This imposingly grand vision in Belfast stone presides over the forested slopes of the Holywood hills and the busy waters of Belfast Lough—antiques and silk-and-velvet fabrics grace guest rooms both in the original section and in a newer wing; all rooms have fine views. The famed Cloud Beds by King Koil come with a deep pillow-top layer and pocket-sprung mattresses that conform to your body shape, providing extra back support and ensuring a sound night's sleep. The 19 executive rooms are fitted out with burgundy, gold, and purple bedding. Topped off with a storybook turret and crenellated tower, the Scottish Baronial mansion, built in 1876, was greatly enlarged in the early 20th century when it was given as a residence to the bishops of Down. In the 1960s it was transformed into a hotel and now ranks as one of Ireland's finest. The Mitre restaurant serves an excellent three-course dinner for £50 while light bites are available in the Crozier lounge to the accompaniment at the weekend
of a pianist. Settle in a wing-back chair by the log fire and sample one of their 21 different types of gin such as Bombay Sapphire or Shortcross, which is Northern Ireland's first gin, distilled in small batches and resonating with an aromatic and smooth long finish. The hotel is close to both the village of Holywood (temptingly filled with boutiques and tearooms) and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Or spend the afternoon at the hotel spa, a glamorous Beverly Hills–type affair.