We spent the 90-minute drive to Aikwood Tower, just outside the Borders town of Selkirk, telling the children that we were staying in our own castle. conjuring up stories of knights, princes and princesses. We may have been exaggerating, but this 16th century tower surpassed my high expectations right from the start.
Luxurious and Unique
Lovingly and tastefully restored as a home by David Steele (long standing MP and former leader of the Liberal Party and Liberal Democrats) – now Lord Steele of Aikwood – back in 1992. Aikwood has won awards for the quality of the restoration that has preserved this striking historical monument. Today the tower is owned by Lord Steele’s son, Roy and his wife Victoria, who let it out as one of the Borders’ most luxurious and unique self-catering accommodations.
An Incredibly Well Equipped Kitchen
The tower itself houses a rustic and spacious kitchen, fittingly situated in the old cattle barn and kept wonderfully cosy by the Aga. Fortunately for me, usage guides were on hand and I soon knew which hobs and ovens were for cooking and warming. The kitchen, was surprisingly well equipped with a snazzy coffee machine, electric kettle, stove top kettle, dishwasher, microwave, fridge, freezer and radio, as well as complimentary tea and coffee and more cookware, glasses, crockery and cutlery than we could have ever used.
Heading up the stone spiral staircase, we discovered a cosy study and spacious living room (Great Hall) complete with a roaring log fire, comfortable sofas and iPod docking station. Dark colours and low lighting add to the feeling that you were in a real retreat, while the bright and oversized paintings on the walls were an interesting conversational point.
Sleeping in the Tower
Moving to the second floor, the tower boasted a very spacious and elegant master bedroom complimented by a huge bathroom with what is possibly the biggest stand alone bath I had ever seen. Following the spiral staircase upwards, Aikwood houses two more bedrooms complete with their own decorative touches and bathrooms (on the second floor) and a fourth ensuite bedroom on the third floor. While the layout of the living and sleeping accommodation in the tower itself is certainly very unique, accessing the higher rooms obviously involved climbing a lot of stairs, which could make it unsuitable for elderly or infirm guests.Modern Extension
Another special feature at Aikwood Tower is the modern two storey extension. The kids (and big kids) loved the ground floor complete with table tennis, oversized Jenga (falling bricks) game and cupboard of board games that ranged from Monopoly to Poker. The children were also amazed by the fact that there were two separate toilets here, while the grown ups found use for the washing machine and dryer.
Upstairs (and directly accessible from the lounge as well as via a wooden staircase) was a sitting room/library. If you stayed at Aikwood for a year I doubt you’d be able to read all the books, while the TV and DVD player ensured that the children were able to have a bit of quiet time if they needed a break from the excitement of roaming around the grounds and tower itself. For those who need it there is also a laptop for guest use here and this was the place where we got the best WIFI reception. Beyond the sitting room was another spacious and contemporary ensuite guestroom, meaning that Aikwood Tower can comfortably sleep ten people.
Wintry weather during our visit may have added to the Romance of staying at Aikwood, as we cosied up in front of the roaring fire – but the regular flurries of snow meant that we didn’t spend as much time in the wonderful gardens, or (for the children) playing the outdoor playhouse as we might have.
Our kids left Aikwood feeling like real princes and princesses, hoping to come back to stay in their very own castle again soon. Your family could do the same if you head down to this gorgeous part of the Scottish Borders.
For Families 9/10
For a Romantic Break 9/10
For Business People 9/10
InsiderScotland Rating 9/10
In addition to providing luxurious accommodation perfect for a getaway with family or friends, Aikwood can also caters to weddings for up to 80 guests and corporate events.