of the city of Inverness. Later, whisky or wine tasting in the Library or Drawing Room could perfectly end well-rounded New Year’s Day at Aldourie Castle.

 


A castle or cottage; where would you rather stay?

On the southern shores of Loch Ness in the magic setting of the Scottish Highlands there is a place where two of the most different kinds of holidays exist within moments of each other.  On these beautiful historic grounds sit four characterful holiday cottages with private gardens and one large and luxurious exclusive use property. From relaxed and cosy short break cottage stays to grand and luxurious family house party holidays you don’t need to venture far if you wish to sample the other.

The best thing about a cosy cottage

The type of holiday you will experience in a cottage is one of cosiness, simple living and creature comforts. The holiday cottages are laid out with ease of use and practicality in mind. Enjoy spacious, clean lined rooms but on a much smaller scale than the Castle. Each lounge has a comfy sofa, a television, DVD player, coffee table and armchairs. Windows are delicately framed with country style or Highland inspired curtains. When the evenings draw in or a rain cloud forms above, turn on the lamps for ultimate ambiance.ivy cottage aldourie estate loch ness Cottage

Self-catered cottage stays require a bit of forward planning, as you will need to clock where the nearest supermarket is and decide whether you will shop for the week or each day. Note the local pubs and what time they serve food until- just in case you’re caught short or arrive home later than planned from a Scottish Highland attraction or walk.


Out and about on a Highland Estate

The great outdoors is yours for the taking on the Aldourie Estate. Wander down to the shoreline of Loch Ness for a beach stroll or head towards the woods for wildlife spotting, dog walking or a gentle jog. Family cottage stays are great fun at Aldourie; children can explore the Estate at their leisure from hide and seeking in the woods, swimming or paddling in the Loch to cycling the many trails around the Scottish Estate.Aldourie Castle, loch ness -68 Cottage

It’s perhaps best to loosely plan your week ahead in order to make the most of the stunning Highland scenery and the surrounding attractions such as whisky distilleries and historical villages and towns. Back at base, find yourselves having a barbeque in pretty, scenic gardens brimming with the season’s best flowers.

How exclusive use properties lure group stays

Join the growing luxury travel market and book a group stay with friends, a family reunion house party or private celebration in a beautiful Scottish Castle like Aldourie. Within moments you’ll be wandering the corridors as if you’ve always lived there because hospitality and a warm, friendly atmosphere is at the heart of any exclusive use stay in Scotland.

Expect higher ceilings than a holiday cottage or Highland inn and possibly most modern hotels. Grand entrances, lobbies and wide hallways give you ample room to move and take in the exquisite decorative detail on walls, floors and ceilings. You could easily while away an evening idling from room to room admiring the many hundreds of portraits and historic references as you go.aldourie castle portraits Cottage

Exclusive hire properties such as privately let Aldourie Castle provide a catered stay to suit your group’s requirements. An in house chef and sous chefs will create, prepare and cook all your meals throughout your stay. Aldourie Castle’s chef is careful to choose fresh, seasonal Scottish produce in an effort to top any previous dining experience the private party or individual group booking may have had.

Bespoke activities for exclusive use parties

Unlike a short break in a Loch Ness cottage where you are responsible for creating your own fun, the hospitality team at an historic exclusive use property can organise any type of activity for your private party, day or night. The surrounding 500 acre Estate combines many elements all of which are available to use and enjoy – take a trip to the private marina for a boat ride on Loch Ness or spend an afternoon playing archery in the park. Multigenerational holidays in Scotland have been keen to book their own falconry days to guarantee of experiencing the very best of Scottish wildlife. So, why lift a finger during a stay in a private hire property when you can concentrate on exploring beautiful rooms or simply relaxing in them.Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Boots Cottage

No need to venture out into the wilderness of the Highlands to find a drinking hole when we can arrange wine tasting or whisky tasting ‘back at home’ in the Castle. Perhaps after you’ve taken in the view over Afternoon Tea al fresco on the terrace, which faces the calming loch and majestic hills.

NEXT TIME we let you in on a secret – how the Castle and Cottages on Aldourie Estate can work together to bring you the most memorable holiday of a lifetime.


Part 2: Why does Loch Ness appeal to celebrities from around the world?

