The Ultimate Christmas Tradition

Tradition – “A long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another”

Hospitality – “The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

*Oxford Dictionary

 

Day to day life throughout the year is subject to so many unexpected variances and changes in both our personal and professional lives. Therefore, that is why there is something so reassuring and heart-warming about Christmas because no matter what else is going on throughout the rest of the year, you know that November and December are going to full of the aromatic smells of well-cooked home meals; the glittering reflections of illuminating lights and decorations and the pure sense of celebration which radiates from parties and gatherings aplenty. Subsequently, without fail we get so excited for Christmas because we know year in and year out what to expect when it comes to that jubilant time of year. Maybe circumstances in your life will have changed for the better or the worse, but ultimately you are safeguarded in the knowledge that at this time of year, the Christmas spirit will always prevail.

This leads us on to the point of Christmas traditions. Every year we get to revel in the joy of celebrating special days such as birthdays and anniversaries and each year we get to choose different ways to celebrate them. However, when it comes to Christmas, some things will never change and as it is a holiday we celebrate every year, it is undeniable that each and every one of us has some kind of long-established custom that we never fail to enact. This is because since birth, we have been raised to celebrate this wonderful time of the year and so it is irrefutable that rituals and beliefs will have been passed from one generation to the next regarding everything from gift-giving practises to the foods we eat to the order of the festivities to the specific way we decorate our trees and houses.

As we explored in our blog last year , there are traditions which are tied to certain countries. For instance, in Poland, Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia and on this day it is traditional to eat the main Christmas meal (consisting of 12 dishes to represent good luck for the 12 months ahead and the twelve disciples) but it is also only traditional to begin eating when the first star in the sky has been spotted! Alternatively, in the capital of Venezuela, Caracus, it is customary for people to roller-skate to the early morning church services held between 16th and 24th December with roads even closing to accommodate this. Finally, a slightly unusual tradition to us is one in Ukraine where due to the prevalence of the Eastern-European folk tale of the Christmas Spider, Christmas trees can be decorated with ‘cobwebs’ as it is considered good luck to find one.

Therefore, it is readily apparent how we all have our own ways of celebrating whether that is on a country level or purely just on an individual level. However, regardless of culture or geography, you can always count on one universal tradition at Christmas that can be found in any home and that is the indomitable spirit of hospitality. Around the world at this time of year, we may all have differing ways of decorating our trees or choosing when to present our meals, but one consistency is that we are always eager to open our homes to strangers, friends and family so that we can all share in the spirit of the season. Christmas is so beloved by everyone around the world because without doubt you know that this is the one time of the year that you will be reunited with those that you hold dearest to celebrate all the love and joy that this time of the year represents.

At Christmas, it is easy to think that the beauty and magic of the festivities purely radiates from the gifts and the decorations and the parties, however it really radiates from the spirit of unity it fosters. To us, there is nothing more wonderful than this unwavering spirit because as we are part of the hospitality industry, there is nothing more that we strive to achieve each day then providing a warm welcome to all our guests and even if they are staying with us for as short as one night, to make them feel on that one night like they are in a home away from home. This to us is what Christmas is all about – family, friends, love, celebrating and hospitality. No matter who you are and where you come from, this is what this holiday should always centre around. Therefore, it is undeniable that while the world will continue to evolve, subsequently altering our lives with it, we hope that if there is one tradition that will forever stand the test of time, it is that hospitality and the spirit of welcoming everyone and anyone will live on. At the very least, this is a tradition that here at The Spires, we will always practise whether it is Christmas time or not.

………

We hope you are all beginning to get the Christmas traditions rolling and would love to hear if you have any unique ones that you would like to share. For instance, is there that one notorious festive jumper which Christmas is just not complete without or is there a certain decoration that can never be evicted from the tree? No matter what it is, we would love to hear it! #SharetheJoy

No Room at the Inn this Winter?

It is irrefutable that Christmas is one of the most universally beloved times of the year because what is there not to love about a holiday full of family, friends, celebrations, and of course, food? However, while undeniably it is a wonderful season of magic and wishes, it is equally undeniable that with all the planning and coming together of families, the opportunity for stress is definitely at an all-time high.  Factor in cousins, aunts/uncles, parents, grandparents, friends, in-laws and maybe even some pets, and it readily becomes apparent how not only do you have to cook for all these hungry mouths, but you also need quite a lot of room in order to accommodate everyone. This is no easy feat because when you consider that despite how much we love all our family members (well, most of the time!), having so many people under one roof is just a recipe for arguments and sleepless nights.  However, this Christmas at The Spires we want to give you the most desirable and magical gift of them all – the gift of peace and a good night’s sleep for all.

