Prepare to be whisked back in time to the bygone era of aristocratic elegance and grandeur at the Glenapp Castle, a five-star Relais and Chateaux castle hotel located in Ayrshire, Scotland. Steeped in history and romance, Glenapp Castle is a perfectly preserved time capsule, representing a refined style of living from yesteryear with meticulous attention to detail from the elegant Victorian furnishings and restored interiors to the breathtaking gardens and landscapes.
Built in 1870, Glenapp Castle reflects the nineteenth century baronial style of Scottish architecture with its regal turrets, towers and crenellations, where each room is inspired by its former inhabitants with period art, antiques and elegant paneled walls. Inside the dining room, you can view all the way to the famed Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Arran, Holy Island and the hills of Northern Ireland. The rarified Scottish history is exemplified within its walls. The original owner was the Earl of Orkney who later sold Glenapp to industrialist James Hunter who commissioned David Byrne, a celebrated Edinburgh architect, to create a grand fairytale estate that featured the most prominent elements of Gothic and Renaissance design. The castle later passed hands to businessman James Lyle Mackay who was the first earl of Inchcape. His spirited and headstrong daughter Elsie had a personality larger than life; she also lived at the castle until her untimely death from an attempt to cross West to East by airplane. But it is still rumored that her spirit wanders the halls of Glenapp where she is especially fond of her former abode: the Countess of Inchcape premium suite.
Every luxuriously appointed suite reflects a different décor, view and layout replete with Victorian antique furnishings and opulent bathrooms. The grandest rooms are on the second floor with glorious sea views and fireplaces where you will feel like royalty as you welcome each morning. Other suites on the second floor face the gardens, entrance and courtyard with spacious living areas. Rooms on the first floor have a cozy and homey feel with beautiful garden views across the estate. The most palatial accommodation is the Earl of Inchcape suite, which features a sumptuous living area, a four-poster bed, and views across the sea and gardens.
Dine on award-winning Scottish specialties in the regal and formal dining room that overlooks Ailsa Craig and the Scottish coastline. To truly appreciate the fine Scottish regional cuisine, including haggis, choose the 6-course tasting menu. For lighter fare, the “Taste of Glenapp” offers highlights of their delicious gastronomy.
Enjoy countryside living with 36 acres of grounds to explore. Become one with nature as you walk through the verdant canopied forest comprised of majestic redwoods and a bubbling stream. Stroll through the walled garden and down to the historical Italian garden surrounding a picturesque pond that has been lovingly restored to its original glory by renowned garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. Take an afternoon break to enjoy high tea in the charming tea room within the walled garden or the newly-restored Victorian 150-foot glass house surrounded by lush vegetation.
The majestic grounds of the castle are also a breathtaking backdrop to partake in rarified activities of yesteryear. Try your hand at falconry in the front lawn of the castle as these magnificent birds of prey soar high above the castle or the wooded forest before swooping down on your leather-clad hand. These highly-trained raptors range from sweet doe-eyed owls to ten-pound eagles including a dramatic fish eagle that will dive into the pond for a tasty meal.
Other activities onsite include an archery competition in the woods or dark-sky stargazing from the walled garden, where you may even spot a Northern Lights shower. For a truly unique experience, sail out to the magnificent and uninhabited Ailsa Craig, which soars 1100 feet above sea level, and enjoy an idyllic catered picnic by the lighthouse to experience the Scottish countryside coastline with exquisite bird watching. Pending availability, Glenapp can also arrange a private tour and tasting at the Hendricks Gin distillery as you learn about the extensive process of creating unique flavors from their master distiller.
A visit to Glenapp Castle is more than just a vacation; it’s a truly magical opportunity to step away from daily life and to experience a fairytale existence where the reality will exceed your wildest dreams.