Holiday like a Laird and Lady in exclusive Scottish Castle

Would you like the chance to wine, dine and sleep like royalty with sole use of your own castle?  This opportunity is yours for the taking with our Weekend House Party experience.

45. Aldourie Castle - Four in Hand Roof Exclusive Scottish Castle

Turrets, moats & castle walls
The privately owned 17th Century property is opening its doors to group bookings to take exclusive use of the home for 2 nights or longer. The Weekend House Party experience gives guests visiting Scotland opportunity to take exclusive use of the 13-bedroomed Castle, wandering its secret corridors whilst also using it as a base to explore the abundance of heritage and cultural sights in and around Loch Ness and Inverness. From National Trust spots and country walks to museums and galleries, this part of the Scottish Highlands is home to so many attractions all easily and quickly accessible from the motorway networks and main A roads. Doesn’t it seem a natural place in which to take a holiday?

Visit beautiful Scottish formal gardens, other stately homes and castles during the daylight hours, taking in the wealth and variety of history this incredible region has to offer. Then return to Aldourie Castle, a home seeped in its own heritage, for an evening of fine dining in the beautiful and charmingly decorated staterooms. Sleep in luxury bedrooms and enjoy exclusive use of the Castle with its original spiral staircases, tall turrets and delightful light-filled drawing room. Take in magnificent views from the lush green Castle grounds to the shores of Loch Ness and the Scottish Highland hills beyond.

History becomes exclusively yours
Aldourie Castle is one of only a few ancestral homes situated across the UK where its doors open exclusively for private house party bookings and family holidays. Combine this unique residential experience with a real delve into Scottish history enjoying medieval feasts, walks in the Highlands where many a sword was swung during Scottish Highland clan battles and four poster beds in grand luxurious bedrooms.
Exclusive Scottish Castle - Red Bedroom

This is a rare opportunity to occupy one of Scotland’s most treasured castles whilst also taking a break from the everyday routine. a Weekend House Party stay is designed to take you back in time to a world of luxury and splendour whilst giving you the space to relax in an informal setting.  Aldourie’s General Manager, Lavinia, is committed to making this Castle a home for the duration of your exclusive stay in the private hire property on Loch Ness and regularly welcomes guests from far afield to enjoy a luxury Scottish Highlands retreat with all the added comforts of today’s expectations;

“Aldourie Castle was made for entertaining and the Castle has seen hundreds of parties over the years. We would love to play host to family reunions or special interest groups who would appreciate the setting of Aldourie as well as its ancestry and role in history. We can offer something totally different to any hotel and an experience that is entirely memorable.”

Imagine taking in the local history of Inverness, visiting places of historical importance, beautiful gardens and exploring the mystical Highlands on foot. Then, return to your Castle to be rewarded with home cooked traditional Scottish food, fine wines and later a glass of local Scottish whisky. Experience the fine life of long ago and make your own history.

For further details on the only habitable Castle on Loch Ness please email info@aldouriecastle.co.uk


Spend Easter break with family and the Loch Ness Monster

Spend Easter in a Scottish castle with family and the Loch Ness Monster

What could be more fun than spending sunny spring on the bonnie banks of Loch Ness with your favourite people, surrounded by the magnificent Scottish Highlands and gorging on chocolate eggs? No, we can’t think of anything either. So, why not do something different and spend Easter in a Scottish castle and make a memorable adventure out of this world famous holiday…

Aldourie Castle is used to having people wander through its huge wooden doors, inviting in the new and welcoming back old guests, just as if the unique wilderness-borne mansion house was made for family house parties. Well, actually, it was. Originally a lowly house in the middle of the baron Scottish Highland hills seeing many a boisterous clan battle go back and forth, it was reclaimed and made into something much more special (read our Highland History blog post here). 

