Best Loch Ness tours for exclusive use holidays

When you decide to book an exclusive use stay in Aldourie Castle on the southern shores of Loch Ness, there is no need to venture much further beyond the Estate’s walls with so much to see and do on Loch Ness and in the Scottish Highlands around Inverness.

Two types of tours we are concentrating on for this blog post are nature and wildlife tours and boat tours on Loch Ness. The Highlands are famous for their lochs as well as their impressive landscapes and unique wildlife, so what better way to make you, our a private house party of guests, feel at home than by telling you all about what helps make the Scottish Highlands so welcoming and wonderful. The whimsical mountainous peaks and the fascinating natural world are what keeps people coming back to Aldourie year after year.Applecross peninsula, Scotland

Nature and Wildlife tours

Take the Applecross Peninsula Day Trip from Inverness, a nine-hour day trip on a luxury tour that takes you to the less-visited part of Scotland, the windswept Applecross Peninsula. You will spot an abundance of wildlife native to the region and be transported to a dreamland as you soak up the dramatic views of wild Highlands’s scenery. A visit to the the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, Britain’s oldest in fact, will supply you with enough knowledge to understand and appreciate the history of the area as well as the nature that thrives there. Look out for golden eagles soaring overhead. You will be eager to explore the many easy trails giving you and your private house party groups the chance to discover the true wildlife of the Scottish Highlands.

As you arrive in the village of Arndarroch, admire views of Loch Kishorn, then attempt the steep Bealach nam Ba (Pass of the Cattle). At the top (2,000 feet high), an extraordinary natural view will spill out before you; possibly your first sight of the Isle of Skye. From here, take the scenic drive along the shoreline of Loch Torridon, stopping part-way to explore the town of Shieldaig.

Dolphin spotting near Loch Ness

Another wonderful way to complement your exclusive use holiday in a luxury Scottish Castle is to venture out onto the wild waters of the Moray Firth, a triangular inlet of the North Sea with a stunning coastline, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the even wilder dolphin.  One of the best places to spot this beautiful and intelligent aquatic mammal is at Chanonry Point near Inverness. The dolphin-spotting area lays between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle and the best time to see them is during a rising tide. See moraydolphins.co.uk for details on tide times.towards-beinn-eighe

For the ultimate dolphin spotting experience, Aldourie Castle recommends the boat tours that depart from inverness. The Dolphin Spirit encapsulates many aspects in one; you will be able to admire the natural landscape of Moray Firth as well as observe the wildlife in the area including herons and otters.

The thing to remember with dolphin spotting trips is how wild the animal is. That is part of its beauty; the fact that they are highly intelligent with a captivating sense of fun only adds to the delight of witnessing a dolphin in its own habitat. So, if you are lucky enough to see the dolphins that truly is a wonderful experience to hold onto. However, they are not there to perform or entertain, although their balletic dives may appear to have been rehearsed, so try not to be disappointed if you don’t catch a glimpse. And just hope they will grace you with their presence next time.


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.

 


Halloween House Party in a castle; get spooked in Scotland

If you’re planning a holiday or family short break over Halloween why not go overboard and book a private castle in the wild Scottish Highlands? Even better, a Castle that looks out across the eerily silent yet constantly moving Loch Ness. And of that variety, there is only one: Aldourie. OK, so it doesn’t possess the spookiest name (in fact it’s quite magical) but with a little help from your hosts and some imagination we can convert your Halloween stay into a spooky holiday to remember.

Here are three excellent ideas for making the most out of a Halloween stay in the Scottish Highlands.

Old fashioned Halloween activities – for the traditionalist

Stick with the tried and tested route during your exclusive use group stay in a private castle.  Start your Halloween adventure early by getting up early with the children to go out and buy some pumpkins to celebrate the famous night. Also look out for little trick or treat and fancy dress items, Halloween chocolates and bits of material in blacks, oranges, silvers and reds.  Later, carve pumpkins by scooping out the flesh and creating scary faces with a sharp knife – why not set up a competition for the scariest face!pumpkins Halloween

Your countdown to Halloween Night can also be made up of creating your lucky dip box. Fill a large cardboard box with polystyrene or shredded paper (usually the Estate Office or hospitality team would be able to provide you with these or something similar) and then carefully add your trick or treat items into the mix. This will add a fun spin to your trick or treating later on.

