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The Getaway: Melville Castle, Edinburgh

Melville Castle is an 18th century country house hotel in 50 acres of woodland on the picturesque banks of the North Esk.

Over the centuries, the castle played host to many noteworthy guests including Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Walter Scott and Queen Victoria - and now myself.

Previously owned by the Dundas family, the castle was commissioned by the first Viscount of Melville in 1791. After the Second World War, it was leased to the army, later becoming a hotel. It then suffered from neglect before a major renovation created the elegant building it is today.

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We set off from Edinburgh and drove through the grand gates into the grounds 20 minutes later. The driveway led us through a garden full of dense greenery and colourful flowers, which added to our anticipation of staying in a castle.

After a quick check-in by an efficient member of staff, we were shown to our room. There are 32 bedrooms ranging from a classic double, superior double or a suite, each with a beautiful view of the grounds.

Our superior double had a four-poster bed and the usual hotel room facilities. The room was spacious and quiet, however it was in need of some modernisation. The flat screen TV was disappointing as it was very small with a restricted choice of channels and wi-fi can only be accessed from public areas.

The bar and restaurant are relaxed, like a nice country pub rather than fine dining, and the food is delicious with a varied menu attracting locals along with hotel guests.

The excellent standard of food extends to breakfast, served in an elegant dining room on the first floor allowing guests to enjoy splendid views from their table. A word for the staff, they were extremely helpful and attentive at all times.

Melville Castle caters for larger events including weddings and the castle is available for exclusive use. It has car parking for 80 cars and helicopter landing facilities.

Stewart Attwood was a guest of Melville Castle, Gilmerton Rd, Edinburgh. Bed and breakfast starts at £129. Visit www.melvillecastle.com

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