By: Allison White
Explore the picturesque grounds of The Kentucky Castle.
The Kentucky Castle is one of the most astonishing landmarks in our state. A short drive through the rolling hills of Versailles horse country, and a four-steepled stone castle appears. The castle is surrounded by emerald sweeping grass, an ornate fence locking roadside with an uphill drive leading to stone barrier, opening to a fountain and iron double-door entrance. Your most nearby turn leads to Pisgah Pike/1967 right into a back parking lot for all who wish to explore the grounds.
It surprises many to see a castle here, feeling as though they time-traveled over to the big pond. Those growing up here report seeing the castle as a mysterious, forbidden place. Folk tales were told of the castle being haunted or cursed, most common being that any builder of the castle would pass away or disappear, (but I discovered these stories false.)
Originally built in 1969, the castle was inspired by a honeymoon trip abroad, the brain child of Mr. and Mrs. Martin, whose divorce led to the unfinished castle going to market in 1974. It was in fact true, the rumor that Mr. Martin hung up on an offer by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.
The castle’s stone grew cold, windows covered by thick red velvet curtains until 2003, when Mr. Martin passed away. The estate was purchased by Tom Post for $1.8 million. A fire in 2004 destroyed the majority of the structure, but a rehabilitation journey led to being softly opened to the public in 2008. The current owners purchased it in 2017, “The heart of the castle is officially open to the world,” said Christie Eckerline, Chief Operations Manager.
Ornate iron doors adorn both entrances. If you visit through the front, you’ll be met by the friendly concierge, a cozy lobby and gift shop to your left. If entering through the rear parking lot you’ll pass the pool, across from organic raised garden beds and a greenhouse with a lily pond beneath a pergola meeting in the center. The entrance here offers access to seating at the bar and restaurant behind the staircase. The heart of the castle is more intimate than you might imagine, with a centered staircase, angelic art and detailed woodwork extending to the ceiling (which you have to see for yourself). Thirteen rooms are available to stay in, as well as four private suites in the steeple of each corner. The decor, color palate, classic style along with numerous live houseplants add a bright and timeless feel.
The upscale Castle Farms Restaurant is a delicious farm-to-table dining experience, with seasonal menu changes and multiple ingredients grown from the organic garden just outside the kitchen doors. A recent purchase of land extends behind the castle, with new growth of black truffle spores inoculated in the roots of chestnut trees. A honey bee apiary is also tucked behind the property, and a lavender field grows its first summer outside the barrier wall. The castle’s grand rooms are offered for event rental for 10-300 people. Dance and yoga classes are hosted on the rooftop overlooking the expansive rolling hills of horse country. A new spa, visible behind the parking area offers a cryotherapy chamber, 15 to 60-minute infrared sauna sessions, facials, dermaplaning, massage, waxing, and 60 to 90-minute sessions in a sensory deprivation tank. Plus, bourbon and murder mystery dinners, concerts, family and kid-friendly events take place at the castle every day.
“Celebrations happen within the walls each day, from proposals, anniversaries, birthdays to weddings…it’s almost like it breathes new life through the air,” said Angela Haar, Special Events Manager. Words don’t do The Kentucky Castle justice—it’s a magical place you have to experience yourself.