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Home > > DALHOUSIE CASTLE & SPA, near Edinburgh

DALHOUSIE CASTLE & SPA, near Edinburgh

At-a-Glance Guide

36 bedrooms & suites (29 in castle, 7 in lodge)
bar, 2 restaurants (one is AA 2 Rosette), private dining
spa, steam, treatments
falconry mews, archery
wooded parkland, walks

DALHOUSIE CASTLE & SPA, near Edinburgh


This 13th-Century castle, on the banks of the South Esk River, got its name from an ancient French term - dalwolsie - meaning 'a meander in the river’. Eight miles south of Edinburgh, its position was one of great strategic importance when, for more than 500 years, this area of Scotland was fiercely fought over.

The well-protected central keep, strong curtain wall and moat show that Dalhousie was built as a fortress; and the Drum Tower’s well - still yielding drinkable water – show that it could withstand a siege. Entry to the castle would be via a drawbridge over a deep, dry moat. Above the main door, you can see recesses – called 'rainures' - for the huge beams that would counterbalance the drawbridge, and the projecting balconies - machicolations - with holes cut into their floors so that heavy stones, molten lead or boiling tar could be dropped onto the enemy below.

In 1280, the castle built by William Ramsay consisted of just the inner keep with its vaults and bottle dungeon. You can still see the spiral stair leading from what was the first floor of the keep, down to the top of the bottle dungeon. Measuring 10’10” x 10’3”, this has a latrine and a ventilation shaft, but no window. Prisoners were lowered into it by rope - score marks from the ropes can still be seen in the stonework. Once in the dungeon, there was no escape through the 11”-thick walls. Only the enormously thick walls at foundation level, vaults and bottle dungeon remain of this original building. The main parts of the castle we see today were built in around 1450, using red stone quarried from the opposite bank of the river.

It was in the 1500s that a certain Lady Catherine - mistress of the Ramsay laird of the day - was locked in a castle turret by his vengeful wife, where she died of starvation. Over the centuries, there have been many sightings of her ghost, known as 'The Grey Lady', and the rustling of her gown has been heard, along with other unexplained noises...

Other guests, whose visits are a matter of record, include Edward I of England, who stayed at Dalhousie Castle in 1296 on his way to fight William Wallace at Falkirk, and Mary Queen of Scots, who slept here in 1563, on a Royal Progress. In 1648, Oliver Cromwell laid siege to the Castle, then used it as his lowland headquarters. Sir Walter Scott stayed in 1808. Queen Victoria came to take tea with the 10th Earl of Dalhousie, James Ramsay in 1840. Later appointed Governor General of India, he was the man who brought the world’s most famous diamond - the 105.6 carat Koh-I-Noor - to Britain, strapped to his waist for safe-keeping.

The Ramsays of Dalhousie retained possession of the castle for over 800 years. In 1925 it became a private boarding school; the school moved out in the early 1950s, and Dalhousie remained empty until it was converted into a hotel in 1972. The present owners carried out major repairs and renovations in 1994 and, in 1998, bought nearby Quarry House and converted it into Lodge bedrooms.


Dalhousie Castle is now one of the finest luxury hotels in Scotland.


If you want the thrill of staying in a real castle, steeped in history, filled with atmosphere - and offering all the refinements of a luxury hotel - this is an ideal choice.

Dalhousie Castle is licensed for civil weddings.


There is a large and very imposing library with an inviting open fire and comfortable seating.

The atmosphere of the barrel-vaulted Dungeon Restaurant is heightened by the play of dramatic shadows across the rough-hewn stone work, and the burnished steel of weapons and armour adorning the walls. Menus offer traditional Scottish and classical French cuisine – prepared from fresh local produce including salmon, venison and grouse.

The Orangery enjoys views of the river and parkland, is less formal and has a lighter, more contemporary menu - primarily Scottish, but with Continental influences.

Traditional Scottish Banquets, complete with a piper, are held at Dalhousie Castle: and include addressing the Haggis with Robert Burn’s famous ode, and Scottish Highland Dancers performing traditional Highland jigs.

The 29 bedrooms and suites in the Castle itself are individually styled for comfort with Scottish tweeds and tartans, rich colours and period furniture; a number have four-poster or canopied beds. There are 20 historically themed rooms, including some with unique features: the de Ramseia suite houses the castle’s 500-year-old well; Edward I has its own tower; William Wallace decorated with the clan’s tartan and crest, has doors leading onto the castle battlements; Dalhousie is a circular room; Louis XIV has a skylight with ‘mood’ lighting.
Please use the BOOK NOW button or the MAKE AN ENQUIRY button below for a price quote for your stay.

The seven Lodge rooms in a restored 100-year-old building in the old quarry offer a relaxed, country-house atmophere, seclusion and privacy.
Please use the BOOK NOW button or the MAKE AN ENQUIRY button below for a price quote for your stay.

The Aqueous Spa has a hydro pool with multi-massage jets, a rasul chamber for the traditional mud application, a Turkish-style steam bath, Tropical Rain & Cold Fog Showers, Kneipp footbaths and a tepidarium. In addition, a wide choice of therapeutic and beauty treatments is available.

Activities include archery and falconry. A map of the grounds shows three marked walks, from 30 minutes to three hours.

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