Glenapp Castle ~ Press Reviews
SCOTTISH FIELD MAGAZINE (August 2005)
'King of the castles'
There is not a lot that can beat driving down the dramatic Ayrshire coast on a blue-skied Friday summer’s evening with the sun twinkling on the Firth of Clyde and the thought of weekend at Glenapp Castle stretching out before you. After all, the prestigious Relais & Chateaux member has just won the Scottish Luxury Hotel of the Year Award and I couldn’t wait to discover why.
The scenic, roller-coaster road, the tangy smell of salty air and the thought of seeing my partner Simon, who was meeting me at the hotel, all added to the anticipation. As did the directions to the hidden location, un-signposted down a quiet road by the village of Ballantrae.
I announced my arrival on the telephone entry system and the gates magically swung open. Rabbits hopped away and I cruised up the majestic driveway and pulled up at the front door.
My bag was taken from the boot, my car was parked for me and I was shown to our room – the Bruce. The impressive and spacious suite, with high ceilings, fine antique furniture, oil paintings, a luxurious bathroom, cosy lounge and a super-king-size bed elegantly decorated with a canopy and tartan bolsters, was suitably palatial.
The menu for our six-course gourmet dinner by Michel Roux-trained head chef Tristan Welch, was already lying tantalisingly on the bed of the Connoisseurs’ wine list. It began ‘Blanquette of Quail with Crème Fraiche and Nutmeg’…mmm, more and more anticipation.
Graham (once a vet) and Fay Cowan (daughter of the McMillan Hoteliers) like guests to treat the castle as their home and are always on hand to offer warm hospitality and advice about where to visit. Graham had welcomed us on our arrival, while Fay led us to the chandeliered drawing –room, proposing pre-dinner champagne along with mouth-watering canapés and a seat by the window to watch the fireball of a setting sun slowly slip into the sea.
The young and enthusiastic couple moved in during June 1994, to begin restoring the neglected building, and their first year was spent ‘camping’ in the master bedroom with a geriatric spaniel. Now Maggie, their latest Springer, will join willing guests on a walk of the grounds, or there is one bedroom suitable for dogs.
Dinner was pure pleasure. As one guest commented: ‘What ever you taste, it’s the best you’ve ever had’ and many of the local ingredients are freshly picked from the hotel’s own walled garden and Victorian greenhouses.
The delicately presented portions left room for a full Ayrshire grill in the morning before setting out to explore Portpatrick and the stunning Mull of Galloway. Back in time for afternoon tea and another exquisite gourmet dinner, with coffee and handmade chocolates in front of a log fire, we felt truly spoiled.
A DBB weekend stay for two could set you back as much as £1000. But then, what price can you put on one of the best weekends you’ve ever had?