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Issue 69 - The best of guest houses

Scotland Magazine Issue 69
June 2013


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The best of guest houses

Guest houses (or B&Bs – choose your preferred term!) across Scotland can offer some of the finest hospitality the country can extend and in recent years many have upped the quality and style elements greatly. There’s little question that certain guest houses now match or exceed hotels in some areas for boutique levels of comfort and panache – while retaining a slightly more personal connection with the visitor. In this edition’s review section we look at some of the winning guest houses at the recent Scottish Hotel Awards.

1. Ardtorna
near Oban, Argyll
Striking, contemporary and bold, Ardtorna ‘luxury B&B’ won Guest House of the Year 2013 and to those who have stayed since it opened early in 2012 this accolade will come as nothing of a surprise.
Experienced owners Karen and Sean designed the new business from the ground up: it’s their dream venture. The wood and stone building is highly environmentally friendly and eco award-winning.
Sleekly colour-themed bedrooms all have sea views, an array of extras and fine bathrooms; romantic or butler services can add to the experience. Breakfast is exceptionally good and is served on designer crockery in an open-plan lounge / dining area warmed by a large log stove: healthy and global touches add delight to the start of the day and, like the home-baked scones served on arrival, tell of creative excellence and warm personality.
Telephone +44 (0)1631 720125

2. Hillcrest House
Wigtown, Wigtownshire, Galloway
In complete contrast to Ardtorna’s modernity, Hillcrest House is a quirky and substantial old house on the edge of Scotland’s national book town, Wigtown, where it surveys the bay and nature reserve where ospreys nest and otters play. It’s a bit rambling and a touch eccentric in parts but it all adds up to a charming experience perfectly suited to the locality. We’ve known it for years and appreciate the gradual investment owners Deb and Andrew have put into their comfortable and laidback guest house. Rooms range from twins and spacious family accommodation to the baywindowed top room, Moray; the family name is Firth and, yes, the rooms are indeed named after six such Scottish estuaries. This year Deb’s fresh, local and seasonal food won a Gold Laurel at the hotel awards. Drams from nearby Bladnoch distillery and recommended.
Telephone +44 (0)1988 402018

3. Craigatin House & Courtyard
Pitlochry, Perthshire
A sense of exactness and attention to detail is apparent from first impression onwards at this first-class modern guest house in the popular Victorian town of Pitlochry. Craigatin is contemporary in feel and is essentially a renovated old manor with stables courtyard now augmented successfully by a glassy, high-ceilinged new wing built out into the stone-walled garden. Guests much enjoy this big space and its log stove, sofas and tranquil outlook. Energetic owners Martin and Andrea have shaped their impressive business carefully, drawing on international experience; they’re very plugged-in to what’s on locally and have heaps of information and tips to share. An excellent breakfast is served in the atrium-like lounge area and features many original touches.
Winner of two awards this year – one of them for Website of the Year, no less.
Telephone +44 (0)1796 472478

4. Tigh na Leigh Alyth,
Perthshire Tucked away into the hilly folds of Perthshire, this simply charming 5 gold star VisitScotland-rated guest house is a terrific find. A big solid stone house, all formal at the front, it opens out to reveal a plethora of surprising touches and a conservatory lounge / dining area looking out to a pretty, suntrap garden. Winner of the class award for innovative dining, Chris and Bettina’s sophisticated and cheerful B&B offers good taste in more than one sense.
Telephone +44 (0)1828 632372

5. Greystones Oban, Argyll
This year’s Rising Star guest house winner, Greystones opened on May 1st. The striking mansion sits high on the hillside and the white-on-white interior design and uncurtained big windows make absolutely the most of the dramatic views over to the Isle of Mull. Owners Mark and Suzanne are experienced and know how to run a stylish guest house: this one is a truly striking and beautiful place destined for popularity and acclaim.
Telephone +44 (0)1631 358653

6. Craigmhor Lodge & Courtyard Pitlochry
Perthshire Jane and Calum’s guest house offers the olde-world charm of a Victorian house, plus an entirely new-build wing of spacious modern rooms with balconies and big bathrooms. It’s an unusual and successful set up: accommodation is great; thoughtful features make for comfy stays. Meanwhile, in the main house guests gather to enjoy starting their day at the guest house sector winner of the Breakfast of the Year 2013 award.
Telephone +44 (0)1796 472123

7. Rickwood Hotel Portpatrick
Wigtownshire Winner of the Scottish Hotel Awards’ guest house customer care and eco award this year, Rickwood is an immaculate white house sitting high on a hill looking over picturesque Portpatrick and the Irish Sea. Fred and Maggie’s 3 gold star VisitScotlandrated B&B offers lovely, comfortable rooms, a quaint dining room and airy conservatory. Commitment to the environment is dear to Fred’s heart and the house has many eco features.
Telephone +44 (0)1776 810270