ENTERTAINMENT

Game of Thrones – with all the comforts: A look back at a Scottish castle with boutique comfort


A stay at Kilmartin Castle comes with a few warnings.

When checking in, you need to watch your head, watch your step, and keep an eye out for the occasional bats – they like it there.

But if you're comfortable with low door frames, uneven stairs, and the occasional visit from winged creatures of the night, there's a good chance you'll be completely amazed by the place – as I am.

Kilmartin Castle is an impressive fortress house on the outside – and hipster chic on the inside

The castle's wonderful living room, where guests can sit back in front of the fire on a 70s-style modular L-shaped sofa and spin vinyl

The castle's wonderful living room, where guests can sit back in front of the fire on a 70s-style modular L-shaped sofa and spin vinyl

Find Kilmartin Castle in Scotland's rural Argyll, which is featured in Sawday & # 39; s and celebrates "special" overnight accommodations.

Special? This 16th century castle is in one of the most historically fascinating areas of Scotland and is extraordinary.

It's Game of Thrones hipster chic. An imposing, dramatic, thick-walled fortress – but with all the mod cons, delightful luxury boutiques and a dash of coolness (this is a lock that guests can spin vinyl in).

Ted's bedroom - called Speel - has a beautifully padded antique double bed and a sumptuous copper bath

Ted's bedroom – called Speel – has a beautifully padded antique double bed and a sumptuous copper bath

The bed in Ted's room is under a wall with half-exposed brickwork and a vaulted ceiling

The bed in Ted's room is under a wall with half-exposed brickwork and a vaulted ceiling

Plus, it has relaxed, welcoming, bonhomie-steeped owners – Stef Burgon and husband Simon Hunt – who'll be talking to you in minutes to like old friends.

The fact that Kilmartin Castle, built in 1550 during the legendary reign of Mary Queen of Scots, is now a unique place to stay is all they do.

The property was an abandoned semi-ruin from 1790 to 1990 when a couple refurbished it for over 10 years and ran it as a B&B.

Stef and Simon bought Kilmartin Castle for £ 330,000 and spent seven months renovating it with the help of architects, skilled restorers and builders, and a lot of determination

Stef and Simon bought Kilmartin Castle for £ 330,000 and spent seven months renovating it with the help of architects, skilled restorers and builders, and a lot of determination

Boutique bathroom: The tower bathrooms have underfloor heating, rain showers and beautiful sinks

Boutique bathroom: The tower bathrooms have underfloor heating, rainfall showers and beautiful sinks

Artists and traditional craftsmen have been selected to provide exclusive and luxurious details for the castle

Artists and traditional craftsmen have been selected to provide exclusive and luxurious details for the castle

Stef and Simon bought the property for £ 330,000 in 2014 while living and working in Dubai (Stef as a radio host and Simon as the creative director of an advertising agency) and rented it to vacationers remotely.

They moved in in late 2018 and spent seven months renovating it with the help of architects, skilled restorers and builders, and a bunch of determination.

I was very excited about the prospect of checking out the handcraft.

Of course, as with any self-respecting escape to a rural Scottish lodge, the trip is half the fun.

Ours – me, my partner and my three year old daughter – started on an Avanti Pendolino from London Euston to Glasgow along the West Coast Main Line. This provides a delicious starter to a vacation in the wind-ravaged wilderness of Scotland by circumnavigating the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales for sweeping views of the North Pennines.

There is a lot to see and discover in the area around the castle - but guests will struggle to leave the coziness behind

There is a lot to see and discover in the area around the castle – but guests will struggle to leave the coziness behind

The epic front door of Kilmartin Castle

When Stef and Simon need a spare key for the front door, Timpson can't help

Pictured on left is Kilmartin's epic front door. And on the right is the front door key. If a replacement is needed, Timpson is unlikely to be able to help …

Over 350 prehistoric and historical monuments have been found within six miles of Kilmartin. This beautiful picture of the Ballymeanoch Stones in the Glen - part of an ancient ritual complex - was taken by Marc Pickering and posted on his Instagram account @lochgmarcp

