At Leslie Castle you’ll never feel like you’ve entered a sterile or anonymous place to stay – instead you’ll receive a warm personal welcome by Nicola and John, Baron of Leslie.
Every Scottish B&B and Guesthouse is special, and each host has their own unique story to tell, this is ours.
We provide accommodation within the historic castle on a bed and breakfast basis, from April to October with optional dinner and drinks served in the Baronial Hall. I particularly enjoy sharing the history of the Clan Leslie and delivering a genuine castle experience for our guests, but it wasn’t always our intention to do this. As so often happens in life we seized the day!
Having lived in Aberdeenshire for almost 20 years, back in 2017 we started looking for a “small” holiday home or B&B to operate as a side business. One day, returning from a trip to visit another property I saw an advert for a castle for sale and we decided to have a look out of curiosity, well it captured our hearts, despite being rather a bigger undertaking than we were originally considering! We knew that to preserve the property for future generations and pay for the maintenance it needed a purpose and therefore we would take in paying guests and plough the profits back into the place. We wanted to share it in the way that we would like to experience it, to individual couples and families, interested in the story of the place. And although initially I hadn’t banked on the Clan Leslie being such a significant proportion of our guests over the last 5 years, we are increasingly grateful for the universal support and good will we have had from the Clan and the numbers that go out of their way to stay with us. We have met some wonderful characters that we have kept in contact with! We will never forget the Leslie vow-renewal ceremony or the ‘significant’ birthday celebrations complete with bagpipers, storytellers and even an address to the haggis that I was persuaded to perform. Around 25% of guests booked so far for 2023 are Leslies coming from USA, Canada, Australia and even Spain as well as Great Britain.
I give a talk about the history of the Clan and it’s relationship to the castle most nights after dinner, starting in 1069 with Bartholomew and Beatrix establishing the Clan and building the first castle here after having set off with the words of the King, Malcolm Canmore, ringing in their ears. “Go as far as your horse will carry you and then, there will be your land.” The pictures of General Alexander Leslie and Anne Erskine Countess of Rothes (donated by Melissa Leslie) that hang on the walls of the Baronial Hall generally prompt a discussion about the turbulent times of the middle 1600’s which is the period that the current layout was established along with all the defensive features that characterise the baronial style. However, the saviours of the castle, David and Leslie Leslie always get a special mention. They did an incredible job along with the master stonemason (Slessor Troup) of restoring the castle from a ruinous state to its current condition during the 1980’s and established it as private hotel.
Nicola giving a presentation about Leslie Castle, in her Leslie Tartan (hunting colours) to a Tourism Gamechanger event sponsored by Visit Aberdeenshire.
John is not only the Baron but also the cook, gardener, general maintenance and cleaner, we get to “do-it-all”, while Nicola is also employed in the oil industry. John prides himself on serving real-home-cooked food made with fresh ingredients and a Scottish twist. His Balmoral Chicken (chicken breast stuffed with haggis, for the brave, and covered in Prosciutto ham) is a firm favourite as is the Scottish Salmon, and we do our best to cater for any special dietary requirements.
The Baronial Hall laid for dinner under the watchful gaze of General Alexander Leslie.
All in all, running Leslie Castle Guesthouse can be hard work with long days but we continue to be rewarded with a wonderful adventure of generating relationships and celebrating Scottish Culture with people from all over the world.