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Our little black book of enchanting places


Spend Christmas in a fairytale castle by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Roaring log fires and snow-dusted turrets: what could be more magical than Christmas in a castle? We’ve found five that perfectly fit the bill and, because castles can be drafty places, we’ve asked our founder Niamh Barker to suggest a Travelwrap for each destination. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find it under the tree…

Pentillie Castle, Cornwall 

Set high above River Tamar, Pentillie Castle (above) was built by Sir James Tillie in 1698. Tillie was land agent to a neighbouring estate owned by Sir John Coryton and when the latter died, Tillie married his widow, thus joining the two estates. The estate still belongs to the Coryton family and the castle is normally run as a B&B and private venue. However, at Christmas it is rented out on an exclusive self-catered basis, and the Corytons throw in a luxury hamper, Christmas trees and plenty of logs for the open fires. The castle accommodates up to 20 in 10 luxurious bedrooms (9 doubles with ensuite bathrooms and one twin attic room with private bathroom). Christmas week is currently still available and has been reduced from £6,775 to £4,500 for five nights.

Niamh's choice: Escher Dragonfly Travelwrap

King John’s Castle, Wiltshire 

There’s been a King John’s Castle, aka Devizes Castle, on this delightful spot in Wiltshire since 1080. This turreted and crenellated version was built in 1830 by a local architect called Henry Goodridge. The main reception rooms are on the first floor and comprise a sitting room, dining room (seats 18) and ballroom (seats 25). There is one bedroom on this floor, the remaining six bedrooms are above. The bad news is that the castle is booked for this year; the good news is that it’s still available for Christmas 2016 and if you like the look of it, you really need to book as soon as possible. Five nights over Christmas / New Year cost £8,245; six nights £9,295 and seven nights, £9,995, including daily housekeeping and as many logs as you need for the fires. 

Niamh's choice: Herringbone Teal Travelwrap

15th-century castle, near Inverurie 

Scottish castles can be a bit bleak in winter but not this one, especially when the fires are lit and the curtains drawn for the evening. The castle, set in 30 acres of formal gardens and woodlands, is a mile from the village of Auchleven, just under 30 miles from Aberdeen. The main reception rooms are on the first floor, accessed via a stone spiral staircase. Here you’ll find the Great Hall, now the drawing room filled with ancestral portraits and antique furniture. There is a second sitting room on this floor as well as a wood-panelled dining room and one of the seven bedrooms. The rest of the bedrooms are on the floor above. Christmas week is currently still available and has been reduced from £3,800 to £3,040; three nights over Christmas is £2,700.

Niamh's choice: Ombre Pink Peppercorn Scarf

Cranshaws Castle, Berwickshire  

This recently renovated 15th-century castle is set in Scotland’s Lammermuir Hills, about an hour from Edinburgh. It’s actually a ‘pele’, or fortified keep, rather than a castle and was originally part of the Earldom of Dunbar & March. It has four bedrooms, with a spacious drawing room, dining room and fully fitted kitchen on the two lower floors, and can be rented with a variety of housekeeping and culinary services, ranging from self-catered to fully-catered. From £1,000 per night. Contact Cranshaws Castle for availability.

Niamh's choice: Machara Travelwrap

Lough Eske Castle, Co Donegal 

On the other hand, if you would rather someone else trimmed the tree and basted the turkey, how about checking into a castle hotel for the festive period? Lough Eske is a Tudor-baronial castle near Donegal, beautifully restored in 2007 by its current owners and now a regular award-winner. The castle is set in 43 acres of forest woodland, with the lough on one side and the Blue Stack mountains on the other, and if you think such beautiful landscape cries out for a dog, you’re in luck: the castle welcomes well-behaved pets. A three-night Christmas Festive Package, to include dinner on Christmas Eve, mulled wine and mince pies, Christmas lunch and evening buffet and carol singing, costs from €699 per person. 

Niamh's choice: Escher Ammonite Travelwrap

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