Like many of the castles that look too “castle-y”, Venlaw Castle isn’t really a castle, it’s a 1782 country mansion designed to look like someone’s conception of a castle. The current structure is built on the foundations of an earlier 14th century castle, called Smithfield. The property was originally owned by the Hays of Smithfield. We weren’t able to go into any of the basement spaces or cellars, so I don’t know if they are part of the original castle. It is more likely that this “modern” building is simply on the same site as a previous castle, long since ruined. The grounds are fairly small, but the house stands on the crest of a hill with a fabulous view over Peebles.
The current castle is open as a very luxurious, family-run country hotel, and was recently subject to a very sensitive restoration. It had been open barely a month when we stayed, and they really did a wonderful job. I spent a lot of my time staring at the ornate plaster ceilings.
Venlaw (or Smithfield) isn’t even mentioned in Fry’s book, and only has a quick blurb in Coventry’s guide. There isn’t enough of the original stonework remains to even try to guess at the earlier castle.
We stayed here for one lovely night, with a fabulous meal and wonderful attention from the family.