It’s nearly time for Trick or Treat. Set one of the downstairs rooms up as the fancy dress space and encourage everyone to dress up as their chosen ghoul or character ready to sit down for an Addams Family style dinner. Afterwards, enjoy Halloween buns that you’ve baked with the kids during the afternoon. Ask the youngsters to decorate the Castle with pumpkins, adding them on every other windowsill as well as outside the house or castle door, therefore transforming your exclusive use holiday property into ‘a haunted house in the middle of nowhere’.Looking over Loch Ness towards Aldourie Castle. Halloween

Theme your night ‘Halloween’ – for the brave

Playing make-believe in a turreted castle in vast, private grounds is easy to convince children to do but Halloween themed hen parties, for example, can also have a ball with more adults and humorous characters from, say, The Rocky Horror Show. A Halloween house party would not be complete without a soundtrack of well-chosen spooky songs and theme tunes. During the day download some music from the Internet and create a Halloween song list on Spotify to play once the sun goes down.

Light candles in the centre of your pumpkin faces, turn off all the main lights and tell ghost stories in the library into the evening. Watch horror movies in the Castle whilst drinking spiced cider or hot chocolate. For those too scared to go to bed afterwards, don’t worry, most of the bedrooms in an exclusive use property have space for a huddle of people and you can also double up if you have one of the single rooms. Just remember, of course, to check under the bed.15-aldourie-estate-graveyard-entrance Halloween

Use the Estate after dark – for the bravest

At Aldourie you can tour the grounds – visit the ancient family graveyard, go on a frightening storytelling walk through the woodland followed by a torch-lit boat trip on the loch. The bravest among you can play Hide and Seek. At Aldourie your seeker can count up in the tree house whilst those of you hiding can use the deepest depths of the exclusive use property and Estate. Remember, there’s always a wine cellar and secret servant corridors, as well as the woods – but only if you dare.

And for those who appreciate an excuse to do something different but shudder at the thought of booking their short break or holiday over the 31st October, you can always take the calmer approach. Exclusive use gusts of Aldourie can sit with their pumpkin friends around a fire on Dores Beach and watch the sun go down whilst happily toasting marshmallows and sipping hot chocolate. Because, honestly now, not everything has to be so spooky over Halloween.


Multi-generational Castle family stays in Scotland: PART 1

Imagine a spring break or half term holiday where your kids will never once be bored. Imagine an exclusive use Castle on the shores of famous Loch Ness. Here we host exclusive luxury family stays and endless things to do for young and older guests; from toddlers to great-grandparents there are endless things to do in a Castle with acres of flat Highland grounds.Aldourie Castle Scotland parkland Castle Family Stays

An exclusive use stay at a large Estate such as Aldourie Castle means not only living in the private property as your own home for a weekend or longer, it also offers opportunities you may not come across with other types of holiday rentals in Scotland. One such opportunity to take advantage of here is the vast choice of activities available for both adults and children, within and off the Castle grounds, helping to vary your house party experience and make the decision to choose to book a multi-generational holiday an easy one.

Aldourie Castle has links with some of the finest distilleries in the Scottish Highlands and can arrange tours to close by favourites or offer personal whisky tasting here in the distinct and authentic environment of the Castle. Pass an evening sipping the favoured Scottish tipple in the Library whilst other members of your family enjoy a game of Billiards or take a walk to the marina.canoeing loch ness Aldourie Castle Estate Castle Family Stays

Loch Ness is not just a pretty picture seen from dozens of windows at Aldourie; it’s also an opportunity for kids and adults alike to experience endless adventure. From romantic boat rides to whizzing past the Castle in a speedboat to cruises with the whole family taking in the surrounding sights. The adventurous among you might wish to book the Nessie Hunter for a day trip on Loch Ness to go down in family history. Children also have the vast loch at their disposal for endless water sports, with canoe trips and zorbing ever more popular ways to enjoy Loch Ness.

