Glenapp Castle ~ Press Reviews
Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report (June 2001)
OF THE YEAR, 2001 GRAND AWARD WINNER
We somehow knew Glenapp would be a very special place the moment we drove up beneath it's imposing towers and battlements and were warmly welcomed by the castle's delightful and unpretentious owner-hosts, Graham and Fay Cowan. The exclusive coastal retreat is located 90 minutes south west of Glasgow on a sweeping hillside affording glorious vistas over the Irish Sea to the dramatic rocky outcrop of Ailsa Craig, the mountainous Isle of Arran and the misty distant Kintyre Penninsula.
Cloistered amid 30 acres of beautifully restored gardens and woodlands in a deeply tranquil setting, Glenapp provides splendid lodgings and superb food, plus convenient access to the legendary golf courses of Turnberry (25 minutes away) and Troon (45 minutes).
Built in 1870, the huge Victorian mansion was once the home of the Earl of Inchcape and his descendants. Following many years of neglect, the property was purchased in 1994 by the McMillan family ( Fay Cowan's parents). It was then the Cowan's began the daunting task of restoring the property to its original Victorian splendour, while transforming it into the luxuriously intimate 17-room country house hotel you see today. The painstaking project took six long years, finally being completed in April 2000 when Glenapp officially opened its doors to guests.
Rich oak panelling, decorative moulded ceilings, well chosen antique furnishings and original oil paintings trim the stylishly appointed and sublimely comfortable living room/library lounges. Aperitifs can be enjoyed in the charming library before proceeding to the opulent picture window dining room overlooking manicured formal gardens. The hotel's highly talented young French chef, Laurent Gueguen, is undoubtedly destined for a Michelin star, his six course gourmet dinners enhanced by complimentary glasses of wine that perfectly accompany his dishes. (There is also an extensive 'Connoisseur's List for those who wish to make their own wine decisions). Our first night's meal included a superior wild mushroom soup flavoured with truffle oil, followed by a succulent roasted quail stuffed with caramelised onions, and a positively decadent crêpes suzettes served with Grand Marnier ice cream!
The 17 accommodations are as exquisite as the public areas, each singularly decorated, high ceilinged room accented by lush fabrics/wallcoverings and elegant tall windows looking out to the gardens or sea. All units feature a spacious amenity laden bathroom, TV/VCR and CD player. We particularly suggest the so-called Master Rooms, the Earl of Inchcape and the Earl of Orkney. In addition to king size four poster beds embellished by regal canopies, these two prized junior suites feature dining tables and separate sitting areas with deep seated armchairs and sofas, set before gas fireplaces.
One of the great pleasures of Glenapp is simply wandering about the serenely ravishing specimen grounds, where you can pause to gaze reflectively out to sea, or observe the deer and many species of chirping birds. Paths meander by a new tennis court around an azalea pond graced by ducks, and through mature woodlands to a wonderful 150 foot Victorian greenhouse filled with the overwhelming perfume of jasmine. Herb beds and intricate espaliers of fruit trees provision the castle kitchen, while other gardens provide freshly cut flowers for the guest rooms.
This is a relaxing sanctuary we would happily return to, for it ranks amongst the finest and most gracious country house hotels in all of Britain.
The noteworthy National Trust property of Culzean Castle lies less than a 30 minute drive from Glenapp and is well worth a visit. Once owned by the Marquess of Ailsa, the historic castle was completely remodelled by the celebrated Robert Adam in the late 1770s and contains a succession of stunning neo-classical interiors appointed with prized Chippendale and Hepplewhite furniture. Interesting too, is the fact that General Dwight Eisenhower secretly planned part of the D-Day Normandy invasion landings here, with Sir Winston Churchill (Churchill staying down the road at Glenapp Castle). Following the war, as a gesture of gratitude, Eisenhower was given a six bedroom apartment in the castle for personal use during the remainder of his life. Needless to say, Ike availed himself of this opportunity on several occasions, including one Scottish holiday taken during his presidency.