In our last blog post we looked at how the infinite and mystical Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands brought in interest from around the world. Celebrities visit simply to take in its beauty and let the natural aura of Loch Ness enchant and inspire them for their short break or luxury holiday in the great Scottish Highlands.

Read the PART 1: Why does Loch Ness appeal to celebrities from around the world? Then continue to adventure through the calming, majestic waters that float past the beautiful Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness.

The late Robin Williams was said to have been a fan of Loch Ness and its ethereal appeal. He would glide across the waters with pal, Billy Connolly, on occasions, finding the beauty and wildness of the place completely freeing. It is wonderful to think that this exhilarating and captivating paradise on earth brought this great actor some small comfort in the years and days before his sad passing.lochness-aldourie-castle-boatride

A place in history

The largest loch by volume in the Highlands and holding more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, idyllic Scotland destination Loch Ness has gone down in history for more than just its monster or mysterious storybook setting. It has always been an important site for military, political and commercial reasons with settles gathering at Loch Ness as far back as 2000BC.

Recent history makes Loch Ness just as captivating as a tourist hotspot in mystical Scotland. Playing host to colourful characters of the past such as the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, Loch Ness is said to have housed black magic ceremonies and secret tunnels during the early C20th.  It was the crash landing place of a Wellington bomber during WWII that was 40 years later brought up to the surface with barely a mark on it and today can be seen at the Brooklands Motorsport and Aviation Museum. It was also the chosen location for John Cobb’s fatal water speed record attempt in 1952; the memorial for which stands at the edge of the Loch in commemoration of his achievement.

You can visit Drumnadrochit’s Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition for a more in-depth detail of the natural history of the famous lake that features the only habitable Castle on its blissful shoreline.
Airview of Loch Ness and Aldourie Estate

Big fish of the Scottish Highlands

Despite the ice cold Highland air cooling its wild current and frost bitten hills flanking its shorelines during winter, relentless Loch Ness never freezes making it a big allure to fishing enthusiasts all year round. Whether local or tourists, fishermen flock here owing to the lake’s large variety of fish species. From Northern Pike to Atlantic Salmon and Brown Trout, Loch Ness is a sea of life waiting to be caught.

Anglers of all ages can partake in the fishing experience available in this part of the Scottish Highlands and the mesmerising scenery tops off any days’ conquests making it a truly memorable (and refreshing) day out or even holiday. Book a week’s stay at one of Aldourie’s Cottages on Loch Ness for your annual fishing trip or holiday with friends and indulge in one of Scotland’s most treasured pastimes.

In time for the salmon fishing season look out for our March blog article ’10 reasons to go fishing on Loch Ness’.

From Brad Pitt and Gwen Stefani to Oprah Winfrey and President Obama, the list of celebrities who love to go fishing, whether on their own or with a friend or family members, seem happy to let this be known and pose for photographs. Is fishing becoming more popular and could this be another reason to attract them to holiday on Loch Ness? We think so.Fishing Holidays at loch Ness

And, with our unique Castle providing group accommodation for the luxury travel market and idyllic cottages on the secret shores of Loch Ness perfect for celebrity hideaway holidays, we think they’ll soon be swarming here along with all the envious fish who want to be seen at the destination hot spot of the century.

 


Daily flights from Heathrow to Inverness from May 2016

From May 2016 Inverness will have a daily connecting flight with London Heathrow – great for business and leisure travellers commuting to Scotland.

British Airways will soon be starting a new daily flight connecting Inverness Airport, just a few miles from Aldourie Castle Estate, with Heathrow Airport, a journey that has not been in service since 1997. We, for one, are excited that this new flight has been agreed upon to operate as of 3rd May 2016, nearly 20 years later. This year-round service is due for take-off in spring and its inbound flight will depart from Heathrow just before 10:00 with an afternoon flight from Inverness back to London.