Children can enjoy the Estate as their own playground, making their own fun with adventures through private woodland, clambering around the recently revamped Aldourie tree house and playing hide and seek in the old family graveyard.highland games aldourie estate Castle Family Stays

Adults- fear not: there is so much for you to do here on an idyllic and peaceful historic Estate in the Scottish Highlands besides daydreaming from your four-poster bedroom window and admiring the view…

Ever wanted to host your own Highland Games day? Maybe it’s never occurred to you before but once you make your way through these large Castle gates you will suddenly want to try it; believe us. Highland Games activities in front of the Castle and on the loch banks make for a perfect family day outside in Scotland and an opportunity to get involved in the Scottish culture right on your doorstep.loch ness lizzie aldourie castle dog Castle Family Stays

If you’ve never attempted archery on a hen or stag party weekend or even for a corporate activity teambuilding day, during your exclusive luxury stay in this private Castle is the ideal time to experience the Scottish sport. Archery in the parkland at Aldourie has been tried and tested for years by many a party of guests and corporate clients. Why not make it a light-hearted competition between family members – grown-ups V kids! With a striking Highland backdrop to boot and lots of fresh Scottish air this fun-packed activity on our Loch Ness Estate is a brilliant opportunity to spend time outdoors during a family holiday in Scotland.

If you truly want to experience the Highlands of Scotland then there is no other outdoor sport more countrified than clay pigeon shooting. You can shoot anywhere on the Aldourie Estate with clays making this a really independent sport with the bonus of a stunning countryside backdrop.clay pigeon shooting aldourie estate scotland Castle Family Stays

Get the country sports lovers of the family together for a spot of shooting on the Scottish Estate; take a wicker hamper filled with champagne and sandwiches and a couple of dogs to complete the look. Aldourie Castle’s very own Loch Ness Lizzie is always happy to lend a hand – any excuse for a run around the 500 acre grounds in a Harris Tweed flat cap!

The real benefit of taking over an exclusive use castle or other property in Scotland as your own home is the fact that the grounds surrounding the private hire accommodation are at the disposal of you and your family during private house party stays or celebrations. No imagination is too wild, no demand too extreme. One of the best ways to experience Aldourie is through its wildlife which exclusive use guests and cottage guests alike will find throughout the Highlands Estate; from arboretum to the woods and of course, the beautiful formal gardens.falconry day aldourie castle estate Castle Family Stays

Why not let us bring in some outside wildlife from the Scottish Highlands and have a falconry day with the kids? The birds of prey feel so at home in the Castle grounds that they can be incredibly well-behaved during this unusual pre-arranged luxury holiday activity creating endless photo opportunities you wouldn’t get anywhere else in Scotland. If that isn’t reason enough to try a multi-generational family holiday in the Scottish Highlands, we don’t know what is…

Look out for our next blog post which includes more outdoor activities to be enjoyed by all the family in the private grounds of the only habitable Castle on Loch Ness.


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/


Explore the Highlands from a real Winter Wonderland on Loch Ness

A Scottish Highland Estate on Loch Ness – is it really the perfect retreat during winter months? One read of our New Year blog and you’ll be in no doubt of it. As 2016 lifts its head let us open your eyes to the mystical winter wonderland of a true Scottish Castle…

Scottish wildlife in many forms

Walk the parkland and traipse the trails of this fine 500 acre Estate in Scotland and you will soon discover fauna at every turn. From pine martens in the trees to wildfowl on the Loch the beauty of Scotland’s distinct nature unfolds before you letting you into its secret winter paradise. Photographers frequent the Estate at this time of year hoping to catch a glimpse of the Red Squirrel or a scarpering Mountain Hare if the snow has fallen from the Highland hills.Aldourie Castle Estate roe deer - Explore the Highlands

Luckily for Aldourie’s exclusive parties of guests, roe deer on the Castle Estate can be seen all year round so a winter walk on Loch Ness and through the trees could lead to a picture perfect scene – especially if the parkland is laden with a gentle covering of frost.

Woodland retreats

The secret woodlands of Aldourie are home to many surprises, some so small you may miss them – but no need to worry, if you read on all will be revealed. Right in the middle of the Castle’s arboretum lies a little haven where guests can sit together and light a campfire, toasting marshmallows and their well-clad feet whilst sipping warming spiced cider in winter. Look out for Aldourie’s very own wooden Nessie, a spectacular carving made from an old oak lying horizontally across your path.

