Belfast may not be the first place you think of when booking a romantic weekend away for two, but The Culloden Estate & Spa offers guests a place to escape the norm. Originally built as a Palace for the Bishops of Down, the hotel has seen the completion of a £4.8M renovation programme at the hotel that has been reviving its image over the last three years.
The 5* Culloden Estate & Spa in Belfast stands on the forested slopes of the Holywood hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and its celebrated County Antrim coastline.
Fight off the winter slump with your partner by having a rejuvenating spa treatment. The luxurious spa is Northern Ireland’s premier sanctuary for wellness. Guests can enjoy full use of the facilities, including a reviving eucalyptus steam room that purifies the skin, or enjoy an 80 minute Celtic Dream massage, which is as relaxing as it sounds. It aims to release muscle tension with an ocean wrap, full body exfoliation and hot stone massage.
Before or after treatments, a light lunch is also included at Zest Juice Bar or Lighthouse Lounge. Guests also have the option to truly spoil themselves and upgrade their original treatments to include the ESPA Ocean & Earth Body Wrap, lasting 50 minutes, or a 25 minute ESPA Oil & Body Scrub. Finish your spa day and unwind back in your room ready for the evening ahead, where you can watch the sunset at its best along the Lough.
A reservation at Vesper’s, an intimate and quiet restaurant is a cosy dining experience on the ground floor. The hotel’s new fine-dining restaurant, which has been recently updated, is situated where the Crozier Lounge once was and is a nod to the ecclesiastical history of the hotel. Boasting views of the hotel’s gardens, and traditional Irish interiors, dine with your guest and sample the new seasonal menus created using the very best of local produce.
Headed by Chef Paul McKnight, the menu carefully entices guests with dishes curated to excite your dining experience. The King Scallops is a winning dish that rivals the other starters on the menu. Served with a cider gel, this dish is well balanced with the smooth and creamy scallops and the acidity of the wasabi and pickled pearl onions.
The Mourne Mountain Lamb Rump with burnt cauliflower, aubergine and pearl onion reduction is an incredibly comforting dish to try on a cold winter’s evening. To finish, cleanse the palate with a light and mildly tangy lemongrass Panna Cotta, with dried raspberries and a hazelnut crumb that adds the perfect crunch.
For those who wish to venture away from the hotel during their stay should head up towards Belfast City Centre, a short 10 minute drive where the bars are bustling with local punters sipping on epic cocktails. Berts Jazz bar comes recommended by locals to the area. Transport yourself back to the Art Deco glamour of 1930’s New York and the Jazz Age in Belfast’s only dedicated Jazz bar.
If you are looking for things to do that are closely located to the Culloden, then take in some of the areas history at one of Belfast’s real highlights, the Titanic Museum. This moving museum takes you along the journey of the Titanic all the way to its ill-fated end and does so in the most interactive way. It is recommended that you take a guided tour, because there are so many hidden specific details hidden within the museum and the surrounding shipyard to the Titanic’s history.
Northern Ireland promises a rough and ready country experience that holds onto its antiquity. Locals are proud to tell you their tales about a community knitted together by good food and glorious landscapes, so for a couple looking to unwind and retreat, it makes for an ideal weekend away.
Hastings Hotels (hastingshotels.com, offer nightly rates at the Culloden Estate & Spa from £125 per person on a B&B basis.
Bangor Rd, Holywood BT18 0EX