August was a pretty crazy busy month, making the most of the last of Summer with a trip to Portugal, weekends catching up with girlfriends & of course my Birthday celebrations by the end of the month I was ready to simply relax & essentially do nothing so my trip to Belfast for a stay at The Culloden Estate & Spa couldn’t have been timed any better.
My mum & I were going on the trip & I honestly couldn’t wait for the both of us to relax & spend time together so on a Sunday afternoon we headed to Liverpool Airport & after a quick 30 minute flight we touched down in Northern Ireland, Belfast.
Arriving at George Best Airport it was only a 10 minute drive to the Estate which was perfect really as we were eager to arrive & get settled in. Once we told the driver were we were heading to he had nothing but praise for The Culloden which was what I wanted to hear, I always think drivers have the best knowledge!
As we pulled up it’s very easy to be impressed with the beautiful location on Holywood Hills with it’s stunning views of Belfast Lough & the County Antrim Coastline it is simply beautiful. Originally built for the Bishops of Down the Estate has now been converted & a highly sought after destination for locals & tourists. With the abundance of colourful flowers around the grounds & heading into a chandelier reception with sweeping staircases we knew it was the perfect place we had escaped to.
Checking in we headed up a grand staircase & down the stained glass wall hallway to our suite were you couldn’t help but smell the abundance of beautiful fresh flowers on display. Opening the door we knew we were home & it was pretty wow to say the least! Whenever I’m away I love having a great room, knowing you can relax & unwind I find it comforting when I’m away from home & it’s safe to say after our stay I didn’t want to leave this room.
Our suite was beautiful & walking in making ourselves at home I knew this was going to be the perfect trip for mum & me. Settling into out living room which was accompanied with a flat screen TV, oversized arm chairs & couch I got cosy, ordering some room service we caught up on the end of the Olympics, it was so simple but it was lovely.
The bedroom was grand & beautifully decorated with its high ceilings, full length curtains that graced the large bay windows with a view of the stunning grounds, I really did feel I was in my own version of Downton Abbey. I always think that there is nothing quite like your own bed & I would back up that statement until I experienced this particular bed, it was like sleep on a blanket of clouds, heavenly. We didn’t rush to go to bed, enjoying watching TV in bed & waking up, relaxing with a pot of tea & catching up on some reading, it was the perfect relaxing spot.
For me though one of the real perks of the suite was the marble bathroom, opening the door my mouth slightly dropped taking in the deep tub that I knew I would be taking full advantage of & trust me I did! The estate has an ESPA spa (I will post about this shortly but it was bliss) so all of the products were of course ESPA so running myself a bath I used as many as I could as they not only smelt amazing but left my skin with a lovely oil sheen that kept my skin moisturised, oh & I created the perfect bubble bath. Cleverly the tub is positioned overlooking the grounds with a full length window I was able to truly lay back close my eyes & slip away into a tranquil bubble bath.
Getting acquainted very well with our room we had a blissful night sleep, waking up & pulling back the heavy curtains to complete sunshine was a great way to start the day & we decided to take advantage of it heading out for a walk to wake us up before breakfast. Heading out we followed the pathway around the estate were on a clear day like we had you can see across to the Country Atrim Coastline, the gardens are lovely to walk around with park benches along the way that lead to the The Cultron Inn a more laid back bar & restaurant than on the actual Estate, (handy if you’ve had a few too many & need a rest on your way back to the Estate.) But for me it was the flowers, all in full bloom so colourful & striking against the green landscape.
Let’s Eat, Breakfast…
After a spot of fresh air to wake us both up we headed to the fitness centre located on the Estate for a morning class, it was tough to say the least however we did feel great afterwards but in desperate need of some energy so we headed straight to breakfast which is always one of my favourite meals! We were spoilt for choice with a menu to choose from, Eggs Benedict was my call & mum opted for an Omelette.
Waiting on our food we headed over & indulged in a wide array of what may seem your tradition breakfast selection but all with a local touch. One of our favourites was the various muesli’s that were available that all came from a local company & the fresh yoghurt to go with it from the farm a few fields away & you could quite simply taste the difference. I could have happily kept eating the muesli oh & their delicious homemade muffins all day but when our eggs arrived we didn’t shy away & tucked in. It was the perfect hearty, tasty breakfast that had us completely full, I had no idea how we were going to manage Afternoon Tea!
EXPLORING THE ESTATE
During our 2 day stay at The Culloden, we didn’t leave the Estate once. Not that we didn’t want to explore Belfast, I have been before & there is plenty to see but one of the main purposes of the trip was to simply switch off & escape & with there being everything we needed on the Estate we saw no reason to leave.
We were so lucky to have beautiful weather on our first day it was lovely to head outside enjoy a pot of tea overlooking the breathtaking Lough-side views. When it got chilly we headed inside to the grand reception rooms & a cosy tucked away bar where I was able to get absorbed in my current book, it has everything you want from a traditional stately home hotel & then some.
After enjoying my 2nd bubble bath of the day, (I did say it was pretty amazing) we got ourselves ready, putting on a dress & heels we headed down the grand staircase to The Mitre.
Settling in to the finely decored restaurant with views overlooking the Estates grounds I was looking forward to what laid ahead, with Head Chef Paul McKnight I had read great things about the restaurant prior to our stay as it is said to be one of the finest restaurants in Belfast. An we were in for a treat. The A La Carte menu was small but offered a wide selection so you had plenty to pick from & it’s the small things that make a difference, next to each option was the recommended wine so for a girl who loves red wine but definitely isn’t a connoisseur this was perfect & the wine was superb.
We indulged in 3 courses of gourmet chic, perfectly cooked food with all the dishes being served like a work of art. Starting with a selection of homemade breads which included a Guinness bread that was warm & tasty, a starter of scallops from Strangford Lough followed by a perfectly cooked Beef that I thoroughly enjoyed whilst sipping my accompanying red wine. The atmosphere was warm & relaxing, with very friendly staff who really went the extra mile, explaining where all the local produce came from & who were attentive all evening. Never one to shy away from dessert I unusually opted for the cheese board, whilst my mum had a peanut butter, banana & chilli dish that set off all your taste buds it was truly something else.
In Liverpool there is a restaurant that is is considered the best, for it’s fine dining but also for the service & atmosphere. It was the only comparison I could offer to my friends but it was all I needed as they knew it must have been a truly perfect & enjoyable dining experience & honestly, it was.
On our last day we had our Spa day, yes we had been relaxing but this was really when we fell into a slumber & let the masseuses work their magic. Don’t worry I’m not going let you miss out, I will be sharing all about my visit to the spa next week but let’s just say we didn’t want to leave the spa or estate afterwards. Once we were heading back to our suite, walking down the stained glass corridor, underneath the chandeliers, Mum & I once again were saying how perfect our visit has been.
We got to spend some quality time together were we both actually got a chance to relax instead of running around like we usually do. At the top of my list amongst a few other things such as the beautiful location, delicious food, kick ass fitness classes, charming & classic rooms, was the staff. I don’t think it’s just the Irish charm because every single member of staff simply had time for us. They made us so welcome, nothing was too much trouble they truly made us feel at home & is one of the endless reasons we didn’t want to leave.
But don’t worry I already have trips planned for another visit, I know it’s the perfect place for me & my girlfriends to go for a Spa weekend. It’s also been suggested for a few close couples to head over to for New Year. The options are endless but if your looking to escape or simply enjoy a weekend away then Belfast & The Culloden is where I’d head to.