One thing that we particularly pride ourselves on when it comes to our serviced apartments is their home from home feel. Therefore, not wanting to overcrowd your home or are wanting to escape from staying at a rather populated house this Christmas? Well, you and your family members are invited to ours. With apartments that are capable of holding up to six persons, we welcome families of all shapes and sizes and they are perfect for whether your family members are staying for one night or for longer. What makes them even more ideal is that we charge per apartment, not per person. Therefore, this will help to keep the costs down of a group stay as we know how important it is to keep an eye on spending at this expensive time of year.

We all know it is difficult to travel with both young ones and those slightly older teenagers and this is where serviced apartments really come into their own. With bedrooms composed of double or twin beds, there is plenty of breathing space for everyone so that the kids do not have to be embarrassed by having to share with good ole mum and dad. Likewise, some of our deluxe apartments do not just have numerous bedrooms, but also numerous bathrooms which is perfect when you consider how everyone will be clambering over one another to get all dolled up in their finery for all the festive get-togethers. Then when it comes to the recovery period after all the family time, there is plenty of space to chill out in our comfortable lounges complete with modern TVs and sumptuously soft sofas. Whether you want to be engrossed by the latest addictive show or you want to connect to our very fast and reliable WiFi to snap up some of those festive bargains, it is the perfect environment in which to relax.

Whether you want family time or some quiet time, our spacious apartments provide the perfect environment in which to do it

It is undeniable that one of the hardest aspects of family trips away from home are what and where to eat. This is because the larger the family, the greater the likelihood for all different kinds of tastes and dietary requirements and often times this can lead to expensive dinners or takeaways. However, Christmas is the season all about staying in and roasting that turkey yourself, and our apartments greatly facilitate this. Complete with fully-equipped and modern kitchens composed of an oven, microwave, fridge, freezer and a whole array of basic kitchen utensils, there is no better place for you to get in the Masterchef swing of things and to cook up a salivating meal capable of feeding an army. You do not even have to worry about washing up afterwards as our dishwashers help do most of the work, it truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Christmas dinner anyone?

While our conscientious housekeeping teams are on hand so that you are still able to relax when on holiday, the inclusion of an ironing board, washing machine and tumble-dryer are also undoubtedly welcomed. We all know that spills and messes will occur when there is so much glitter and wine on the go, however the inclusion of such handy appliances further reduces the potential for any stress as you can clean them up as soon as possible – also saving on expensive laundry bills and potentially meaning maybe you can forego that third or fourth suitcase…

Finally, one of the greatest things about our locations are their amazingly convenient and central locations. This means that while you have all the peace at night to hear Santa and his sleigh arrive on the 24th December, you are also equally never far from all the action. As it is December and there are Christmas Markets, carol concerts and pantomimes aplenty, there is plenty of exciting action going on! Therefore, whether you are staying over the festive period itself or just want to ease yourself into the Christmas spirit by having a mini festive city break, there is so much fun to be had whichever of our apartments you stay at. Make sure to read our latest blog (https://thespiressuites.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/welcome-to-a-winter-wonderland/) to discover just all the excitement and magic that awaits you with a stay at The Spires this December!

Therefore, whether you are on the nice or naughty list, we have the perfect gift that will make all your Christmas wishes come true. Enjoy this special time of the year with all of the joy and love of family and none of the stress and fights. What makes our apartments that much more of a wonderful Christmas gift is the fact that we have a very flexible cancellation policy with guests being able to cancel up to 24 hours in advance of their stay. This is because we understand that making plans at Christmas is not always the easiest and so this will allow you to have the ultimate flexibility and to make provisional plans with peace of mind.

Need any more convincing? Make sure to email The Spires at info@thespires.co.uk or phone 0345 270 0090 to talk to one of our dedicated reservation team members as top tip from Santa, if you want the best possible rate, this is the sure-fire way to get it.

Happy Holidays! 

