If the nailbiting antics of the Traitors and Faithfuls have you glued to your TV screens, you’re likely wondering, where is The Traitors filmed? And the answer is Ardoss Castle. The baronial pile in the Scottish Highlands is as much a star of the second series of the game show as presenter Claudia Winkleman’s countrycore wardrobe, its Gothic architecture adding to all the tense, heart-in-your-mouth drama. Here’s everything you need to know about Ardross Castle.
Where is The Traitors filmed?
It seems the entire nation is currently hooked on Season Two of The Traitors, which – like the first series – was filmed at Ardross Castle in Ross-Shire, in the Scottish Highlands. The calculated backstabbing and nail-biting elimination scenarios, as the contestants pursue their share of a £120,000 jackpot, undoubtedly have us glued to our TV screens. So too does presenter Claudia Winkleman’s haute-country wardrobe, with its designer knitwear, tweed blazers and tartan coats.
But what has also enraptured audiences is the 19th century Ardross Castle, which is the perfect match for the dark reality TV show (so ideal, in fact, it’s also used for the US adaptation hosted by actor Alan Cumming). The baronial pile is set in 100 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Alness, located about 30 minutes north of Inverness – and it’s in the grounds that we often see players undertaking their ‘missions’.
But it’s inside the castle where much of the action takes place, the huge Gothic entrance hall and grand stone staircase setting just the right eerie tone. Not to mention the moodily-lit, wood-panelled Roundtable room and the turrett, where robed Traitors gather in the darkness to plot and plan. Slightly more welcoming is the kitchen, its marble-topped surfaces and gold pendant lighting bringing a cheerier vibe to the proceedings; so too the games room with its bright orange sofas and snooker table; and the fully-serviced bar, where contestants decompress after a tense round-table session.
What’s the history of Ardross Castle?
The storied estate was first acquired by the 1st Duke of Sutherland in the late 1700s, where he built a hunting lodge. However in 1845 the second Duke sold it to Sir Alexander Matheson, a wealthy tea and opium trader, who snapped up the 60,000 acres for £90,000. He then set about developing and building, commissioning the architect Alexander Ross to give Ardross Castle a Scots Baronial spin – the Gothic Revival style so popular at the time. 30 rooms were added, and pleasure grounds laid out, with the total building cost amounting to £7,000.
Ardross Castle was sold on in the late 19th century to a Captain in the Highland Light Infantry, C W Dyson Perry, who made further improvements (he introduced electricity and built a Formal Garden). The estate was later broken up and sold off in 1937, with a Mr and Mrs Austin Mardon buying Ardross Castle, Lealty Farm and over 80 acres.
Who owns Ardross Castle now?
The Mardons lived at Ardross Castle until 1983, when it was sold to the McTaggart family, who are the current owners. Though little is known about them, they have invested a great deal of time and money restoring the gardens. The Formal Garden, Walled Garden, shrubberies and lawns have all been brought back to life, with specimen trees planted and woodlands extended. Likewise, the castle has been extensively renovated – so too the estate properties – to what we see on our screens today
Where do the contestants sleep?
Ardross Castle is undoubtedly a location scout’s dream. Its interiors are highly photogenic; and the parkland, with the heather-clad hills and mountains beyond, a stunning backdrop for any film or fashion shoot. Plus, there’s easy access for large vehicles – you can even land helicopters on the main lawns.
That said, though the castle has many bedrooms, it does not provide accommodation in this instance. Indeed, although much of the The Traitors action takes place ‘overnight’, with contestants discovering who has met their gruesome end over breakfast in the grand dining room, they are believed to stay off-site at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel, which adjoins the Inverness airport car park, around 40 minutes away.
Can you stay at Ardross Castle?
The castle’s website blatantly states that it is not a hotel (and they do not let their rooms individually); nor is it open to visitors on a walk-in basis. But if you’re planning a special celebration or want to take your work team on an away day, you can hire Ardross Castle for exclusive use for corporate and private client events.
And if you’re tying the knot, the castle is also a spectacular wedding venue. You can have your bespoke ceremony indoors or outdoors, followed by drinks in the Italian formal gardens or on the terrace, and a knees-up in the Great Hall, which can cater for up to 130 guests. This exclusive hire also includes accommodation for up to 41 guests for two nights (or more for an additional charge). Let’s just hope that the wedding breakfast doesn’t involve any super-tense round table scenes…
Series two of The Traitors is on BBC One and is also available to watch on BBC iPlayer