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.


How to make the most of the Scottish Highlands this winter

A week staying in a holiday cottage in the Scottish Highlands over winter can certainly warm the soul – and that’s without feeding the wood-burning stove with a healthy supply of logs. Managing 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, we think deems us experienced enough to advise on how to truly make the most of your short break in Scotland’s most mystical region.

From the best places to visit for a cup of hot chocolate to the finest whisky distilleries and the most exhilarating walks and breath-taking landscapes, read on for some of the Highlands’ most favourite highlights in the most visited locations.ALLT DEARG COTTAGE NEAR SLIGACHAN, Scottish Highlands

Isle of Skye

As with any beautiful and popular holiday destination, your holiday in magical Scotland is precious so before sinking into a deep hot bath or curling up on the sofa with a series of Highland folklore, be sure to put your time to good use. We suggest your first port of call is the remote and bewitching Isle of Skye.

This part of Scotland is a perfect trip to allow you to experience the most beautiful views of the Highlands and Skye is accessible from the character-filled holiday cottages on the Aldourie Castle Estate. Known for its rugged landscape, historic castles and pretty fishing villages, we advise jumping in the car early morning to make the most of the three hour journey up there.

Walk the coastline of peninsulas and narrow lochs stopping to admire Skye’s dramatic mountains and wild, cascading waterfalls. During winter you would expect to come across Highland cattle between snow-capped peaks and on crisp, clear days you can see all the way across to the Outer Hebrides. Some of the colours in the Isle of Skye are almost ethereal but you’ll be brought back to reality among the pastel-coloured houses of Portree where you can find a host of traditional pubs to choose from and a handful of lovely clothes and gift boutiques.PORTREE SKYE, INNER HEBRIDES PIC Scottish Highlands

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 dedicated folk song, castles and golf its central location crossing the Highland border is also a pull for water sport fans, hikers and for setting up camp for winter short breaks in Scotland. Snow-capped peaks in the colder months have given Loch Lomond legendary world-wide appeal and its sheltered forests have inspired many artists.

In winter, the cloudless bright blue skies reflect onto a pristine water. Whether you’re into challenging hikes or simple scenic trails there’s a winter walk perfect for you and your family or group. Try any of the walks on the east or southern sides including Drymen and Balmaha for their striking views and the frost-bitten remains of summer’s bountiful nature. Listen out for the characteristic call of the winter geese flying overhead in Trossachs National Park and take a trip to Stirling and Forth Valley for its medieval Castle. While you’re there pop into MacGregor’s Market in Killin for a mug of scrumptious hot chocolate.

Be sure to experience Loch Lomond’s lively city life, great food and drink scene and dip in and out of its many creative villages. We recommend a trip to Luss, a traditional conservation village whose steeple church and bridges look idyllic in winter.Ullapool and loch broom with the mountain of beinn ghobhlach in the distance. North west highlands.

Loch Ness

Not forgetting our own home in the Scottish Highlands, we invite you to explore the best of Loch Ness from its vast waters and the legendary Nessie to the very shoreline of Aldourie Castle Estate…

Its monstrous size and mythical 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 exciting boat tours and picturesque woodland walks, the heart of Scotland’s culture is at your fingertips. If you’ve come to the Highlands to relax, mooch around and get into the festive Christmas spirit there are numerous quaint towns boasting cosy tearooms, fancy restaurants and gorgeous interior shops all awaiting your visit with a friendly face.

Beauly, meaning ‘beautiful place’ is just a 20 minute drive from any of the Scottish holiday cottages on Aldourie Castle Estate. With a dedicated performing pipe band and row of central shops Christmas shopping is a real experience here. Take a well-earned break at Corner on the Square for a gourmet sandwich and slice of delicious homemade cake then walk it off and get some fresh air around the pretty Priory ruins.Beauly_priory_south_side_29042008

The best boat cruises on Loch Ness can be found at Fort William, a scenic drive away from our Scottish Highland Estate, as can the most enchanting winter walks leading into complete wilderness. Dores Inn, an Aldourie Castle personal favourite, is ideally located for our holiday cottage guests visiting Loch Ness and serves authentic Scottish food in traditional surroundings, along with a complimentary shuttle ride home. After a few glasses of your festive tipple, you may just need one!