Welcome to a Winter Wonderland

Not long ago the displays in shop windows were adorned with pumpkins, ghosts and cobwebs galore, however as soon as midnight chimed to signal the close of the spookiest day of the year, Halloween, Santa Claus officially rode into town on his wondrous sleigh. Yes, much debate will be ignited as to whether his grand arrival is just a little too early, however there is no denying the infectious excitement and anticipation that is garnered with the first sightings of Christmas trees, twinkling fairy lights and the revealing of festive coffee cups. It truly is one of the most magical times of the year and you would be hard pushed to find a city that is not caught up in all the festival fun. With locations in major UK destinations such as Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Edinburgh, The Spires Serviced Apartments are particularly fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most wonderful celebrations in the country and we are so excited to share all this cheer with our guests. Of course, alongside bedazzling Christmas lights illuminating the streets in a warm festive glow, the heart of any city Christmas celebration has to be the much anticipated annual Christmas market which brings together local residents and tourists alike. Fortunately, none of our locations are shrimping on this tradition and so we thought we would deliver to you today some of the excitement you can experience when you visit The Spires this wonderful winter season:

Aberdeen

aberdeen-winter-festival-02

Image: http://www.dinnerstories.co.uk/2015_12_01_archive.html

Aberdeen Christmas Village, 25th November – 8th January, Union Terrace

Why have a market, when you can have a whole village ablaze with Christmas cheer and wonder?! Last year was the inaugural year for the Aberdeen Christmas Village and it went down such a storm, it has come back even bigger and grander this year. That is right, while the open-air ice rink and festoon of market stalls are all making their anticipated return; they are coming back plus-size edition meaning there is all the more fun to be had.  There are even some extra surprises with a Christmas Tree Maze being introduced in the Union Terrace Gardens – can you conquer the mischievous journey to the elves workshop? Complete with market stalls selling all kinds of treasures to fill Christmas stockings around the city; live entertainment and nostalgic fairground style attractions, there is certainly no doubt that Christmas has arrived to make the Silver City that extra bit more sparkly and glittery.

Honourable Festive Highlights:

*Christmas Tree Switch-On – Castlegate – 24th November, 7pm

*Twelve Days of Christmas Wooden Carvings Trail – throughout city – 24th November – throughout December

*Christmas Lights Switch-On Parade – Union Street – 27th November, 5.30pm

*Nativity Scene – St Nicholas Kirkyard – 28th November – 6th January

*Panto – Dick McWhittington – His Majesty’s Theatre – 3rd December – 8th January

Birmingham

frankfurt-market

Image: http://www.germanchristmasmarketbirmingham.com/history/

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair, 17th November – 29th December, Victoria Square

Of course, there is no city that quite lays the ultimate Christmas Market gauntlet like Birmingham as its resident annual market is renowned all over the UK and is synonymous with the arrival of the festive period. The heart of Birmingham’s Christmas celebrations, the market is actually the largest German market outside of Germany and Austria and so there is no denying that a visit to this market is a definite must to really get in the Christmassy spirit. If you think you can attend this majestic city celebration without purchasing anything, then think again as with 180 stalls selling all kinds of tempting decorations, toys, jewellery and of course food (Bratwurst or mulled wine anyone?), you will be hard-pressed to keep your wallet ensconced in your bag. When you are finished having a magical ride on the carousel or joining in a carol or two, make sure to pop into the Craft Fair adjacent to the market where you can find even more unique and handcrafted Artisan pieces to complete any gift menagerie under the tree.

Honourable Festive Highlights:

The Jewellery Quarter Christmas Lights Switch-On – The Golden Square -18th November  – 5pm

Magical Lantern Festival – Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 23rd November – 2nd January –

*Panto – Dick Whittington – Birmingham Hippodrome- 19th December 2016 – 29th December 2017

Glasgow

js52271148

Image: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/glasgow-christmas-activities-pictures-glasgow-4769441

Christmas Market, 20th November – 22nd December, St Enoch Square

When you consider all the celebrations occurring across Glasgow this winter, there is no denying that the city itself could almost be considered one large Santa’s grotto – it is overflowing with that much Christmas cheer and spirit! This could not be better reflected by the fact that there is not just one traditional Christmas market but two. Therefore, whether you want warming culinary delights; beautifully ornate handcrafted decorations or an exhilarating fairground ride or two, you are bound to get it somewhere whether it is in St Enoch Square or in George Square (opening 26th November – 29th December). Likewise, with a retail reputation which has led to the development of a renowned ‘Style Mile’, there is no surprise that there are a few festive bargains to be found across the 1, 500 shops.