Aldourie Castle Loch Ness Monster

Ever since that day, Aldourie Estate has been devoted, give or take a few years during the inevitable refurbishments of the Castle – there’s only so much partying these medieval floors can take – to hosting small family get-togethers, grand parties and even lavish society balls. Aldourie was the Highlands venue of its time and in its heyday enjoyed much more fame than it does now. But that’s the way we like it; nowadays this enchanting and inspiring tucked-away Castle is a secret paradise just waiting to be found.

Now the short history lesson is over, here’s just a few reasons why spending Easter in a Scottish castle in the wonderland world of Aldourie will bring your family closer and, do not doubt, bring you sheer contentment for your entire stay.

#Adventure and #experiential travel are big trends this year, into 2016 and beyond. But, instead of joining the masses why not do something totally unique and stay in a place where many a celebrity finds sanctuary and where families and groups of friends travel from the other side of the world to stay? Indeed, Aldourie can tell a few stories. Wouldn’t you like to hear them first hand? It would make a change from the usual bedtime reading for the kids. There is so much to experience at Aldourie – let it become a part of their childhood. Don’t miss out on Easter family fun and adventures that can go down in your own family history; after all, Scotland was voted one of the top three places to holiday in the Lonely Planet Awards 2014.

The Grounds - Loch Ness Monster Hunting | Aldourie Exclusive Hire Castle

There are thousands of luxury travel hotels to try out; each better, more unique and luxurious than the next. But think about Easter; a special time of year. A time you want to cherish with your children and their grandparents, see imaginations run wild as they gorge on too much chocolate on Easter morning. A private hire Castle offering everything and more than a hotel, can provide something extra special: luxury bedrooms with four poster beds each with individual character and style, walk in showers as big as most bathrooms, original staterooms with comfort and beauty but with an informal welcoming feel and the largest back garden in the Highlands. Enter Aldourie and the whole castle is yours to enjoy; no time restraints, no set meal times, nothing is out of bounds. Be at your leisure over Easter and enjoy all the fun, beauty and relaxation it can bring.

Over Easter weekend, children can play in the parkland and you can still keep a watchful eye on them through the huge Drawing Room windows. Kids can go out into the woodland exploring the wildlife there with the Castle’s very own pet dog, Lizzie. A private luxury castle can afford to dedicate an entire hospitality team for your needs; we can set up treasure hunts throughout the historic Scottish Highlands Estate, private boat rides on the world famous Loch Ness (which you can actually access from the Castle’s personal marina and pier) to spot legendary Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, and traditional outdoor fun for all the family from archery to zorbing and even bagpipe lessons. The Estate’s massive home-built treehouse and ancient family graveyard then offer alternate adventures for those with big imaginations.

Enjoy Easter in a Scottish Castle fit for a King and allow the whole family to relax, enjoy good food and fun times in one another’s company.  Multi-generational stays ensure quality time with family and family friends and what better place to spend Easter weekend than a historic, beautiful and homely property with luxury rooms, fresh air and Scottish adventure on its doorstep.

Aldourie Castle Estate’s Easter Weekend special rate stay is available to individual or group bookings for a minimum of 3-nights.


5 reasons to choose an intimate winter castle wedding

Enter into the start the New Year with an intimate snow-topped Castle wedding

It may be something about the cosiness of a roaring fire lighting up the room as you enjoy a delicious Scottish wedding breakfast, or the crisp wintery air outside allowing you to snuggle further into your white fur cape placed delicately over your beaded dress, or the simply stunning photograph opportunities that can be achieved with such ethereal and pristine winter backdrops. Whatever your reasoning behind choosing an intimate winter wedding, we at Aldourie Castle couldn’t agree with you more. Here are a few more reasons why a winter wedding is the perfect end, or start, to the year.

