CMW visited Edinburgh and discovered event spots bursting with tradition, character and a sense of fun
Scotland’s weathered landscapes provide a formidable event backdrop, and visitors are prepared to travel great distances to marvel at such milieu. Indeed, the country’s top ten visiting nations include the USA, Australia, Italy and Canada.
While Scotland’s natural and historic charms speak for themselves, CMW is always impressed with the professionalism, attention to detail and pride that typifies the Scottish approach to tourism and MICE attractions.
Our recent trip to Edinburgh was no exception when we took in two memorable event hotspots, Dundas Castle and Prestonfield House. These enigmatic venues share in common a wry sense of humour and historic intrigue – perfect for intimate conferences, teambuilding and dining.
Dundas Castle in focus
Henry Dundas built the ‘modern’ Dundas Castle in 1818, replacing an earlier Seventeenth Century building. William Burn, one of Scotland’s greatest architects, meanwhile, appointed the property with its generously sized windows, imposing hallways and dramatic staircases.
Nested within 400 acres of land, the castle’s overlook – available for outdoor events – has views of the Forth Road Bridge, a small llama herd and nearby towns including Queensferry.
The property’s rich history abounds throughout. Our walkthrough took in ornamental suits of armour, drawing pistols and taxidermy as we passed through grey stoned courtyards and up dramatic staircases – all of which are available for events.
Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, who inherited Dundas Castle on the death of his mother in 1995, has overseen an impressive modernisation of the castle, with the events sector’s needs in mind. His wife, Lydia – a gifted interior decorator – has been instrumental in the refurbishment, bringing quirky and striking artworks into the space, which retains a homely yet professional feel.
Confidential meetings can take place in the Beehive boardroom or for something more opulent, the Croquet Room is ideal for encouraging thought provoking debate and conversation. With a large number of breakout rooms throughout the Castle and medieval Auld Keep building, you have a range of rooms to choose from. Should you need more space, the Pavilion can be set in a variety of ways.
With Dundas being an ‘exclusive use’ venue you are able to decide to use rooms within the house at the last minute with no additional cost; all of the buildings belong to you during your time at the castle.
For the incentive crowd, a 4×4 course, quad biking traps and speed boating are available – the latter taking place on the nearby Firth of Forth. Clay pigeon traps, an outdoor tennis court and an indoor squash court also feature.
The bedrooms at Dundas are impeccably decorated, with standing baths and carefully selected bespoke art. However, CMW opted to stay in the self-catering Boathouse, situated on the castle’s grounds, overlooking a tranquil lake. Oustanding.
For those allergic to generic conferencing venues, the opulent and whimsical Prestonfield House is a 30 minute drive from Dundas, and provides great indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as carefully sourced cuisine.
The 5 star hotel in one of Edinburgh’s finest historic buildings. Located five minutes from the city centre, the venue maintains all the intimacy that comes with a country estate.
Situated within 20 acres of gardens and located next to the stunning Arthur’s Seat, Prestonfield House, with peacocks roaming its 20 acres of land, has an atmosphere reminiscent of 1960s TV series The Prisoner.
The bedrooms feature unique antique furniture such as a comfortable seating area, a desk, a collection of antiques and characterful feature beds dressed with fine linens and piled high with cushions. A complimentary bottle of Prestonfield champagne is also available when you book direct with the venue.
For events, the circular Stables, with its flexible layout, high tech sound and light features capacity for up to 500 diners.