*Coco Cola Christmas Truck Tour – Silverburn – 18th November 2016

*Glasgow Christmas Light Switch-On – George Square – 20th November

*Style Mile Christmas Carnival – Glasgow City Centre – 27th November

*Panto – Aladdin – Clyde Auditorium – 10th December – 31st December

Edinburgh

edinburgh-christmas-13-lst183808

Image: https://www.list.co.uk/article/74953-edinburghs-christmas-2015-programme-revealed/

European Christmas Market, 19th November – 7th January, East Princes Street Gardens

It is no surprise that there is nowhere that does Christmas bigger and better than Scotland’s stunning capital itself. Beautiful whatever the season, Christmas just elevates Edinburgh’s scenic wonder to the level that it could fit in perfectly on any Christmas card. Right at the heart of this beauty and warmth is the European Christmas Market which resides in the hub of the city. It is full of all kinds of delicate artisan works, handcrafted decorations, unique jewellery, as well as tantalising festive sweet and savoury treats. Likewise, Edinburgh’s skyline is resplendent with the twinkling of thousands of lights bedazzling both the city streets and the myriad of fairground attractions including a Big Wheel and the renowned Star Flyer. Whether you prefer your fun in the air; down on the ground in the Christmas Tree Maze or on the ice in the ink-rink, it is undeniable that there all kinds of levels of fun to be had.

*Light Night – 20th November, 1pm – 5pm

*The Scottish Market – West George Street – 26th November – 24th December

*Street of Light – George Street – 21st November – 24th December

*Alice in Wonderland – The Lyceum – 2nd – 31st December

Who said No Pets Allowed?

11836754_10153559654284743_2804280505426610912_n

When you go on holiday there are so many logistics involved beyond where to go, with whom and when, you also have to consider the practicalities regarding your home in terms of ‘who should I leave the spare keys with?’ or ‘who is going to check our mail?’. Some of these practicalities are easy to organise however some require a little bit more thought, and even come at an expense. This is because it might not just be the house you are leaving behind, but also potentially your most loyal sidekick and family member – your pet. Whether you are going away for as little as one night or even for a more extended period, one of the most complex and guilt-ridden issues is ‘but what do we do with the pets?’. Organizing pet care is never easy and it is always likely to come at a high cost; particularly as you are undeniably going to want to leave your beloved furry pal in the most loving and safest of hands. While there is a rise in the number of exclusive, five-star pet only resorts where all furry residents are truly pampered from exercise classes to designated ‘cuddling sessions’, we present an alternative which may be slightly cheaper than those minimum $60 per night fees and which entails no separation whatsoever.

When it comes to traditional accommodation such as hotels, it is often not even an option to bring your pets with you – particularly your affable, bouncing pooch. This is particularly dangerous if you have to move away for a considerable long period of time such as if you are relocating because who wants to be without those warm furry hugs for so long? Therefore, options such as dog-sitters or a stay in a kennel rise to prominence although anyone with dogs knows the pain and guilt that is involved with leaving your pets behind in a foreign place with unfamiliar room-mates. However, at The Spires we are all about creating that home away from home feel, and nothing helps create that quite like inviting your beloved furry friends along with you because after all, dog is man’s best friend!

Consequently, that is why at our Aberdeen apartments we do not want to tear the family apart and subsequently offer the opportunity for you to bring your four-legged friends with you. While we do charge an additional non-refundable £100 surcharge for deep-cleaning purposes (we all know how fur has that amazing ability to spread itself everywhere), this pales in comparison to the cost incurred by hiring out pet-friendly care – particularly for prolonged periods of time. Likewise, knowing that you are able to bring your favourite furry partner in crime with you just saves on so much of the stress and time associated with looking at alternative options. Other requirements involve the signing of a pet disclaimer; the abidance by The Spires’ pet policy as well as The Spires’ pre-approval prior to your stay. However, we will guide you through every step of the way and so it could not be easier to have a pet-vacation this year with The Spires in Aberdeen saving on the costs; guilt and emptiness associated with leaving your pets behind. With our apartments being located in a quiet, residential area, this also means that your four-footed pal will enjoy their many naps uninterrupted and that they can enjoy tranquil walks along idyllic streets when the time comes for their favourite ‘walkie’.