Back at base, Aldourie Estate features 500 acres of private parkland, woodland and gardens, all ideal for taking advantage of the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Staying in a holiday cottage on Loch Ness allows you to walk the Aldourie Estate at your leisure during the winter months, letting you stop and admire the flora and fauna that make the Highlands such a popular choice for tourists.

For information on our Winter Special Short Breaks offer on Loch Ness, please click here.


Have yourself a corporate little Christmas in a castle

Spoil your staff and your clients after another successful year before hitting 2016 running, with a stay at a luxury Scottish castle on Loch Ness. Read on as we divulge the essentials for the best corporate Christmas…

Combining luxury, privacy and versatile spaces for business use under one roof – and what a roof complete with turrets and balconies it is! – is hard to come by. Couple that with a magnificent setting that will impress important overseas clients, winter teambuilding activities, delicious winter corporate menus and drinks and luxury meeting rooms with winter views and you have yourself a venue fit to cater for your every whim this Christmastime and into the New Year. DW Aldourie corporate

Unlike a large custom-made corporate venue Aldourie Castle Estate is run by a small team who is dedicated to offering you and your staff the most memorable corporate experience. This could be for a board of directors who need to hold a private meeting in Scotland before the end of the year or a luxury activity-fuelled New Year corporate incentive stay – house party style – for your favourite clients and their families. With luxury executive bedrooms for group accommodation in Inverness, offering incredible views over the Scottish Highland landscape and a personal in house chef to cater all meals, you can really indulge in the festive season during an exclusive use stay at Aldourie Castle.

Corporate Incentive Winter Retreat

During November and December a stately private hire property is one of the most luxurious locations to hold an important end of year business meeting to tie up after a busy year or activity day to reward all your staff.9. Aldourie Castle - Red Drawing Room at night corporate

A luxury private hire property is the ideal location in which to unwind before Christmas. The staterooms look beautiful with deep regal colours coming into their own and chandeliers giving off a cosy ambience. The atmosphere in a stately home or property is more pronounced at Christmas than ever; this may be because of its grandeur and warm, traditional hospitality, which we associate with a luxurious and comfortable Christmas. All this makes the Castle and its immediate surroundings the perfect setting for having fun and relaxing.

So, with all that in mind, why not treat your favourite clients to a residential stay on Loch Ness or reward your best staff with a corporate incentive castle stay in Scotland during November or December?Margaret Soraya Photography Aldourie corporate

Post-Christmas Business Meetings

A peaceful wintry setting is guaranteed if you hire a private castle in Scotland for corporate use. Let’s get traditional again and use the properties that are designed for old fashioned meeting and greeting. The difference between a custom built conference centre and a luxury property that is suitable for corporate hire is that the latter can usually offer a more conducive working atmosphere because of its natural rather than commercially designed setting, enabling guests to focus and concentrate. And Aldourie Castle just so happens to be located on a beautiful 500 acre Estate complete with hooting owls, singing robins and dancing deer; you can’t get more peaceful than that.

In winter, the Estate is usually serenely still after a busy Christmas of house party celebrations and this can make the environment of an exclusive use property more appealing for business meeting use than in the summer months. Ease your board of directors into the New Year with that important budget planning meeting in a private Highlands castle during January, February or March.
Corporate stays Aldourie castle ScotlandGuests can work during the day being completely undisturbed by our unobtrusive and experienced five-star hospitality then retire at their own leisure to the Drawing Room, Library or Billiards Room for a night cap in front of a grand and roaring wood burning fireplace. Upstairs, private bedroom suites let you relax in true splendour amongst quiet and private surroundings. You will find that most private hire properties are complete with a small selection of individually designed executive bedrooms to accommodate important groups of clients or customers that really warrant that special treatment to celebrate the start of a new business year.

