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LUXURY HOTELS: Culloden Estate and Spa, Holywood, Northern Ireland
The Culloden Estate and Spa is undoubtedly the jewel in the Hastings Hotels crown. 2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of the ownership of the hotel by the Hastings Hotels group.  The property was purchased in June 1967, and over the course of the last 50 years, under the direction of Sir William Hastings, has transformed the Culloden in both size and luxury.
 
the culloden estate and spa in the luxury travel bible
the culloden estate and spa in the luxury travel bible
cloud bed in the luxury travel bible
culloden estate drawing room
the spa at the culloden estate
culloden estate gardens
cultra inn at the culloden estate and spa

Sitting high in the Holywood Hills, the imposing hotel was originally built as an official Palace for the Bishops of Down and remains a regal retreat for luxury travellers to Northern Ireland.
As soon as we pulled up to the front of the hotel, The Luxury Travel Bible was instantly taken with the beautiful and original stonework. Although the hotel has undergone several extensions and renovations during its history, the design remains respectful to its original design.

In May this year, as part of the 50th Anniversary, saw the completion of a £4.8m renovation programme. The renovation included the complete redevelopment of two floors of bedrooms which has seen a selection of the smaller bedrooms remodelled to be augmented in size, bringing the hotel stock to 98. There was also an extensive redevelopment of the Mitre Restaurant, the Stuart Suite and the Spa which has ensured that the Culloden remains one of the top hotels in Ireland.

The beautiful hotel is surrounded by 12 acres of grounds, which look down towards the rolling hills and Belfast Lough (beautiful regardless of the rain - well, we are in Ireland!) . As soon as we entered the lobby, with its rich colours, palatial design and impeccable service, it was clear to see why the Culloden is considered to be Northern Ireland's premier luxury hotel. 
My suite was located at the front of the original building and the large bay windows offered stunning views over the hotel gardens and towards Belfast Lough and the County Antrim Coastline.
 
The large, airy suite was not only extremely comfortable, but also very relaxing with its elegant décor, comfortable living room and large bathroom. However, the most outstanding feature of the room (as it is in all Hastings Hotels' rooms) was the 'Cloud Bed'. Large and enveloping, the hotel group have appropriately named them as they are akin to sleeping on a marshmallowly soft cloud. Had it not been the alluring thought of a hearty Ulster Fry for breakfast it's doubtful TLTB would ever leave from between the sheets, through our own freewill!

Dining at the Culloden is worth the trip to Northern Ireland alone. The main restaurant, The Mitre (another subtle nod to the hotel's past) serves evening meals of Irish Cuisine and a hearty buffet breakfast. Trust TLTB, you will not go hungry while at the Culloden.
 
What would any trip to the Emerald Isle be without an evening spent in a traditional pub with a pint of stout? Guests do not need to venture very far as the hotel has the beautiful Cultra Inn within the grounds. The cosy and lively traditional inn often has live music and transforms from hosting family get-togethers during the day to intimate dining at night. TLTB spent a great evening at the Cultra Inn enjoying some of the world famous 'Irish craic'.

Hastings Hotels 'believe that eating is one of life's greatest pleasures', and throughout the group, all menus are created from local and seasonal produce. Each hotel works with local farmers and companies to supply the kitchens and 'look for produce which stands out from the rest - from where it originates, to the way it is produced and for its flavour'. The Culloden Estate featuers its own kitchen garden, from where the chefs pick fresh ingredients daily (resulting in zero food miles).
After all that dining, guests can roam the manicured grounds and also have access to the hotel's beautiful spa facilities and can book a treatment from the menu of ESPA treatments. 

Of course, being the hometown of Rory McIlroy, golf is a popular activity. The hotel can arrange for guests to visit local golf courses, including Ireland's oldest golf course, the famous Royal Belfast 18-hole course. The hotel is located 6 miles from the attractions in Belfast City Centre. Once the violent setting of the Troubles, the city is now a hub of culture, shopping and fine dining.

Sir William Hastings likes to say, 'The Culloden Estate & Spa was once built for a Bishop but is now truly fit for a king'...  After a weekend of fantastic service, entertainment,  food and Irish charm, TLTB is very much inclined to agree with this statement.
 

Check in:  Culloden Estate and Spa, Bangor Road, Holywood, Belfast, BT18 OEX
Ultimate Luxury:  Check into the luxury Bishop Suite - decanted Irish Whiskey and Irish Scotch awaits you.
Most Indulgent Moment: A night spent in one of the hotel's Cloud Bed - it may be cliché to say but it really is 'like sleeping on a cloud'!
Insider Secrets: Spot the famous 'Hastings' ducks around the hotel - they have gathered quite a fan club including many celebrities.
The Little Things: Subtle hints of the hotel's history.
Junior Luxies: As long as they are well behaved, they will be made to feel welcome.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.hastingshotels.com
Sarah Bryans Updated 07/08/2017
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