However, while the summer holidays are coming to a sad close that does not mean that summer itself is over. While, Scotland is not necessarily renowned for its blistering heat, that does not mean that tourists have never been caught out unaware by those crafty sun rays. Therefore, while you are packing all kinds of holiday necessities from travel sized shampoos/shower gels to sunscreen aplenty, have you spared a thought of what to pack to keep your pooch travelling it up in style too? As we have already mentioned, pet travel is really picking up in the UK and with that is a whole new market of goods you could never imagine. Therefore, while our apartments have easily adjustable settings for you to control the temperature the way you like, do not forget to pick some of these top pet travel accessories to help keep your pet from toasting too much under that warm fur. From sunscreen wipes, iced treats, cooling vests/mats to water fountains and freezer-friendly water bowls, we bet you never knew you might require a whole other suitcase or packing list just for Fido!

Therefore, to book you and your furry best pal into The Spires just make sure to email us at info@thespires.co.uk or phone 0345 270 0090.

Time to Fly the Nest

IMG_1358

You have been there for them every step of the way from first words to first steps to first days at new schools, and now it is time for that first goodbye. After a year of enduring the hormonal teenage moods induced by stressful exam periods and maybe even touring the country as you scouted all the open days known to man, the moment you may have been dreading/anticipating in equal measure is finally here as your young one flies from the nest for the first time in search of a new adventure. This is because while it is the middle of the year, August/September are actually months associated with new beginnings as many young adults across the nation embark on the exciting, enlightening journey of higher education.  They are going to make new friends, experience new things and learn new lessons (both in and out of the classroom!) and most of the time this will be away from the sanctuary that is the home they grew up in as every new beginning requires a new setting. However, before you can even say that tearful goodbye, you actually have to move them out which considering they have had 16/17/18 years to accumulate all kinds of interesting possessions as well as wardrobes which contain enough clothes to cloth a small nation, is a lot easier said than done. Therefore, it is undeniable that numerous car/train/bus journeys from A to Z transporting their entire haul will become a hard, stressful reality. Consequently, it is no surprise that moving out your offspring is a somewhat arduous, timely task which may require the assistance of a few extra pairs of hands.

Therefore, we have a suggestion which will hopefully ease some of the stress and the pain as you settle your loved one into their new home. While you are making those various treks from ASDA to their new student pad, what about renting out a serviced apartment for the family so that you could have all the space you could need during the transition? With apartments in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh, we are located in some of the biggest and most-establishment student hubs in the nation. Moreover, we do not just mean we are located in the inconvenient outskirts, we mean we are literally in prime city central hotspots such as Hanover Street (Edinburgh), Merchant Quarter (Glasgow), Mannofield (Aberdeen) and even on the doorstep of the Mailbox in Birmingham. Therefore, staying with us means you could not be closer to university accommodation to help ease all the packing/unpacking woes and it also means you can take a few moments for some exploring during those tearful goodbyes. With apartments capable of holding up to six persons and the inclusion of fully-equipped lounges and kitchens as well as separate bedrooms, you can bring grandma, grandad, aunties, cousins, younger siblings – whoever wants to be a part of this exciting time. There is plenty of space for the whole family and it just means you have that extra space and comfort to say your goodbyes properly and not feel time-bound and rushed to drop your offspring off at the kerb with their 20 plus bulging suitcases.

Of course, goodbye is not really goodbye as there may be plenty of times across the four years where you want to stop by and visit (ok, spy on) your hard-working offspring to see if the ratio of partying to studying is in check. Likewise, while you can begin the higher education adventure with us during Freshers, you can also see witness its heavenly completion with us because serviced apartments are great for graduation time when the whole family pack descends and requires a place to stay (just you wait to see how many people clamour for one of those exclusive golden graduation tickets). University and college are full of so many special times from that exciting induction week to prize-givings and to all kinds of events in between. Therefore, make sure not to miss a minute of it by booking a stay at The Spires whenever the time comes to say ‘hello’ again.

