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Issue 42 - By loch and sea

Scotland Magazine Issue 42
December 2008

 

This article is 8 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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By loch and sea

Lake of Menteith Hotel Port of Menteith, Perthshire www.lake-hotel.com Tel: +44 (0)1877 385 258 The Lake of Menteith is in the heart of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. An area rich in heritage, natural beauty and things to see and do, it’s about an hour from Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Throughout summer, boats ferry people to the loch’s historic Isle of Inchmahome Priory with its 13th century ruins where once Mary Queen of Scots was hidden.

The waters lap right up to the hotel – diners, and residents in many of the new-look bedrooms, gaze out on what could easily be somewhere in New England.

With that in mind, well-travelled owner Ian Fleming and his team invested talent and flair in redesigning this wonderfully-located hotel with a style and feel that works brilliantly. Colours are soft, there’s much use of natural stone and wood; open-plan design to the lounge adds light and space. Delightful touches and objects abound.

The hotel’s Waterfront Restaurant has a very pleasing atmosphere.

Big windows look out right over the waters of the lake. High-backed chairs sit at sleek tables set with sleek modern cutlery, polished glasses, linen napkins. It’s informal but shot through with quality. Mike Hobbins is chef and his remit is to provide Scottish restaurant dining of distinction. The informed wine list is strong, and the unique ‘Malt Vault’ whisky feature is fascinating. FoodReviewScotland.com has awarded a gold Foodstar rating for 2009.

Grants at Craigellachie Ratagan, Wester Ross-shire www.housebytheloch.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1599 511 331 In the north-west Highlands, Ratagan occupies a favoured spot on the shores of Loch Duich facing the panorama of the Five Sisters of Kintail, a group of peaks beloved of walkers – many of whom choose to dine here, harbouring serious appetites and wanting more than a few designer morsels. Because this is a restaurant-with-rooms, a place where you can stay in real comfort – but where good, generousspirited food is at the heart of things. The restaurant is intimate, with a dash of sophistication; light jazz will play; the finest seafood, game and beef are beautifully cooked – freshness is outstanding. It’s awardwinning and romantic. Gold Foodstars have been awarded for 2009 by FoodReviewScotland.com and an AArosette is held.

Agurgling stream runs past the house and there are otters in the area: indeed, not far from here was Camusfeàrna, one-time home of Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water. It’s a grandly scenic area and draws visitors from all over. Owners Liz and chef-patron Tony Taylor are inherent to the success of Grants, and understand hospitality very well indeed.

In the old, whitewashed house there are just two deluxe bedrooms.

Upstairs is a lovely double, while below there’s a charming twin. Soft colours are restful and apt: quality wool carpeting; cream walls with occasional pitch-pine walls painted a matt sage; embroidered linen sheets and a velvet bedspread with cushions. Many extras delight.

The Pierhouse Appin, Argyll www.pierhousehotel.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1631 730 302 Between Oban and Fort William follow the signs for Port Appin, then drive until at the end of the road – and the end of the pier. For this informal hotel and seafood restaurant nestles on the very shores of Loch Linnhe. Looking out to the islands of Lismore and Shuna and the shapely Morvern Hills it enjoys grand views year-round. Appin was made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped but today it’s renowned for some good hotels and restaurants.

The Pierhouse was once the home of the pier master in the days when steam boats carried cargo and passengers on the Loch.

Recognisable by its curious architecture, it first opened as a seafood restaurant but bedrooms were added as its popularity grew. A few years ago Nick and Nikki Horne took over and they have been successfully upgrading; there’s a great team at work here.

Tables and chairs on a terrace give the opportunity to soak up the views. There’s a bar area, check in desk offering locally-made gifts, pool table, and seating areas including a guest lounge with games and books. Twelve comfortable bedrooms have pine furnishings, two superior rooms with four-poster beds. Décor is fresh and light and rooms are well-maintained.

The seafood restaurant with big windows is favoured by many who enjoy quality seafood and natural produce cooked simply, presented without too much palaver.We like it.

3 more hotels by the water Tongue Hotel Tongue, Sutherland www.tonguehotel.co.uk Overlooking the stunning Kyle of Tongue, Tongue Hotel is much recommended for its warm, kind welcome. For 2009 many bedrooms have been redecorated with charm.

The dining room has an open fire and the bar a cosy big stove. Menus show pride in local suppliers and the food is founded on the very fine produce of the north Highlands including from the Castle of Mey, the late Queen Mum’s Highland home.

Glenfinnan House Glenfinnan, Inverness-shire www.glenfinnanhouse.com Few hotels are integrated so well within their community as this one, which is right on the waters’ edge of Loch Shiel – famous as a backdrop in the Harry Potter films.

This wonderfully hospitable, Highland home-from-home (no keys to bedrooms) offers comfy, quiet bedrooms (no TV) and marvellously genuine country cooking in both the dining room and lively bar where local musicians often play.

The Albannach Lochinver, Sutherland www.thealbannach.co.uk Just awarded the top six gold Foodstar rating by FoodReview Scotland, The Albannach – which means ‘the Scot’ in Gaelic – is a boutique hotel with outstanding suites and cuisine. It sits on the edge of Lochinver Bay in the dramatic mountain scenery of Assynt in the far north west. The Byre Suite (pictured) is pure chic from its half-egg shaped bath to outdoor hot tub and Bose hi-fi system.