Belfast Telegraph

culloden comforts

What better way could there be than spending time at this beautifully picturesque hotel, relaxing and dining

STAYCATIONS seems to be the buzz word at the moment. I always thought you needed to head abroad to get a proper break. But that perception has been changed. And it is down to the Culloden Hotel and Spa, just six miles outside Belfast situated on the south coast of Belfast Lough with views across the lough to County Antrim.

We took the short drive from Belfast to the picturesque sight. Even though you are not far from home, it really feels like a million miles, what with the beautiful surrounding and tranquillity.

On arrival we were greeted by the friendly door staff (one of the many extremely friendly and efficient staff that we had throughout our stay). mIt felt like a home from home. Plenty of space, sitting quarters, a big comfy bed, a beautiful bathroom and a big screen television.

The bathroom, complete with shower and bath, is beautiful and designed to the nth degree.

The room is full of all the accessories you could need -ndash; including an iron and ironing board -ndash; along with some nice touches like a personalised welcome. Sometimes it is the small touches that make a big difference.

We could feel the stresses of the world just being left at the door. I quickly made myself at home -ndash; feet up, book out, and a cup of tea. You can't be bad to that.

We relaxed in the room for a while (really, you could spend hours there) before going for a walk round the grounds. It was a lovely day and to see the splendour of the surroundings,not to mention the fantastic view of Belfast Lough, really does put you at ease.

After this enjoyable walk we thought it was time to go back to our room and change for dinner.

We were booked in for a meal at the The Mitre Restaurant, which is run by top chef Paul McKnight. We had a seat beside the window which offered more of those beautiful views that we were enjoying earlier.

We were led to our seat by a friendly member of staff (yes another!) and given the menus to peruse through. We ordered a lovely bottle of white before deciding on our choice of food. I plumped for the Seared Sea Scallop, which was accompanied by Stautons black pudding, spiced apple and curry oil. My wife chose the Culloden tian of avocado and prawn.

While we waited for our starter the waiter presented us with an Amuse Gueule. How amusing (sorry couldn't resist it). It was very tasty and whetted our appetite further. We both thoroughly enjoyed our starters.

My wife commented on how delicious the prawns were while I, admittedly not a lover of fish food, was equally impressed with my scallops. So it is good to try new things after all.

We said to ourselves, if the starters were that good we couldn't wait for the main. And we weren't disappointed. I went for the local Aberdeen Angus fillet of beef, which came with coriander and chilli butter, cumin pomme puree with sesame ginger pok choi.

My wife chose the seared sea bass, which was accompanied by Courgette -amp; Carrot Julienne, Lemon -amp; Basil Cream with Roast Langoustine.

She was really pleased with her choice and found it to be delicious.

After devouring (as much as dining etiquette would allow) it was on to the desert.

I decided to try a slice of chocolate cake. It was beautifully rich and just melted in the mouth.

My wife chose a Bailey's coffee and felt it finished the meal off nicely.

Our dining experience was top class. The food was sumptuous, the staff were very attentive and friendly and the piano music that was played in the background really added to a delightful meal.

After we had finished we made our way in to the lounge to enjoy some more of that beautiful piano playing. It was very relaxing -ndash; glass of wine and some wonderful tunes -ndash; all that was missing was a pair of slippers!

Even in the lounge you never feel neglected, the staff checking to see if we needed anything. Their friendly manner and politeness really stood out.

We decided it was time to retire (all that eating and drinking is exerting stuff) and went to the room. The beautiful comfortable beds just scream 'climb in me and sleep'. And that was just what we done. As soon as our heads hit the pillows we were out like a light.

Our stay was coming to an end, but not before we enjoyed some breakfast.

Once again the food was fabulous, with a fantastic array of delights to choose from. Enough to soften the blow of our stay coming to an end.

I have to say we had a brilliant time. Everything about the place oozed class. From the picturesque settings, the superb staff and the wonderful food, there was really nothing you could complain about.

And even if it was a short break, it was a special one.


From Belfast Telegraph