Traveling to Ohio’s Hocking Hills [classic article]

One certainly doesn’t count on finding European-style castles and other signs of luxury in Ohio’s Hocking Hills, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Yes, they have some of the more expected things – biker bars, ATV riding, nature hikes. But for the area to have not one, but two European nobility-style destinations, is kind of mind-blowing. The Hocking Hills are an hour’s drive southeast of Columbus.

Glenlaurel is a Scottish-style country inn manor located in Rockbridge, Ohio. Their beautiful property and topography does resemble the aristocracy-owned hunting lodges of Scotland. Accommodations options include suites, “crofts” (a Scottish word for smaller homes) and cottages. The cottages, with hot tubs and gas fireplaces, were built in a circle, yet at careful angles that their vistas are completely private. So, you can feel free to let it all hang out, as it were. High-level executives and members of society have met “neighbors” in the center of the circle, complete with grills and picnic benches, and subsequently vacation there at the same date each year. The cottages have created their own little Scottish village society in a very real way.

The inn has Scottish links golf, a spa and beautifully groomed walking trails. They also have a fine dining restaurant in the main manor house, serving delicacies like juicy stuffed pheasant and garden-fresh vegetable soups. Scottish touches abound, like water served in cold, pewter Celtic vessels, Scottish poetry read at dinner and bagpipe music playing. There’s a fun-loving Scottish pub downstairs.

If a Medieval royal – or guild member – British experience fires your imagination, you have to check out Ravenswood Castle and Medieval Villages. Dine or sip tea in the great hall, complete with heraldry-bedecked hearth. Stay in rooms fit for any palace in the castle. Much of the furniture was purchased from some of Europe’s finest homes. The basement bedroom — the Duke’s Dungeon — caters to more exotic tastes: the bed is a (stretch) rack built for two. It’s even more exotic if you think about the logistics . . . after all, how do you get both people situated and stretched, hand-and-feet on the rack? You need a third person to be there.

Surrounding the castle are private little village cottages. For a funky, yet modestly priced option, they also have gypsy wagons to stay in . . . just like days of yore.

To really feel like royalty, get a private bird’s eye view of the castle and surrounding region in a 4-seater plane ride. Whether you fly from 20 minutes or more, veteran pilot has over 40 years’ flying experience. With Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours, you’ll see the natural beauty of the Ohio River area.

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