Be the King of your own castle
Surrounded by lush green countryside, yet a mere 30 -minute drive from Edinburgh, you’ll find Borthwick Castle. Steeped in history, this castle has been beautifully preserved during its gorgeous restoration.
Full suits of armour stand in the narrow crevices of thick stone walls, flanking the deep set roaring fire, which throws warmth and light into the ground floor’s Great Hall - more warmth, in fact, than seems feasible - until you realise that the original stone flooring has been taken up and then lovingly put back in place to install underfloor heating.
Objects glint and wink alluringly from shelves and nooks, highlighted by glow-casting lamplight and the shafts of sunlight filtering in from the wild assortment of castle windows. At every turn there is something to exclaim over - and, wonderfully, you feel completely at ease to do so. Despite Borthwick’s vast age, you’re never inhibited about touching or delighting in your surroundings: it’s a combination of exceptional luxury with cheerful, welcoming hospitality that make you feel, instantly, that your home really is a castle.
Thanks to its exclusive use policy, you can fully immerse yourself in this glorious fantasy, surrounded solely by family and friends for the duration of your tenure. The Castle, which was home for a time to Mary Queen of Scots, has 10 exquisitely decadent bedchambers, each with an individual decor and ‘story’, and each boasting unique design features over which to swoon: think four poster beds, tucked away reading nooks and space-efficient bathrooms with sweeping views. Since the bedchambers can be accessed directly from the castle’s public spaces or, more excitingly, via the narrow spiral staircases which coil up the insides of the castle’s outer walls, the manner in which you retire for the evening can be as straightforward or as evocative as you choose. Need extra space? There’s also a two-bedroom cottage on the grounds, while close relationships with other, nearby accommodation options make larger parties completely feasible.
Cosy afternoons can be whiled away in the State Room: with its grand piano, well-stocked bar and array of sofas and armchairs in a dazzling mix of fabrics and designs, it invites you to stay and relax even without the siren song of a traditional afternoon tea, which can be served on request. More substantial meals are taken in the sumptuous grandeur of the Great Hall: here, long tables, a soaring vaulted ceiling and roaring fireplace create a magnificent setting for your feast - a room of medieval proportions which somehow still retains a sense of intimacy. And of course, if bagpipes are desired as a component of your gathering, then there’s a Minstrels’ Gallery from which their swelling tones can be played, summoning your guests to the table.
With the recent appointment of chef Derek Johnstone, the spread on that table is guaranteed to be exceptional, His credentials are impeccable - not only is he a proud Scotsman with fierce loyalty to ‘local’, but he also trained under Michel Roux Jr and was the 2008 winner of BBC Masterchef: The Professionals - added to which, Johnstone and his small, responsive team use authentically Scottish produce to create delicious meals throughout the day. Think porridge at breakfast served with an enlivening nip of whisky stirred into it, or evening meals featuring flavours such as locally reared venison and sustainably sourced salmon.
Borthwick Castle is only available for exclusive use, making it perfect for celebrations and corporate stays. One of the beauties of having these ancient walls all to yourself is that this intimate and inclusive setting can be enhanced by activities in which your party can all participate: castle staff can assist in the organisation of archery lessons, interactive falconry displays and whisky and gin tasting. Just a short drive away you’ll find the mystical allure of the Rosslyn Chapel, a 15th century place of worship given a star-spangled dusting of Hollywood glamour thanks to its role in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and subsequent film version, starring Tom Hanks.
*During my visit I was hosted by the team at Borthwick Castle. All views and opinions are my own.
Here you'll find our favourite accommodations from luxury hotels, to quaint B&Bs to fabulous cruise liners.
From cosy B&Bs to luxurious 5-Star accommodations, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing accommodations.