I received E-Mail that said:

I don't know if this is your UNK (Yates) in Omaha, it's 20 minutes away in Iowa: " http://www.castleunicorn.com/"

Does anyone have any information?

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

Jim, Here is the additional information on Castle Unicorn which you requested on your web site. It is from an artical by Roxy Eades

If you think you've seen everything there is to see in this part of the country...think again. Have you seen Castle Unicorn where you can experience life as it was with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? Nestled in Iowa's Loess Hills, this secluded 440 acre estate offers the natural beauty and serenity of the wilderness and at the center an unbelievable castle. This modern day castle, complete with a moat, fountains and of course a tower, has recently been transformed into a wonderful retreat...Castle Unicorn.

The Castle Unicorn Bed & Breakfast's innkeeper is John Scott. Guests have the opportunity to hike to the shores of Pony Creek Lake while never leaving the estate or try their luck fishing along Pony Creek or Blum's Pond or simply sharing a picnic lunch, a good bottle of wine and admiring the view. John refers to Castle Unicorn as "a bit of Bavaria in the Heartland."

This very ambitious entrepreneur is a graduate of Millard South and a graduate from UNL with a degree in Advertising. Prior to opening Castle Unicorn, John started Stage Right, a coffee and tea company just to the north of the Orpheum Theater. The business was a great success but John found the hours were endless and decided to scale back and sell the business.

Not very long after selling Stage Right boredom set in and the gears started turning to create Castle Unicorn. John had prior experience working for some of the most respected hotel companies in the world including Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton. The experience he gained from those companies gave him great insight into the type of service he wanted to provide at Castle Unicorn. According to John the business adventure has just begun and is doing very well. The bed & breakfast opened this past summer and John is now starting to promote Castle Unicorn for off-sight meetings, parties and gatherings of 15-25 people. For group functions he has the capability to arrange all the catering, sound equipment, etc. He envisions someday having wedding receptions and other larger events on the grounds. John also mentioned that there was some discussion of creating a stable on the property for guests to use.

This adventure began when John became interested in the preservation and history of the Loess Hills. The Loess Hills flank Iowa's western border, from near Sioux City, Iowa to St. Joseph, Missouri. Although deposits of loess, which are windblown soils pronounced "luss," are found across the world, nowhere else but China do they reach as high as here where some hills are more than 200 feet above the adjacent valleys. According to the information booklet John provided for me the Loess Hills were formed at the end of the last Ice Age about 18,000 years ago. To this day The Loess Hill's habitat and plant life is unique to anywhere else in the country.

The estate was originally owned by Bob Hilt of Hilt Trucking, who built the mansion to resemble a German-styled castle. The stories of the building process are fascinating. The entire structure is brick and stone inside and out and stands over four stories in height. According to many residents of the area the castle took over three years to complete and numerous construction crews. The owner had retrieved architectural pieces such as large stone headers and large columns from an office building in Lincoln and massive iron works from an old landmark at West Point Academy. These items have been used in the interior architecture.

Another element that is absolutely exquisite is the use of stained glass windows, which are incorporated into every room and some doorways. According to John some of the stained glass are antique pieces that came from Europe and others were custom made. The castle is masterfully designed with winding staircases and mysterious passage ways leading to large expansive spaces.

When John began to decorate the mansion he wanted to depict the time period he felt it was intended to represent. Hence, a wonderful search has taken place to find just the right furnishings and accessories. For instance, a twelve-foot tall armour suit was acquired in an antique store in central Nebraska which now guards the main dining area. There are six five-foot armour suits strategically placed throughout the castle that were found in Mexico. John commented that the fun thing about decorating a place like this is that the most outlandish and massive pieces can be used without being over done.

John's goal is to provide service parallel with the most luxurious hotels in the country. He spends a tremendous amount of time in selecting every item that goes into making sure the guests have a wonderful stay, right downto the complimentary toiletry items.

Castle Unicorn has four exquisite guest rooms each decorated with the guests' ultimate comforts in mind. The Queens Quarters is located atop the tower with access to a large private patio overlooking the grounds. The suite is complete with a beautiful king-size canopy bed, table and sitting area, and private bath including a shower equipped with numerous sprays. The Kings Quarters is just that: an extremely large suite complete with a four-post bed, fireplace, sitting area and private bath including a whirlpool tub and shower. Dukes Room has a queen-size bed, sitting area and desk, marble and cedar walls. The Duchesses Room also has a queen-size bed, large private sitting room and antique partners desk. The Duke and Duchess rooms share a bath. John commented that these two rooms are frequently rented to two couples spending a get-a-way weekend together.

John has made sure all the linens are the highest quality and the mattresses are the same as the Four Season Hotels. All the guest rooms are equipped with TV/VCRs. Castle Unicorn even has a video library available to the guests with great romantic classics. The castle also has a two-story sun room, complete with a Jacuzzi and sauna, which is available to all guests. Morning breakfast buffet includes Florence bake, fresh fruit, baked goods, juices and freshly brewed Viaggio coffee. John explained that the coffee is a special blend by HamiltonReserve (that's George Hamilton the actor).

To say the least this interview was a great adventure I hadn't expected. If you would like more information or want to check availability call (712) 527-5930 (local call for Omaha)

Back to "Castles of the United States"

Thanks to Katrina Price for finding this castle.