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“As gorgeous as ever”
Review of Dalhousie Castle

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Dalhousie Castle
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Bonnyrigg
Reviewed July 23, 2007

Having just returned from my third stay at the Castle (and having read some of the bad reviews beforehand much to my concern - having not been back for 7 years), we had a fantastic time there - they only had a standard Castle Room available but it was as gorgeous as any other with the usual superb views and good service. The food was excellent and highly recommended especially The Dungeon Restaurant (well worth the expense!) Please don't believe all the negative reviews as I was worried and SO needn't have been! Enjoy.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Titania4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,270 - 1,276 of 1,429 reviews

Reviewed July 8, 2007

On a whim after a month long European trip, we tacked on a literal 1 night stayover at the castle for the experience and so we could see Edinburgh. It was badly needed because after being in London we needed some "American-like good cheer" and the locals were cheery and friendly.

On arriving, I fell in love. However, I fell in love with the *outside* of the building, and the grounds, and the air, and the countryside, not the hotel itself. See pics attached - clear air, everything verdant, even warm for the year, so there were clear skies, butterflies, and rolling hills. We walked down to the creek, crawled around the old tower, sat contemplating the cleared field and distant trees that used to be full-on gaming forest.

We witnessed a traditional Scots wedding with all the men in kilts and regalia, the castle's appointed herald (I think he does special events, plays the pipes, etc.). The wedding party goes on while the hotel keeps running and this may be a bit weird for other guests - we felt like we were encroaching on a private event because the grounds and castle are small, and you can hear EVERYthing going on with the wedding (hymns being sung, masses of people wandering around).

I filmed part of the ceremony from a sitting room above, and watched the poor bride and her small retinue walk through the red gravel (same color as the stone of the castle) to the patio, which was not sectioned off with any signs or warning that a wedding was going to take place. We walked right out onto it right before the party arrived and were sitting around enjoying the sunshine before servers showed up and we realized we should get out of there.

Now, to the actual hotel experience:

Rooms very spacious, very "Clue", very castle like. Also, showing very obvious signs of aging, they're walking that line of "charming and quaint" and "needs refurbishing." We were in the Louis XIV (or XVI?) room, these rooms are all something of an "apartment" - in the original sense of the word, where a room has an entrance, hallway, etc.

Bathroom large and renovated compared to the room itself; it had a skylight, which was awesome, great water pressure, local handmade soaps and bath products, etc. I believe there was travertine tile or marble on the floor, or something nice like that.

Heater was a radiator which we weren't sure was working properly. Little cookies in a cointainer on the desk when we arrived, they seemed fresh. Desk looked like it was from the 60s or 70s, had ink and quill (quill was long ago dried out).

A large arch between bedroom and sitting area, which contained a beautiful dark wood wall-to-wall bookcase filled with books. Two very worn, floral patterned chairs tucked into an uncomfortable , dark, cramped and very dated corner. It contained a very old television (no real channels) stacked with a dated beverage service that I didn't want to try touching for fear I'd knock the fragile little stack over. As others have mentioned - things are starting to look threadbare.

Per other European hotel experiences, a king bed is really two single beds pushed together, so we managed to pull ours apart.

Armoire was extremely battered and showing severe signs of wear and tear.

Orangery meal was good, not great, pricing to the American dollar expensive but fairly standard for a hotel. If you want windowside seats you need advanced reservations. I'd recommend, however, that you not sit by the window during the day or you will roast. :) Did not eat in the dungeon.

The library has a "secret bar" - we entered and took pictures. Didn't bother with drinks, we had the singular fun weirdness of being probably the only African Americans for miles and especially in the hotel. We didn't linger much indoors. :)

Castle is quite far from "civilization" as others have mentioned - you must walk a good 20+ min (some of it uphill and without sidewalks) to the main road, pass a local church (see pics), and then to the local roundabout to get to the outskirts of the nearest town, which offers a bustop that will get you to Edinburgh, or another converted mini-castle/hotel from which you could call a taxi.

Buses are nice and new and you are literally at the very last stop when you board so you have the whole bus to yourself until you start accumulating all the other scattered folk also trying to get into Edinburgh city. Or you could have the hotel call you a taxi and wait for a while for one to show up (and expect this to be expensive, you're quite far from the city).

We were only there one night so we didn't engage much with hotel staff other than for checkin and arranging for a ride to the airport. We did have a bellman help us with our bags - there is no elevator in the hotel so this is not a disabled friendly place and if you are staying for a couple of days note you've got steps to carry your luggage up/down. Front desk staff sweet and proper, not jumping up and down to help but not lazy either. All in smart uniforms.

We did get to chat with the herald/host (I know he has a title but can't think of it, and forgot his name already), and he was a right chatty soul, white/greying hair, dressed to the hilt in kilt, blustery and bearded, and he sure did like to hear himself talk (as my friend noted). He likes to go on about the history of the grounds , etc., so be sure to ask him these types of questions.

Hung out our last day while waiting for our cab in one of the sitting rooms (when we witnessed the wedding) - I love historical buildings and formal interior design so I just sat there taking pictures of the chandelier and crown molding. :)

Foyer, etc., for the castle is "little grand" - on a small scale but impressive nonetheless. A throne sits at the top of the formal entrance stairs, below a rosette skylight.

I do remember being told that Martin Scorsese likes to rent out the entire place for special events/family gatherings.

