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“Good, but was expecting so much more”
Review of Dalhousie Castle

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Dalhousie Castle
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Bonnyrigg
Reviewed December 9, 2011

From the outside this castle really does have the wow factor, and if you were heading there purely to dine in the Dungeon restaurant then this would be a five star trip, but what lets the whole experience down is the rest of the hotel.

We were upgraded to a 'themed' room upon arrival and was quick surprised at how small the upgraded double room was; fine it had a four poster bed, but the it was a cheap mattress and therefore defeated the whole point of having a decent bed, the carpet looked tired and the bathroom could do with a good clean.

We had lunch in the Orangery, the service was slow, the restaurant was cold, the food was ok but nothing more than that, where was the theatre and the passion in this place?

We both had some treatments in the spa in the afternoon which were 'ok', I opted for a sports massage which was meant to involve 'deep tissue' work, but it was more like an oily rub. The spa area was cold, the steam room was tepid, more like a moisture room.

The best part of our stay was the evening meal in the Dungeon restaurant, pre-dinner canapes in the library and then escorted through the hotel and down into the dungeon; this is where the hotel shines, this level of attention to detail in the service made this part of the trip unique, but why is the rest of the hotel failing?

The food at our dinner was superb, modern contemporary, could not pass fault on any part of this, only high praise for the chef and his team.

I'll remember this hotel for the evening meal in the Dungeon, this is the 5 star part of the hotel, the rest of the it, the spa, the room and the other restaurant is a 3 star experience and therefore expensive for what it is.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank JimmyThePea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,098 - 1,104 of 1,439 reviews

Reviewed December 4, 2011

We would rate this highly, amazing history and the facilities were amazing especially the spa.

  • Stayed: September 2011
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Thank Steve D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2011

The Point: Me time, relaxation, self indulgence

The Venue: A romantic fairytale castle
The venue itself is spectacular on the outside, and some of the inside is really quite gorgeous. Huge high ceilings, an incredibly perfect Bond style Library complete with floor to ceiling book shelves laden with hard backed old books and I'm convinced there was a secret doorway behind one of them. Thrones here and there, a beautiful sweet little romantic chapel, beautiful entrance and a rabbit warren of corridors, history and intrigue.

My initial room was in the basement, overlooking the fire escape. The bath had black hairs in it, the floor had crumbs and the bed had greasy stains. I asked if I could be moved to a clean room. Upon showing the lack of hygiene in the room I was told "It would happen on the day the cleaning staff are off" - why are the cleaning staff off??

I was graciously moved to a gorgeous "Sir Walter Scott" room with a glorious comfortable four poster bed. The staff were friendly and helpful in moving me to this far superior room (which was a fantastic deal for my £65 Late Rooms booking price). Overlooking breathtaking scenery, I was back to feeling excited about my stay.

The Food: The Orangery Restaurant in the Hotel
1st attempt: cold meatballs - tried a little of all 3 meatballs, and all were cold, ate the gnocci while waiting for any staff to appear. Called the waitress over and told her the meatballs were cold. I was told I couldn't have another full portion as I had eaten some of the food. I said I didn't care as long as the meatballs were hot (though you'd get better service at Ikea). My food left, and returned on the same plate, hot this time, with a couple of browned salad leaves chucked on top of the same meatballs clumsily. The meatballs were better at Ikea. The red wine I had with dinner was freezing, not remotely close to room temperature.

2nd attempt: Breakfast in bed
Great location, nice presentation, but the food was cold (again), the bacon tasted weird - as if someone had farted nearby and the taste had wound up in my mouth.

Final attempt: Grilled Tiger Prawn Salad (lunch)
Brown, four day old salad leaves chucked on top of some quite tasty pan fried cherry tomatoes on cucumber slices with mushy excuses for prawns slithered on top.
I ate a few, then googled mushy prawns fearful I might contract food poisoning only to discover it's over marinading then over cooking which causes them to mush. Disgusting. When asked if everything was ok, I said that my prawns were mushy. While showing the waitress the mush quality of the prawns, she asked over me "Would you like anything else?", "just the bill please". She took away my mushy lunch remains and returned with a bill for £11.95. What was the point in asking if everything was ok? No attempt to remedy the situation. Shocking lack of interest in customer satisfaction.

The Falconry
While I didn't actually order a specific falconry session, I still had a great time meeting the birds of prey, and I got to stroke an extremely fluffy and lovable barn owl, who can be booked for weddings at the Castle Chapel. He will fly into the chapel carrying the rings and land on the Best Man. Amazing!! This is the best wedding gimmick I have ever heard of. The staff here were lovely and very chatty.

The Spa
To complete my retreat, I booked in for 3 spa sessions in the Dalhousie Castle Spa. The spa itself is quite small with no real sauna (though I was assured the much cooler "Roman" sauna was simply a more old fashioned approach). The treatments were fantastic and the staff in the spa were lovely, though the treatment rooms were quite cold, which interrupted the feeling of relaxation. The changing rooms did have lovely heated floors.

Overall
I just got the feeling that there was a lack of investment in keeping this gorgeous venue as a quality destination - the wallpaper was peeling off, doors were chipped, "Hazard, wet floor" signs were left strewn against walls and corridors where no such wet floor was present, the cabinet in my room was falling apart, inside the bench in the hall was a cigarette filter tip and a collection of hair and dust, there seemed to be a lack of maintenance, a lack of interest in cleanliness, a lack of staff training (customer satisfaction), a lack of warmth, and a lack of attention to detail.