Margaret Soraya wedding photography - Aldourie Castle castle wedding
Winter weddings are an excuse to wrap up warm in fur or velvet

Arrive in style wrapped up to the nines in a beautiful warm wedding dress

One of the bonuses of a winter wedding is that your wedding dress can be as heavy or as full as you wish without worrying about being too warm during your Big Day. Why not theme your dress around your venue – Medieval or other vintage styles would befit the Castle, with some added luxury and sparkle perhaps; beads, diamantes, full lace sleeves and velvet are gorgeous options that would look and feel in-keeping with the season.

Be adventurous with colour

If white is really not for you there are plenty of rich or bright shades which perfectly contrast against cool wintry settings – such as crimson or emerald green. Although wedding dresses can be colourful all year round choosing one for your winter wedding makes such a statement amongst a more sepia toned setting. The cool but atmospheric backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, either baron or snow-topped, make any winter wedding photograph a work of art. Bright colours in the foreground will add much interest and depth to the look and feel of your wedding day.

The Scottish Highlands create a magical backdrop castle wedding
The Scottish Highlands create a dreamy and magical backdrop

Hot beverages for a party spirit!

Champagne is both elegant and traditional – especially for the ‘toast’ – but how about something different for the reception? Pimms is perfect for the height of summer so why not try the opposite for your wedding nuptials and let your guests indulge in the spiciness and festiveness of mulled wine. Many a bridal party at Aldourie Castle opts for this tipple at their winter wedding, with which guests can sit on the grass verge to gaze out over the impressively vast Loch Ness waters or take a leisurely stroll through the trees on the back drive, without feeling the chill.


Theme it ‘Winter’

So many luxury castles and houses are made for big parties – so if you’re choosing a venue such as Aldourie Castle you really can have a ball with theming your intimate wedding. A recent autumn wedding we hosted saw the bride choose sophisticated and inspired twig centrepieces and a tree-named table plan as well as throwing autumnal shades of burnt orange and deep reds into the mix – it was delightful! Although the magnificent baronial interior of the Staterooms speaks for itself there’s always room for a personal touch; take advantage of the medieval feel of the Castle and invite your guests to Winterfell in the world of Game of Thrones; this doesn’t have to be as corny as it sounds; decoration and a costume here can make for a really impressive, stylish but subtle theme. Lastly, ensure your flowers choices are brimming with rich colouring and the occasional sparkle of silver or gold.

Theme your wintry wedding castle wedding
Theme your wintry wedding: Imagine a Game of Thrones look and feel

And finally…Let it Snow!

How many of us worry about the weather, whether it be too hot and sticky or too cold and rainy? Couple that with your wedding day, and stress levels can get high just anticipating bad 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 you’re more likely to expect there to be snow on the ground; what better than a gentle snowfall to 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!

snow topped castle wedding Scotland castle wedding
A snow topped castle wedding on Loch Ness in Scotland: perfection

For couples searching for the perfect winter wonderland venue, Aldourie Castle near Inverness still has available intimate winter wedding dates from January to March 2015.

Celebrate with your select nearest and dearest family and friends in what will be one of the most memorable days of your lives, in an enchanting location and luxurious place.


An Aldourie Castle Christmas – the magic of a castle at Christmastime

We are getting ready for an Aldourie Castle Christmas here. The tree is up and all the fancy decorations fit for a medieval fairytale setting have been put up in every room, making all our guests feel even more festive when they walk through the door.

There really is no place like the inside of a castle at Christmastime. The interior of Aldourie Castle is a blaze of rich, warm colours that flow into eachother as guests make their way around, exploring all the large spaces. This makes the whole experience magical. Families stay at the Castle as if it was their own home so they can wander in and out of the staterooms imagining that they live in each of them and ultimately enjoy this magnificent and opulent home at a special time of year.

Full of colour and delicious scents

The chocolate browns, ruby reds and festive oranges on the walls and furniture make this exceptional Scottish Castle a real festive wonderland at Christmas. Let some Frank Sinatra or cool Jazz music play out around the downstairs whilst you leisurely drink a whisky by the fire in the Drawing Room or sip tea at the grand oak table in the Laird’s room. The mood in the Castle changes once Christmas approaches. From December there is the distinct scent of pine cones and wood burning in the mornings and into the evenings there is the delicious smell of vintage wines that have been brought up from the cellar for the special parties we host, along with smooth tempting port and mince pies.