For more information on our apartments, visit http://www.thespires.co.uk or email us at info@thespires.co.uk

Let the Summer of Events Begin!

graduation
Image: http://www.fabulousferns.com/graduation/

Alas the time for throwing caps or confetti in the air is nearing as we approach one of the busiest events season after Christmas: summer. With the sun hopefully making a glorious appearance, it is the time for all manner of exciting fun and celebrations with the jubilant spirit rising high due to an influx of graduations, prize-givings, weddings and just the general vibrancy of the summer spirit. Yes, alongside the refreshing taste of poolside cocktails or that nostalgic smell of sunlotion, other senses that characterise the glorious summer festivities include rapturous audience applause, the sights of black mortar boards flying through the air and the sequins, sparkles and lace embellishing an array of specially bought outfits.  Synonymous with these events are family and friends because who better to celebrate these momentous occasions with than with your nearest and dearest?! However, for those of us with the slightly more extended families, we all know the struggle and expense of trying to accommodate everyone in alternative options such as hotels, or in enduring the stress and strain of having everyone located under the one roof. Therefore, we have the perfect solution to keep the celebrations just as joyous and jubilant as they should be – serviced apartments.

Capable of holding up to six persons, serviced apartments are perfect when you need to accommodate family members of all sizes and ages. There is nothing worse than the feeling of booking family somewhere impersonal to stay, however complete with modern, fully-equipped kitchens and lounges, our apartments have the perfect home from home feel. Therefore, instead of having everyone cramped under the one roof, fighting over kitchen utensils, the remote and most importantly, the bathroom, you can have them stay in their own apartment where they can even have up to two-bathrooms. Likewise, there is no one having to stay on uncomfortable and unreliable air mattresses or on the lumpy couch, because our de-luxe apartments can hold up to six persons and can include two bedrooms complete with either double or twin beds. Available with cots and high-chairs on requests, our apartments can truly enable anyone to stay so whether it is young or older family members, all are more than welcome!

Being located in major city destinations such as Aberdeen, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh which are renowned for their multitudes of stunning event backdrops or their prestigious educational institutes, it is undeniable that they are right in the centre of the events season. Therefore, with our apartments being conveniently located right in the city centres and our Aberdeen location in particular having its own car park, you do not have to worry about them struggling to make their way to the venue as they are surrounded by all the transport links they could need. This also means your family and friends can make the most of their stay by experiencing all the action on the doorstep, whether that is the dynamic food, attractions and sights that typify our locations, because why just come for the one day – make it into a cheeky city break.

33410_411836264742_2847457_n

Although located in major bustling city destinations, the high prices often associated with that can be negated as serviced apartments are a cost-effective alternative. As mentioned, our apartments are capable of holding up to six persons and therefore as you pay per apartment, and not per person, you can make significant cost-savings while having increased space over traditional options. It is a win-win situation all around! Likewise, further savings can be made when you consider how our apartments include a fully-equipped kitchen as well as washing machines and tumble-dryers meaning that if any last-minute outfit mishaps occur, our apartments are adorned with the necessary equipment to handle it without reverting to expensive laundry services. Moreover, if any of your friends or family have any unique dietary requirements, they can satisfy these requirements and save money by shrimping on restaurant bills and making their own meals.

Weddings, graduations and prize-givings – you want to remember them for the right reasons; not for arduous stress and drama. Therefore, to ensure the ultimate special occasion which lives on in the memory and heart, make sure to book at www.thespires.co.uk

*Disclaimer: in order to enable maximum comfort and to provide the perfect night’s sleep for all our guests, parties or large gatherings are strictly prohibited under our policy

Castle Crazy

Scotland’s Silver City is known for many things: its beautiful parks that have culminated in it winning numerous “Britain in Bloom” accolades; the tranquility and the fun that its sandy shores provide and a cosmopolitan collection of the biggest shopping and dining brands. However, whether you come to see the nature, the beach, the entertainment of a bustling city or even the glittering granite skyline, there is something else that you can see in particular abundance – castles. We are not just talking about a handful of castles, but over 300 and that is because Aberdeen is fortunate enough to be located on the outskirts of Scotland’s Castle Country. As the title alludes to, if you want to find castles, then you are certainly in the right place as Castle Country has more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK. Consequently, whatever shape, size or colour you like your castles in – you are certainly going to find one that fits the bill!

Therefore, if you are staying with us in our Aberdeen apartments and are looking for a fun day trip full of majesty and rich heritage, make sure to check out Scotland’s dedicated “Castle Trail”. Consisting of 17 castles ranging from dramatic ruins to fairy-tale enchantment, there are so many wonders to explore and many are only an hour or so drive away from Aberdeen. For details of all the 17, make sure to check out http://www.visitaberdeen.com/assets/castletrail.pdf to get your Castle itinerary sorted. However, to give you a taster of all the fun that lies ahead, read on below to find out some of our personal favourites.

