Hotel review: The Culloden Estate

The Culloden, in the fancy town of Holywood, is the kind of hotel that boasts views that beckon you.

I travelled in September and stayed in the Estate Room, starting from £387 per room for two adults B&B. Other rooms start from £120 B&B.


Culloden Estate & Spa
Bangor Road


T: +44 (0) 28 9042 1066 


Once the official palace for the Bishops of Down, this impressive hotel is only five miles from Belfast city centre, with spectacular views over the Belfast Lough.

A recent renovation has seen the creation of the new private medi-spa, which aims to deliver wellness and relaxation, complete with lovely ESPA products and a range of fitness classes.

It is a pleasure to walk around the surrounding grounds, with 12 acres of serene, secluded, manicured gardens to enjoy. When I visited, an ‘Art in the Garden’ exhibit displayed an array of sculptures, both modern and old, dotted around the grounds.

From the hotel you can walk to the town of Holywood, named ‘The best place to live in Northern Ireland’ by The Sunday Times, in less than half an hour. You’ll find delightful coastal walks, independent boutiques and a plethora of cafes serving excellent coffee.  

Décor and vibe

The huge bay windows in the drawing room can be seen from reception and, along with the pretty chandelier and painted ceiling above, give off a grand persona upon entering.

Yet, when you walk into the drawing room, the comfortable chairs and cosy areas with warm terracotta walls, open fireplace, plush velvet sofas and paintings ranging from classical to Frida Khalo, cleverly and seamlessly blend to welcome you in to have a drink or read a book.

The sweeping staircase leading to the rooms is certainly a feature statement, as is the ornate stained-glass window midway. The rich green walls of the restaurant where guest eat breakfast, combined with the golden yellow furnishings help to start the day well, reflecting nature and preparing you to step outside into the gorgeous garden.

Services and facilities 

  • Room service
  • Pool
  • Laundry
  • Parking
  • Fitness centre
  • Sauna
  • Steam room 

Rooms and suites

Each of the 98 bedrooms and suites offer views over the hotel’s very own superb gardens, and over the Belfast Lough. Expect old-school comfort with a modern twist from muted colours to colourful striped bed throws.

Clean-lined wooden furniture and thick velvet curtains, tasteful luxurious patterned wallpaper, and leather upholstered chairs have been clearly designed with comfort and design in mind. Fresh flowers and Nespresso machines bring home the comfort and class. The mascot hotel branded yellow rubber duck on the marble bathtop provides a smile and a keepsake for guests to take home.

Food and drink

The ‘Vespers Restaurant’ is known to be one of the finest in Northern Ireland, although I wanted a local vibe and so ate my dinner at the hotel’s very own pub called The Cultra Inn, which can be found at the bottom of the extensive pretty garden.

Seasonality and locality are a focus and this can be seen on the menu; expect starters such as Irish scampi and Irish smoked seafood chowder. Mains are a highlight: try the Irish beef steak, or a quality Irish beef burger in a lovely baked buttermilk roll, with a slice of Irish cheddar and Irish bacon to boot.

Breakfast is a decent display of tempting things including a cooked breakfast – of course with Northern Irish potato farls and black and white pudding – but also lighter options are available such as locally made granola. The team are clearly proud of their ingredients’ heritage – little signs illustrate the story behind the producer which is a nice touch.

More information

For more information and bookings, visit the hotel website at