Mystical views from every window

Guests feel as though they’re in a film when they stay at Aldourie; with Highland hills surrounding the Castle and its grounds, tall forests and woodland keeping you and your loved ones cosy and warm inside and watching the fierce Loch Ness waters on cold days from the comfort of the Drawing Room fireplace.

Bedrooms full of luxury

With four poster beds, full length draping curtains in rich satin and silk, fur throws and traditional Scottish tartan blankets and rugs to sink your feet into, the luxury guests experience at Aldourie is like nothing else.

But there is more. See next week’s blog post for why staying in a Scottish Highlands Castle on Loch Ness over the Christmas holidays is better than Christmas at home. Aldourie cooks you food to wait all year for and a festive homely atmosphere like no other medieval castle.

 


A private marina on Loch Ness

One of the most unique aspects of Aldourie Castle Estate is that it has its own private marina. Not only that but the marina is located on the southern shores of Loch Ness with unbeatable views across the Scottish Highlands. You would struggle to find anywhere more picturesque in and around the tourist trap Inverness especially during a sunrise or sunset where the hills are brought to life against the glorious backdrop of a hazy sky.

private marina  Loch Ness
Highland backdrop during a ride on Loch Ness – simply breathtaking

The marina at Aldourie is the ideal spot from which to admire the idyllic Scotland views and bask in the beauty of the calming waters that surround the scenic area. Peacefulness is all abound and you can hear a pin drop if there is no one boating in the near vicinity and no cooing birds flying overhead. Although, it is the boats and the Highland birds that make the Aldourie marina so captivating and which draw people to this special place. These and the fact that Castle guests can board a boat and shortly arrive at Moray Firth to see the dolphins and whales or take off on a speed boat and stop in secret wilderness to explore the pebbly, crystal clear shoreline as they take a walk along Dores Beach.

private marina  Cruise Loch Ness
Cruise Loch Ness offer amazing boat trips form the Aldourie pier

With the majestic loch situated on the edge of the pier that is literally on your doorstep, you can step straight into a canoe. Canoeing on Loch Ness is a rare opportunity to share a paddling adventure with family, friends or colleagues in the most famous water in the world. No previous experience is needed and non-swimmers are welcome. Expert canoe guides will take you, our Scottish Castle group of guests, on a journey across the endless waters as you float past the sights that have inspired writers, artists, explorers and historians for centuries.

Aldourie Estate Private Marina on Loch Ness
The completely private Aldourie Estate Marina on Loch Ness

Have you ever wondered how it feels to walk on water? Climb inside a giant inflatable sphere and once sealed in off you go at your own pace, exploring the Loch, moving in any direction and most probably upside down! This is great fun for adults and children alike and even better for spectators. Have fun trying a water sport you’ve never done before against a backdrop of Highland hills and surrounded by the largest expanse of fresh water on earth. Yes, that’s right. Loch Ness is not only beautiful but it has many factual credits to its name – not to mention the Loch Ness Monster Nessie who can often be seen in the far distance as you cruise along by boat or scour the vast water from your castle bedroom window.

4. Aldourie Castle from Loch Ness private marina
A view of Loch Ness from your own private Castle

The marina is conveniently located to the south of the Aldourie Castle Estate near one of the holiday cottages aptly named Pier Cottage, just a short walk through a woodland trail. It is an idyllic hideaway if you wish for some time alone during your stay on the Scottish Highlands estate as well as an adventure filled playground for families or a romantic spot for couples attending a luxury wedding at the Castle.

