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Issue 18 - Perthshire: perfect for winter

Scotland Magazine Issue 18
January 2005


This article is 13 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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Perthshire: perfect for winter

Kinloch House
by Blairgowrie, Perthshire
Tel: +44 (0)1250 884 237

Relais & Châteaux member Kinloch House stands in 25 acres of grounds near Blairgowrie. Built in 1840 at a time when it was fashionable for newly-rich industrialists to establish seats for themselves in the country, Perthshire, with rich opportunities for country sports of all kinds, provided a perfect environment.

For much of the year Highland cattle graze outside the hotel; in spring there are carpets of bluebells. In summer the south-facing walled garden, with its Celtic cross layout and high walls, provides a joyous place to sit. But it was in a cooler month that we stepped into the richly panelled hall to be uplifted by the evocative scents of log fires and flowers. Warm, cosy, glowing evenings in this much-enhanced house
appeal enormously…

Kinloch, with its mellow oak panelling and very classy first floor portrait gallery, truly lives up to the adjective ‘beautiful’. Such praise especially belongs to the 20 bedrooms, particularly those in the original house. We highly recommend rooms one and two, but all the recently redesigned ones are tops. Superb fabrics, light carpeting, gorgeous new rose marble-lined bathrooms, wonderful views: this is real quality.

Drawing rooms are luxurious and classy, painted in heritage tones, hung with good art. Relax in a squishy sofa and enjoy afternoon tea in style. And there’s a pool and gym too, good for the body and the conscience!

East Haugh
by Pitlochry, Perthshire
Tel: +44 (0)1796 473 121

This romantic, turreted country house is surrounded by tall trees a few miles south of Pitlochry. Five minutes off the main A9 route north, it’s easy to get to. Pitlochry is a characteristic Victorian town and there is superb shopping in the locality including House of Bruar. Many castles and distilleries are nearby plus there’s excellent opportunity for walking, touring, cycling and all kinds of country sports.

The resident owners Neil and Lesley McGown and family can arrange all the hunting, shooting and fishing you can shake a stick seat at and have excellent contacts with local Estates. Neil will happily cook what you catch: he was recently invited to represent Scotland as part of leading gourmet food magazine Bon Appetit’s ‘Entertaining with Style’ event in New York. He quickly gained celebrity status and became an overnight hit with the US audience with his unique cooking demonstrations.

The hotel was completely redesigned two years ago. Bedrooms named after fishing flies (Thunder & Lightning, Green Highlander, Jock Scott or Dusty Miller) delight the Guide. Splendid, witty wallpapers and Renwick & Clarke fabrics chosen by Lesley create a truly homely country-house feeling – on a more intimate scale. Try and book the East Haugh room with its four-poster bed and log fire. In the low season, stay for around £60pp, including dinner. Or pop in and catch lunch in the fishing themed bar.

Ballathie House
by Kinclaven, Perthshire
Tel: +44 (0)1250 883 268

Looking for all the world like a low-lying French château with its witches’ hats roofs, Ballathie Country House Hotel reclines beautifully by the silently flowing River Tay. At about an hour-and-a-half from the main towns of central Scotland, it is easy to get here. Easy to slip up the winding, peaceful tree-lined avenue into another more elegant and friendlier world. Easy to get here, easy to move through the handsome vestibule, under the motto A Loyal Heart and fluttering Scottish flag, past the torch-style lamps. Hard, though, to say goodbye!

The handsome, well-furnished drawing rooms are welcoming places all day long. In the evening, they offer cosseting spots in which to relax before dinner. There’s plenty of space it seems, for everyone, even on a busy night. The guidebook Scotland the Best praises the ‘informal atmosphere in this definitive country house... nice people above and below stairs,’ and lists the hotel in its chart of top country hotels. Staff are a particular source of compliment for the hotel and most, it seems, are Scottish. Chris Longden is the skilled and very hands-on general manager.

Head chef Kevin MacGillivray and his award-winning brigade serve GoldPlate™-winning cuisine in the beautiful dining room, which overlooks the river. Guests stay either in the main hotel (Inverness and Kirkcudbright are 2 bedrooms we recommend) or in the clever, good-value new
Sportsman’s Lodge.