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Issue 38 - Scottish Hotels of the Year 2008

Scotland Magazine Issue 38
April 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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Scottish Hotels of the Year 2008

Inverlochy Castle
by Fort William, Inverness-shire
Tel: +44 (0)1397 702 953

The winner of Scotland’s ultimate hotel award, The Scottish National Hotel of the Year 2008, is this much-acclaimed Relais & Chateaux member which sits at the foot of Ben Nevis. Framed by tall specimen trees, and from indoors by tall windows with elaborate drapes, Britain’s highest peak is an impressive sight. The air is fresh and full of birdsong. Queen Victoria claimed ‘never to have seen a lovelier or more romantic spot’ and, a century or more later, nothing much has changed here save that those firs are taller and the castle is now a luxurious hotel.

And the journey is somewhat easier: fly to Inverness from London in 90 minutes, or perhaps take the sleeper train to Fort William. The castle’s subtly-liveried Rolls Royce Phantom can meet you, or take you on a tour of the area – even a full day trip to places such as the Isle of Skye. With a posh picnic, perhaps? The Lochaber region is full of things to do and see and in recent years has become known as ‘Harry Potter country,’ being the backdrop to the films about the boy wizard.

Hogwarts School may have been created by CGI but the landscape certainly wasn’t.

Matthew Gray is a dedicated head chef and holds a Michelin star most deservedly. Bedrooms are continually upgraded – two favourites of ours are the Queen’s Suite and the Glen Nevis room on the top floor. Scotland at its finest.

Isle of Eriska Hotel
near Oban, Argyll
Tel: +44 (0)1631 720 531

The Scottish Country House Hotel of the Year 2008 is situated just north of Oban in an area where mountains fall away into sea lochs and islands like Mull and Iona seem to drift on the Atlantic horizon.

The 300-acre estate stands by the mouth of the glacially-formed Loch Creran.

Yet, despite such seclusion, Eriska is surprisingly accessible. It takes only two hours to drive from Glasgow. There’s also a fantastic rail journey from Glasgow to Oban, along the famous West Highland Line. The trip will take you through some of Scotland’s finest scenic locations including Loch Lomond and Glencoe. After the journey you might head for the spa: recently enhanced it houses a 17m pool plus sunbathing terrace, sauna, hot tub and steam room. The ESPA treatment rooms are notably good.

We reviewed the hotel twice last year and consider it a prime example of a Scottish country house. Staff are well trained and the hospitality is very fine. The décor is classic and not a great deal has been modernised, apart from the necessities and comforts, of course.

Despite the grand look, the feel is homely.

Badgers come round at night for a snack. Guests are equally wellfed, with Robert MacPherson’s beautiful cooking being a star attraction. The wine list is terrific; the cheese trolley is famed and rightly so; breakfast is as good as one would wish for.

Killiecrankie Hotel
near Pitlochry, Perthshire
Tel: +44 (0)1796 472 451

The Pass of Killiecrankie area is both beautiful and historic. The celebrated battle of 1689 is an exemplar of a hollow victory: they fought for the king and won, but he died in the process. On a much more successful note, Killiecrankie’s hotel has won the Top Tip 2008 award.

Now run by the experienced Henrietta Fergusson, ex-Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle. It’s a pretty, whitewashed Victorian building in a quiet location just a short stroll from the old bridge and River Garry.

The name Killiecrankie, or Coille Creitheannich in Gaelic, means ‘aspen wood’ and the tall trees in this deep, sheltered gorge are home to a plethora of birdlife.

Good taste is evident from the off. Step inside and everything is light and inviting; this is country Scotland as you’d wish it – relaxing, with a sense of place and a happy lack of tack: sisal carpeting, well-chosen colours, fresh flowers, Indian rugs, books, a couple of tartan chairs.

The bar and bar conservatory have a contemporary touch and plenty of choice: cask ales, four gins, an array of malts. Informal food is served in the conservatory and is delicious.

The hotel’s main dining room shares the conservatory front and is a warm red room with white linen, fresh flowers and candles at night.

Dishes are founded on high quality ingredients, many locally-sourced such as superb lamb. Coffee comes with home-made chocolates and truffles. For 2008 it holds our GoldPlate™ and a BreakfastRosette™.

More winners for you

The Scottish Hotels of the Year Awards 2008 were held in late February at fivestar Prestonfield House Hotel which stands in its own grounds in Edinburgh.

The BBC’s Sally Magnusson hosted the glittering show. Almost 500 guests were entertained by a number of star acts and the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary John Swinney presented the top awards – which are designed to help you choose the kind of hotel you seek – and one currently on form! A full list is available online at Food awards Scottish National Hotel restaurant of the Year 2008 is James Stocks (pictured) at The Orangery, Balbirnie House, Fife. The Bar Food title went to the Applecross Inn, Ross-shire while the Informal Dining Award 2008 was won by Burts Hotel in Melrose. Breakfast awards went to Gleneagles and to Trigony House in Dumfriesshire. The Lunch Award went to The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye.

The Chef Team Award went to Apex City Hotel & Spa in Dundee. The Albannach won recognition for its ‘fabulously Scottish’ cuisine while Minmore House’s afternoon teas got a gong. Restaurant with Rooms of the Year 2008 is Peat Inn, St. Andrews.

Hotels of the Year In a range of catergories winners included: The Torridon Hotel, Ross-shire (Romantic); Buccleuch Arms Hotel, The Borders (Inn); Coll Hotel, Isle of Coll (Island); The Bonham, Edinburgh (Boutique); Peebles Hotel Hydro (Family); Gleneagles (International Resort) (Bernard Murphy, manager, pictured left); Jurys Inn Glasgow (Green and Budget titles); Old Course Hotel, St. Andrews (Golf Hotel of the Year 2008). The Fellowship 2008 was won by James Thomson of Prestonfield; the Scottish Hotelier of the Year title was won by Ken McCulloch of Dakota Hotels; Apex Hotels won both the Hotel Group and Green Hotel Group awards.

Rising stars and sexy city winners Our Rising Star award winners highlight places and people on-the-up. We’re proud of them. Lake of Menteith Hotel in The Trossachs; Marks Hotel, Glasgow; Holiday Inn Aberdeen West; Fludha Guest House; Glenberview House and Fortingall Hotel were all recognised. City Hotels of the Year awards went to: The Point (Edinburgh); Hotel du Vin, One Devonshire Gardens (Glasgow); and Glenmoriston Town House (Inverness). In Edinburgh, Tigerlily celebrated securing the hotly-contested Scotland’s Sexiest Hotel 2008 category! Entrepreneur of the Year is Stephen MacLeod of Airth Castle Hotel. Manager of the Year: David Welch, George Hotel, Edinburgh.


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