With positive news about the vaccine giving us hope that better days are within reach, why not make the most of all that freedom with a holiday that combines a luxury getaway with the great outdoors? Horse riding is a sport like no other; it’s about freedom, adventure, and the connection between human and beast.
The UK and Ireland are home to a number of country hotels and castles that celebrate the region’s love for these gracious animals and give guests the opportunity to make a furry friend or two. Read on for keen equestrian and LLM writer Ina Yulo Stuve’s picks for the best hotels for a one-of-a-kind stay with equine adventures included.
Dunalastair Hotel Suites, Perthshire
If you find yourself with little pony lovers in tow, the five-star Dunalastair Hotel Suites on the edge of Loch Rannoch in the historic county of Perthshire will make for an excellent stay. With hiking, fishing, and golfing at your doorstep, there’s an activity for everyone in the family. The hotel is also perfectly situated within close proximity of many riding centres including the Pitlochry Outdoor Activity Centre, which hosts lead rein classes on Shetland ponies whilst adult riders can ride out into true Scottish wild country.
Address: 1, The Square, Kinloch Rannoch, Pitlochry PH16 5PW
Phone: 01882 580444
Schloss Roxburghe, Scottish Borders
Country sports reign supreme at Schloss Roxburghe, the 20-bedroom luxury hotel and golf course on the Scottish Borders. The former home of the Duke of Roxburghe is truly a stunning sight with its natural stone features and high ceilings, giving guests the royal treatment from the moment they arrive. Whether it’s game hunting with a falconer, tomahawk throwing, or archery, Schloss Country Sports is at your service. With the Scottish Borders’ strong horse culture, guests are spoilt for choice with the Kelso Racecourse, polo, vaulting, and more.
Address: Heiton, Kelso TD5 8JZ
Phone: 01573 450331
Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire
For the ultimate in luxury rural living, Gleneagles, the five-star country hotel in Perthshire has it down to an art. Though perhaps best known for its top-class golf facilities – Gleneagles hosted both The Ryder and Solheim Cups – it is also a haven for equestrians. Laid out across 50 acres, the Gleneagles Equestrian School offers riding lessons for all ages and skill levels with riders having the ability to gallop through cross country courses and trail routes or give polo a try with an expert coach. There is even an ‘Own a Pony’ programme which lets little ones get a taste for taking care of their own four-hooved companion.
Address: Gleneagles Hotel, , Auchterarder PH3 1NF
Phone: 01764 662231
Linthwaite House Hotel, Cumbria
With exquisite views over Lake Windermere and access to private woodland grounds, it’s of no surprise that Linthwaite House, part of the Leeu Collection of luxury properties, is a popular choice for guests looking for a relaxing break in nature. Perched atop a hill, a stay at Linthwaite House allows guests to visit the picturesque town of Bowness-on-Windermere, experience the delicious menu at in-house restaurant Henrock by chef Simon Rogan, and enjoy a plethora of activities by the beautiful lake. The hotel is also happy to arrange rides with Cumbrian Heavy Horses, where guests can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of riding giant Clydesdale and Shire horses through the Lake District.
Address: Crook Rd, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3JA
Phone: 015394 88600
The Black Bull Sedbergh, Cumbria
Though the Yorkshire Dales can be a rough and wild environment, visitors can find solace in The Black Bull, a 17th-century coaching inn and dining room in the Cumbrian town of Sedbergh. With an award-winning food programme that celebrates seasonal ingredients with a modern twist, luxurious and comfortable rooms, and numerous walking trails right at your doorstep, The Black Bull is a welcome bolthole in Northern England. If you’re an experienced rider, make sure you pay a visit to the Stonetrail Riding Centre in nearby Ravenstonedale where you can trek through open fell in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Address: 44 Main St, Sedbergh LA10 5BL
Phone: 015396 20264
Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, Wiltshire
Built in the 1700s, the superb Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa near Bath is a Relais and Châteaux property that spreads out over 500 acres of glorious private parkland. The hotel’s top-notch Equestrian Centre is home to 35 horses that cater to all ages and abilities and riders have access to an all-weather arena in addition to peaceful countryside trails through the Cotswolds. Special experiences include an equine therapy session where guests use their body language to forge connections with the horses, a ‘Cream Tea and Canter’ offer which combines an afternoon ride with a cream tea at The Brasserie, and a group hack with friends through the estate.
Address: Colerne, Thickwood, Chippenham SN14 8AZ
Phone: 01225 742777
Coworth Park, Berkshire
Discover the Berkshire countryside on horseback with a stay at The Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park in Ascot. The five-star luxury hotel lies within 240 acres of parkland, providing guests with an ideal playground to detox and get reconnected with the property’s equine residents. Horse enthusiasts of all skill levels are welcome at Coworth Park and the expert staff and well-trained horses are ready for anything from gymkhana games to dressage and show jumping. If you fancy a spot of polo, Coworth Park is the only UK hotel to have its own polo fields where you can learn under the tutelage of instructors from the Guards Polo Academy.
Address: Blacknest Rd, Sunningdale, Ascot SL5 7SE
Phone: 01344 876600
Thirlestane Castle, Scottish Borders
Located a mere 30 minutes from Edinburgh, Thirlestane Castle sits in a peaceful meadow amidst grazing sheep and rolling hills. The 16th-century castle has been the home of the Maitland family since 1590 and much care has been put in to ensure the property maintains its old world splendour. The Maitlands are horse people themselves, having bred the European eventing champion Glenburnie at the castle, and fellow enthusiasts will be treated to treks around the estate, the surrounding moors, and gorgeous countryside.
Address: Thirlestane Castle, Lauder TD2 6RU
Phone: 01578 722430
Ashford Castle, County Mayo
The Emerald Isle has a long history with horses and guests can be a part of this journey at the five-star Ashford Castle in County Mayo, part of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and a founding member of Beyond Green. The 800-year-old castle takes guests back in time, and whether it’s the seclusion of The Hideaway Cottage or the superb dining and wellness options, guests are in for an unforgettable stay at this former home of the Guinness family.
For equestrians, the possibilities are endless. From trail riding through woodland paths, cantering across the shores of Lough Corrib, and even trekking the Connemara mountains, the beauty of Ireland is best viewed between two ears.
Address: Ashford Castle Drive, Leaf Island, Cong, Co. Galway, Ireland
Phone: +353 94 954 6003