We won a stay at a Castle!
How many of you have been on Facebook and entered a competition? We have all seen the adverts from companies on social media platforms. Like and Share this post for a chance to win blah blah blah. How many of us actually do it though?
My other half has something of a knack for these things. From a weekend cookery trip in Devon (won from a competition on a bottle of cider) to a Fender Telecaster and a years supply of underwear (weird combo, I know) won on twitter, there is always something.
So it came as a very pleasant surprise when ‘we’ won a night’s stay at a castle in the Scottish Highlands!
We’d had no intention or plans to travel to the highlands of Scotland. It hadn’t really been on my radar, despite it being a beautiful part of the world but here we were, with the opportunity for a free stay in a old castle with dinner, bed & breakfast included. So, what did we do? We booked a flight for a little mini weekend break.
We took a flight from London to Inverness, picked up a car and off we went. First stop was a little trip to the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown. Well, you are not going to go to the Highlands of Scotland and not visit a distillery are you?
The Explorers distillery tour is excellent and informative culminating in a tasting of three of their single malt scotch whiskys, a 12, 15 and 18 year old – a great experience for £10 per person.
There is also a lovely restaurant / cafe on site offering delicious lunch options to soak up that whisky before you head off on your travels.
Onwards from Dufftown, we headed back towards Inverness, took a detour to Loch Ness (didn’t see the monster) before heading north up the coast to arrive at our prize winning destination of Dornoch, and more specifically the Dornoch Castle Hotel.
We’ll get back to that in a minute, but first of all here’s a little bit of information about the town itself.
Situated on the east coast of Scotland in the county of Sutherland, Dornoch is a charming little coastal town popular for golfers thanks to the Royal Dornoch Golf Club which sits between the town and the sea.
The town itself is focused around Dornoch Cathedral, a 13th century parish church which is definitely worth calling into while you are there.
A little snippet of celebrity trivia for you – the town became something of a paparazzi haven in December of 2000 when Madonna and Guy Ritchie came to town and had their son christened at the Cathedral, before getting married at the nearby Skibo Castle. Walking around the town, it’s quite difficult to imagine such a media circus happening in this sleepy little place.
It’s also worth taking a walk up to the beach (or there is a car park if you prefer to drive) while you are in town. A lovely wild and rocky beach with miles of golden sands, it’s great to blow away the cobwebs on a brisk walk.
Anyway, back to the Dornoch Castle Hotel and the purpose of our visit.
Having something of a varied history, the true origins of the building are not known due to a fire destroying all records of the building during a siege in 1570. Thought to originally be the Bishop’s Palace of St. Gilbert, or at least standing on the site of, the castle has been used as a garrison, a courthouse, a jail and a school house. Passed into private hands in 1922, it was modernised and became a hotel in 1947.
Located directly across from the Dornoch Cathedral in the Market Square, the luxury hotel now houses 22 en-suite rooms within the oldest part of the castle building as well as a modern extension to the rear.
Room types include Garden Standard, Deluxe, Superior and the award winning ‘The Old Courtroom. We were lucky enough to be staying the The Old Courtroom – a gorgeous room in the main tower of the building with 14 foot high beamed ceiling. Featuring stone walls, oak wood panelling, a four poster bed and a large open fireplace, the room was a delight.
Smaller details such as a beautiful little window seats looking out onto the square below, the complimentary decanter of scotch and (obviously) splashes of tartan scattered around the room, it was a huge treat to be able to experience and stay in this room.
The public areas of the hotel are also lovely and very complimentary to the history of the building. The hotel bar area with it’s roaring fireplace and stone walls is a cosy place to spend an evening sampling the whiskys on offer. The Garden Restaurant has a great menu selection while the garden to the rear of the hotel is a great space to have an afternoon drink whilst admiring the beautiful building.
The hotel also features it’s own distillery – the Dornoch Distillery, situated in the old ‘Fire House’ in the rear of the castle’s garden.
It’s worth taking a stroll outside once darkness falls, as the castle looks stunning under the evening spotlights.
If you are ever heading to the Scottish Highlands, I would thoroughly recommend staying over at this hotel. The ambience is perfect, the architecture is stunning and the Scottish welcome is really friendly!
And another tip. If you are following hotel sites on social media, be sure to enter their competitions (but don’t unwittingly give them all of your personal data!), because here is the proof that people DO win them!
Castle Street, Dornoch, Sutherland, IV25 3SD
T: 01862 810216