This is a brand new opportunity for the capital of the Highlands, which already has a strong and diverse economy, from which the hospitality industry in the Scottish Highlands can capitalise in 2016 and beyond. Aldourie Castle will be sure to promote its facilities as a private hire property to those who are likely to utilise the connecting flight. Business travellers coming into Heathrow Airport from overseas now have the option of holding meetings and hosting corporate incentive stays up in the beautiful, majestic setting of Scotland as opposed to the overused conventional formats on offer in and around London.Corporate travel to Inverness Aldourie Castle Estate Heathrow to Inverness

Aldourie shall certainly be investing time and effort into seeing that businesses take advantage of this flight from Heathrow to Inverness to not only bring more hospitality business up to the Scottish Highlands but to encourage variety in the corporate lifestyle for so many national and international companies who invest money in corporate travel for meetings, events and client incentive stays.

Besides business travellers, the convenient flight will also encourage links with the luxury and holiday travel markets. Scotland is rife with beautiful private homes available for exclusive hire for house parties and events as well as quaint and characterful loch side or Highland holiday cottages. So, whether you’re holidaying on Loch Ness or travelling up to visit one of the large oil companies in Aberdeen this flight from London to Inverness can be a real convenience.direct flights Heathrow to Inverness airport

British Airways alone serves more than 130 international destinations from Heathrow so in reality the hospitality industry in Scotland now has a much better access to a truly global network. Exciting times lie ahead of properties such as Aldourie Castle that appeal to a wide range of travellers and commuters from all around the world.

Aldourie Castle Estate is the ideal luxury retreat for corporate and private group bookings travelling from around the UK or overseas. Take a look at all the cities offering direct flights to Inverness Airport – http://www.hial.co.uk/inverness-airport/destinations/


Castle’s promotional film captures the heart of guests

When you are searching the Internet for a five star hospitality venue or exclusive use property what do you look for? An amazing website that is easy to use and informative as well as attractive and interactive? Of course, that goes without saying nowadays. Maybe you look for a fully up to date Google Plus or Business page as well as current and engaging social media pages. Perhaps a selection of images in Google that portray the property to its highest standard, each well labelled so you know what room, person or previous event you are looking at.

Every year it seems there is more to expect from the online world and therefore more to expect from the businesses that represent themselves online. Forever keeping up with the growing exclusive use market, Aldourie Castle is committed to delivering you – our client and customer – the best online experience you can have. That is why we have invested time and energy into producing the next ‘big thing’ expected from every meeting or wedding venue and private hire property.

Less work for the customer

Step forward the promotional film or show reel, call it what you will. The importance of a short film to showcase our unique private hire property in Scotland is paramount in today’s market. Whether it’s for people from down south comparing short breaks in Loch Ness or families from overseas searching a luxury holiday rental in the Scottish Highlands, we need to be able to visually showcase our impressive product and all its capabilities quickly and to as much effect as possible in order to save people valuable time and hard work.

Not only is a promotional film more helpful than simply reading descriptive text from a website, scrolling through previous client testimonials (we all know how time consuming that game is; Trip Advisor is an evening’s worth of work for the thorough traveller) and gazing at images; it is designed to capture your imagination as well as your heart. Discover how Aldourie has managed to do just that with its latest marketing endeavour.

Aldourie Castle Loch Ness The LibraryExperiencing an exclusive use property is crucial

After shortlisting their search, potential guests who book a show round at a beautiful property, such as our exclusive hire Castle which looks out onto the majestic Loch Ness, are always captivated and sometimes emotionally charged by what greets them. The impressive drive down to the luxury property and the peacefulness of the private Estate. The warm welcome from the house staff or hospitality team- as if they were coming home. The cosy ambience created by roaring fires and intimate lamps in every room – each one lit just for them. The immaculate presentation of each room – as if just waiting for them and their private group of guests to arrive and call the Castle “home” for the duration of their stay. The list is endless; the experience is crucial.

Those people running the most luxurious and unique exclusive hire properties in Scotland know what their clients want out of their booking and therefore attempt to bridge that gap between shortlist and show round which we at Aldourie believe comes at the ‘virtually there’ stage. By this we mean showcasing what the client will see and experience as the next best thing to actually being there and experiencing it first-hand: the promotional film. Laced with creative detail, rich in colour and atmosphere, directed to perfection and backed by a piece of beautiful music that you could imagine yourself listening to whilst reading a book on a chaise longue and gazing out onto Loch Ness sipping a glass of the finest Pinot Noir, our new show reel ticks all the boxes and truly captures the heart of Aldourie.

