Culloden Estate & Spa: The holy grail of luxury breaks


Standing on the slopes of the Holywood Hills, the five-star Culloden Estate and Spa showcases stunning views over the impressive Belfast Lough and County Antrim coastline.

Steeped in history, the grand palatial estate was built in 1876 for the Bishops of Down, before becoming a boutique hotel in the 1960s, and is one of seven luxurious hotels owned by the Hastings Hotels group. Over the years, the Culloden’s reputation has grown exponentially and it counts many celebrities among its guests, including the likes of Sir Van Morrison, David Beckham, Sir Tom Jones and Tony Blair, and the estate is now deemed “The Ritz of Northern Ireland”.


Built in the Scottish baronial style, with stone brought over from Scotland by boat, the elegant building stands tall above the idyllic landscape. Many of the original elements of theVictorian Gothic building have been retained, with soaring ceilings and intricate windows which are effortlessly paired with clean and contemporary fittings.

Guests can escape to their own little bit of luxury, to one of its 98 expansive bedrooms, equipped with Cloud Beds by King Koil for a perfect night’s sleep.


In the recently openedVespers restaurant, head chef Paul McKnight delivers a seasonal menu.Try the Portavogie prawn cocktail with scrumptious wheaten scone, followed by the mouthwatering north coast hake for a real local treat.

Or drop into the hotel-owned Cultra Inn pub, just a stone’s throw from the front door, if you fancy traditional fare such as scampi, fish and chips or burgers. And local produce figures strongly at breakfast, from Carnbrooke Honeybee Sausages to Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt. In the Lough Bar you can take afternoon tea of delicate pastries, scones and sandwiches as you admire the breathtaking view of the scenery.

Lough Bar is also a great place to retire to in the evening for a cocktail or to sample one of the many local gins – Echlinville Irish Pot Still or Shortcross are two particular favourites.


The ESPA spa is a sanctuary for body and mind with a pool, steam room and Jacuzzi along with a huge gym next door. Soothe away stress with a full-body massage – one of an extensive selection of therapies – in the Japanese-style wood-panelled treatment rooms.

There’s a nail bar too. Or head upstairs for Pilates, yoga or spinning classes.


Belfast city centre is a 15-minute taxi ride away, or hop on a train from Cultra Station, at the bottom of the lawn.Visit the memorableTitanic Experience where its nine galleries tell the story of RMS Titanic, from her conception in Belfast through to her tragic end in 1912. For those looking to get out of the city, the Ards and North Down region is only a 20-minute drive away.

At Clandeboye Estate ( you can drive a 4×4 around the 2,000-acre grounds for an exhilarating off-road experience.And it’s worth visiting Mount Stewart for a tour of the National Trust estate and its glorious gardens, recently voted one of UnescoWorld Cultural Heritage’s top 10 gardens in the world ( mount-stewart).


Rooms at the Culloden Estate & Spa start at £250 per night based on two sharing, B&B.

Visit or call 028 9042 1066. More info at

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