Over 350 prehistoric and historical monuments have been found within six miles of Kilmartin. This beautiful picture of the Ballymeanoch Stones in the Glen – part of an ancient ritual complex – was taken by Marc Pickering and posted on his Instagram account @lochgmarcp

Again the Ballymeanoch stones, this time in a sensational way by Eilidh Cameron, who was born on the west coast of Scotland and posted on her Instagram account

Again the Ballymeanoch stones, this time in a sensational way by Eilidh Cameron, who was born on the west coast of Scotland and posted on her Instagram account

A delicious starter in the wind-ravaged wilderness of Scotland is served by the West Coast Main Line, which encircles the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, and also offers breathtaking views of the North Pennines

A delicious starter in the wind-ravaged wilderness of Scotland is served by the West Coast Main Line, which encircles the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, and also offers breathtaking views of the North Pennines

The castle is a bewitching mixture of "visible history", cosiness and versatile individuality

The castle is a beguiling mixture of "visible history", cosiness and versatile character

From Glasgow it was a memorably exhilarating rental car ride along the rollercoaster streets that passed Lochs Lomond, Gilp and Fyne (where we made oysters and fish and chips at the excellent Loch Fyne Oyster Bar & Deli) – and huge mountains in between.

Kilmartin Castle is north of Loch Gilp in the charming Kilmartin Glen, nestled in the hamlet of Kilmartin.

Over 350 prehistoric and historical monuments have been found within six miles of the village, including Dunadd Fort, where ancient Scottish kings were anointed.

The hill it once stood on – a large lump in an otherwise flat field – is an amazing sight when approaching Kilmartin from the south.

What is tempting is that you can't see the castle from the street – at least not clearly. Instead, it pops out like a clipping in a pop-up book when you step into a gap in a tree wall on a gravel driveway behind a cluster of cottages.

41-year-old Stef and 38-year-old Simon haven't changed the look and feel of the building's fantasy kingdom. The walls are as bulky as they were over 500 years ago, the fairytale towers have been preserved and some of the windows are original defensive metal bar shields.

It's still a home that could withstand a (medieval) attack.

But inside it is a beguiling mixture of "visible history", as Stef and Simon put it, cosiness and versatile character.

Ted loved the details, which included freshly ground coffee presented in a paper bag and tucked together with the handle of a metal shovel

Ted loved the details, which included freshly ground coffee presented in a paper bag and clipped together with the handle of a metal shovel

Shampoo, soap and conditioner are kept in small refillable painted ceramic pots by the artist Claire Henry

The narrow spiral staircase leads to the Speel bedroom

Shampoo, soap and conditioner are kept in small, refillable painted ceramic pots by the artist Claire Henry (see picture on the left). On the right is the narrow spiral staircase that leads to the Speel bedroom

A state-of-the-art mini pumping station for £ 40,000 ensures that Speel's giant copper bathtub by William Holland quickly fills with hot water

A state-of-the-art mini pumping station for £ 40,000 ensures that Speel's giant copper bathtub by William Holland quickly fills with hot water

Medieval authenticity abounds, but you will feel just as comfortable here as in a five-star hotel.

After Stef gave us a quick tour of the castle's vegetable patch, explaining that we might hear the neighbor practicing his bagpipes, he told us that bats would come in from time to time and showed us the key to the front door – almost the same size as my toddler – it was time to see our accommodations.

We climbed uneven steps to the living room (the medieval builders made them purposely idiosyncratic so attackers could fall over on the way up, with the idea that residents would learn the pattern) and then up a spiral staircase to our bedroom – one of four, called Speel – that was too narrow and steep to negotiate with our huge suitcase.

Each bedroom in the castle is unique with bespoke, hand-picked furniture and works of art

Each bedroom in the castle is unique with custom-made, hand-picked furniture and works of art

The ride from Glasgow to Kilmartin Castle is exhilarating, along the roller coaster streets that pass by Lochs Lomond, Gilp and Fyne

The ride from Glasgow to Kilmartin Castle is exhilarating, along the roller coaster streets that pass by Lochs Lomond, Gilp and Fyne

It turns out that Speel is an old Scottish word for "ascent". The reward for the climb? An absolutely wonderful room.

