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Issue 68 - Back in fashion

Scotland Magazine Issue 68
April 2013


This article is 5 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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Back in fashion

Inns are back in fashion. This happy fact is borne out by the rising number of what we might call ‘real inns' being reinvigorated and refurbished across the country. From the times of Robert Burns when poet and drouthy, thirsty neighbours met for ale, whisky and guid fare in rustic taverns, the Scottish inn has come a long way. But a genuine inn is still perfectly recognisable and is a great spot to dine and rest; a distinguishing must, however, is a good host and each of our featured inns boast hospitable character, and characters.

1 Loch Lomond Arms
Luss, Dunbartonshire
If you’ve heard of Scotland, you’ll have heard of Loch Lomond. Indeed, some may have heard of the latter and not the former, such is the fame of this national park where rugged hills plunge into protected waters. There are a few places to stay alongside the loch and the pretty village of Luss has a new option. This hotel had, prior to its recent £3m rebuild, fallen on hard times, despite valiant efforts. Owned by historic Luss Estates, a gorgeous new-look inn opened late summer 2012 and immediately charmed guests with exceptionally apt interior design and a friendly team led by Alastair Borland in the manager’s role. Bedrooms are decorated in a genuine country style and to high quality; in the open plan log fire-warmed lounge bar and restaurant are softly coloured tweeds, stone floors, antique-style furnishings and glass cases of stuffed wildlife.
Telephone +44 (0)1436 860420

2 The Creggans Inn
Strachur, Argyll
In the past this renowned lochside inn was owned by Sir Fitzroy MacLean, a somewhat dashing figure said to be an inspiration behind the James Bond character; today the welcome is a warm and cheery retort to chilly relations, international or otherwise – Archie and Gillian MacLellan have Scots hospitality in their veins. Gill has personally redesigned the distinctive bedrooms with her own style. The excellent food on offer ranges from modern, delicious dishes in MacPhunns bistro to fine cuisine in the elegant, airy Loch Fyne restaurant. Seafood and game are strengths. There’s both a bar and a lounge and nothing about the inn is stuffy at all. Big windows look out to the aforementioned loch and the best rooms are, indeed, called loch-facing. However, despite the celebrated owners past and present, the real boss is Hector the cheeky terrier. Fact.
Telephone +44 (0)1369 860279

3 Buccleuch Arms Hotel
St Boswells, Roxburghshire
Built by the Duke of Buccleuch in 1836 this former Scottish Inn of the Year (a contender again this year – keep an eye on Scottish Hotel Awards 2013 features in later Scotland Magazine issues) is a hospitality hotspot in the Borders region. Belted knight, baron, duke or whatever, a man’s a man for a’ that and in a successful country inn the complete cross-section of society will feel right at home. Here the popular Rachael and chef-patron Billy Hamilton are famous hosts and have seen their very witty, notably well-designed new attraction – the Blue Coo Bistrot – open to local acclaim. And we just love the weave of class and fun in all the elements that make up the new restaurant. Elsewhere, guests are made at home in comfy rooms and can enjoy a seat by the crackling fire in the cosy big lounge. Billy’s a mine of information about country pursuits.
Telephone +44 (0)1835 822243

In brief...
4 Hotel Eilean Iarmain
Sleat, Isle of Skye
Spectacularly set at the pier of hamlet Isle Ornsay in the Sleate peninsula of south Skye, Hotel Eilean Iarmain is a Gaelicspeaking inn with a rich heritage. The late Sir Iain Noble, who helped found the nearby national Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, built up the inn which has both classy country and laid-back aspects. Neil MacDonald is today’s most excellent host and will recommend which of the locallybased Gaelic Whiskies to try.
Telephone +44 (0)1471 833332

5 Applecross Inn
Applecross, Wester Ross
If it’s authentic you’re looking for, then here we go. The journey to Applecross will likely take you up an over Bealach na Bà, the pass of the cattle, the nation’s steepest route. Breathtaking open vistas and twisty turns lead to this unpretentious place. Rooms are relatively simple: that merely adds to the sense of place. Daily specials are chalked up on the blackboard, a fire crackles away and if hostess Judith Fish is there, say hello. She’s a star.
Telephone +44 (0)1520 744262

6 The Torridon Inn
Torridon, Ross-shire
The Torridon is a country collection comprising outstanding hotel, activities centre, boat house and this, the informal, good-value Torridon Inn. Refurbished recently, it has clean-lined accommodation including family rooms; it all feels fresh and outdoorsy. Good food and a wide selection of drinks are available; you might want to treat yourself to dinner in the adjacent hotel for a special treat. Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow are grand hosts.
Telephone +44 (0)1445 700300

7 The Sun Inn
by Dalkeith, Midlothian
Now this is a fresh twist on the whole inn thing – and there’s no doubting the Sun Inn’s glowing success. It’s a thoroughly contemporary set-up with boutique bedrooms (the best has a wonderful freestanding copper bath) and a bustling, happy restaurant. Food is fresh and clever, casual and skilled. The inn is a half-hour’s drive from Edinburgh and is somewhat tucked-away. It’s viable as a base from which to explore the capital.
Telephone +44 (0)131 663 2456