The Spa Hotel Review: Culloden Country Estate & Spa, Belfast, Ireland
Review: Nichola Hirst
The Culloden Estate is one of the most prestigious venues in Northern Ireland and was once a palace for the Bishops of Down. The estate stands in 12 acres of grounds where the hotel sits alongside cottages and lodges, along with a stand-alone restaurant, The Cultra Inn.
The hotel is certainly an imposing and glamorously grand building, with two restaurants, spa and beautiful secluded gardens. This is a prime location on the Hollywood Hills overlooking Belfast Lock.
We were greeted by the friendly concierge who took our bags guided us to the reception and gave us a guided run down of the hotel facilities as we walked to the bedrooms. We had the pleasure of staying in the Dufferen Junior Suite which featured opulent Royal blue, gold and coffee-hued fabrics and furnishings. The suite compromised of a king size bed, 55’ Inch TV, two seater couch, two plush high back chairs and a grand antique, oak desk. There was a Nespresso machine with a large selection of pods and complementary bottles of water. The views from the bedroom were breathtaking, looking out on to the Belfast Loch.
On entering the suite to your right was a walk-in wardrobe and dressing table leading through to a grand luxury bathroom decked out in grey marble. His and Her’s Sinks, bath tub, stand-alone shower and a selection of ESPA bathing products.
Back downstairs in the hotel, the Crozier lounge is a recent addition to the estate serving coffees and cakes in the day time and transforms to a chic lounge in the evening, serving fine wines, cocktails and a large speciality gin selection.
The spa is open to hotel guests and also offers a club membership. The spa features a luxurious swimming pool which sits beneath a glass atrium. The relaxation room is decked out in grey velvet sofas with silk scatter cushions in burnt orange. This relaxation room was something special. There is a Zest juice bar which offered healthy and nutritional afternoon tea, snacks and healthy juices and salads.
The spa treatments are inspired by ancient rituals from of a selection of cultures, teamed with modern holistic remedies. I was booked in for one of spa’s signature treatments; the Espa Mindful Massage. The treatment room was a blissful retreat in itself, with a heated bed, relaxing music and excellent sound proofing! I never heard any noise outside the room, as we all know that nothing ruins a treatment like being able to hear other customers, and doors banging and such the like.
The Espa Mindful Massage treatment is designed to incorporate relaxation techniques, starting with breathing exercises, then a foot massage and the full body massage back massage applying specific pressure where most needed and using Espa Restorative Body Oil. Usually my pressure request is always quite soft but in this instance I needed some additional pressure to elevate tension knots. The scalp massage was amazing, my therapist used Rose Quartz crystals to massage the Espa Pink Hair and Scalp Mask. I left the treatment room feeling beyond amazing!
My husband decided he wanted to get involved in the relaxation results my spa treatment induced once he had seen how relaxed I was (we have two children under four years old at home!) So he opted for the Espa Relaxation Massage (50mins, £80) and he loved it so much he wanted another treatment! He said he has never felt so relaxed, however sadly the spa could fit in another slot on a Saturday so he spent the rest of the afternoon in his spa robe, sipping on cucumber water and serenely nibbling slices of orange.
THE FOOD & DRINK
Mitre restaurant features stunning views and an interior of gothic opulence. The site is run by Paul McKnight and is one of the best restaurants in Northern Ireland. This foodie destination is located in the hotel but is a fine dining destination in its own right.
In the evening we sat in the cosy drawing room (which is used as an intimate extension of the Mitre Restaurant) by the open fire, which luckily for us was the best table in the house.
We were served an amuse bouche of macaroons filled with goats cheese and sour dough bread.and enjoyed starters of Hot Portavogie Prawns, Crisp Gem and Thousand Island Emulsion, which was an interesting take on the traditional dish as this was served warm, along with a delicious Smoked Duck, Chinese Leaf, Pickled Radish and Peanut dish.
For main courses we opted for Mourne Lamb Rump, Winter Roots, fondant potatoes and a rich Jus, the lamb was cooked pink and was so succulent it just fell off the fork.
My husband plumped for the renowned Cranbrooke Fillet of beef, scallop potato, melted onions and thyme Jus, which was absolutely cooked to perfection. All dishes were a fantastic fusion of complementing flavours. We decided we couldn’t miss out o a serious sensational cheese board and finished a fabulous, foodie evening with a selection of Irish options including Culloden Cheese Slate; Kearny Blue, Porter, Smoked Applewood and Bally Brie.
The hotel uses Value Cabs which were amazing – they even did a detour to swing past the Titanic on the way to airport so we could see it. This was like a Taxi and tour guide in one and we would absolutely recommend any visitors if the Culloden Estate or any other location nearby to use them.
Culloden Country Estate & Spa, Belfast, Ireland
Bangor Rd | Holywood | BT18 0EX