After your December business meeting in the Castle, companies who hire the corporate property may benefit from using the grounds surrounding the Highlands Estate for winter teambuilding events or activities. Aldourie can arrange boat rides on Loch Ness as well as archery in the woods, segway rides in the parkland. Whisky tastings and distillery tours can be arranged in the Castle or locally in Inverness.

To book your winter business meeting on Loch Ness near Inverness, we invite you to read about Business Hire at Aldourie Castle and contact the Estate Office to check available dates.

 


‘Winter Special’ Offer – Short Breaks Loch Ness

Our holiday cottages on the Aldourie Estate behold some of the most picturesque views of Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands during the colder months. Snuggle up in our recently renovated cosy cottages for your winter Highland holiday or use our ideal location as a base for walking or cycling stays.

Short breaks during winter on Loch Ness were never more appealing. Book November to March for Aldourie’s special autumn /  winter offer, which features a reduced rate on all cottages, and make your short break in Scotland with family or friends one to remember.

‘Special Offer’ details – Winter cottage breaks on Loch Ness
Aldourie Castle, loch ness Short Breaks Loch NessIVY:
3 night rental £350
4 night rental £400
5 night rental £450
6 night rental £500
7 night rental £550

GATE / GARDEN / PIER:
3 night rental £400
4 night rental £450
5 night rental £500
6 night rental £550
7 night rental £600

Prices are inclusive of VAT

From a Minimum 3 night rental / cost

Heating and electricity are included and bed linen and towels are provided.parkland_Aldourie_Estate Short Breaks Loch Ness


Autumnal scents: Book a stay November – December

Aldourie parkland is awash with rich colour come November as a mix of crimson and rustic reds, burnt orange and delicate golds burst onto the scene. The evergreens stand their ground and try their hardest to be prominent but it’s the New England fall colours that take centre stage. The Scottish Highland hills make for a wonderful postcard picture and – bonus – they offer the most breath-taking and soul lifting walks in Scotland. All the more reason therefore to book onto Aldourie’s fabulous new Winter Offer in one of our four traditional country cottages.
Loch Ness from Aldourie Short Breaks Loch NessCreate your own nostalgia: log burning fires and snuggly tartan blankets block out the cold winds as you look out onto a blustery landscape although we do recommend making the most of your stunning and ideal location by wrapping up warm and venturing out into the Castle grounds to discover your own little piece of autumnal Aldourie, rejoice in Scottish wilderness and make some lasting memories.

Winter wonderland: Rent a cottage January – March

So, you have the chance to stay in the enchanting Scottish Highlands for your winter short break. Where better to appreciate this dramatic landscape that on the banks of Loch Ness, the most famous stretch of water in the world? The setting at Aldourie is second to none, even though we say so ourselves. You have the silence of the woodland, the peacefulness of the hills, the nostalgia of Aldourie Castle to view up close at your leisure and the variety of Scotland’s wildlife on your doorstep. Add the fact that winter is sure to bring a blanket of snow from December onwards and your winter wonderland awaits.Marina snow Short Breaks Loch Ness

Walk the ethereal trees of the Aldourie arboretum and crunch along frosty Dores Beach to the Inn for a whisky or three course dinner and watch the gentle bob of Loch Ness from the comfort of the fireside. Hike or cycle the snow-capped peaks and return to your den – aka one of Aldourie’s cosy winter holiday cottages – for a warming coffee, a soothing hot bath or to curl up with a good book on cosy settees.

ALDOURIE WINTER SPECIAL OFFER ON SHORT BREAKS IN SCOTLAND IS VALID ON ALL NEW BOOKINGS: NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2015 / JAnUARY – MARCH 2016.