Further into the wooded winter wonderland you’ll come across the towering tree house boasting mesmerising views across a scenic Loch Ness and Highland peaks. This is a great place for children to safely experience the great Scottish outdoors, let their imaginations run wild and we guarantee some fresh wintry air to fill their lungs.Aldourie Castle Estate Loch Ness treehouse Explore the Highlands

Maybe the romantics among you would like to walk the shoreline from one side of the Highland Estate to the other, finally arriving at Aldourie’s private pier that juts out into Loch Ness. Or take the adventurous route through ethereal woodland coming to a clearing where you eventually spot the peaceful marina dotted with bobbing boats that have been moored up for the winter.

Festive food and warming winter treats

Once you’ve made the most of the great outdoors here in Scotland’s mystical Highlands we invite you to sample the finest food and drink this country has to offer in the chilly, festive winter months. From succulent meats and decadent desserts to fish fresh from Loch Ness on our doorstep the Castle can make you feel as relaxed in the heights of Scotland as you would settled around your own dining table back home.Aldourie Castle Exclusive Use Afternoon Tea Explore the Highlands

Family and friends can gather around the traditional Lairds’ Room in front of a roaring fire or sit cosily together in the Red Drawing Room with seasonal meat sandwiches, local cheeses and rich cakes as part of our fine Afternoon Tea offering.

Later, wash down your daytime treats with a glass of the finest single malt whisky straight from the Highlands’ favourite distilleries.


8 things to do in Loch Ness: Part 2 Including Nessie Tours!

We hope you enjoyed the last read which we hope enlightened you about all the things you can din the Scottish Highlands and on Loch Ness if you decide to come here for a family holiday or a short break with friends. There is never a dull moment here in this majestic space full of mountainous peaks, wild rolling hills and refreshing shorelines. And, look, there is more in store…

Whisky distillery tours

Being based in the Scottish Highlands it’s an easy decision for Aldourie Castle Estate guests to visit whisky distilleries in the region not least because they are easily accessible but because they help to make our guest feel more at home in their holiday retreat. Famous for the legendary tipple the Highlands offers many whisky distillery tours and each has their own story as well as their own scotch so please take your pick.

Aldourie castle , Loch Nes, tea and champagne Nessie Tours

You’ve either never tasted whisky before or your granddad let you try his once and you spat it out before it touched the sides. Or, you’ve acquired the taste over the years – maybe you worked for a whisky company and learned to love it or you simply followed suit when all your friends started ordering a dram at the local pub  and realised, actually, you kind of like it. Well, in our book, each Scottish whisky is different and whisky tasting and making distillery tours are a great way to get to know the drink that is still a vital part of Scottish Highlands’ heritage and its way of life.

Nessie hunting tours

One of the most incredible things about a private stay with family, colleagues or friends at Aldourie Castle and Estate is how close your holiday home is to the water’s edge of Loch Ness. Not only this; but the Highland Estate border leads guests to an exclusive marina and private pier onto the famous Scottish lake. So, obviously, Aldourie is literally the perfect location for a Nessie Hunting tour.

cruise loch ness Nessie Tours

The luxury hire property guests can board any type of boat from the pier including speed boats and canoes but it is the Nessie Hunter that excites most of our parties. Actor Charlie Sheen stayed at Aldourie a few years ago and took to the famous waters to try to find the legendary monster. Was he successful? Quite rightly, he never said. But the endless stories surrounding the incredible myth have led many people – scientists, news reporters and travellers alike – over the years to search the length and breadth of this mysterious and enchanting expanse of wild, fresh water. Some graciously take the helping hand of The Nessie Hunter and some go it alone.

The team at Aldourie will leave you with these two activities to consider and plan – they won’t take you long to organise and, let’s face it, they’re a pretty lazy option and you won’t break much of a sweat. For the final instalment however, we’ll take you on a Highland journey where strength, power, focus and great Scottish pride will come into play – and you will definitely have to use some muscle if you want to take part. Have we given too much away? Until next time…


What defines a special family holiday?

When you think of family holidays what immediately springs to mind? Memories to conjure whenever you feel nostalgic? Time to yourself when you can daze and laze the days away with a good book trilogy? A place in which you can just be yourself and relax completely because nobody is judging? Being around those you love during a family holiday is one of the most precious things you can experience: complete freedom of spirit, private family jokes that go back years and years, fits of giggles when you reminisce over funny times – that seem funnier every time the story is retold.
Castle-at-dusk - Luxury Family Holiday Family time can feel almost magical in the sense that family holidays are a very personal time; personal to each of us, a moment in time that no one else will ever experience in exactly the way we each have, with the same group of people. Many people think that it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you’re with the people you want to be around. Being a luxury travel destination in one of the world’s most iconic and beautiful places, however, does give us a rather specific view on that.

