Been a while unfortunately since had the opportunity to sample all that the Culloden Hotel & Spa has to offer and this time was a complete surprise so couldn't have been happier. From the second you drive through the gates the grounds and building portray a touch of class and luxury and glad to see the one part of the hotel which have to say was a bit out of character, the bar, it is being completely renovated and extended ( an excuse to come back and see when finished! ). Only for the very controlled building work taking place from the outside and the fact from knowing the interior you would not have a clue this corner was ever there from inside the way they have changed things around, no dust sheet or signage anywhere to tell the tale of the work taking place.
No issues with checkin and the room again perfect, large, clean, side view of lough and furnishings what would expect of a 5* hotel including fantastic bed. We decided to treat ourselves to having their set menu in the Mitre Restaurant and to be honest we both agreed probably have not had as good a meal since last time we ate there!. Really eating out is all about enjoying the entire experienceand from entry to leaving it was perfection. We rate a good meal on it being of a quality we cannot repeat at home and hate paying for something average or below and although some people may think £45 for a set meal is expensive you simply get what you pay for. I would much rather have 1 gourmet meal than 2 very average meals which would not even get for this price so price is not an issue when eating here, its a bargain!.
On paper you get a starter, main, dessert, Tea/Coffee & chocs but you can realistically add another 2 courses. We started off with a few slices of breads from a selection which included their Guinness Bread and then were presented with perfectly sliced open egg shells with a devine egg, salmon and onion mousse ( apologies don't remember the proper terminology used but my tastabuds done the talking! ). We then had the crab starter (cold) & the scallops & chorizo which were both as tasty as expected and what you would expect, the small scallops, divine!. For mains we opted for the venison and the duck and have to say were 2 of the best mains we have tasted for some time as both have had good venison and duck meals elsewhere but the quality, flavour and texture of these two dishes put them above anywhere else we can remember for some time and know our meats and do eat out regularly. We were then recommended by our waitress ( will come back to her ) the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake and ordered it and the choc tarte with mango & chilli sauce and again worth every penny and then some more. The main also came with a side of seasonal veg & baby potatoes so even with such a fine dining experience the portion sizes were more than adequate unlike other places where chefs egos and snobbery results in miniscule portions & half full stomachs. This is a fine example of a lovely relaxed dining experience ( the pianist helps ) that will not break the bank but leave you satisfied in every way and pleased that you spent your money wisely. One thing that makes an experience is the people that you encounter and have to say this was super seeded by our waitress Harriet. She was the example of perfection when it came to service, a real genuine girl who you could see really enjoyed what she done and was a glowing example to others and to the service any company would be delighted to offer. She had a genuine smile and demeanor about her and engaged in honest conversation and made you feel like a regular high flying guest and could see her professionalism as she moved around the tables dealing with all types of guests as the restaurant was pretty busy, another key sign for quality.
Enough about the meal!, we also used the gym ( all machines in good state, clean and perfect temp ) , pool as always good including changing facilities and their luxurious spa body wash and lotion and then there was the spa itself. We both had treatments and the girls and the hour or so treatents were fantastic and again on the expensive side but this is a 5* location and really are worth the treat as unlike any day spa or regular massage you would get in other places.
Breakfast again perfect and was shown to seat by the food & beverage manager who again was very chatty and geuine and portrayed perfectly what you would want to expect of such a place and told him would indeed be writing up a review as was so pleased with our total experience. Points to note about breakfast in the Hastings hotels is the smoked salmon and also never to be outdone, the porridge but not just any porridge as beside it are jugs of honey and cream and combine this all together with a generous shot of the Bushmills Whiskey!! over the porridge and I am yet to find better anywhere in the world! and we have travelled extensively.
You will never please everyone in this world but the Culloden do their utmost to do so and feel some of the most recent reviews on here do not portray the overwhelming percentage of comments we here from others when chatting etc and from what we experience on numerous visits so thought should set the record straight!. Go and treat yourselves as its worth every penny when look at what get elsewhere.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Standing high on the wooded slopes of the Holywood hills, overlooking Belfast Lough, is the magnificent Culloden Estate and Spa, one of the most prestigious 5 star hotels in Northern Ireland.Originally built as an official palace for the Bishops of Down, the Culloden stands in 12 acres of beautiful gardens and is 5 miles from Belfast City Centre. The exclusive Spa offers health and leisure facilities, and a full range of ESPA spa therapies. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Culloden Estate Hotel Holywood
- Culloden Estate And Spa
- Culloden Hotel
- Culloden Estate Holywood
- Culloden Estate & Spa Holywood, Northern Ireland