An extraordinary Gothic palace in one of Scotland's scenic islands is the location for an overnight stay unlike any other. A life enhancing and emotional experience to some, a source of inspiration and knowledge to others, an unique experience of overwhelming appreciation of beauty to all.
Mount Stuart is not a hotel. This astonishing historic palace can be seen and visited by the public and it is available for exclusive use to very few. In many ways, Mount Stuart is a sacred place. Firstly because of its history which is strongly linked to the history of Britain itself; secondly because its many owners' endless wealth and creativity allowed them to transmute their dreams and artistic inspirations into one of the world's most striking architectural treasures; thirdly because every detail of the building echoes spirituality, divinity, astrology and a strong need to connect the earthly and material with the ethereal and godly.
It takes more than a good writer to describe the beauty of a painting or the awe brought by a beautiful sky. There are levels of meaningful beauty that can only be expressed with more than words. Just like a painting needs to be seen and a song needs to be listened to, Mount Stuart needs to be experienced. Its overwhelming beauty and high number of small, meaningful and intriguing details can't be listed, guests and visitors go from surprise to amazement most of the time in silence because words often fail. It is more than just the beauty of the building, antiques and features that make this exceptional venue so truly incredible, it is the reason why they are there, the history and intention behind every detail from door knobs and ceilings to tapestries and wood carvings. There is a spiritual or personal meaning to everything, hints to the many owners' beliefs as well as aspirations and fears. Just like scars and body art are a visible part of our body's history and of our mind's intentions, Mount Stuart's architectural details give it heart, mind and soul.
Mount Stuart is located in the Isle of Bute the ancestral home of the Bute Family, traceable to the 12th century, whereupon the Anglo-Norman family became High Stewards to the Kings of Scotland. In time the word Steward became Stewart, and finally Stuart, according to the popular French spelling. The house was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson for the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the late 1870s, replacing an earlier house which burnt down in 1877. The family tree is composed of exceptionally talented men, many of them left a significant legacy and a strong mark in the development and expansion of Mount Stuart House. What we see today is the sum of all their ideas and ultimately, the result of their extraordinary accumulated wealth. The 2nd Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart (1793-1848), is known as the 'Creator of Modern Cardiff' for transforming the small town of Cardiff into a hub of industry, he was at the time one of the richest men Britain. The 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart (1847 - 1900) was the driving force behind the rebuilding of Mount Stuart into the Victorian Gothic masterpiece it is today, he spoke 21 languages and held the office of Rector at St Andrews University from 1892 until 1897, he was also an architectural patron who embarked upon approximately 60 building projects during his lifetime. The life story of each member of the family is fascinating enough for a series of books followed by a movie series but it is their legacy what fascinates us the most.
Mount Stuart looks incredibly impressive from the outside but it is not until you enter the property that you really lose your ability to speak. The first thing you see is its 80ft high marble hall, covered in rare Italian and Sicilian marble and alabaster. The ceiling is astounding. References to astrology, astronomy and Greek mythology can be seen in the breathtaking vaulted ceiling showing full constelations and on the house's unbelievable marble stairs. Sunlight enters the room from where stars are found and change direction and the light of the room as the day goes by. There are countless cryptic meanings available, enough for days of study if you have the right knowledge. Some of the tapestries available took two lifetimes or more to be completed, you can see the lifespan of the artist in the work, and a note of reverence from the artist who took over the project following his death. Many areas of the building were completed by different people in different time periods, with the intent of continuing and improving the original plans. The building was built in layers, the wealthier and bolder the marquess who owned it was at the time, the more was achieved. The house has a horoscope room dedicated to the cosmos, the position of the furniture as well as the woodcarving work and art work on the ceiling relate to the purpose of the room and the astrological chart of the 3rd Marquess of Bute who built it. An enormous and truly divine white marble chapel at the top of the building takes you right back to 18th century Florence, it is a building within a building, an extraordinary achievement in architecture and a humbling experience to visitors of any religion as well as atheists. Within the chapel there is a secret chapel not open to the public, the floors are made out of mirrors (visitors can only enter the chapel wearing slippers), they reflect very high ceilings giving you the sensation you are about to fall when you step in. It was created this way so that those who entered the private chapel felt that they were about to "take a leap of faith". Mentions to all religious beliefs can be found throughout the private chapel and the house itself, they express the marquess' endless search for spirituality and desire to welcome all religions home.
The library, the dining room and the bedrooms are all beyond words, they house an enormous amount of priceless art and rare books, some of these antiques cost over one million pounds each and they are all in exceptional condition. The items that suffered the effects of time have been restored so the house and its furnishings look pretty much as it did over a century ago.
The Mount Stuart exclusive use experience is available for a small number of discerning guests. Ideally guests who appreciate architectural heritage as well as art! It starts with a warm welcome from your private staff who will take you to your private quarters, followed by a tour of the house by Mount Stuart's highly knowledgeable resident historian who will introduce you to the house's history and many magical details and secrets room by room. You will have the chance to enjoy a large section of the house as your own, having your own private butler close by. An exceptional dinner will be served in the dinning room where besides enjoying exquisite fine dining with matching wines and whiskys, you will also hear fascinating stories told by a local story-teller. The evening ends in laughter as late or as early as you wish, guests will have the chance to stay at some of Mount Stuart's historic bedrooms and take their time to admire all the unique and meaningful details available in every part of this one-of-a-kind building.
Mount Stuart is between the earth and the sky, in that magical space between the worldly and the etheral, it's a dream state from which you can enjoy earthly pleasures and wake up from after you leave.