Aldourie Castle is a place of wonderment, peace and contentment. Everything you could possibly want or need on a multi-generational family holiday is here or can be arranged for you in a matter of hours. Things happen with ease at this storybook Castle; teenage girls’ childhood fantasies of being a princess miraculously come to life through winding staircases, private turrets and luxurious surroundings.tree house Luxury Family Holiday

Boredom is not an option at Aldourie; a holiday here is literally like a fairytale. Boys can live out their dreams taking in every sporting or adventure activity under the sun; being outdoors on the magnificent Loch Ness with use of acres of private land is most appealing to the young explorer.  Even toddlers enjoy spending time gazing at sparkling ornaments in the Castle and running through the brightly coloured gardens on a sunny afternoon.

Mums and dads can relax after the hectic schedule of the busy working life for a few weeks of quiet and quality time together. Romantic beach walks beckon in the evening before dinner together with the family. Quality time with grandparents is also something which should never be overlooked; children crave the attention and being spoilt rotten for a while whilst parents are relieved of responsibility and duties, if only for an afternoon. And the bonus? Individual and enchanting bedrooms await everyone after each eventful or restful day. 24. Dores Beach Luxury Family Holiday

A week long or month long stay at Aldourie Castle means that this Scottish luxury home is only lived in by you and your family. The warm welcome upon arrival at the Castle is far beyond that which you would receive at a hotel. An exclusive holiday hire property is naturally your own home for the duration of your stay and so making guests feel relaxed, comfortable and at ease is the first thing on our To Do list. The rest is directed by the needs and wants of our most welcome guests. Whenever you want to get away from it all, come to Aldourie; no matter the season the Castle offers something extra special and is probably the most authentic home from home you will ever experience.


Luxury hen party weekend in Scotland

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

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

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

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

All under one roof

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

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

Bespoke and personable

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

Jacobite cruises loch ness Luxury hen party

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

Exclusively yours

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

Luxury and grandeur

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

Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Boots n Paddles Luxury hen party

A perfect hen party setting

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


A cottage holiday on Loch Ness

We recently had some guests to stay at Pier Cottage, one of the four gorgeous holiday rental cottages we have cocooned in the lush green Highland Estate. Each of our cottages is different from the next and each a popular choice for wilderness holiday retreats and pure escapism for those wanting a break from their busy lives. But this spring it’s the aptly named Pier Cottage that has woven its magic into the lives of our holidaymakers so much as to incline them to write in-depth about their stay.

The journey to bonny Scotland…

Grabbing some croissants from the Coop and a takeaway coffee for the journey, it felt like a road trip already. Our destination? Aldourie Castle Estate, near Inverness in Scotland featuring an impressive exclusive hire property that people can take over as their own home for house parties. However, our precise destination was in fact one of the somewhat quainter and simpler holiday cottages on the Scottish Highland grounds. We had holidayed in the UK before but never stayed in a holiday cottage, always a hotel or B&B, so it was really exciting to be doing something different. Because the weather was on our side – blues skies, gorgeous sunshine and rather warm for March – the time just flew by. We stopped near Perth for lunch and another coffee in a diner with friendly staff and big portions. Being Yorkshire-bred, this was most appreciated.

Arriving at the Aldourie Castle Estate gates a few hours later, we turned into the almost hidden driveway with old wrought iron gates hinged off stone pillars covered with wintry ivy; the moment we passed through the gateway it was like stepping back in time. The drive was winding and secretive but as it wasn’t yet dark we were able to see the terracotta turrets of the enchanting Castle through the trees as we wove down past the thick woodland and into a clearing. The parkland was immaculate, lush green and dotted with trees of every kind. We turned the car left past some old farm sheds and onto a narrower, dirt track. This is when it got really exciting: the woodland became thick with trees once again and the afternoon sun was shining through which eventually revealed a cream-coloured bungalow cottage to the right complete with timbre-framed windows and a long porch leading to the front door. Parking up at the side of the cottage, we jumped out and ran down the slope that led to the shoreline of Loch Ness, literally metres away. We stopped immediately; it was flooded. Scotland had seen so much rain over the past few weeks that the Loch was at least 6 feet higher than usual, we later found out from the Castle grounds man that it was the highest it had been in over 10 years.

