The Scottish Borders offer so much and are often missed by travellers focusing solely on the capital, Edinburgh. When you get the opportunity to enjoy an exceptional sixteenth century Scottish Castle, which has been lovingly renovated, this starts to sound like a good idea not to make it a city break, but instead enjoy the rolling hills and wonderful views.
Aikwood Tower, the former home of Lord Steel, is located just 40 miles south of Edinburgh. It is in the heart of the beautiful Ettrick Forest – which was an ancient hunting ground of Scottish royalty up to the days of Mary Queen of Scots. The stunning local landscape around Aikwood Tower offers some of the finest shooting and fishing in Scotland, among many other leisure activities, all of which can be arranged by the owners of the castle.
Whether you are looking for peace, calm and to be left alone to enjoy your stay and surroundings, or wish to be spoilt with fine food and drink, the discreet, efficient and friendly staff of Aikwood Tower will meet your every need. This is a perfect castle experience for pleasure, social gatherings, such as weddings, birthday celebrations and other special occasions.
The restoration of Aikwood won no less than five architectural awards the first time, including the prestigious Europa Nostra. For nearly twenty years it has been a hub for artistic creativity and a meeting place for national and international politicians, as you can imagine. I wonder what conversations and decisions were made within its walls!
In 1989, the ninth Duke of Buccleuch made possible the realisation of the dream of David Steel (now Lord Steel of Aikwood), the long-serving MP for the Borders, which was to restore the tower as a home. Sir David - who, with his Scott blood, continues a long clan tradition with Aikwood - and his wife, Judy, restored it using local Selkirk craftsmen and moved in with their younger son, Rory, in 1992.
Aikwood Tower is now under new ownership of The Honourable Rory David Scott Steel, David’s youngest son, and his wife, Victoria, who continue to upgrade its facilities to ensure many more people enjoy the magical charm that this castle offers in the years to come.
Aikwood Tower is different from most castles in Scotland - its charm lies in its intimacy. Entering by the original oak front door, its endearing quirks of architecture and craftsmanship are immediately apparent as the Kerry-handed (left turning) spiral staircase lies before you.
The great hall, with roaring fire and luxurious furnishings, creates a comfortable and informal atmosphere for guests to relax. Meal time conversations swirl around the vaulted ceiling of the dining room and kitchen. A small reading study with panelled ceiling offers tranquillity and a place to enjoy classic gramophone or mp3 recordings.
A good night's rest is an important wellbeing ingredient, which is why all Aikwood Tower bedrooms contain luxury Swedish DUX® Beds. With over 80 years of research, combined with the finest of materials and craftsmanship, the DUX® Bed offers the ultimate in luxury and comfort, creating the ideal sleep environment as it supports every point on your body in a natural position.
There are four double bedrooms in the main tower, with the master bedroom the highlight, and a fifth in the extended wing. Four out of the five bedrooms can be made available as twin rooms. This offers nine individual beds, if required.
The upper gallery is where all the modern-day facilities can be found, including a screening room, games consoles, hot-desks and complimentary internet access is available throughout Aikwood Tower.
The south-west facing walled garden is a true delight. Whether soaking up the sun on the terrace, playing croquet on the lawn or picking apples from the orchard's trees, the garden is a magical place to enjoy. It is also a secure environment for little ones to experience camping out under the stars.
This is a wonderful retreat for families, groups of friends, allowing a luxurious stay away from the noise of life. These tranquil surroundings allow guests to relax and get away from it all. The castle also lends itself to small groups, for weddings, celebrations and even executives and directors who may want to hide away to discuss key business issues or participate in activities locally.
As you would expect from the ‘Larder of Britain’, the Scottish Borders is blessed with outstanding produce.
Whether it is beef from Buccleuch Estates, poultry from Linda Dick's Hamildean Farm, near Peebles, salmon straight from the River Tweed, fresh seafood from the fishing village of Eyemouth, your own oven-ready brace of pheasants or any one of the other high quality and organic local producers, local caterers are available to make the most sumptuous dinner on your behalf.
Aikwood Tower boasts two kitchens. The main one, complete with AGA and fully equipped for self-catering, is for guests to use at their leisure. The second is for chefs to use to meet pre-booked catering requirements, ensuring no disruption to your living quarters.
Whether it is fine wine, speciality beers and ales, robust malt whiskies or other selected spirits, Aikwood Tower's staff will ensure you don't go without. Alternatively, bring your own selection!