Scotland magazine is delighted to be able to offer one reader and their guest the chance to win an overnight stay with dinner and bed and breakfast at Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa in Highland Perthshire
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It’s hardly a secret that Scotland does castles very well. But while it may be enthralling to walk amid the ruins of a battle ravaged fortress and feel the history all around you, nothing can beat bedding down in a plush castle, designed to pamper rather than protect.
Fonab Castle is far from one of the oldest of Scotland’s castles, but it is one of its more luxurious, thanks to a painstaking multi-million-pound restoration project.
Built in 1892 for the Sandeman family, cotton traders and wealthy merchants of port and sherry, it is very of its time, with the red sandstone structure and Scottish Baronial style favoured by the Victorians, which includes a large corner tower and a sprinkling of crow-stepped gables.
Despite a brief spell as a British Red Cross auxiliary hospital in the First World War, the house remained in family ownership until 1946 when it became the headquarters of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board – the famous Pitlochry Dam lies just beneath the hotel’s raised aspect.
Eventually the house fell into disrepair and lay empty for many years before being bought in 2002 by the Clarke family, who spent many years converting it into a luxury hotel, eventually opening it to the public in 2013.
Inside, Fonab may not look how you imagine it to. Far from being a museum, the traditional exterior gives way to modern Scottish interiors, decorated in sumptuous materials and with luxury amenities that have earned it five-star status.
The atmosphere is decidedly unstuffy too – I had to do a double-take when the receptionist told me I could cross the courtyard from my room in the main part of the castle to the Woodland Spa in my dressing gown, but it’s that kind of relaxed approach to things that makes guests feel right at home.
Set just back from the main arterial A9 road near Pitlochry, you’ll soon forget the hum of the road traffic when you step inside. The rooms are large, with big comfy beds, and fluffy robes and slippers on hand. In the original castle building, you can stay in a room with turreted views, while in the contemporary wing, many rooms have direct access to a lochside terrace.
The aforementioned spa is a nice addition, with the outdoor hot tubs particularly welcome after a day walking in the Perthshire hills.
However, it is the public rooms that really give this castle hotel the wow factor. The Sandemans fine-dining restaurant, with its dark green wood-panelled walls and deep-pile carpet, is a salubrious and intimate setting for sampling the seven-course tasting menu. Meanwhile, the less formal Fonab Brasserie, with glass walls on two sides, has one of the best restaurant views in Scotland – I had to stop mid-course and run out to take some sunset photos. After dinner, guests tend to congregate in the upstairs lounge bar, where an outside terrace offers even better views across Loch Faskally towards the green, gold or red wooded shorelines (depending on the season) and the hulk of Ben Vrackie beyond.
The nearby pretty town of Pitlochry is a bit of a tourist hub, at least by Highland standards. It’s just a short drive from the hotel or if you follow the path from the side of the hotel down through the trees, you can walk there via the famous Pitlochry Dam, where from April to August salmon can be seen leaping as they attempt to ‘climb’ up the ladder to reach upstream.
On your visit, also make sure you book tickets for a show at the excellent Pitlochry Festival Theatre, one of the best theatres in Britain.
Luxurious double rooms at Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa start from £295 per night on a B&B basis. www.fonabcastlehotel.com
Closing date for entries is 6 May 2022. Winner and guest must both be over 18 years old. The trip must be taken by 6 May 2023. Travel is not included. There are no cash alternatives and date exclusions may apply. Full terms and conditions here.
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