Aldourie Castle, A cottage holiday on Loch Ness

As we unpacked the car we were desperate to see inside. We had seen photos on the website but these did not prepare us for the real ‘wow’ factor that we experienced as we stepped through the door. Pier Cottage was huge and beautifully presented. Beyond the inner porch there was a large kitchen with an island in the middle, where the hob was, surrounded by a breakfast bar and stools. We love cooking so this was another joy to behold. From the kitchen came the gorgeous little dining room with French windows that in the summer months could open out onto the garden, which surrounded the Loch Ness cottage on all four sides. Beyond this was the huge lounge furnished with an antique writing desk, cosy sofas and, of course, a wood burning stove that no holiday cottage in the Scottish Highlands should be without. There were windows everywhere letting the sun shine in, which bounced off the stunning Loch Ness waters showing the famous lake off to its utmost. It was serene and beautiful, and the most exquisite window view we’d ever experienced. To top it off, in the window bay lay a table with chairs – needless to say this was our lunchtime retreat for four days.

Like any holidaymakers, we spent time exploring every room, wandering from one space to another, which were all seamlessly linked through numerous windowed doors. This made the whole holiday cottage feel light and airy and it had a freedom about it that mirrored that of the Highland hills which were our constant backdrop. Once the groundsman, Hugh, had made sure we were settled in, showing us how the heating and facilities worked, we set off to the local supermarket to stock up on food and drink for our first holiday in Scotland. We returned, then a bit weary from the journey but ready to cook something delicious and warm. Now that the sun had set it was time for getting the fire started, enjoying a glass of wine and curling up with a good film before retiring to our superking-sized bed for dreams of snow-topped Highland hills and fairytale castles. 45. Aldourie Castle - Four in Hand Roof

Day 1: Settling into cottage life

After the essential first day of the holiday lie-in in our amazingly comfy bed, we enjoyed breakfast and coffee (expertly made by one of the kitchen’s many gadgets, a beautiful shiny expresso machine) whilst sat comfortably at the window bay looking out at the calm, though still very high, Loch Ness. The sparkling water seemed to beckon us forth and we later found out at the Dores Inn pub that many people do swim in the Loch as part of their everyday early morning exercise routine. Pretty cold but how invigorating: imagine waking up to a view of the Scottish Highland hills every morning and then going for a quick swim in Loch Ness. Aldourie Castle Estate has its own private marina and pier on Loch Ness, which guests can see from any one of the holiday cottage’s back windows. The pier on Monday moning was just starting to show (it had previously been hidden under the water) so we planned a walk round the surrounding woodland to take in that and other unusual features this special place in Scotland had to offer.

Exploring the woods on the 500 acre Estate was fun. Spotting the different birds of prey just metres from the holiday cottage garden made us feel at one with nature and wildlife and we started to imagine what it must be like to live here; a Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretyl house hidden in a copse of trees. Thankfully, Aldourie woodland has deer instead of wolves and the many dogs that are walked here keep the witches at bay!  Walking to Aldourie’s private pier we meet a few local dog-walkers who are used to wandering around the beautiful and varied Highlands Estate weekly, if not daily, and who are glad to give us some day trip ideas near Inverness even though the Aldourie welcome pack details some great places to see and things to do in the local area and further afield. A few touristy photos on the pier with the Highland hills backdrop and we’re ready to head to the Castle where Lavinia, the General Manager, has kindly left out some bikes for us to explore the Estate at higher speed.
Aldourie Castle, loch ness A cottage holiday on Loch NessThat evening we ate at the locally famous Dores Inn, which, on a warm summer’s evening when the light allows, is just a half hour walk from Pier Cottage. We resolved to walk there at least once but for this first time we took advantage of the complimentary shuttle service there and back, generously offered by the Inn’s new owner to guests staying at Aldourie Cottages no matter what time of year. The food at Dores Inn was delicious and we enjoyed a peaceful evening at the first Scottish restaurant of our holiday.

Experience more of this Scottish Highlands holiday in PART 2 of the blog