*Excludes Christmas / New Year / Easter or existing bookings*


Holiday cottages get a makeover

As bright and lively summer gives way to comforting and cosy autumn, Aldourie Castle Estate is proud to present its four revamped idyllic retreats in the heart of tranquil Loch Ness. The holiday cottages on the Highland grounds just outside of Inverness offer even more appealing accommodation than before. As the Scottish countryside bursts into flames of colour, snuggle up in Ivy’s lounge, crunch through the copper leaves of Gate Lodge and breathe in that fresh Scottish air with a short break at Pier Cottage.

As well as a beautiful imposing castle on the shores of Loch Ness available for private hire, multi-generational stays and family holidays in Scotland can also be experienced in the perfectly formed character-filled cottages on the surrounding Aldourie Estate. The ideal holiday destination for families, couples or groups visiting the Scottish Highlands, the spacious holiday cottages can also be rented together for Castle house party stays that require additional guest accommodation. Holiday cottages on Loch Ness Scotland

This summer’s refurb has been a full-on experience for the hospitality and management team at Aldourie, not least for the talented gardeners who have designed new outdoor spaces for holiday cottage guests to enjoy. Scenic morning walks, autumnal picnics and evening campfires are all on the agenda this season at Aldourie, to make the most of these beautiful new outdoor spaces. Adventure is literally at your fingertips from each and every holiday cottage on this unique Loch Ness Estate.

Picturesque Ivy is postcard-perfect

Ivy Cottage is sought after by many of Loch Ness’ regular holiday makers. Its convenient situation close to all routes at the edge of the Aldourie Estate is one pull whilst the idyllic aesthetic of a symmetrical exterior at the end of a hedge lined path and framed by a pretty picket fence is another. Flowers surround the front of the cottage and it backs onto vast fields from a private yard setting. The traditional cosy stone sitooterie is an atmospheric place to shelter from the breeze and take in the glorious Highland countryside over a good book or a chat with friends. Its two penthouse bedrooms offer ample space for couples to unwind and romantic stays in Ivy are complete now that the outdoor area has been revamped to create a beautiful backdrop to those all-important memorable holiday moments.

Aldourie Castle, loch ness Holiday cottagesGarden’s in bloom all year round

Garden Cottage has been painted top to toe on the outside and looks brand new again. Its varied plant life and flowers make for a colourful private space to enjoy the fresh Highland breeze over a warming cup of coffee or refreshing glass of wine.  Beyond the garden gates our imaginative gardening team have created an adventure wonderland for children, adults and pets alike to enjoy in the form of the vast outdoor garden-come-orchard complete with rose arches, low hedging and access into the rest of the expansive 500 acre Estate. Families can adventure forth in the morning, walking with the dogs in the main parkland whilst exploring the changing colours of the grounds. In the afternoon, kids enjoy entering through the huge iron gate into the Secret Garden – AKA the castle’s enchanting arboretum – full of autumnal wonders including a giant tree house overlooking Loch Ness and a hidden family graveyard, perfect for Halloween stays.

Aldourie castle, cottages, loch ness- Holiday cottages

Lodge in Gate with a view of the Castle

Offering one of the best views in Loch Ness (in our humble opinion, anyway) stately Gate Lodge looks out across the grounds towards the impressive façade of Aldourie Castle, behind which is the magnificent backdrop of the Highlands over Loch Ness. Smartly repainted to portray its former glory, the two-floor lodge hides a discreet back garden full of wild flowers and entrancing scents to complete its fairytale appeal. Black wrought iron fencing has been re-varnished to give the cottage a really polished look in keeping with its status as King of the Parkland. Ideally located on the Estate, it witnesses the comings and goings of all guests along the winding drive and is perfectly placed to spot the roe deer as they come out to play in the evening. For Scottish holidaymakers who like to be part of the action Gate Lodge is a charming base, and seclusion can always be found in its cosy lounge or in beach strolls not far from the cottage.

