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Issue 19 - Hotels making a meal of it

Scotland Magazine Issue 19
March 2005

 

This article is 12 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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Hotels making a meal of it

In exclusive association with HotelReviewScotland.com

Three Chimneys & House Over-By
By Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
Tel: +44 (0)1470 511 258
The dramatic Isle of Skye is a perennialfavourite: but where to eat and stay? Well a witty cast-iron lobster weather vane, artfully placed over the Three Chimneys House Over-By and its designer bedrooms, swivels in the winds of change, and points to one of Scottish tourism’s true success stories. Thigibh a-steach…

The food came first, the restaurant in a restored croft opening 20 years ago. The new bedrooms were added in 1999. So, how does the Three Chimneys stack up? Arrive in the chic reception foyer with its mulberry tweed sofas, oils, flowers, table of books, information and stack of CDs and DVDs; adjacent is the breakfast room with its big views (its wildly fresh breakfast buffet is unusual). Corridors are hung with evocative black-and-white images of the island. It all has integrity.

Shirley Spear has worked hard in this place and now has Michael Smith at her side; he becomes head chef in 2005. Everything is founded on the very best of ingredients and dinner leaves one in little doubt of that; you want to stay for a week and sample the lot. Seafood is vibrant, while Eddie Spear (pictured above) offers his intoxicatingly interesting wine list. Open for lunch and dinner, you must book. In the spacious bedrooms, everything is well-judged and distinctive; this is modern luxury: thoughtful, quiet, restful, effective and enjoyable stuff. Altogether, it’s a uniquely fine place.

The Cross at Kingussie
Near Aviemore, Inverness-shire
Tel: +44 (0)1540 661 166
By the time you see the first signs for Kingussie, haunt of the memorably-named character the Wolf of Badenoch, you are in the Cairngorms National Park. There’s much to do here in this beautiful landscape where worldwide hit television series Monarch of the Glen is filmed. This is one of our strongly suggested stops. We were pleased when the AAawarded a third rosette early in 2005 as The Cross had won The Scottish Restaurant with Rooms Award at The Scottish Hotels of the Year Awards 2004.

The lounge on the upper floor of the old mill is a space full of character and light, restfully decorated in pale colours, furnished with interesting items and comfortable sofas and easy-chairs, with antiques and good pictures; relax here by day or after dinner. It also has a big balcony. Watch red squirrels play and enjoy the setting by a tumbling river. There are games and books galore – and a plethora of local info and suggestions for walks and excursions. There’s a smaller lounge area downstairs, next to the dining room, and outdoors a terrace, a great asset in warmer weather. Nine spotless bedrooms are quite simple but well equipped with many nice touches such as CDs featuring local artistes.

David Young and Becca Henderson prepare mouth-watering cuisine in an unfussy yet sophisticated ‘taste-all-the-flavours’ fashion.

Enjoy Highland meats, game and fish; puddings are lustfully good. And breakfast is superb.

Castleton House
by Glamis, Angus
Tel: +44 (0)1307 840 340
The late Queen Mother was brought up at Glamis Castle in Angus, famous for its wide glens.

Today this historic area of green, pleasant land between lively Dundee and well-heeled Perthshire has another attraction: Castleton.

An inviting small Edwardian country house, it has six elegant and cosseting bedrooms but the secret of its success – as ever – lies with the owners.

David and Verity Webster, one a hotelier the other an interior designer, have over the past four years taken gifted, friendly local people and natural advantage and gussied the whole thing along wonderfully.

Step over the threshold of the stone-built house, smell the log fires, enjoy the warmth of the panelling, the art, the plush furnishings, the cheerful smiles: quality, good taste and nice folks are what makes the hotel a hit. Chef Andrew Wilkie has been nominated in the hotel chef category of The Scottish Hotels of the Year Awards 2005; he holds three AA rosettes already.

From a menu with a fine sense of place we selected a delectable local Glen Prosen duck starter, which followed on the heels of canapés and a chef’s appetiser. An outstanding, golden-patinated and lush tranche of halibut was part of an artful, fabulously flavoursome and well-judged main course.

Breakfast is by an open fire in a different room and offered home-reared sausages, eggs from their own hens, strawberry and Champagne jam: the works. Agastro-hit!

DINE FINE, SLEEPWELL

Here are three more ideas for you

THE WHEATSHEAF
Sinton, Berwickshire
Tel: +44 (0)1890 860 688
Chef John Keir sources seafood from local port Eyemouth, and the best of stuff from elsewhere in the Borders. Informal style here means you can relax by the open fire before a fine meal. Six cosy and smart bedrooms overlooking village green

THE BONHAM
New Town, Edinburgh
Tel: +44 (0)131 226 6080
Adashingly cool hotel, the Bonham is always busy and boasts 48 usually full bedrooms. In the very smart restaurant Michael Bouyer’s stylish international and Scottish dishes delight. Lunch is good value. Offers usually at the website – keep an eye on it

BALLACHULISH HOUSE
near Glencoe, Argyll
Tel: +44 (0)1855 811 498
Winner of The Scottish Hotel Chef of the Year 2004 at the Guide’s Scottish Hotels of the Year Awards, Allan Donald has received perhaps more praise than any other chef from our readers. Sublime, Michelin-star-winning excellence