City life is tough, we know. Whether you’re spending 2+ hours commuting every day pressed up against strangers, or having to brave bustling crowds on the high street, it’s easy to fantasise about a long weekend spent somewhere remote, away from excessive human contact. But, if you’re anything like us, you might find yourself slightly restless after the first two days. Sure, waking up to birdsong instead of sirens and stomping neighbours is a total treat, but it can’t be helped: we’re conditioned for a bit of hustle and bustle.
That’s where the Culloden Estate & Spa steps in. As a grand, old palace which was initially built for the Bishops of Down, it sits just by the super-scenic Belfast Lough - and just ten minutes away from Northern Ireland’s stunning capital, Belfast.
Will I actually feel like I’m sleeping in a palace?
Um, hells yes. Their standard rooms are lovely with divine standalone tubs, and their suites are perfect for that cosy #bathroomgoals Insta (can you tell we've got a thing for hotel bathrooms?). Plus, you might even get a chance to stay in the same suite as Cheryl Fernandez-Versini once did, up in the palace’s turret.
What if I want to fully unwind?
The Culloden’s spa was recently renovated, so you can float in its huge pool whilst gazing at the Country Antrim coastline, or opt for a divine treatment at their ESPA spa (we recommend the full body massage for tired, desk-inflicted shoulders).
How’s the food?
If you’re a fan of eating your way around whenever you’re holidaying, then you’re in for a treat. Not only has the Culloden won an actual award for its impressive breakfast layout (think luxurious buffet with homemade delicacies from the region), but its fine dining Mitre restaurant and casual Cultra Inn both offer something for everyone.
What can I get up to in the local area?
Asides from seeing everything Belfast has to offer, you can fully immerse yourself in the enchanting history of Northern Ireland by visiting the neo-classical Mount Stewart manor and gardens, or go oyster-harvesting (and feasting!) or make traditional soda bread with NI Food Tours.
Sounds like a (not-so) rural dream - how do I book?
Hastings Hotels (hastingshotels.com, 028 9042 1066) offer nightly rates at The Culloden Estate & Spa from £125 per person on a B&B basis. To visit or find out more go to www.ireland.com. Airport lounge access available through www.no1lounges.com.