 

 


Aldourie Castle History; Scottish Highlands, Clans & House Parties

The Highlands: from frightening wilderness to tourist trap

Aldourie Castle is located on Strath Dores’ low lying rolling grounds, between Loch Ness’ southern shore and the steep sides of the Glen leading up onto Drumashie Moor. People have lived in this area of the Highlands for thousands of years. There is so much here today to explore and enjoy but it has not always been this way. This mesmerising castle has seen a lot of history and in the process undergone substantial changes. Originally starting life as a laird’s mansion house, Aldourie began its story in a time when terror reigned during the Highland clan system. As the hills around it transformed so did Aldourie itself, only eventually achieving castle status in the 19th Century.

To understand the reasons for the transformation of the property from house to castle it is necessary to understand the forces in play in the Highlands at that time. As the Highlands trudged through bleak wilderness into tourist-appealing rustic idyll thus was born the Highland Sporting Estate and the Scottish baronial castle.

Aldourie a Highland Sporting Estate Aldourie Castle History
Aldourie a Highland Sporting Estate

The earliest part of the building was built by Alexander Macintosh of Kyllachie in the 17th Century whose family’s clan had held land in the Findhorn valley about 12 miles east of Aldourie. Although the old Scottish clan society proved to be a stable, lasting and fair way of living there was an equal measure of uneasiness amongst the Highlands that came with this way of ruling. Each clan had a chief to whom the people owed allegiance and he in turn could call on them to fight in his private army when required.  Often disputes would break out with neighbouring clans over boundaries or disputed chieftainships. This wild untamed and frightening land was governed by people of the same description and this was the reason few Lowland Scots or English ever ventured across the Highland line, leaving it all for the indulgence of the Highlanders for many years to come.

Alexander Macintosh was a real Highland character who led his clan to battle on several occasions. He was responsible for the first phase of construction at Aldourie in around 1622, a modest two-storey building with a few rooms and an attic. On Alexander’s death the property passed to his nephew William VIII of Kyllachie, who already owned a lot of land in the area, and in turn to the latter man’s son, Donald IXth of Kyllachie, in 1655. In 1667 there was a record of a Donald McIntosh of Aldowrie’ showing that the house had been built to a standard that was rated important enough to be recorded in his name. One of Donald’s daughters, Katherine, married John Barbour in 1700, who gave the title ‘of Aldourie’ to himself although his acquisition of the property did not officially happen until 1733.

Drumashie Moor ancient village settlement Aldourie Castle History
Drumashie Moor ancient village settlement

An event which would make history was on its way…

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 marked the defeat of the old Highland clan system. The British government could no longer tolerate a radical, independent minded and repeatedly rebellious people living in its northern lands. The Highlanders were subsequently brought into line; new laws forbade them to keep weapons of any kind and even to wear Highland dress – a deliberate move to quash an ancient culture. At the same time, Fort George was built and other measures taken to ensure that peace reined across the Highlands.

Around 1754, still in its modest form of ‘mansion’ house, Aldourie was sold by the Barbour family to William Fraser WS of Erchitt and Balnain. William’s daughter Anne married Alexander Tytler in 1776 and as was custom among the high classes of the time they merged surnames. By the 19th Century the old clan system had been consigned to history books, many chiefs had forfeited their estates or sold up and former clan lands were changing hands fast to new breed of landlord. These new owners had a real interest in the land from an economic or recreational perspective but little interest in, or loyalty to, the people, including their history or culture.

Alexander Fraser-Tytler Aldourie Castle History
Alexander Fraser-Tytler

Entrepreneurial landowners saw economic opportunity in wool and soon sheep were growing in the Highlands. The wool boom did not last but by the time it finished the Highlands had been transformed and the dawn of tourism was beginning. The new Highlands brought curious travellers to see what all the fuss was about, including famous writers such as Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell in the 1770s, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Their writing changed people’s views of the Highlands from terrifying baron land to a wild, romantic and rustic place. The icing on the cake came in the form of royal approval when Queen Victoria and her new husband Prince Albert started holidaying in the Highlands in 1842, ultimately buying Balmoral Castle in 1848.  What the Queen did, society followed, and aristocrats flocked north to buy their own Highland estates to hunt, shoot and fish.  However, they competed this time not in the shape of war but instead vying for attention in the form of spectacular house parties in the most impressive houses…or castles.