Aldourie Castle, loch ness Holiday cottages

Private Pier makes your stay unique

Pier Cottage has undergone the most profound change of them all; from a brand new loch-side al fresco area complete with a fabulous BBQ and cosy picnic table to an exterior paint job that has transformed this spacious holiday rental into a shining star in the midst of Aldourie’s all-consuming woodland.  The bungalow-style short break retreat is ideal for peace and quiet, water activity enthusiasts or guests who find it easier to reside in one-level accommodation. Its spacious and naturally inspired interior provides an instant warmth and comforting dwelling for couples and families looking for a home-from-home stay. Dogs are welcome to chase around the huge garden, run wild in the woodland and splash about to their heart’s content in the Loch. Morning strolls through the wooden pergola and down towards Aldourie Pier provide a fantastic view over the water towards the Scottish Highland hills, which in autumn are ablaze in colour.

Aldourie Castle Estate Is still taking holiday cottage bookings throughout autumn and winter 2015 – 2016. Don’t miss out on the experience of a lifetime in the beautiful Scottish Highlands on Loch Ness. View our holiday cottage calendar here.

 


Why Scotland is a beautiful holiday location in all seasons

We’d like to introduce you to the wonder of Aldourie through the seasons, to help you decide when best to stay in a holiday cottage or have a luxury family house party in the Scottish Highlands. The look and atmosphere of the Castle changes throughout the year and each season brings more wonder than the last. Welcome to a year in colours and scents at Loch Ness’ most enchanting castle and estate…

Aldourie-Castle beautiful holiday locationSpring

The joys of springtime on the Aldourie Castle Estate really do set guests and staff up for the year ahead. The colours in the arboretum start to appear; green foliage creeps out of bare branches and brambles and the buds show their heads in the garden and woodland. On the Estate, private holiday guests can look forward to fresh fragrant walks in the mornings and afternoons coming across daffodils and daisies aplenty that spill out over the acres of parkland.

The delightful sound of spring in the air comes from the eclectic birdsong in the woods and bushes. Families who use the Estate to its full advantage during their exclusive stay at the Castle will notice the wildlife awakening from their homes – red squirrel, pine martins and roe deer are just a few animals to be found in the Scottish Highlands. Springtime calls for a game of archery in the park for early risers and midday picnics sitting amongst the bluebells.

In Aldourie Castle, we gather up some wild flowers and daffodils from the grounds and arrange them into vases throughout the bedrooms for guests to enjoy.

34.-Aldourie-Estate-Red-Squirrel beautiful holiday locationSummer

When the weather is high…and even when it’s low, summertime at Aldourie is a sight to behold. Cottage guests can wander the Estate into the evening, enjoying the light nights along Dores Beach, walking the dog through shadowed trails and gazing over Loch Ness from the Estate’s private pier. The boats bobbing on the marina are symbolic of the summer season at Aldourie; backed by the majestic Highland hills they accentuate the calmness of Scotland’s beautiful nature and distinctive wildlife.

The Castle gardens start to bloom with bright colours in every shade from rose arches to rhododendron walks and wild cascading flowers. The tree house and campfire spots are popular pastimes among summer guests with their promise of adventures and warmer nights. BBQs on the terrace overlooking the loch make for an enjoyable afternoon in the sun and into the evening when guests can wander the grounds with a glass of the Castle’s finest cellar wine.

Chef brings in seasonal herbs and fruits to bring dishes to life; from summer favourites including forest fruit cheesecakes and gateaux to new fish and chicken pies and salads.

 

19.-Aldourie-Estate-Parkland beautiful holiday locationAutumn

The trees start to turn in September usually but it does depend on the climate. A sea of golds, burnt oranges and crimson reds sweeps across the Scottish Highland hills and woodland floor, cocooning Aldourie Castle in an autumnal coloured rainbow. For cottage and Castle guests that stay during October and November the atmospheric Loch Ness and old family graveyard are among their favourite haunts, from Halloween strolls through clusters of parkland trees to peaceful boat rides in the nostalgically scented afternoon.

Afternoon Tea is often served in the Red Drawing Room where guests can recline on chaise longues and look out at the golden peaks and the forests swaying in the autumn breeze. Throughout the Castle, open fires flame with a gentle roar and cosy furnishings provide the perfect luxury base. Outside, because it’s always more fun to be there, the children can pick apples and various other fruits from the mini orchard near the greenhouses. The season brings plenty of pine cones and conkers for them to collect on chilly mornings.