  1. Balmoral Castle

When talking about castles in Aberdeenshire, there is certainly one that can never be missed out – Balmoral Castle. Castles tend to have associations with royalty and that is certainly the case with Balmoral Castle because if it being located in Royal Deeside was not a big enough indicator, it is the much beloved holiday home of the royal family and this goes all the way back to Queen Victoria’s time who was actually the monarch to purchase the castle as she loved it so much after visiting it on a romantic break. However, the castle you are seeing today is not actually the original because Queen Victoria had it knocked down and then rebuilt – when you are a Queen, you are able to wield that level of power!

Apart from the royal connection, it is a stunning castle to view in its own right with the majestic grounds and the illustrious ballroom being particular highlights to look out for alongside the special exhibits. Due to the grounds and architecture being particularly well maintained and preserved – it is clear that it will stand the test of time and will be enjoyed for generations to come.

  1. Crathes Castle

Complete with the magic of turrets, towers, wielding staircases and gorgeous grounds, this 16th century tower house has all the enchanting features you associate with majestic castles. Complete with the finest and the most elegant decoration on the inside, particularly keep an eye out (or up!) for the lavishly painted ceilings,  there is also so much more on the outside to explore with over 200 acres of quintessential British woodland and countryside to roam. Between the aesthetic beauty and the sweet-smelling aroma of the luscious rose gardens, this is a castle to hit all the senses. Likewise, it is perfect for all the family with a children adventure’s playpark and most importantly of all, the ultimate UK tree-top adventure: Go Ape!.

  1. Dunnottar Castle

Some of us like our castles in a form that is akin to the splendour of those found in Disney movies, however some of us like them a little bit more dramatic – if so, Dunnottar Castle is the one for you. Exhibiting magnificence in a slightly different form, there is nothing quite like the indomitable, breath-taking cliff-side location of Dunnottar Castle which is rumoured to be one of Scotland’s most impressive ruined castles. Surrounded by the ominous North Sea, this ancient and wonderfully gloomy castle conveys the rich stores of its past. With famous historical figures such as William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots having visited the castle, this is certainly a castle for all the history buffs out there particularly as it was the infamous sight where a small garrison held out against Cromwell’s army for eight months and subsequently saved the Crown Jewels. Likewise, even movie fanatics will be particularly taken by this castle because as it tells the stories that are akin to those only found in the movies, it is no surprise that it has actually been featured as the landscape to many a feature film due to its cinematographic wonder. Therefore if you are wondering why the castle may seem so familiar, that is potentially because you have seen it showcased in movies including Hamlet featuring Mel Gibson as well as Victor Frankenstein (it was even partly inspiration for Disney’s Brave!).

  1. Cragievar Castle

However, for those fonder of the traditional castle type which emanates an ethereal and enchanting atmosphere, look no further than Cragievar Castle. A charming seven-storey castle, what particularly makes this castle stand out is its luminous and iconic pink coloured exterior – certainly one for those little girls who dream of being a princess. If you feel a little bit of magic in the air then it would not be surprising because Walt Disney was so taken by the castle, it is supposedly what inspired his pioneering imaginative spirit to conjure the renowned castle motif associated with the Disney brand. Still home to family portraits and ornate ceilings, the castle retains many of the treasures collected by the Forbes family across their 350 year residence there and it is that family atmosphere that really gives the castle that unique and welcoming spirit.

  1. Castle Fraser

Located only a convenient 16 miles from Aberdeen, if you are looking for splendour and grandness there is no castle that quite fills the brief like Castle Fraser which is one of Scotland’s most impressive baronial tower houses. Dating back to the 15th century, Castle Fraser is really orientated around the stories of its lairds and thus is rooted in Scottish history dating from the medieval and Victorian times. Particular highlights include the atmospheric simplicity of the Great Hall as well as the stunning panoramic views that are afforded from the round tower.

Fancying paying a visit to one, two or more of these castles? Of course! Well about challenging yourself and seeing how many you can visit in one day, or alternatively, how about a holiday dedicated to exploring the riches, treasures and captivating stories of these properties? With each of these castles offering something different, you can never explore too many – just make sure to check the opening times of the castles because they are subject to seasonal operating hours.

Images: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balmoral_Castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crathes_Castle

http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk/scotland/fraser/fraser.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunnottar_Castle

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/alford/craigievar/