The Fraser-Tytler family owned Aldourie for some generations and by the 1830s the family, an influential set of lawyers and historians, were amongst the highest ranks of Scottish and Highland gentlemen. It was only natural they would want their home to reflect their status and the growing interest in the land as a sporting and social playground. And so began the build to transform a house into a more comfortable home that would define their power, position and taste. The first of four new building phases of Aldourie Castle was completed in 1839 and the rest, they say, is history…

The Highlands working farms Aldourie Castle History
The Highlands working farms

The Fraser-Tytler family owned Aldourie Castle until it was necessary to sell to the late Mrs Neil Fraser-Tytler’s husband’s cousin, Colonel Angus Cameron. Colonel Cameron died in 2001 and his widow decided to sell the Aldourie the following year and move to Inverness. However, the family retained some of the estate and is still active locally. Today, ever patient Aldourie remains a private sporting estate, now famous in its own right as the only habitable castle on Loch Ness, and is regularly hired out for exclusive house parties. The beautiful property, hidden away amidst the tall trees, has been through many changes but will always maintain a strong, justifiable sense of pride in its surrounding Highland legacy.


Life as a Chef at Aldourie Castle – Fine Scottish Dining

We had a lovely chat with our head chef the other day to find out a few exciting facts about his job at Aldourie Castle. Richard has cooked and served food at the fairytale castle for four years and chefs daily for events and parties of guests who have taken over the Castle as their own home for a few days, a week or sometimes a month…

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
My Grandfather had a small farm and butchers shop and I used work there at weekends when I was at school. I would go with my dad to deliver to local hotels and was interested in what I saw, so thought that was for me.

Where did you study?
I trained on the job by working in hotels and restaurants in Scotland and England

Describe the most challenging dinner you’ve had to cater for at Aldourie
Cooking a three course dinner by candlelight on the shore of Loch Ness was quite a challenge.

aldourie_main Fine Scottish Dining

Which is your favourite room in the Castle?
I suppose I should say the kitchen…but it would be Lady Cameron bedroom for the great view down the loch, peace and quiet.

Do you prefer summertime or wintertime on the Aldourie Estate?
Definitely summertime, it’s light for 20 hours each day.

Do you prefer cooking for summer or winter events at Aldourie?
Again, summertime produce is much more plentiful and getting to cook outside is a bonus.

Where do guests usually have lunch in the sunny weather?
On the terrace looking down to Loch Ness.

view-from-loch-ness Fine Scottish Dining

What is your favourite Scottish dinner to serve?
I like to showcase Scottish produce so would usually start with a taste of haggis followed by hand dived scallops then maybe venison or beef, cranachan for dessert and some local cheeses to finish.

What is your favourite Scottish dish to eat?
Anything with shellfish

If you had to cook a delicious Jamie Oliver style 30 minute meal, what would you cook?
At this time of year Scottish salmon, asparagus & Jersey Royals, washed down with something from the Aldourie cellar.

15. Aldourie Castle - Dining Room detail Fine Scottish Dining

The cellar at Aldourie is full of wines from all over the world – do you know how many wines you stock at any one time?
We stock about 80 different wines at present.

Some would say the Castle is haunted. Have you ever had a ghostly experience at Aldourie – if so will you tell?
No, I won’t believe in ghosts unless I was to see one.

What do you love most about your job?
Being able to cook the best of Scottish produce and working in a great environment.

What’s your favourite past time when you’re not cooking at the castle?
Going for a big walk with Loch Ness Lizzie!