Landmark castle distances itself from luxury hotel proposal

One of Scotland’s most famous castles has distances itself from reports that it could be turned into a high-end hotel.

Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. PIC: Creative Commons/Hossein Mansouri

Dunnottar Castle has been suggested in media reports as a possible candidate for a new Scottish model of high-end holiday accommodation in historic settings, similar to the Paradores Nacionales in Spain.

The idea is being proposed by the SNP and is due to be discussed at party conference this weekend.

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

The Paradores Nacionales offer accommodation in buildings such as castles, monasteries and palaces and usually help drive visitors off the beaten tourist track.

It is understood that Scottish tourism leaders have met Spanish diplomats in Edinburgh to learn more about the state-run chain of 95 properties.

Dunnottar Castle on the Aberdeenshire coast, which is privately owned by the wealthy Pearson publishing and landowning family, has been suggested in media reports as a possible contender for the Paradores treatment.

But the castle has issued a statement which outlines the ‘majesty and history’ of the ruin which attracts 140,000 visitors a year.

The statement said: "Contrary to some recent media reports there are no plans to convert the Castle into a high-end hotel in the style of Spain’s paradores. As I am sure you will agree, its status as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, not to mention the substantial conversion costs, might prove to be stumbling blocks.

"Whilst any proposals that are designed to increase inward investment are to be applauded, the majesty and history of the existing managed ruins at Dunnottar already draw large numbers to the North East with the Castle welcoming more than 140,000 visitors last year.

"We remain fully committed to continuing the Castle’s operation as a key visitor attraction, one that’s enjoyed by many local people as well as tourists from around the world.”

The Paradores plan is part of a wider £12 billion strategy to boost the rural economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most of what remains at Dunnottar, once home to the Earls Marischal, one of the most powerful families in Scotland, dates from the 15th and 16th Centuries. In the 17th Century, its small garrison famously held out against Oliver Cromwell’s men for eight months.

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.