Pumpkin pie is an Aldourie Castle chef staple, enjoyed best with friends and a fresh pot of coffee in the Laird’s Room. After cooking up an autumnal feast in the country kitchens of the holiday cottages, guests succumb to the temptation of the wood burning stove after crunching some leaves underfoot during a satisfying woodland walk.

Margaret-Soraya-Photography-Aldourie-24 beautiful holiday locationWinter

Colour slowly fades on the Estate and a silence falls as the Highland wildlife returns to shelter. Blue, cloudless skies and low sun heats up the wintry mornings; guests love a brisk walk before breakfast then watching the children race back to the Castle for a full Scottish fry up! Afternoons are made up on speedboat rides on Loch Ness wrapped up in winter woollies feeling the crisp wind against your face and dewy winter wonderland strolls looking up onto snow-capped peaks over crystal clear waters.

Back inside the Castle, hot cider and mulled wine flows and candles with festive scents fill the staterooms with smells of Christmas. Chef can be found cooking hot casseroles and Sunday roasts using the finest local game, poultry and winter veg accompanied at their best with a soul-warming bottle of Merlot from the Castle cellar at the traditional dining table.

If you’re lucky enough to be staying on the Aldourie Estate when the snow falls one of the most magical sights is seeing the Castle from the Dores side of the Loch, backed by evergreen forests and fronted with snow-capped hedges and a calming glistening lake. Snow drops and snow bells pepper the formal gardens and arboretum – fill up a vase for the bedroom to bring in the exciting smells of winter to your cottage retreat.


5 reasons to book a holiday cottage over hotel in Scotland

People have always enjoyed the freedom and flexibility that accompanies a DIY holiday from camping to self-catered hotel stays; you have the base covered but you make your own fun from there. But the growing popularity in cottage breaks in the UK and abroad is proof that people want a holiday entirely on their own terms and deep down like the creature comforts of a home from home experience. Some added luxury and an idyllic location are usually top of the list, especially if a couple, family or group of friends are travelling far up the country to the magnificent and famous Scottish Highlands. It just so happens that Aldourie can provide all the convenience and beauty needed to make the perfect cottage holiday or short break in Scotland.

Aldourie-Castle-loch-ness-35 hotel in ScotlandSelf-catering is more fun

When you’re planning and preparing your own meals you can eat what you like, when you like, which certainly helps set the tone for a freeing existence during your cottage holiday. Convenient and relaxing, holiday cottages on any farm or large country estate will usually boast a chic country kitchen with all the mod cons you’d have at home – and the change of scenery makes it all the more enjoyable to cook and chat with family and friends. You also have the choice to break up your routine with visits to a selection of local cafés or pubs in quaint towns or glorious countryside settings – check your holiday cottage manual for the owner’s recommendations for the best eateries around.

Aldourie pleasure:

Never mind Jamie Oliver’s dazzling kitchen or The Great British Bake Off marquee set ups, the huge kitchen at Pier Cottage looks out onto Highland wilderness and woodland and has a spacious cooking island and American style fridge-freezer whilst country chic Ivy Cottage has its very own SMEG. Let the beauty, aromas and tranquility of the Highlands inspire your contemporary cooking as you sit literally on nature’s doorstep. Guests are encouraged to visit the local and highly acclaimed Dores Inn for lunch or dinner; take the charming shoreline walk there and receive the complimentary shuttle back, available to all Aldourie holiday cottage guests.

4.-Ivy-Cottage-Kitchen-and-Dining-Room-e1440429702217 hotel in ScotlandBreakfast at your leisure

Wake up to a breakfast every morning at a time to suit you instead of being dictated to by a hotel’s set timings. Enjoy a leisurely prep in the kitchen and later the full works with the company of your choosing. Top off sitting down to a hearty cooked Scottish breakfast with incredible window views and cosy surroundings with the gentle hum of the radio.

