4 very different ways to boat ride on Loch Ness

You’ve booked the experience or holiday of a lifetime with an exclusive use house party with your favourite people. Not only that but the place you’re staying in a luxurious castle and it looks out onto the world famous Loch Ness; one of the most scenic and peaceful settings in Scotland. There’s plenty to do inside the Castle but one look through any of the south facing windows your adventurous streak starts to tug.  It implores you experience a boat ride on Loch Ness, no matter what, to get out on that beautiful water and truly relish the Scottish Highlands. Let’s take a dip into Loch Ness, boat by boat.

Speed boat rides on Loch Ness

If you choose your holidays for the thrills as well as the chills, you must hire a speedboat on Loch Ness. The adrenaline rush of the fresh Highlands air on your face combined with viewing the spectacular natural beauty is indescribable. Who knew a boat ride could make you feel so free. A speedboat ride straight from Aldourie’s private marina is less of an adventure and more of an experience.boat ride on Loch Ness

This type of boat ride also makes for a romantic trip for couples staying in the exclusive hire Castle. You get a lot of privacy speeding passed the Scottish wilderness with a loved one. And despite the pace of your ride it can be very relaxing, slowing down to appreciate particularly appealing spots. Don’t be deceived, however; this experience works up and appetite, what with all that fresh air coming at you at high speed. Thankfully, Aldourie’s private chef will have prepared something delicious for lunch back at the Castle.

Cruises on Loch Ness

If you like your natural landscapes peppered with historic ruins and fascinating facts, then a private chartered boat cruise on Loch Ness is for you.  Depending on the weather you can choose to be indoors or up on the top deck. Outside you’ll be up high in the bracing air taking in mountainous backdrop of greens, purple and yellows for miles around. Don’t worry; if you forget your wind/waterproofs there’s plenty to go around. If it’s a bit nippy outdoors then take cover down below, order a hot chocolate and let the energy and history of Loch Ness sail you into a cosy but blissful state.boat ride on Loch Ness

Kids will love watching the water ripple and foam as the boat skims through Loch Ness with its impressive force. This is a memorable boat trip for house parties of different generations to enjoy, and talk about over dinner later at the Castle. If you want to make your arrival at Aldourie Castle truly amazing, why not approach it from Loch Ness itself. Your party of guests can board a boat at Fort Augustus or just over the way at Dores, then sail across the deep waters and let the Castle slowly come into view. This is the icing on the cake after a spectacular cruise boat ride on Loch Ness.

Nessie Hunter RIB rides around Aldourie Castle

If you’ve brought heaps of imagination on your stay at Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness then you won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to see one of the most talked about mythical creatures in history. This boat ride on Loch Ness explores the very essence of these deep waters.  You don’t exactly submarine to its 200 metres depth, but you do learn a lot about the myths associated with the famous Scottish landmark and by the end you feel as though you really know the water and its history.boat ride on Loch Ness
The Nessie Hunter is a great boat ride for groups of friends who’ve booked an exclusive use stay in a private castle on Loch Ness. What other outdoor activity could complement it more. It’s also ideal for small wedding parties or hen parties; get everyone together the day before your wedding at Aldourie and search en masse. A bracing RIB ride on a mission is sure to be full of surprises, giggles, and most of all create wonderful memories.

Canoe or kayak on Loch Ness

Last but certainly not least is the canoe or kayak ride out on Loch Ness. This can be as adventurous or as relaxing as you wish. It’s possibly the most varied type of boat ride on Loch Ness you can experience simply because it suits any age and any level of expertise, from complete novice to experienced water sport enthusiast. Entire parties of exclusive use guests staying at Aldourie have been known to book a whole afternoon canoeing on Loch Ness. Children can stay more inland and be taught the basics. Others are free to explore the surrounding Highlands landscape or simply float off into the near distance to bask under a sunny summer’s sky with only the gentle lapping of water for company.boat ride on Loch Ness

Canoeing or kayaking on Loch Ness is an exhilarating way to explore the Highlands during an exclusive use stay in the private Castle. If you think about it ahead of time you can build yourself up to the experience, especially if you’re new to this type of boat ride. It’s really more a water sport and there’s an element of independence about it. So the experience itself can be quite freeing and you feel very close to nature. There’s basically just you riding the water – not much boat.

Experience your own boat ride on Loch Ness

There are so many ways to experience Loch Ness no matter your enthusiasm for being outdoors or ever off the shoreline. Exclusive use guests and house parties who have booked a stay at Aldourie will be given ample opportunity to experience the Loch. We have a host of suppliers for various boat ride activities and will be happy to organise your outdoor experiences in the Scottish Highlands for you. To enquire about exclusive use on the only private Castle accommodation on Loch Ness please complete and submit a contact form from the Aldourie website.


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.


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.

Exclusive Use Holidays - Applecross Peninsula Scotland

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.

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.Exclusive Use Holidays - Toward 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.


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.

 


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.


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.


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


Spend quality time with family and friends on Holiday in Scotland this winter

…and of course Nessie! Because what Scottish Highlands family holiday or vacation is complete without the famous but elusive Loch Ness Monster?

What do you think of when your hear the phrase ‘quality time’? Time to treasure at the time? Time to look back on with the fondest of memories? Time to look forward to for months beforehand? Maybe you think quality time is worthy of all three of these. But most importantly, we at Aldourie – Nessie included – think that its true meaning is when you can go somewhere special with those you love and completely be in the moment, escape from the everyday and enjoy the present, people and place, and be really contented. Some might also call this mindfulness.

Aldourie Castle panorama - Holiday in Scotland

Aldourie Castle is a magical place in the winter months, not just because its back garden is home to of one of the most famous mythical creatures in the world, but because it has housed endless house parties and elegantly dressed guests for hundreds of years, it has a unique and striking beauty, an ethereal setting and of course represents an important and immense history.

To choose to spend quality time with those closest to you whether at a special time of year, for Christmas or New Year celebrations or even the summer holidays, the place to spend that time must also be somewhere special. This is why groups of families and friends choose Aldourie Castle Estate to stay, celebrate, holiday or simply to relax.

The warm welcome guests receive at the Castle is beyond that which you would receive at a hotel. An exclusive holiday hire property is designed to be your own home for the duration of your stay and so the fact that you are relaxed and treated as if you were returning from a long time away when you first step foot through the Castle doors is something we offer unconditionally at Aldourie.

Once inside guests are immediately made to feel at home in this striking yet relaxing Castle setting. Whether you retire to your individually assigned bedroom to spend some quality bath time in your large en suite before dinner, find a window seat somewhere quiet to take some time out gazing across the incredibly scenic Loch Ness or simply head straight to the drawing room for champagne and the company of your closest family and friends, the choice of how to spend your time is all yours at Aldourie.