Going back in time at Kilmartin Castle

Kilmartin Castle is a 16th-century Z-plan castle in Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland. Originally built in 1550 for John Carswell, it was later owned (and abandoned) by Clan Campbell.

Two photos taken by Rev James Bannatyne Mackenzie c. 1870 of Kilmartin Castle:

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Photo credit: Rev James Bannatyne Mackenzie c. 1870 

The castle was a ruin for over 200 years, up until the 1980s when new owners repaired the roof and began renovations.

A few years ago, they decided the castle was ready for a new set of owners and put it up for sale. Enter Stef and Simon, who have continued the renovation process and done a damn good job of it.

I’d been eyeing Kilmartin Castle for awhile on airbnb, but it was out of our price range as a couple. But when our friends from Glasgow mentioned us going on holiday for a few days together, we started looking for accommodation for the four of us.

We’d visited Kilmartin before. The idea of staying in a castle was more than a good reason for us to go back.

Our first trip to Kilmartin, just a few months prior, was way too short anyway. We had two lovely rainy days at the Winterton B&B in Crinan Ferry (highly recommended as well; check it out here: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/12536037). Kilmartin is saturated with ancient history and artifacts, not something we were able to cover in a couple of days.

We wanted to stay somewhere really unique for all of us. And sure, our Glasgow friends had stayed in castles before (as you do when you live in the UK), but they’d never been in a castle quite as cool as Kilmartin. So, we decided to splurge. I almost backed out — I was worried we couldn’t afford it. But my friend said, “But don’t you want to stay in a castle? The other places you’re looking at are lovely, but you must have a grand hall at least once in your life!”

It turns out, indeed you must.

Having an entire castle to yourself for 3 days? The feeling can’t be described. I don’t even really want to try; it won’t do it justice. Feeling the worn stairs under your feet and feeling the stone hallways with your fingertips are things you have to experience yourself.

I spent the next three days imagining the years of occupants going up and down the same hallways, looking out the same windows, using the same stairwells. And, also thinking about the hard work and care that goes into renovating a place like this in the modern age.

The owners have maintained the history and charm without modernizing it too much aesthetically, which is wonderful for visitors wanting something that feels authentically Scottish. When looking at other historic buildings, I always groan when all the beautiful stone work is covered in plaster and the furniture replaced with something out of an IKEA catalog. Where castles are concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being a little traditional while adding modern touches.

You can book Kilmartin Castle here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/6049149
The owners Stef & Simon are lovely people, even if we didn’t meet them in person. They’re renovating the castle to be a B&B so they can live there full time now, too (which, of course they should! I can’t see how you could own a place like this and be away for any amount of time).

All other photos taken by myself. Please do not repost without copyright credit (Emily Sandifer). *These photos were taken April 2018. Changes to the castle may have been made since then; this is how it was when I stayed.

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Local Chef Ali cooked us up quite the final dinner.

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The cozy warm kitchen
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The “servants stairwell” leading to and from the kitchen

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The best bath I ever took
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The main stairwell
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Our bedroom

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Lovely wonky walls and beautiful beams
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The Grand Hall

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At the front gate

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In the garden
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Front door

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Main bedroom (from inside the bathroom)

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The Grand Hall

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Main stairwell up into the Grand Hall

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Second Bedroom (top floor)

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There’s a wee bathroom down through that doorway!

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Our bedroom

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Entrance hallway

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Cheers!

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