Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published September 19th 2015
Live Like A King Or Queen With Luxury Night In A Castle
I would say the ancient, glorious Culzean Castle in Scotland is as pretty as seen on a postcard, but it is more accurate to say that it lives up to its stately image on the Scottish £5 bank note.
The picture perfect landmark near Maybole, on the Ayrshire coast, is a few hours outside Glasgow and set in perfectly trimmed grounds and woodlands, on a cliff edge above rampaging often fierce waves.
The wild romance of Culzean Castle In Scotland
The castle itself is worth a visit around its drum tower and circular saloon that overlooks the sea, but even more special is the discreet set of rooms at the top of the building - the Eisenhower.
Whether it's on your bucket list to stay in a castle or a romantic getaway, the sensation of being able to say overnight in this historic grandeur without being connected to royalty is once-in-a-lifetime experience.
View down Culzean Castle from the Eisenhower Apartment
Completed more than 200 years ago in 1792, the castle was once the home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of Clan Kennedy, but it's since been taken over by the National Trust for Scotland. That means the general public can not only enjoy a visit to this beautiful old relic but can also pay to stay overnight - although you may have to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
High above the main living rooms, at the top of the winding, grand oval staircase is the suite of rooms that were once given by the Kennedy clan to General of the American Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The honour was to recognise his success during the Second World War and General Eisenhower did stayed at Culzean several times from 1946, including when he was later President of the United States. There's photos of him enjoying his time in the apartment, in some of the same furniture still there today.
The art deco lift to reach the Eisenhower Apartment is just one of the charming vintage features
There's plenty of fascinating artefacts in the Eisenhower including momentos, handwritten notes and photos connected to Eisenhower himself, but more interesting is how the rooms have been frozen in time with glorious vintage charm, like the art deco lift guests use to reach the top floor.
With its wire mesh and golden walls, the elevator whirs into action slowly taking you back to the 1920s for the brief journey to the penthouse rooms. It's all part of the adventure.
There are only six rooms based around the circular balcony and while they all have a touch of luxury and charm, don't expect all the latest mod cons as that is not what this house is all about.
Afternoon tea at Culzean Castle
Steeped in history, it offers a decadence of days gone by. There is the round drawing room with fireplaces, books and bundles of charm. This is where the afternoon cream tea is served with pots of tea in china tea cups. The pristine sandwiches are neatly cut without the crusts and the scrumptious cakes and scones are bursting with cream and other sweet sensations.
There's also the Eisenhower Study to relax in and the dining room for dinner and breakfast.
It is after the main visiting hours end that this haven starts to feel very special for residents are given their own huge key and left free to wander the empty garden grounds.
This is when you can explore uninterruped among the ancient trees and cliff tops under the glinting Scottish moon. Below are hidden caves where smugglers once hid their wears. It all feels very romantic.
It's also perfect to work up an appetite for the dinner served in the Eisenhower dining room.
The meal is more about the setting than the food, but it's still good quality and served in a friendly welcoming environment when you can meet some of the other guests at the apartment. There'll be plenty of Scottish dishes on the menu too, Scottish salmon naturally and you may even get some haggis at breakfast.
A four poster bed at Culzean Castle
Staff are from the local area and are always at hand to help with requests for alcoholic drinks, more tea or anything to make your stay feel more comfortable.
The stay includes bed, breakfast, afternoon tea and entry into the main house during visiting hours, and it is well worth making sure you see the main rooms on the ground floor of Culzean Castle and the armoury as they have fascinating stories to tell and features dating back centuries.
The magnificent grounds at Culzean Castle
This day entry would normally cost £15.50 per person, so make the most of the free trip thrown in with your stay. National Trust helpers have a wealth of knowledge and are only to keen to share it with visitors too, which is a nice touch.
Culzean Castle appears on a Scottish bank note
Culzean Castle as a historic house and location on its own is a magnificent day out, but when thrown in with the chance to stay within its hallowed halls for a night, it makes it even more memorable.
It's a chance to experience and see rooms that remain secret to most people as well as pretend your the king or queen of the castle, at least for one day.