DRIVING along the spectacular Ayrshire coastline, you cannot help but smile and appreciate what Scotland has to offer, especially in these testing times where the staycation has become the norm.

And after experiencing what Glenapp Castle has to offer, you would be hard fought to find somewhere more welcoming or luxurious to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation away from the working world.

Situated a mile from the main road in Ballantrae, one of the southern-most areas of Ayrshire, Glenapp stands amongst grounds and gardens that accentuate the beauty and nature of Scotland with views across the Firth of Clyde to Arran and Ailsa Craig.

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Entering the grounds, you know you are in for something exceptional as staff members meet you at the door with a smile (and an umbrella in our case as the heavens had opened) and explain all the new regulations with precision but making you feel more comfortable with every word.

Glenapp prides itself on being unique and there is no traditional reception, everything is done in a way to make you feel as if you are at home in a real-life castle.

Every one of the rooms in Glenapp are unique and traditional themes mean quality is assured with personal touches galore, making you feel like you are not just another number, something that often happens in many other hotels.

As you prepare for your day and night ahead, there is a host of information to absorb with a comprehensive list of on and off site activities, ranging from a walk around the grounds followed by a game of chess by the pond to tank driving, boat trips and the ultimate adventure, the Sea Safari from Glenapp to the Outer Hebrides. This unique and tailored-to-you experience takes in food, drink, glamping, wildlife, whisky and much, much more.

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Speaking of food, the talented staff in the Glenapp kitchen produce a new menu each and every night for their guests and utilising the very best of home-grown ingredients from their herb garden to compliment the best Scottish produce.

Our six-course menu was provided on arrival with alternatives on offer in case of dietary issues or something didn’t take our fancy. Relaxing in the lounge, the attentive staff ensured you had everything you needed and it was clear to see that the castle had adapted well to the new legislation and regulations with plentiful space for all guests to enjoy themselves pre and post dinner.

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Each and every course offered something unique but the entire meal was faultless, you would be hard pushed to find anything better within the fine dining market across the country with each dish planned out to the letter and nothing fallning short of the five-star standard you are told about before hand.

After a restful night’s sleep, it is back to the dining room for a home cooked breakfast of your choosing, again with the best in local produce. It is unclear if it is the surroundings or the placebo effect but even the most basic of items just seem that bit better, from porridge to potato scone, everything gets top marks with options aplenty.

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When settling your bill, you are emailed ahead of your time of departure with your expenditure and this is just another classy touch from a classy place, it helps the environment and lets you have a once-over before checking out, just in case.

We were lucky enough to be given a grand tour of Glenapp before we departed and as you’d expect, there is just too much to see in single-night stay with their fabulous gardens, outdoor glasshouse and seating area currently receiving an upgrade, it is something extra to ensure you would want to return over and over again.

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One thing you notice at the hotel’s exterior is some scaffolding and this is there for a very particular reason, the team behind Glenapp are expanding their luxury retreat with a penthouse apartment set to open later this year. This four-bedroom offering will boast a private dining area, 24-hour butler service as well as a sauna and cinema for guests to enjoy in serene privacy and luxury.

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As you walk around the vast surroundings, little nuggets of personalisation jump out and it is plain to see that the gardeners at Glenapp take great pride in what they do and offer to guests.

Although the castle is not currently welcoming diners for food only, they are hoping to resume this in October and with their settings, it is the perfect place for a wedding, renewal of vows or honeymoon staycation.

Winter rates start at £255 per night and the castle offers a memorable experience and with something for absolutely everyone in a uniquely special location, it is a place that just has to be visited. For more information on the castle and everything they have to offer, visit https://www.glenappcastle.com/