We had the pleasure of spending this past weekend at Belhurst Castle in Geneva, N.Y., a lovely little town atop Lake Seneca in the Finger Lakes region of the state.
I had discovered Belhurst, which has been a private home, a casino, a speakeasy and restaurant in its past, on our first trip to the region back in September. We had eaten dinner in its Stonecutters restaurant and wandered around before heading back to our own hotel 30 miles away. From the stonework and rich woodwork to the complimentary spigot of wine in the castle, I was smitten. I loved that, in addition to two other hotel properties, you could actually stay in one of the 11 Chambers in the Castle.
So when we were surprised with a gift certificate for Christmas, it felt like kismet – and a perfect place to spend our second anniversary.
From the moment we checked in and unlocked – using an actual real key, not those new fangled credit card-like ones – the door to the Otis Room, a sizeable dwelling with a four-poster bed, huge dormer windows and a fireplace that was already roaring, our stay at Belhurst was nothing short of magic.
We ate dinner at Edgar’s our first night, starting off with Blue Crab fondue which was served with New York State apple wedges and crusty baguette slices. We both had the soup du jour, which was a scrumptious red potato and bacon. I chose swordfish with a lemon dill beurre blanc sauce over basmati, which was better than I could have even hoped, while the fella had one of the evening’s specials, prime rib with mushrooms in a delectable Merlot sauce that was cooked to perfection.
We both agreed that this dinner rivaled the fantastic food porn that our trip to Las Vegas had been in 2010, which was the standard by which we measure Really Good Meals.
Sadly we had to pass on the yummy-looking desserts and headed back up the creaking grand staircase that was to the left of the suit of armour, mind you, to pay our respects to the spigot before retiring.
Saturday we did what any good Finger Lakes visitor would do and visited some wineries, paying rapt attention to our favorites, Wagner and Hazlitt (home of our beloved Red Cat!) and discovered Finger Lakes Distilling, which makes its own vodka, bourbon, whiskeys, etc. So, so, so good!
We headed back to our castle by way of Watkins Glen and the western shore of the lake and had a tasting in its wine store before heading to Stonecutters for a snack (a chicken breast sandwich with pancetta for me, a sirloin Angus burger for the fella). We had met a couple at the tasting and ended up spending the rest of the night talking to them and the other couples they were there with on their annual January jaunt.
After I woefully handed in our room key Sunday morning, we wandered the grounds for pictures and had brunch, which is set up just down the staircase from where our room had been. Filled with endless choices, this was by far the best brunch I’ve ever eaten.
The complimentary mimosas were only part of the equation … really.
What made brunch so very special wasn’t just the food, but our server, Tina. She was absolutely amazing, the epitome of good service. Not only did she downright dote on us – and who doesn’t love being doted upon? – but she just seemed to “get us,” joking around and taking our picture for us and even giving hints about what to do the next time we come up.
To be honest, everyone we dealt with from Belhurst gave us the friendliest, most competent service we’ve ever had – and probably will never have again outside the castle walls.
It was truly an enchanted weekend in an enchanting castle that felt like home.
But much, much better … and bigger.