Culloden Estate and Spa Review

Originally intended as an abode for the Bishops of Down, this 19th-century estate is found on the outskirts of Belfast. The historic grandeur of the building is contrasted with a modern extension, in the form of the ESPA spa with steam room and hammam. 98 spacious bedrooms and suites provide plenty of room for king-sized beds, desks and bathrooms with rainfall showers. It’s not unusual to find a pianist or harpist playing in the bar or restaurant. And in addition to the top-notch cuisine in the main restaurant, there’s a cosy inn within the grounds, for a beer and bite beside a roaring fire. Read on to discover more about this luxurious Belfast hotel.


Background And Concept

Residing on the slopes of the Holywood Hill and overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim coastline lies Culloden Estate and Spa, part of the Small Luxury Hotel of the World portfolio, this Gothic mansion is surrounded by 12 acres of spectacular gardens and woodland. Built for a bishop and fit for a king, the hotel combines contemporary luxury with a warm Irish welcome. With acres of manicured gardens to explore, you feel instantly at one with nature from the moment you arrive. Start your day with a hearty Irish breakfast followed by a day exploring Belfast and Northern Ireland’s most popular attractions (read our guide to Belfast), or a pamper day in the resort’s award-winning Espa Spa. By evening head along to Vespers for a fine dining experience, before relaxing in the Lough bar for a nightcap. The hotel has everything you need for the perfect getaway.


Positioned within 12 acres of beautiful gardens, you have the best of both worlds here as it has the feel of a rural retreat, but you are only 10 minutes by car to Belfast City airport, 20 minutes to Belfast City itself, and 40 minutes to Belfast International airport. In addition to this, there is a superbly convenient train station at the bottom of the garden that takes you into Belfast City in 30 minutes and runs every half an hour.

Rooms & Suites

Bright spacious and individually decorated, each of the 98 bedrooms and suites in the hotel are indulgently comfortable and inviting. Rooms are all furnished with a King Koil ‘Cloud Bed’ and luxurious bed lineN meaning a good night’s sleep is guaranteed. 

Rooms start with their Garden Rooms option which offer views looking out to the estate and Belfast Lough. Looking for more space? Then book a Deluxe Room, which are slightly larger than Garden Rooms.

Then come the Estate Rooms, located in the original part of the house, which boast high ceilings and feature traditional cornicing with a more contemporary finish and come with a large bathroom, with separate shower and deep-soak baths.

And finally, go all out with one of their suite class rooms. Their Estate Suites, appointed with views of the beautiful hotel estate, including feature sculptures, mature woods, and some Suites benefiting from a Belfast Lough view. Estate Suites are perfect for entertaining, as many contain feature gas fires and dining areas for up to 6 people. 

True luxury, peace, and opulence are provided in abundance in their historic Tower Suites. Each of the three Tower Suites offer exceptional views of the Estate and Belfast Lough, providing uninterrupted and elevated views beyond the period style sash windows that naturally flood the room with daylight. Double height ceilings, original plaster cornice design, and fine Irish fabrics make these rooms the epitome of luxury.

And if it’s the best room in the hotel that you want the Palace Suite enjoys the luxurious feel of a Bishop’s Palace with space, design, amenities, grandeur, and laid-back luxury. Located in the garden wing of the hotel, offering breathtaking views of the manicured gardens and Belfast Lough. Exquisitely designed using subtle purple, greens, and gold, accented with touches of marble, luxurious carpets, velvets, and soft furnishings, completed by bespoke artwork, this is without a doubt, a Presidential Suite. 

In addition to the suite’s large bedroom, there is the option to interconnect with a luxury Garden Room for the requirements of a two-bedroom suite. The Palace Suite offers a spacious and separate living room with HD TV, a large antique dining table for up to 8 guests, and a balcony with room for entertaining which overlooks Belfast Lough and onto Cavehill said to be the inspiration behind Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Food & Drink

The hotel has a range of food and beverage outlets, from fine dining in Vespers to Afternoon Tea in the Lough Bar and Gastropub grub in the Cultra Inn, there is something to suit every moment. 


If gothic grandeur is more to your taste, book a table in the Victorian oak-paneled dining room at the five-star Culloden Estate and Spa. The dining style here is described as ‘gourmet chic’, but despite its fine dining credentials and formal setting, it’s an excellent choice for both families and couples. Adults can enjoy modern Irish cuisine, with their three-course fine dining set menu, accompanied by views over the Belfast Lough. After the meal, diners can adjourn to a cozy lounge, for coffee or cocktail beside a roaring log fire and gentle background music. 


The hotel serves a full Irish Breakfast and classic Continental breakfast from 7 am to 10 am daily. Choose from a great selection of hot items in their served buffet along with cold items like smoked salmon, fresh fruits, yogurt, cereals and cold cuts of meat. 

Lough Bar

One of the newest additions to the hotel is the Lough Bar, with views out across the Lough, you can enjoy an afternoon tea or lunch and by evening-time, the space transforms into the ideal spot for pre and post-dinner drinks, where they serve a selection of fine wines, beers, and cocktails. 

Cultra Inn

Sitting separately to the hotel and connected via a tree-lined path is the half-timbered Cultra Inn. Think open fires and top-notch Irish pub grub, open for lunches and evening meals.

Ideal for these warmer summer months Culloden has partnered with Pattinson & Co Wine Merchants, distributors of Bollinger Champagne, to create the bespoke ‘Bolly bus’ which has been designed specifically for the Culloden. There is plenty of outdoor seating available and guests can enjoy a selection of Bollinger, fine wines, and spirits whilst taking in the picturesque setting of the stunning 12 acres estate grounds. Those in search of an intimate event location can book the top deck of the bus for private parties for up to 12 people.


Relaxation is the name of the game here at Culloden and with one of Northern Ireland’s best spas in the hotel you will find a sanctuary for complete body and mind wellbeing! Located on the lower ground floor is the ESPA spa, chose from one of many relaxing treatments that fuse advanced techniques with ancient therapies to deliver the finest modern holistic therapeutic experiences in the world. 

With luxurious treatment suites, relaxation rooms a central swimming pool, a new linear vitality pool with garden views and a Tylarium as well as and a larger steam room. The Spa at Culloden offers the perfect haven to enjoy some time out and pampering during your stay here.

The Hollywood International Art & Sculpture Fair

We were lucky enough to be staying when the hotel was playing host to the Hollywood International Art & Sculpture Fair. Artwork worth around £6m was displayed on the hotel’s grounds and inside the hotel in what was the largest art fair in Ireland.

A total of 160 sculptures were exhibited with works by Banksy, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dali all on display. The event by Gormleys Fine Art was open to the public to visit, with guided tours of the installations also being available daily at 2 pm, 4 pm, and 6 pm.

Final Thoughts

Looking for a luxurious spa hotel that combines countryside retreat with city break attractions that is convenient to get to from around the UK and is guaranteed to be indulgently relaxing? Then it has to be Culloden Estate and Spa. We stayed, we ate, we relaxed and we loved it and the property has made it onto our coveted list of best luxury spa hotels in the UK

Contact Details

Address: Bangor Rd, Holywood BT18 0EX

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