It could be so much better with a little more effort - they could take inspiration from Prestonfield House with plush, decadent bedding and furnishings, they could completely make over the bog standard no frills bathrooms with something more fitting of the grand setting, change the chef, and whip the cleaning standards into 4-star shape...or perhaps a lack of chef or cleaning staff is the problem. Overall for the price I paid, I wouldn't have been too disappointed (other than the lack of hygiene/customer service in The Orangery) but for the 4 star rating advertised, I was led to have much higher expectations.

I did overall have a lovely stay, but with a little effort, it could have been so much better!

Room Tip: HIgher floors likely to have better views Check if they have cleaning staff on duty
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled solo
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1  Thank BarimaTravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2011

The hotel itself is gorgeous! An incredible building. I got a great deal on Late Rooms. Nevertheless I was very disappointed when I saw my basement level room with a view of the fire escape. There was a smell of meat - like a butchers, the bathroom smelt worse. The room was cold, the bath had black hairs in it, the grouting was black, the bed had greasy marks on it, and there were crumbs on the floor. I asked reception to give me another room and boy did they?! They transferred me to the Sir Walter Scott room with a gorgeous view, a four poster bed, and clean.

I went for dinner at The Orangery restaurant in the castle. I ordered lamb meatballs, they were so cold I had to send them back (I find complaining quite stressful but equally feel I shouldn't have to pay for cold meatballs), they took my plate away and returned the same plate with the same meatballs, this time hot. Not brilliant by any means but hot meatballs was all I was after so good enough.

Breakfast in bed was cold.

Back to give The Orangery it's final chance, I ordered grilled tiger prawn salad. The prawns were mushy, the flavor was good but the texture was vulgar. I therefore would NOT recommend the Orangery. The food was a big fat disappointment.

I walked past the Falconry after lunch and got to stroke a barn owl which was a high point. I also found out this very barn owl can be hired to fly into the chapel for weddings carrying the wings - which I think is incredible! Brilliant creative thinking!

I booked into the spa for some treatments after lunch before heading home. The spa is very small but a lovely space. No traditional sauna was a little disappointing but the treatments were really lovely so I left on a bit of a high.

I feel it's a shame as this hotel could be so incredible as a venue, but the quality of service (not including the spa) is pretty crap - dilapidated and lacking in ambition. It's worth visiting the spa, you can take in the castle at the same time. The restaurant could do with a Gordon Ramsay makeover, and the bedrooms should take inspiration from Prestonfield House's plush, decadent decor, the bathrooms need an overhaul - very 2 star. I hope this hotel pulls it's socks up!

  • Stayed: November 2011
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Thank Numpti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 27, 2011

We travelled out to Dalhousie for the first night of our honeymoon. The service and welcome was excellent throughout our stay. The room was excellent, with stunning views of the local countryside. The location is ideal, far enough out of Edinburgh to properly relax (and the spa facilities help with that) but close enough to drop back into town to enjoy the facilities.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Paul D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 27, 2011

Stayed here with my husband on the first leg of our honeymoon. We were looking for some downtime and we certainly got that here. We stayed in a themed room that certainly lived up to both of our expectations. The bed was very comfortable and the room was clean, airy and bright. We were on a DBB package and so ate in both the Orangerie and the Dungeon. The food is very good (particularly the 5 course experience in the Dungeon) but the menus do not change every night. We stayed for 3 nights and the menus were the same on all nights. There are some lovely walks around the castle and there is also a falconry and archery if you are interested. The spa is small but they do have a small pool (that you have to book in advance to use), a small relaxation room and a good choice of spa treatments. It really is a place for R&R. If you are looking to get out and about a bit, beyond the confines of the castle, Edinburgh is about 20-25 minutes away and it's not too expensive by taxi. It's definitely an experience to stay there and it's well worth a visit.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank HappyTraveller75_76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2011

I booked this castle because it was in the country, but close enough we could take a taxi without costing a fortune (it was like 25-30 pounds each way). Also, it allowed us to cross two things off our travel list; 1) sleep in castle 2) do falconry. Best of all we got to do both without having to rent a car. (We like to drink on vacation and driving tends to get in the way.) First of all I should say that I was a little confused when I tried to book our room online. I wasn't sure if the room was in the castle or in the lodge, so I chose to call directly and book through reception so I could gauruntee my room. We got the cockpen room which was a themed room, had a balcony and a super awesome view. The room was as expected from the pictures online. You can't expect the ritz, it's a castle people. I expected "antique-sih" and drafty and it was actually one of the warmest places we stayed in scotland. There was a towel warmer in the bathroom but the TV was a bit testt. We opted to eat in the restaurant and it was great. Definitely expensive, but we both really enjoyed our food. The falconry was awesome and you are missing out if you don't book it. One of the coolest things I have ever done. Breakfast was good too.

Room Tip: Call direct and hand pick it
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  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank blueskyzander
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Dalhousie Castle

Address: Dalhousie Castle grounds, Bonnyrigg EH19 3JB, Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > Midlothian > Bonnyrigg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Bonnyrigg
Price Range: $108 - $306 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Dalhousie Castle 4*
Number of rooms: 29
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Dalhousie Castle Hotel and Aqueous Spa is a magnificent 13th century fortress set within acres of wooded parkland on the picturesque banks of the River Esk. From the moment you arrive at Dalhousie Castle a warm Scottish welcome awaits. Whether relaxing in the the Spa, gathering in the library next to the open fire, dining in the vaulted 2 Rosette winning dungeon restaurant, or retiring to your chambers, you will always feel as welcome as the 'Laird'. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Dalhousie Castle Bonnyrigg
Dalhousie Castle Hotel Bonnyrigg
Castle Dalhousie
Dalhousie Castle Scotland/Bonnyrigg

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