Touring Scotland: Rent This Castle Please

Travelers touring Scotland are often drawn to Kirkwall, home to a variety of attractions including the famous great stone circles of Stenness and Brodgar, a UNESCO world heritage site. Also popular is Balfour Castle on the island of Shapinsay, which is available for rent.

A quick 25-minute ferry ride from Kirkwall, the principal city and capital of the 70 or so Orkney Islands, Balfour castle stands today much like it did centuries ago, dominating a great deal of the island.

Originally built as home to the Balfour family, once a big name in the trade of tea and spices, upkeep is an ongoing process and that costs money – a lot of money. Simply maintaining the structure is expensive. Adding features found in modern buildings like electrical wiring, heating and cooling has a price tag running in the £millions.Now a part-time home to the Zawadski family, the castle offers tours, as renovations are underway to maintain and restore the structures and grounds to their original magnificence.

To fund those efforts, hunting parties come from around the world, landing their private jets at the Kirkwall airport, often reserving space years in advance. The idea is to keep the castle open to the public well into the future with self-financed activities and functions.

Available to rent when the family is not in residence for about $3500 per night, Balfour castle is also available for luncheons, dinners or a traditional Orkney farmhouse tea.

See Elodie Bady, House Manager for more information.

[Photo- Chris Owen]