And this all happens in under two minutes, leaving you time to get back to your day – and leave the virtual world behind. After all, you are choosing to live in a historic castle for your luxury holiday.


New website creates best client experience

What’s so special about our new website?

Aldourie Castle has recently launched its brand new all-singling all-dancing website. We are proud to present to you a more modern-working online tool than we had before in the hope of enabling a better user experience from start to finish in terms of both efficiency and enjoyment. New features include a Cottage Availability Calendar for checking dates available at all four of the Aldourie holiday cottages on Loch Ness, a beautifully-presented blog complete with all the trimmings as well as stunning new photography on large sliding web banners and a host of new photo galleries applicable to each section of the website.

Aldourie has also had a promotional film directed and produced at the Castle which showcases the beautiful interiors as well as the 500 acre grounds. This can be viewed from various pages on the website as well as the homepage.

Cottage calendar checker

There are numerous benefits of having a date availability checker on your website – it saves time, is easy to do and is helpful for potential guests to compare dates for each of the Aldourie holiday cottages before they decide which one they would prefer to stay at.

Our cottage availability calendar works alongside the existing holiday cottage web pages of the Aldourie site. This great as it means that users benefit from having all the relevant information to hand and easily accessible. For instance, Garden Cottage is a similar size of cottage to Pier therefore some prospective guests may be deliberating over which cottage would suit them and their family or group best. By begin able to check availability of each and dip in and out of the dedicated web pages for each of Garden and Pier Cottages, they are making decisions all through their user experience because the website is providing them with immediate answers.

The four Highland holiday cottages on Loch Ness underwent a refurb – both inside and out – over summer 2015. The new detailed specification PDFs available to download from the new Aldourie Castle website help to provide enquirers with all the information that helps them decide whether or not to book a stay at Aldourie.

Huge American style fridge freezers and other utilities were installed in each to make short breaks and family holidays as self-contained and comfortable as possible. We enabled more space in the larger cottages for bike storage making them even more appealing to groups and families looking for cycling stays on Loch Ness. A complimentary shuttle to Dores Inn and back, open wood burning stoves and wood stock all ready for winter also helps to now keep your peaceful self-catered stay convenient and efficient so that you can concentrate on having a fantastic holiday.

Brand new blog

What is the importance of a good blog? It not only helps your website looks as interactive and interesting as possible it also helps tell Google  that the website it belongs to is an active mover and shaker in the online world; all good for drawing attention to the said website and encouraging more clicks. Now the technical lecture is over with here’s why Aldourie likes to maintain an impressive, current blog…

We chose a new design layout for our blog that complements the existing look and feel of the brand; that which is fresh, attractive, informal and welcoming. We decided on the main Aldourie corporate colours of purple and gold but made sure that this was interspersed with lots of white space so as to keep the look of the blog light, fun and easy to navigate through. Social media links, search facilities and sharing icons were also incorporated to encourage interaction between social media users and Aldourie’s website.

The Castle and Estate is a unique exclusive location for any type of event or private stay in Scotland whilst the holiday cottages are appealing to anyone who wishes to visit Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands at any time of year. We know therefore, that Aldourie appeals to a large section of the online market in some way or another. Social media links helps us to share the beauty and potential of this enchanting location with everyone who uses social media.

Finally, we used larger image templates to really capture the heart and soul of the property and its scenic countryside as well as promoting new longer blog articles to incorporate more images throughout and provide readers with more information. Recent examples include Have yourself a corporate little Christmas and How to make the most of the Scottish Highlands this winter that really delve into the product offerings of Aldourie Castle Estate, the five-star hospitality services both the Castle and cottages can provide guests and the inside knowledge of the staff who know Inverness and Loch Ness as well as any expert.

New photographs of summer refurb

A website should reflect the present so we are working hard to keep everything as current as possible for our users. New photos of the Castle, holiday cottages and parkland taken by the exceptional Margaret Soraya Photography really help to showcase the recently re-styled holiday cottages and revamped gardens to their utmost as well as show the richness of colour and space inside Aldourie Castle.

Our first January blog post will be all about the new Aldourie Corporate Film so keep your eyes peeled for a preview of Aldourie in motion against a beautiful classical soundtrack.