A beautifully padded antique double bed sits under a wall with half-exposed brickwork and a vaulted ceiling.

Upcycled vintage travel suitcases make up one of the side tables, there is a hipster floor lamp with an exposed retro lightbulb and in the adjoining tower, which is accessed via a large step, a bathroom with a rain shower in the middle of the ceiling, and a beautiful earthenware sink.

This tower bathroom even has underfloor heating, as do the other tower bathrooms and the entire ground floor.

Kilmartin Castle was an abandoned semi-ruin from 1790 to 1990 when a couple renovated it and ran it as a B&B

Kilmartin Castle was an abandoned semi-ruin from 1790 to 1990 when a couple renovated it and ran it as a B&B

The dining room of the castle with its stately table and the dramatic masonry looks wonderfully medieval

The dining room of the castle with its stately table and the dramatic masonry looks wonderfully medieval

The snug is the smallest and cutest room in the castle. The exposed original arched stone roof from 1550 is still standing

The snug is the smallest and cutest room in the castle. The exposed original arched stone roof from 1550 is still standing

Ted was given a tour of the palace gardens and learned that he could hear the neighbors practice his bagpipes

Ted was given a tour of the palace gardens and learned that he could hear the neighbors practice his bagpipes

The original stone slabs in the hallway on the ground floor were raised and laid over the underfloor heating

The original stone slabs in the hallway on the ground floor were raised and laid over the underfloor heating

I loved the details.

Shampoo, soap, and conditioner are kept in small refillable painted ceramic pots by artist Claire Henry, and ground coffee was presented in a paper bag clamped together with the handle of a metal scoop.

And a pitch black designer kettle.

But the piece of resistance is William Holland's gigantic handcrafted stand-alone copper bathtub at the end of the bed.

We wondered if creaky, age-old plumbing would make the shower and bath unnecessary, but then learned that Kilmartin Castle has a state-of-the-art £ 40,000 mini pumping station designed to instantly pump hot, high pressure water to every pipe in every room to supply .

We put it to the test and were not disappointed.

Would you like a short break in medieval style? Rooms for two at Kilmartin Castle start at £ 200 a night

Would you like a short break in medieval style? Rooms for two at Kilmartin Castle start at £ 200 a night

Which is your favorite room All of the bedrooms at Kilmartin Castle are furnished to royal standards

Which is your favorite room All of the bedrooms at Kilmartin Castle are furnished to royal standards

Worth seeing: the scene in which Ted and his brood arrived at the castle in the brilliant August sunshine

Worth seeing: the scene in which Ted and his brood arrived at the castle in the brilliant August sunshine

Simon and Stef work hard to prepare food in the castle's country kitchen

Simon and Stef work hard to prepare food in the castle's country kitchen

It is tempting that you can't see the castle from the street, writes Ted - at least not clearly. Instead, it pops out like a clipping in a pop-up book when you step into a gap in a tree wall on a gravel driveway behind a cluster of cottages. Pictured is Simon overlooking his royal domain

It is tempting that you can't see the castle from the street, writes Ted – at least not clearly. Instead, it pops out like a clipping in a pop-up book when you step into a gap in a tree wall on a gravel driveway behind a cluster of cottages. Pictured is Simon overlooking his royal domain

TRAVEL FACTS

Ted was a guest at Kilmartin Castle, the stay was arranged by Sawday & # 39; s. Rooms for two start at £ 200 a night. More information is available at www.sawdays.co.uk/kilmartincastle.

Visit the castle's eye-catching Instagram page here.

Rating:

On a typical weekday, Avanti West Coast operates 31 trains between London and Glasgow. Typical travel time between London and Glasgow: four hours 33 minutes. First class single price from £ 62. Standard single rate available from £ 33. Return first class from £ 124. Return standard fare from £ 66. Visit www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk for more information and to book.

The car rental was arranged through Booking.com and cost £ 290 for five days. The rental started and ended in Glasgow. Booking.com arranges rental cars in over 60,000 locations in 160 countries.

