As the weather gets much too cold to sit comfortably out on the water of Seneca Lake, there is one place where you can overlook the beautiful waters from the luxurious warmth of a Sunday brunch buffet: Belhurst Castle.
The castle, once a private residence, has been converted to welcome in the public visitors. A hotel, a salon/spa, two restaurants, a winery, and a wedding venue now, Belhurst wears multiple hats. A modern addition (built in 2003) was added to allow room for a gift shop and wine-tasting rooms.
The building itself is a history buff’s dream – built between 1888 and 1892 by architects Fuller and Wheeler. Much of the original interior decorating is intact and when I went this past October, the room in which our table was had gorgeous mantles and bookshelves – all filled with Knick-knacks like porcelain painted clocks and tiny handheld vases that women used to carry around to sniff at before deodorant was a thing.
The Sunday brunch buffet had two rooms worth of food spread: breakfast pastries, eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast, bagels with salmons and lox, quiches and omelets in one part of the room, lunch items like orange glazed ribs, turkey in a wine sauce, roast beef, salads, and cheeses down the line of the other. Complimentary coffee, juices, and mimosas or Bloody Marys were served straight to the table. A bar full of dessert plates with cakes and cheesecakes were available to top off the meal – if you had any room left to eat any more, that is.
Talk about extravagance!
I couldn’t help but picture myself living in Belhurst at the time it was built. I was having visions of gowns and lavish dinner parties, seeing myself strolling through the various rooms with a good book on quiet afternoons. I was sad to learn that there used to be a beautiful boathouse that had burned down for four days straight back in the early 1890s. I was amused to learn of the Iroquois council roots, and the respective mafia connection almost 200 years later.
These days, Belhurst draws in a variety of visitors. Just in the few hours that we were there for brunch, I witnessed a midday wedding, a wine tour, and a woman celebrating her 102nd birthday – 88 of which have been spent enjoying a meal at the Belhurst.
Clearly, it’s a place worth visiting more than once. A gem in Geneva.