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Issue 12 - Recomended for romantics

Scotland Magazine Issue 12
January 2004


This article is 14 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Recomended for romantics

In association with

Kilchrenan, by Loch Awe, Argyll
Telephone 01866 833333
Fax 01866 833222

On a remote corner of Loch Awe in the West Highlands, the Victorian gothic-style Ardanaiseig Hotel, with lawns sweeping down to the loch’s edge, is indeed a perfect setting for a wildly romantic rural retreat. The hotel itself claims to be “wildly romantic”, as you may have seen in some advertising: trust us, it is.

The house is filled with an eclectic collection of antiques, while the drawing room, with ‘curl up and read’ armchairs around a log fire creates tasteful home-from-home comfort, posh country style – but without stiffness. The 16 elegantly furnished bedrooms, some with four poster beds or old-style baths are creatively (and often vibrantly, excitingly) designed using rich fabrics in exotic gold or crimson.

We have reviewed more than 250 Scottish hotels this year and are confident in the team at Ardanaiseig. Here you will sample the finest Scottish beef, fish and game – and sample it prepared in a modern Scottish fashion displaying creativity and attention to he details of flavour and finish. Seafood is caught locally and everything is homemade, from the bread to the after-dinner chocolates, whilst herbs, fruit and vegetables are grown in the kitchen garden. Oh – and the view from your table over the loch is the essence of ‘escape’.

Breakfast is good but ends a shade too early in our view.

The cosy Library Bar is just the place in which to indulge in a dram or two after dinner.

At Ardanaiseig the philosophy is simply to encourage guests to have the space to relax. Breathe in the pure Highland air, stroll around the famous (and improving) woodland gardens, home to a wide variety of wildlife including deer and red squirrels.

On a recent trip we watched a pair of golden eagles soar to the hillside of mighty Ben Cruachan. Enjoy the natural beauty of the loch, which you can explore by boat, and the majestic mountains beyond. It all induces a sense of calm and contentment. And love?

at Skibo Castle, Dornoch, Sutherland
Telephone 01862 894600
Fax 01862 894601

After an evening well spent (and if you care about spending your allotted span wisely you may be ensured that this place is a wise investment), and spent upon discoveries, delight, dining and dancing we were raised to the tower roof by James, the head butler. The elevator (or lift) we used was like none other. Andrew Carnegie had required Mr Otis himself to come and stay and install the new-fangled thing. Five British monarchs later the panelled chamber with banquette seating – for it is a small salon and not any ordinary apparatus – still takes members and guests between floors and up to the tower roof.

We – about 25 of us, thrown together by good fortune, and relaxed, flushed, happy, well aware of this special moment – were taken onto the castle roof for one purpose: to be shown the celestial million, the glittering stars and planets sharp and awesome beyond words, in a sky black and clear of light and other pollution. Gasps were drawn, Champagne sipped. A flag fluttered on a high pole, the only pole ever to have flown the approved conjoined UK and US flags. There was the gurgle of a brook in a stream in the joyously mature gardens. Owls hooted. The air had that cool summer softness and pine fresh quality beloved of the man who built this place, a man who was once by far the richest man on Earth – and who, as a philanthropist, left most of it behind as he went forth through the needle’s eye, resumably more easily than he otherwise might.

Ancient Skibo is romantic and stuffed with glorious things. It is not an hotel but a private club. Nobody is left out: everyone shares the finest on offer. We danced and laughed, ate oysters and later dined in Mrs Carnegie’s private dining room. We rode horses, played memorable golf and indulged in falconry. It is a rare, rare place indeed. Get all the facts in the online Review. We can all visit the Carnegie Club at Skibo once, thereafter membership is required for future visits to this place of interesting people and unforgettable fascinations.

Here are five more ideas for you

Boat of Garten, Inverness-shire PH24 3BH
Tel (+44) (0)1479 831258
Steam trains still call by at this vastly enhanced and surprisingly boldly designed, cosy Highland hotel which sits in a pretty village in the heart of Speyside

1 West Victoria Dock Road, Dundee DD1 3JN
Tel (+44) (0)1382 202404
Modern hotel next to docks with historic ships. Sleek design includes a Japanese spa called ‘Yu’, and a restaurant where chef Bruce Price excels

by Aberfeldy, Perthshire PH15 2JE
Tel (+44) (0)1877 820332
Jake Schamrel has created a contemporary dining experience offering modern Scottish cuisine. Chintzy, spacious bedrooms are a lovely contrast!

Glenlivet, Banffshire, Moray AB37 9DB
Tel (+44) (0)1807 590378
One of our favourite Scottish hotels offers a joyous celebration of real hospitality. Next to the famous Glenlivet distillery. Superb food, charming house.

Station Square, Oban, Argyll PA34 5RT
Tel (+44) (0) 871 222 3420
Newly revamped, some of the rooms are truly romantic! Captain’s Suite 212 has huge bay views and a spa bath. Oban is the gateway to the isles: watch your ship come in.