How to enjoy the great outdoors on a Scottish Castle estate

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

Wildlife spotting

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

Hide and Seek in the arboretum

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

Play make –believe in the tree house

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

Read a book of fairy tales in the formal gardens

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

Get close to nature in the parkland

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

Beach walks on Loch Ness

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

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


5 amazing reasons to stay in a castle

In case you need persuading we’ve listed our favourite five reasons why you might want to stay in a castle. Of course, we could have focused on the exclusivity of some castles, perfect for private family holiday rentals. Or we could have enticed you with talk of luxury bedrooms and spectacular window views. Instead, we’ve considered what might come to mind when conjuring up the image of a castle in your head. If you had never considered a stay in a castle, whether for a luxurious group holiday or special birthday celebration, it’s time to give in to your inner romantic and realise the wonder behind every castle wall.
Aldourie Castle Loch Ness bride internal spiral staircase stay in a castle

They’re in fairytales

Once upon a time people would get married in a church. Then came the shiny, swanky, spotless hotel and that became the ideal wedding venue. But nowadays, brides want it all – and that can often mean getting married in a fairytale castle…but, of course!

Not only can couples officially ‘get married’ but they can also stay in a castle overnight and so can their guests. Whether for your intimate nuptials or full blown celebrity wedding, insist on posing for photographs in the highest turret and use the spiral staircase as part of your walk down the aisle. Because surely, if they had gotten the chance, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty would have done the same thing.

Holiday and history in one

Traditionally, one of the main reasons a castle was built was to ensure protection from enemy armies. They had cold rooms, grey stone walls and floors, and tiny windows to lessen chances of danger getting in. Some castles, in Scotland most definitely, remain precisely this way to this day. These Scottish castles are fabulous for tourists wanting to get a feel for life in the olden days. However, they’re not so enticing for the luxuries one longs for when escaping for a week or two’s holiday. Now that the exclusive use property has taken off like a cannon ball, many castles have been restored and renovated with more opulence and comfort than they’ve ever had before.

old photo Aldourie Castle Estate exterior stay in a castle

Large families searching for that special reunion location can stay in a castle equipped with everything expected of a luxury holiday rental. These range from impressive technology to a five star hospitality service. The added benefit is the history that comes with a castle, from architecture to stories of the past within. A castle stay is ideal for a multi-generational holiday. For example, mum might enjoy the peace and quiet of the old library but granddad will have a whale of a time taking the kids around the nooks and crannies of the castle giving them history lessons mixed with old Scottish fables. See some photos of Aldourie Castle long ago on our History page.

They make a perfect ‘spooky’ Halloween retreat

From ghost stories round the fire, to Hide and Seek that could last a day, a castle is an Aladdin’s Cave of adventure for a Halloween stay. Not every castle is destined to be haunted, but because of its history it’ll most certainly have ‘atmosphere’. Whether a castle built for battle or an old mansion house converted into one like Aldourie, it will have an interesting past.

Aldourie Castle Estate Loch Ness Graveyard stay in a castle

Wouldn’t it be exciting to stay in a castle with a group of friends over Halloween? You could enjoy themed outdoor activities (arranged by the castle staff) and then make your own fun inside? You could indulge in a Halloween feast and decorate the halls with cobwebs, have a Fancy Dress evening and even carry out a Murder Mystery dinner. Thrilled by this idea? Read our Halloween House Party blog post for many more reasons to stay in a castle over Halloween. It includes lots of spooky ideas for Aldourie Castle – which has its own graveyard, you know?

You can make good use of the moat

Many castles designed for exclusive use or private hire, and notoriously Scottish castles, will feature their own moat. Quaint as this may seem, the moat surrounding the castle was, again, there to make it difficult to attack. If you are lucky enough to stay in a castle with a moat you can access, we suggest family fun activities such as zorbing, outdoor water sports like canoeing and, if the weather permits, wild swimming. Though we are not sure how wild swimming in a moat could be. In Aldourie’s case, the Castle has something better than a moat; it  has magnificent Loch Ness on its doorstep. Let us arrange a ride on the Nessie Hunter, private boat trips to Fort Augustus and water activities in front of the Castle. Water sports are a wonderful way to get everyone in a group stay involved in the holiday fun.

speedboat loch ness Aldourie Castle Estate stay in a castle

Castles unleash children’s imaginations

Nobody should really require an introduction to this point, but if in doubt; think Disney. Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Shrek each have castles at the core (and heart) of their stories. Imagine telling the kids you’re all going to a land Far Far Away to stay in an enchanted castle. (The journey to the Scottish Highlands where Aldourie Castle is located, for example, could definitely qualify depending on where you live). Now, surely that’s better than DisneyLand!