We also went down to the falconry, which held rows and rows of beautiful predator birds, some gigantic and scary and some adorable and cute. We were only there the one night so we didn't bother doing this, and simply walking to see them and observe their handler manage them a bit was fun enough.

Oh, and there are two locations where you can book rooms - be very careful which one you pick, if you are not in the castle you are a bit of a walk away across the grounds (they have a golf cart) in the "Lodge" which, based on reviews, is not as desirable to be in as the castle itself.

A lovely stay, probably better suited for those trying to get away from the city for peace, quiet, romance, or a wedding. Definitely beginning to show its age. It would be 3 stards for me but the surrounding grounds and fact that it's an honest to goodness castle give it a 4.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled with friends
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6  Thank thmilin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2007

We just returned from our first trip to Scotland, which included a 2-night stay at Dalhousie. Upon our arrival, we were upgraded (without asking) to the Dalhousie Suite, which is the only room located in the turet. It's a huge, round room with 4-poster bed; my only complaint would be the carpet, which was stained in several places from the iron coffee table. The bathroom was located 20-30 feet down a private hallway within the room, and it was huge and beautiful.

While at the castle, we had dinner in the Dungeon, breakfasts in the Orangery, drinks in the library bar, and an afternoon of falconry. Dinner was very good, particularly the crab amuse bouche and the goat cheese tart. But the room was so quiet! Breakfasts were fine, and their porridge is to die for, but again -- the quiet! Falconry was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, very cool, though a bit expensive. The library bar was quiet as a church with surley priests/ bartenders!

All in all, it was a nice stay, but not fabulous. I would recommend it to a friend, but I'll be looking for a more lively place to try when we return to Scotland.

Stayed: May 2007
3  Thank jmarshmallow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 5, 2007

Just back from a two night stay at Dalhousie Castle and couldnt recommend it enough!

We stayed in the Dalhousie Themed Room which is located in the actual tower of the castle. Long corridor leads to a few steps which you climb to come up into the room - so empressive!! Large round shaped room, with four poster bed and lots of light with working window shutters.

The staff were great! A special word for Peter who made our stay extra fun and we enjoyed his chats in the evening. It was my birthday during our stay and everyone made me feel very special and did lots of little jobs for my hubby to add to the ocassion.

Loved the library bar, lots of ggod wine drank there over the weekend and the food was great both in The Orangery and in the Dungeon.

We also had a few ghostly experiences while there, and went on the tour given by Peter so fuel our imagination even more!

Love Dalhousie and all about it...will certainly go back!!

  • Stayed: June 2007, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank paws2paws
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2007

Got married at Dalhousie Castle and had a fantastic day, we were a bit nervous due to the hotel being un-organised previously as we had problems with the bedroom bookings, also the night prior to the wedding some of the ladies had a meal in the Dungeon restaurant and this was disappointing due to poor service, however on the day everything went smoothly.
We hired the Ramsay room for the wedding breakfast and were happy with how it looked overall, although on close inspection we noticed that many of the seats were fairly worn with splits in the fabric. For the evening we had the Alexander room and this was fine, adjoining the Alexander room is the Brechin room and this was used for the buffet, it is very tatty but as it is only used for the buffet then we didn't see much of it. The Gunroom/Chapel was great for the ceremony and the young Piper did an excellent job. We had the falconry display and this was excellent, as part of the display an owl delivered a poem to the bride.We had the Mary Queen of Scots room for 3 nights and this was great, plenty of room with good views. Elizabeth was an excellent wedding co-ordinator , polite, friendly and very helpful ,when we did have an issue she resolved it to our satisfaction very promptly,and all the rest of the staff were great too, especially Monica in the Orangery.

Stayed: May 2007
Thank Redeski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 18, 2007

My partner and I jsut stayed at Dalhousie during the Easter Holidays and it was ok. It's expensive but if you want to stay in a castle, it's fairly authentic. Much of the staff is a bit surely, especially the waitresses for breakfast, but the dinner crew in the "Dungeon" were more professional. And they should be considering the 38 pound per person price and the fairly average california style cuisine (read: small portions, experimental fusions that sometimes works - chocolate & olive oil and sometimes doesn't - rabbit & prunes).
The Spa is a bit overhyped but we stayed an hour and for the small and rather lack luster amenities, it's still better than nothing. We stayed in the James VI room which had nice high ceilings, a very modern bathroom and great views. The bathroom products were great, locally made lavendar with fluffy robes, clean.
There is a large staff which sometimes seems too large, never alone for a minute and not actually that friendly or helpful. Considering the general good nature of most of the Scottish people we met, it seemed a stark contrast.
Would be a good place for a wedding, I suppose that's were they really make their money.
Best part: both of us are skeptics but on different nights we had similar ghostly experiences. A little scary but also added some stories for our trip.

  • Stayed: April 2007, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank CafeAlacroix
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2007

We stayed at Dalhousie Castle for our 10th wedding anniversary, and had an exceptional time. The castle was beautiful, and our room (the Cockpen room) was the epitome of charm. Having a huge (and very comforatable) four-poster bed, and our own private balcony with a fantastic view, really made our stay special. The food in the dungeon restaurant was also wonderful. They even sent us a bottle of champagne on our anniversary date. I would not hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone. Top marks for the castle and its staff!

  • Stayed: April 2007, traveled as a couple
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Thank Thingumy
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
Phone Number:
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: $98 - $295 (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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