FOR couples looking for a quiet, luxurious and special weekend away, Knock Castle could be the perfect retreat.
Located five minutes from the quaint Crieff town centre, it's not far off the beaten track and is just an hour's drive away from Perth city.
However, on arrival to the small car park, Knock Castle feels grand and secluded, as it is nestled within three-and-a-half acres of land - perfect roaming space for a lazy stroll, if the weather allows!
The castle, which has been converted into a hotel with large, traditional rooms, has a strict over-18s policy, making it a no-go for families with children.
It did feel strange at first to be in a hotel without the sounds of children running through corridors or screaming at dinner time, but it becomes clear at Knock Castle this is the right decision, as there is a distinct feeling of peace and tranquillity embedded into this luxury retreat.
Walking into reception, my partner and I were welcomed and personally shown to our room for the night, which was simply beautiful.
Authentic and relaxing, it had everything a couple could ask for. The bedroom itself was simple. A king-sized oak four poster bed was the main feature. A dressing table and a small wooden wardrobe was the only other furniture in the room, making it feel spacious.
There was an adjoining suite which had a stunning bay window feature as well as a giant plasma TV, keeping my other half happy. The suite also featured a dining room table as well as comfortable leather sofas to lounge about on.
The en suite bathroom facilities were fabulous - a jacuzzi bath and dim lighting making for ultimate relaxation. There was also a fresh bowl of fruit waiting for our arrival as well as tea and coffee making facilities.
Knock Castle has leisure facilities in the grounds of the hotel.
Not long after arrival my partner and I took the opportunity to have a slow swim in the heated pool and several Jacuzzis! There is also a steam room and sauna.
Whilst swimming, it became clear how blissful an over 18s hotel can be. The pool wasn't crowded, nor was it noisy and I didn't have to fight my way into the jacuzzi!
The decor of the inside of the leisure centre could perhaps do with a lick of paint, but that would be my only niggle about the facilities and the peace and quiet more than made up for it.
There is also a range of beauty treatments available to book at anytime at Knock Castle due to the on-site spa.
I opted for a "Hot Stone Massage" which lasted for 40 minutes. It was blissful and I couldn't have felt more relaxed.
The range of treatments and massages for men and women is vast and will certainly help kick start any relaxing break away.
After our swim and my treatment, we took a wander round Crieff town centre and were both told about the reputation of Knock Castle's food by friendly locals, needless to say we were both very much looking forward to dinner.
Dinner - Rooftop Restaurant
There are two restaurants; one downstairs, which has a strict shirt, tie and shoes policy and a rooftop restaurant which adopts a smart/casual dress code.
I opted for the roof top restaurant as I thought downstairs looked a little stuffy for my taste. Although, having now dined at Knock Castle, I don't doubt the quality of?food.
The location of this restaurant - true to it's name - was stunning, although the view was slightly marred due to the torrential rain during our stay. The weather also meant we couldn't have a drink on the outside balcony before our meal.
But being true Highlanders, we wouldn't let the weather dim our stay.
Firstly we had a glass of wine from the extensive list in the bar located beside the restaurant where we were offered the choice of three menus, a set menu for the night, an Al La Carte one and a standard dinner menu.
All the food looked beautiful and neither of us could decide which menu to chose from. However, head chef Jason Henderson, who is also the general manager of Knock Castle, came through to the bar and welcomed all the guests personally. He spoke to each table individually and also informed us that we did not have to stick to one menu, we could chose any food from any menus we liked. Relief!
We both opted for crab consommé with crayfish and a pan fried scallop, which was a little strong for my taste, although the scallop was cooked to perfection.
For main course, I opted for the monkfish wrapped in parma ham with vegetables covered in a pesto sauce and dauphinoise potatoes. I absolutely cleared my plate. It was beautiful and not too heavy, making sure there was room left for dessert.
Dessert came in the form of a classic crme brlée. Needless to say it was done to perfection - crispy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the underneath. I didn't leave a drop.
And lastly we had coffee accompanied by homemade chocolates.
We both enjoyed a couple of more drinks in the bar located beside the restaurant, although this was about 11pm now and we got the distinct feeling things were closing up. The dining experience was wonderful, however a little more up-beat music (rather than the Michael Bublé CD on repeat) might have upped the atmosphere at the bar a little.
Knock Castle facts
Knock Castle is a 4 star retreat.
A no children policy applies.
The hotel is located five minutes from Crieff town and an hour's drive away from Perth.
Facilities include a spa, swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.
One night's stay will cost from £72.50 per person for bed and breakfast and £99.50 for dinner, bed and breakfast in a standard double room.
For one night's stay in a suite, prices range from £129.50 per person for bed and breakfast, £159.50 for dinner bed and breakfast.
To book a reservation log onto www.knockcastle.com or call 01764 650088.
The hotel also offers a full concierge service so guests can make the most of their stay. There are six golf courses near-by including Gleneagles and access can be arranged on request. Anglers have several challenging lochs and rivers at their disposal. Loch Earn, a short drive away, has a host of water sports to tempt the outdoors enthusiast.