There will be boundless opportunities already on offer in many castle grounds. For instance: treehouse antics, woodland to explore, a game of Tag/Tig in the parkland, Billy Goat’s Gruff if there’s a bridge and stream. Kids can create their own fun on a rainy day playing Make Believe, having the authentic props to hand. Should a back-up be needed most exclusive use castles have a dedicated games rooms where you might find a billiards table, large screen TV and board games – but we’re moving onto Times of the Modern Castle now, and that’s another story.

Aldourie Castle Estate loch ness treehouse in woodland stay in a castle

For some of you, the thought may never have crossed your mind before reading the amazing reasons above. But, if you do decide to stay in a castle maybe consider this Castle on Loch Ness. The Aldourie experience would provide you with memories to last a lifetime. On top of that, it could end up being the staple family holiday for generations to come. Make your own history at Aldourie and enquire about exclusive use availability at: info@aldouriecastle.co.uk.


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.


The importance of a show round at an exclusive use property

When you choose an exclusive use venue or property, whether for an intimate or large scale event, it is important that you have viewed the property at least once for numerous reasons. A show round of a private hire property in Scotland will confirm that it is as spectacular in the flesh as in the photos you have seen or the testimonials you have read, not merely because Scotland is such a beautiful and mesmerising country. A personal viewing of your preferred celebration or holiday property will also serve to convince you whether or not it is suitable to host your family, friends or party of guests.

Confidence in the hospitality team

It is of the utmost importance when planning an event of celebration that the host can find a common ground or even a rapport with the hospitality manager and their team. The main reason for this is so that they feel comfortable asking as many questions as they wish for peace of mind and are confident stating what they would and wouldn’t like out of the booking experience and later the actual occasion or celebration.

If you as a company intend to make a corporate booking you may have certain expectations of your hospitality manager, the chef and waiting staff, if the success of your event depends upon your own client’s experience for example if you are booking a property as an incentive stay in Scotland. Show rounds help you to better visualise your potential event or experience.Aldourie Castle Loch Ness The Library - exclusive use property

The atmosphere of the property

The moment you step foot inside the door of an exclusive hire property or venue for a show round, you instantly get a feel of the place and its personality. This is primarily down to its atmosphere which can be generated through a number of reasons – its decoration, comfort, cosiness and character being just a few. The atmosphere of a distinguished or luxury property has to impress, first and foremost, because you are paying a significant amount to make an impression on your guests. Sometimes, the very fact that a private hire property is exclusive to one particular party of guests is enough to make the desired impact, but more often than not atmosphere plays a large part in the decision to make a definite booking.

You will generally get a sense of the private hire property’s warmth by how welcome and at home you feel being shown around the place whether it be a castle, a mansion house or a traditional cottage.

Decoration of bedrooms and public rooms

As you wander from room to room is the general decoration of the walls, floors and furnishings to your liking? If you are choosing a property to hold a very special occasion where photographs will serve as treasured memories, for example a wedding or anniversary, it might be wise to consider whether the decoration or design is in tune with your own style. Does it reflect your personality in some way? It may make you feel more comfortable if it does. It is important to have a show round of a property you think you really like on screen or in photographs to make sure it suits you on both a personal and a practical level.Fraser bedroom Aldourie Castle Loch Ness exclusive use property

As you are being shown around the bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas of the exclusive use venue or property consider if it is accurate to the description and the photographs you have seen online or in the brochure. Are they how you envisaged them and do they give you the feeling you imagined they would? Do they evoke happiness or a sense of nostalgia that made you interested to see the property in the first place?

The setting and location

Ideally, an historic private hire property, especially somewhere as majestic as the Scottish Highlands or as entrancing as the shores of Loch Ness, should be able to equal its own external setting within in order to appear synonymous with its environment. If the property is surrounded by lush countryside and pretty gardens the interior and aesthetics of the building have to ‘fit’ with the overall picture and therefore have a sense of nostalgia, romance or peacefulness so it doesn’t look or feel out of place or time. The most elite of private hire properties will undoubtedly have all three.

