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Issue 43 - Ways to stay in the country

Scotland Magazine Issue 43
February 2009


This article is 9 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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Ways to stay in the country

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

On a recent visit here we’d popped in for lunch as three French anglers were taking their leave. “Marvellous! All was marvellous!” they exclaimed as hostess Lesley received a flurry of kisses. “Merci bien!” – and they were off in a taxi. East Haugh is that kind of, well, kind and welcoming place. It’s a small country house hotel that celebrates the countryside in which it is located – the beautiful hills and woodlands and rivers of Highland Perthshire.

Lesley and Neil McGown are celebrating their 20th year ownership in 2009 and their hotel gets just a little better each year. This time the news is the acquisition of two miles of exclusive fishing on the famous river Tay, complete with a self catering cottage. The hotel’s bar has a wood-burning stove, sports trophies, beautiful angling-themed wallpaper and a high quality bar menu full of temptations. There are lovely four poster bedrooms (one with its own peat-burning fire); interconnecting rooms for small groups; rooms in the adjacent bothy and also a luxury stand-alone cottage.

Food is a big thing here. The hotel also offers a fine dining restaurant where contemporary and classy meets a strong Scottish theme. The food is superb and the kitchen of chef patron Neil and his head chef Gordon Brown (no relation) really only does quality stuff.

If you like game, and fish – oh and beautiful Highland beef – then head here.

Cuillin Hills Hotel, Portree
Isle of Skye
Tel: +44 (0)1478 612 003

Now here’s an option that’s decidedly more hotel-ish and yet is a country establishment through-and-through. It was built as a lodge for entertaining guests of the Macdonalds – the local clan of Skye – and for many years now it has operated as one of the island’s best-loved hotels. It has a genuinely magnificent setting on a seaward hillside with sweeping views over Portree Bay to the jagged mountains of the Cuillin, often snow-capped against a lush green foreground.

But things have been stirring here of late. Anew manager and one we trust, Peter Sim, is leading a full-scale restyle and we’ve been this year to see the sassy new Cuillin Range Rooms which offer a fashionable yet appropriately Scottish island feel. The details are appreciated – carefully selected suppliers of tea and coffee, toiletries, shortbread; a dram of locally-distilled Talisker on arrival or in your room; free wi-fi internet access; and in the best rooms (Cuillin and Premier ones) a grand front-facing bay view.

The lounge has had a stunning makeover worthy of any TV show.

Gorgeous velvet drapes frame the view while a grand log fire crackles a relaxing welcome. The new Malt Bar will boast a huge whisky library, one of the most prestigious collections to be held by any hotel in Scotland. The main restaurant has been freshened and made more elegant and its skilled manager David Maclennan looks after guests from canapé to coffee.

Large Holiday Houses, throughout Scotland
Tel: +44 (0)1381 610 496

A growing market sector is that of exclusive use or shared rental of a country house. Indeed, we’ve seen many hotels acquire a cottage or two in order to be able to offer this option themselves. For groups and families it’s a terrific way of getting together in the beautiful and relaxing countryside and often for a very good price when everything is divided up! Properties can often accommodate dogs, too.

One company we’re happy to suggest to you is Large Holiday Houses Scotland, which was founded back in 1993. The organisation has an array of properties from which to choose at What about staying in a castle you can call your own for a week? Well, LHH offers fully-catered castles but also country manors and mansions, farmhouses and elegant cottages.

One property we at Review Guides have stayed in is Charleston House in Gairloch – set in a magnificent area of the Highlands, one famed for both beaches and mountains. For example (and Charleston is not the least expensive option) this house will sleep up to 10 plus a child and costs about £1,100 for a week: that’s just £100 per head for a week! Or what about Chapelhope Farmhouse set in rolling Border hills near St Mary’s Loch? This area – while only 90 minutes or so from Edinburgh – is the epitome of a Scottish landscape and you could live here for a week, you and nine other adults plus two kids and dogs and all from £750 a week. It’s a persuasive case.

3 more places in the country
Blackaddie House Hotel Dumfriesshire Tel: +44 (0)165 950 270 Here’s a small country house with great low rates. Blackaddie is set by a lovely river in the countryside of northern Dumfriesshire.

Rooms are fine, there’s a cosy bar with fire and staff are friendly. But the big story is the superb food: has just awarded five Foodstars for ‘exceptional’ dining – recognising ‘outstanding value.’ The Albannach Lochinver, Sutherland Tel: +44 (0)1571 844 407 Newly ennobled with a 2009 Michelin star, this beguiling restaurant-withrooms offers a decidedly sleek and romantic Scottish experience. The atmospheric dining room serves food rated by us at six stars ‘nationally outstanding’; the bedrooms and suites are a joy to behold and range right up to the sassy luxury of the Byre Suite with outdoor hot tub.

Caddon View The Borders Tel: +44 (0)1896 830 208 Innerleithen is a lovely little Border village and this manor sits at the edge of the place. This highly rated guest house / small hotel offers a hearty welcome and acclaimed hospitality, contemporary comforts and delicious home cooking. Steve and Lisa are your hosts and Caddon View is ideal for fairly-priced accommodation and good food plus high standards.

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