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Issue 37 - A country spring

Scotland Magazine Issue 37
March 2008


This article is 10 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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A country spring

Fortingall Hotel Perthshire
Tel: +44
(0)1887 830 367

Fortingall is one of the most beautiful little villages in Scotland and it holds more than one fascinating secret...

Fortingall Hotel, named Small Country Hotel of the Year 2007, sits beside a fine old kirk in whose churchyard is the still-growing Fortingall yew, believed to be 5,000 years old and recognised as one of the world’s oldest living things. Fortingall is also held by many to be the birthplace – however unlikely this sounds – of Pontius Pilate; certainly there is evidence to support this.

But it’s the hotel you want to hear about. It’s a wonderfully Scottish place, and its rare arts and crafts style architecture and details delight the eye. Step under the carved stone lintel and into a log fire-warmed house with a refreshingly light décor set off with superb period pieces of furniture and gentle, clever tones. Subtle tartan and fine panelling add warmth and character.

Manager Ellie Miles and her team extend a genuine welcome; husband Ashley is head chef and creates delicious, fresh and not overwrought food – served in a truly delightful dining room. The hotel’s owners and Iain and Janet Wotherspoon also own the encompassing Glen Lyon Estate and the beautiful countryside can be explored by car or on foot and the hotel is experienced at arranging country sports.

There are ten rooms bedrooms, and the bathrooms are surprisingly luxurious. Attention to detail is impressive.

Tigh na Sgiath Inverness-shire Tel: +44 (0)1479 851 345 The Cairngorms National Park is one of Scotland’s great assets and within its borders lie many rare species and the highest mountain plateau in the British Isles.

This country house hotel is in Speyside, named after the meandering river Spey, famous today as Monarch of the Glen country thanks to the BBC television series of that name. The Lipton tea family previously owned Tigh na Sgiath, a traditional Highland lodge-type house whose name means ‘house on the edge of the village.’ The house, which stands in its own grounds amidst tall trees, was built in 1902. Welcoming owners Iain and Elaine Macdonald-Coulter have, as part of a complete revamp, reverted to the house’s original name. The hotel is one of our discoveries of recent years and we highly recommend it. It’s a traditional place with traditional values and our readers enthuse about it. A tartan-carpeted hall leads through to a roaring fire and deep armchairs; the gold-hued lounge is plush and smart while there’s both a dining and breakfasting room. Food holds the Guide’s GoldPlate distinction and is homemade and delicious; breakfast is very good indeed.

Bedrooms have recently had makeovers and some of the chic new bathrooms are racily contemporary with spa baths and fibre-optic lighting: but all done in good taste. Elaine and Iain know what their guests want and their country house is a success.

Castleton House
Tel: +44
(0)1307 840 340

This top-notch small country house hotel is in the rich Vale of Strathmore area. Glamis Castle is the nearby flagship attraction, the childhood home of the proudly-Scottish late Queen Mother. The many-turreted pile is a mere three miles away and is well worth a visit.

Guests can enjoy Castleton’s nine acres of grounds and gardens and a 10-minute walk will take you through mature woodland with a variety of seasonal flora. Along the way guests may discover where some of the vegetables and soft fruit served by award-winning head chef Kevin MacGillivray originate from. And then there’s the freeroaming chickens, friendly ducks and a couple of rare breed pigs.

Back indoors, David and Verity Webster’s hotel is a model of elegance and good taste. Fabrics are beautifully chosen; paintings and pictures are a feature – the annual art exhibition is a great success.

Sofas and plump cushions invite relaxation. Sparkling windows are hung with swagged curtains and fresh flowers scent the air. The lounge, in a predominantly yellow theme, is a bright bay-windowed, luxuriously furnished room with a fresh feel. A log fire burns in a lovely fireplace.

Also downstairs is the blue dining doom used for breakfast and functions, the cocktail bar with its comfy seating, and the conservatory restaurant adjacent. All six bedrooms are immaculate and deeply inviting. The whole place is more than a little special.

3 more ideas for you

Kirroughtree House Hotel
Tel: +44 (0)1671 402 141

Dating back to the 1700s and frequented by Robert Burns in his day, this is a fine country house in which to base yourself for a break while exploring Galloway, one of Scotland’s most attractive and interesting regions. Loyal guests tell us frequently of their happiness here at this well-managed hotel where friendly service, old-fashioned charm and good food creating a most restful country escape.

Kilcamb Lodge
Tel: +44 (0)1967 402 257

This truly engaging country house has a magnificent setting down on the very shores of a scenic Highland loch. Owners David and Sally are cheerful hosts and their hotel offers a range of accommodation – right up to the award-winning suite with its superb, heavy fabrics, views on two sides, separate sitting room and chichi bathroom. Public rooms are tasteful and full of quirky charm Dunain Park Hotel by Inverness Tel: +44 (0)1463 230 512 In some ways this hotel is the country house hotel of Inverness, the Highland capital. An extended Italianate manor it sits in landscaped grounds and lovely gardens on the Loch Ness side of the city. A traditionally elegant country house, Dunain Park has for years been the preferred choice of those in search of good food, god taste and country house charm in the area.