The location is key – you will realise how accessible, remote or quiet the property is as you journey into its vicinity or travel from the airport or main road. A map and directions to the venue given on a website can be misleading so if location is paramount to your decision to book an exclusive use property such as a castle, be aware of the distance you are travelling, the ease of the journey and anything else you think is important to be aware of. This route vetting can apply to any kind of booking be that for an important board of directors’ meeting or a multi-generation family reunion where guests are travelling from around the country or even the world.AldourieCastleLochNess

Whether for business meeting purposes or as a luxury holiday destination, seeing a property you wish to hire out on an exclusive basis up front is a vital part of the booking process from a practical perspective but also from an emotional point of view. So, look at it as a necessary day out to be savoured and enjoyed – especially if you have booked a food tasting as well!


3 real reasons to book your meeting in a private Castle

With so many hotels offering corporate stay discounts and group booking offers it’s hardly surprising that event bookers are swayed towards booking the same old hotels for their annual general meetings, their teambuilding days, senior management meetings and conferences. But what if they looked a bit further into the corporate travel offering, beyond those surface ‘offers’ and into the spectacular looking venues offering the true executive experience, the real landscape views and the ultimate in luxury accommodation?

Aldourie Castle is one of very few venues that can meet all corporate stay needs under one roof. Forget the spas, the gyms and the pools – our corporate guests come here to really escape the office environment but still have the opportunity to throw them selves into what really matters at work and for their business; teamwork, relationship building, problem solving and sharing ideas. They leave Aldourie with a clearer perspective than when they came. Surely, any CEO would benefit from a corporate stay like that…

parallel57-aldourie-castle-01 private Castle

Once again, we tell you why choosing a corporate stay venue like Aldourie Castle will help your company achieve its ambitions. Here are five reasons to book this Castle for your next important meeting or event.

1.Private venues offer more quality time with staff
By booking a private hire property for your corporate stay, you are ensuring that you and your team receive the very best in hospitality. Each room is to be used and explored, there are no boundaries, no thinking “are we allowed in this area?”. Everything that a private hire venue stands for is to make you feel at home and comfortable without the want for anything. Our experienced but small hospitality team offer you an impeccable service; we can attend to your every whim or be around only when you require us. It is your choice how involved the Castle management is during your stay. You are the boss here the same as you are in the office, commanding attention and setting the rules if you wish. Instead of worrying about what you can and can’t do or use, we open up the Castle as your own playground or work space enabling you and your dedicated team to get on with the main reasons you booked your meeting or training in the first place. If you run over time, it’s not a problem. The meeting rooms are your own. We want you to get the most out of this experience so you leave happy and book with us again.

private Castle Library

2. There is space to think and clear your head
The whole Castle is yours for the duration of your stay. Aldourie Castle is special like many other private hire properties in that you can wander in and out of any space or room in this enchanting historic place and relax completely in its overwhelmingly welcoming atmosphere. One of the most sought after aspects of a corporate hire property is that it offers senior managers and CEOs the space to think and clear their mind in order to concentrate on important matters and gain a clear perspective . Aldourie Castle and its surrounding 500 acre Estate allows all business guests to experience this by the space. luxury and beauty it provides. Guests can wander into the Library, take up a book and spend “time out” of work mode to collect their thoughts. Staff can go off in smaller teams and split into different rooms – there are numerous spaces to be at Aldourie, both inside and outside. For overnight or 24 hour corporate stays the luxurious bedrooms at Aldourie ensure a restful night’s sleep where you can reflect on your productive day and wake up with the sun streaming in through huge baronial windows.

34. Aldourie Castle - Tower Bedroom private Castle

3. Unparalleled luxury and beauty all around
This is what it says on the tin. You only have to start down the winding drive of Aldourie before realising you are somewhere very special indeed. This may sound like a romantic getaway but this Castle retreat has been proven to be extremely conducive to corporate events such as senior managements team meetings, brainstorming, staff training, small conferences, teambuilding and more. And the reason? Total peace and privacy. Dinner on the terrace with sublime views across the iconic Loch Ness waters.  Early morning jogs in the pine scented woodland or along the beach with the majestic Scottish Highlands in the foreground. Afternoon tea in the formal gardens with the scent of flowers in bloom. All these things and more make a corporate stay all the more attractive and enjoyable for you and your team of colleagues.

Spend less time looking out for special offers and discount group stays and more time realising the reasons why it’s more in your business’ interests to look for somewhere unique and special. A place in the wilderness, yet still easily accessible, that your team can look forward to exploring, enjoy every moment of their stay and look back on with fond memories.