Aldourie pleasure:

It has to be bacon and eggs breakfast in bed or being woken up by the smell of steaming fresh coffee from the Nespresso machine, found in any one of the four pretty holiday cottages on the Highland Castle’s large Estate.

Beautiful setting and landscape

Compared to a hotel, which is more often than not placed for convenience of access and locality, a holiday cottage is placed thus for its setting. Luxury cottage rentals in Scotland are blessed with captivating surroundings of the Highlands or Lowlands or on the banks on many of the lochs that define the country. Tranquillity and beauty preside in the calming, wild and untouched areas of Scotland so when choosing your cottage destination be sure to opt for one with the most idyllic and captivating views as well as access to the type of countryside you most want to enjoy or explore. Your own holiday cottage garden, like the ones at Aldourie, allows freshly cooked dinners al fresco, barbeque on site and the kids run around by themselves in a safe, secure environment.

Aldourie-Castle-loch-ness-51Aldourie pleasure:

Nestled within a private Estate yet accessed by the main road into Inverness and minutes from the train station and airport, our cottages could not have a more convenient location. Once through the iron Castle gates, the route down the winding drive to find each of our hidden holiday cottage gems is an adventure in itself and the glorious, individual setting of each holiday cottage is the icing on the cake. With endless views, scenic walks, fresh air and rare Scottish wildlife on your doorstep there is no need to get in the car to find it elsewhere.

Unadulterated Privacy

Unlike a hotel, with a relaxing cottage break in Scotland you will not have to share the outlook or immediate outdoor surroundings with anybody but your own party of family or friends. Plus, all rooms in the holiday cottage are yours to use as and when you please and for whatever reason you wish. Although the landscaped gardens and grand rooms of a hotel may be luxurious they are intended for public use and privacy is not necessarily part of the deal. Self-catered holiday cottages are also a preferred way of holidaying for many because there are no hospitality staff and no superfluous distractions; just the relaxing lapping of waves and the giddy noise of the children playing in the back garden.

Aldourie-Castle-loch-ness-49Aldourie pleasure:

Ivy Cottage’s cosy luxury complete with exposed beams and a freestanding bedside bath is more romantic than any hotel suite. Garden Cottage’s outdoor area is an adventure playground for all the family and Pier Cottage offers Loch Ness views you could only otherwise dream of that are exclusive to you. Privacy in your Scottish Highland dwelling is guaranteed at Aldourie.

Pet friendly

Many hotels are not pet friendly but when you visit the Scottish Highlands bringing your beloved dog is a huge part of what makes your holiday special. One of the major pulls of a self-catered stay is the opportunity to bring the whole family and not leave a certain member behind. Bringing your dog on holiday helps to keep the stress levels low and the kids distracted, which on long car journeys could be a welcome relief. Moreover, dogs add fun, frivolity and activity to your cottage holiday and can take advantage of most of the holiday activities you would partake in as a family – perhaps not the initial supermarket shop, but definitely the long Highland walks, hill scrambles and wild swimming in the lochs! Pet friendly cottages can be found across the Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness and are usually advertised as such on the owner’s website.

Aldourie-Castle-Loch-Ness-Boots-n-Paddles-057-e1440432451663Aldourie pleasure:

The mysterious woodland, enormous parkland and close proximity to Loch Ness for playful paddles make for a perfect dog holiday at any Aldourie cottage, whilst atmospheric and heart-warming indoor wood burning stoves will keep your lovable pooch contented into the evening. Dogs love racing out onto the private pier and lazing there with a bowl of water, mesmerised by the boats bobbing on the marina.


Private Castle Wedding Venues

Bring the year to a fine end in a premier private Scottish castle wedding venue

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

Private Castle Wedding Venues

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

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

Be brave and bold with colour

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

Margaret Soraya Photography shows the wintry magic of Loch Ness

Hot beverages create a party spirit!

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

Theme it ‘Winter’

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

Private Castle Wedding Venues

And finally…Let it Snow!