In the evening we drank wine on the comfortable L-shaped modular sofa in the 70s style of the living room and let our surroundings soak in.

My eyes darted from the wood-burning stove in the huge fireplace to the record player, to the Chesterfield armchair, then to the eccentric paintings, and to the beamed ceiling – and at this early point I decided that a return visit would be required.

That feeling was heightened at dinner when we ate a delicious soup made by one of the guests in the country style kitchen and the next day when our hosts served us large pots of real coffee and top quality homemade porridge in the breakfast room at a stately wooden table.

A storm was raging outside, but we couldn't hear anything. We were in our own little medieval wonderland.

Stef and Simon – I love what you did with the place.

Thanks to Marc Pickering and Eilidh Cameron for her breathtaking landscape photos.

BEACHFRONT RESTAURANTS, MYSTERIOUS STONE CIRCLES AND A MONTY PYTHON MUST SEE: AMAZING THINGS NEAR KILMARTIN CASTLE

Kilmartin is close to beautiful beaches, great restaurants and fascinating historical sites.

DUNADD FORT

A few minutes drive south of Kilmartin Castle are the remains of Dunadd Fort, one of the most important early medieval sites in Scotland.

A stunning picture of Dunadd Fort from @lochgmarcp. It is one of the most important early medieval sites in Scotland

A stunning picture of Dunadd Fort from @lochgmarcp. It is one of the most important early medieval sites in Scotland

Visitors can climb to the top of Dunadd Fort and step onto a replica “initiation stone” (picture) - and then look out over their country as King of Scotland

Visitors can climb to the top of Dunadd Fort and step on a replica “initiation stone” (picture) – and then look out over their country as King of Scotland

Over 1300 years ago, Scottish kings were anointed here in a ceremony in which they stuck a foot into a foot-shaped hole carved into an "initiation stone".

Visitors can do the same – even though it's now a laser-scanned replica stone – and enjoy sweeping views of a landscape that has hardly changed since time immemorial.

TEMPLE WOOD

The Kilmartin Glen & # 39; Stonehenge & # 39 ;: Temple Wood's mysterious stone circles are a local & # 39; must see & # 39 ;.

The Kilmartin Glen & # 39; Stonehenge & # 39 ;: Temple Wood's mysterious stone circles are a local & # 39; must see & # 39 ;.

Two mysterious stone circles from 5,000 years ago in a quiet forest south of Kilmartin.

KILMARTIN CHURCH GRAVEYARD

An extraordinary cemetery with ornate tombstones of medieval warriors and clergy.

KILMARTIN MUSEUM

Ancient artifacts are a go-go in a museum that takes you on a tour through 6,000 years of history. Visit www.kilmartin.org.

OBAN

Oban has a stunning harbor overlooking the islands of Kerrera and Mull. And you can enjoy them in the excellent Ee-usk restaurant with large windows right on the water. Order the oysters. You are really epic. Visit www.eeusk.com.

SCHLOSSSTALKER

This castle is a must for Monty Python fans. Tours are carried out by appointment - although these are currently suspended due to Covid-19

This castle is a must for Monty Python fans. Tours are carried out by appointment – although these are currently suspended due to Covid-19

A coastal mecca for Monty Python and Holy Grail fans on a tidal island 25 miles north of Oban. The final scene was filmed in this stunning 14th century fortress. Visit www.castlestalker.com/wp.

TAYVALLICH

A lovely village surrounded by stunning old native woodland on the banks of Loch Sween that has an inexpensive restaurant – the Tayvallich Inn. Visit www.tayvallichinn.com.

CRINICAL CANAL

Enjoy a peaceful stroll along this beautiful 9-mile 19th century waterway that has 15 locks and connects Loch Fyne in Ardrishaig to the Sound of Jura.

GIGHA ISLAND

You'll think you're dreaming eating the freshest seafood right on a perfectly sculpted beach thanks to Gigha's wonderful restaurant The Boathouse (MailOnline Travel recommends the fish burger). From Tayinloan on the west coast of the Kintyre Peninsula, there are regular cheap ferry crossings to the tiny island. It's also a great place for walking and cycling.

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