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

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

Celebrate with only your nearest and dearest family and friends in what will be one of the most memorable days of your lives in the most exclusive, private Scottish castle wedding venue, on wondrous Loch Ness.


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…


Summer in Loch Ness – 8 things to do

There is a wealth of activities to experience in this infinite, wild land that is home to Aldourie Castle and its traditional, cosy holiday cottages. Here are just a few exciting and adventurous things to do in the magnificent Scottish Highlands and majestic Loch Ness waters that will help lift your spirits and energy levels. They will also make you wonder why on earth you never thought of visiting Scotland before…

Hiking Summer in Loch Ness

Walking and hiking

The breath-taking scenery of barren land and mountainous peaks are a sea of greens, greys, blues and yellows – a real treat for the eyes, and the lungs.

Get out into Scotland’s wilderness and explore the walking trails and hiking paths. Good short but scenic walks include Loch Ness, Glen Affric and the Black Isle and for the hiker in you venture up high to the Isle of Skye and scramble up the Black Cuillin mountains to experience much longer Scottish Highland hikes and some unforgettable views. The more you challenge yourself on your short break in the unpredictable Scottish Highlands the more rewarding your time in this beautiful, spirit freeing place will be. Some spectacular and impressive Loch Ness and Highland walks can be found at Hillwalk Tours and Walk Highlands.

Cycling

There are supposedly nine million bicycles in Beijing. There are a lot fewer in Scotland but in our opinion there is more beauty to be seen cycling through the Highland hills. Once a wooden framed, simply designed apparatus this piece of engineering art is now enjoyed by millions of people across the world. From the practiced competing cyclist to the family of four who just like to explore to the mountain biking enthusiast, cycling is becoming more popular by the day.

cycling low res

This simple, historic sport is faster than walking or running and you get a sense of exhilaration whizzing through the tall Highland forests or along winding Loch Ness cycle paths. You can explore so much more on a bike than on foot whilst on holiday in the Scottish Highlands. Find out some great cycling routes at Visit Scotland

Canoeing

You’ve either never been in a canoe before or you got the bug in your invincible teens and spent the rest of your life in one. Or, you were made to get in one for a corporate away day once – and “never again”. Well, in our book, canoeing holidays in Scotland are a great way to explore and discover the wilderness regions on the Scottish Highlands, its rivers and lochs.

With literally dozens of helpful and informative websites on canoeing in Scotland, you can take your pick of these experienced organisations from basic canoe paddling with Explore Highland to adventure loving Wilderness Scotland.

The famous Great Glen Canoe Trail takes you along the Caledonian Canal from Aldourie Castle’s nearest town, Inverness, to historic Fort William, full details of which can be found at our local tourism website.

Summer in Loch Ness CanoeingBoat Tours

One of the most incredible things about a week or a fortnight staying with your private party at Aldourie Castle and Estate is the close proximity to the water’s edge of Loch Ness.

Not only do the beautiful Highland grounds lead into woodland for you start off any of your walks or hikes above but it also features its own marina and private pier on the famous lake ideal for boat tours on Loch Ness.

Our Castle guests can board any type of boat from the pier from speed boats to the Nessie Hunter to canoes and even water zorbs for the kids. But one of our favourite things to do on Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands is take a boat cruise from Fort William or Inverness and take in the history, facts and folklore of the vast lake and let its mystery and mesmerising beauty calm your soul and take you into another world.

To find a boating tour on Loch Ness to make the most of your holiday in Scotland take a trip with Jacobite Cruises and Tours which go past Aldourie Castle and Urquhart Castle or Loch Ness Cruises in Drumnadrochit. Jacobite cruises loch ness Summer in Loch Ness

Whether you’re planning a week long cottage stay in the Scottish Highlands or opting for exclusive use of a beautiful and luxurious private hire property such as Aldourie with its own Highland grounds, Scotland caters for all. This should leave you filling your Loch Ness holiday itinerary until Part 2 arrives for details on Whisky making tours, Nessie hunting and more.