STAY : Airds Hotel, Port Appin, Highlands
Whenever I leave Edinburgh, drive past Glasgow and hit the Trossachs and head up to the Highlands, I feel like a tourist. Our ever changing, beautiful landscape makes for a new experience no matter how many times you visit.
Magnificent mountain ranges such as Glencoe, covered in golden honey coloured grass with splashes of light purple heather in the valleys and at the base; changing to harsh craggy rock that still looks amazing with candy floss like clouds sitting softly on the summit fill the horizon.
We were on our way to Port Appin and had to keep stopping what felt every 15 minutes to take more and more photographs (along with all the other thousands of proper tourists).
Our destination was the luxury boutique Airds Hotel in Port Appin. An exquisite loch side hotel with spectacular views across Loch Linnhe to the islands of Lismore, Morvern and Mull.
Port Appin is a quiet little fishing village that lies between Oban and Ballachulish and is where you catch the Ferry (foot passengers and bicycles) to the island of Lismore which costs approx £2 per journey and takes 10 minutes to cross.
This privately owned hotel has 11 rooms (8 bedrooms and 3 suites) and feels like a large Scottish Country Home. The entrance to the hotel is through the conservatory at the front of the hotel. As you come through the main door you are warmly welcomed by General Manager Robert Mckay, and whisked through to the lounges.
The first lounge is small and snug with a fantastic stags head keeping a watchful eye (I absolutely loved this room!). A crackling fire greeted us as well as a glass of cold Prosecco. Our luggage was taken care of, giving us the chance to relax whilst we completed the check-in paperwork and enjoy time sipping on bubbles in front of the fire. What a way to welcome guests!
The larger lounge has more seating areas and classic Country house decor but with modern twists using pops of colour and beautiful textures to add contrast and interest. This too has a crackling fire; its hypnotic crackles ease you into a relaxed contented mood.
After reluctantly leaving the cosiness of the lounge, we went to settle into our room. We were staying in the Airds Master Suite. We were introduced to Hamish (sat on the bed) ~ our keeper of our room, and our do not disturb sign.
The bedroom comes with a king or twin beds, large dressing table and flat screen TV. The separate lounge area is spacious with a sofa bed, larger flat screen TV and a Nespresso Machine. Double glass doors lead out to the balcony over looking the tree tops and the parking area.
The bathroom is state of the art with double sinks, a large walk in shower with body jets, large bath with splash TV above the bath and toiletries from Bvlgari.
There is complimentary Wi-Fi and a decanter of delectable Whisky Mac (whisky and ginger wine) plus some Oban Chocolates.
The room is comfortable and you kind of just sink into it. It’s like meeting an old friend and you just pick up where you left. The furnishings are old fashioned but suit the style of the county home decor but its the little touches that elevate this hotel to luxurious. It’s the hotel jacket hanging in your wardrobe that you might need to use on a walk, it’s the wellies lined up in the conservatory in a variety of sizes should you need them, the welcome Prosecco on arrival, the decanter of whisky mac and the crackling fire that seems to be on the go day and night.
The Vi Spring beds in the room are like sleeping on a cloud and its possibly the comfiest sleep I’ve had in many a year. The sheets are luxurious too, crisp Frette linen and the elegant furnishings with touches of tartan all add to the ambience.
But it is the staff that really make this place an absolute gem in which to stay. Every single member of staff go out their way to help you and absolutely nothing is any bother what so ever. They all have a wealth of knowledge and willing to offer up any suggestions on activities to do in the area, but also to arrange them for you with some additional extras if you so wish.
They can arrange a day trip to Lismore for you including use of one of the hotel’s bikes and a picnic. All you have to do is ask and almost instantly its organised.
That evening we headed down for dinner which you can read about it here.
Airds Hotel still do it old school and provide you with complimentary newspaper with your delivered-to-your-room morning tea and coffee. Being new school, we skipped the newspapers (I have BBC news alerts on my phone) but definitely chose the wake up call tea and coffee.
And what a lovely surprise this was. A tray laden with breakfast pasties and a large pot of tea with gorgeous crockery. We took our breakfast wake up tea in the lounge area, threw open the curtains and let the light in. I’d like to have said sunshine, but it’s Scotland and the weather was as we expected, dreich.
We were departing that morning, so we got ready for the day and packed up our belongings then headed down to breakfast.
The restaurant is located at the front of the hotel, with large windows overlooking the single road (which is so quiet that you hardly notice when a vehicle does drive past), their beautiful gardens and over the loch.
Time for tea and coffee again. Tea is loose leaf and coffee served in a cafetiere which our waitress offered to press.
Even after a 5 course dinner the night before, and a sound sleep, we both woke up ravenous (I reckon its all the fresh Scottish lochside air!).
You’re presented with two menus at breakfast - one continental and one cooked.
Continental ~ fresh orange, grapefruit, or apple juice, yoghurts and fruit compote, porridge and cream or with a wee dram; poached prunes or apricots with yoghurt and hazelnuts, homemade granola or cereals.
Cooked ~ served with toast, croissants or Selkirk Bannocks, Full Scottish Breakfasts, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs, Smoked Kippers, Omelettes, Eggs Benny or Pancakes.
Carmin opted for the Full Scottish Breakfast - potato scone, grilled bacon, pork sausage, tomato, mushrooms, black pudding, eggs (poached, scrambled or fried). No need for toast as there was plenty on this plate.
Every ingredient was cooked well, and perfectly seasoned. It arrived promptly and hot.
I couldn’t resist the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. Fluffy pancakes with crisp bacon and lots of syrup. This is how you start a good day!
It was cold and fairly wet after breakfast but we ventured down into the gardens. I’d love to return in the Summer when the sun is shining and take Afternoon Tea here. What a spectacular setting - tranquil, ideal setting for just sitting back, eating delicious food and watching the world go by.
At the very bottom of the garden you’ll find a wee hut that houses croquet equipment and a perfectly manicured lawn on which to have a game or two.
The hotel is also dog friendly and besides the numerous trails and walks around Port Appin, this is the perfect garden in which your best friend can feel at home in.
There is so much to see and do in and around Port Appin. Why not take a gentle stroll on the Clach Thoull trail, an easy half hour walk that is accessed from a wee gate opposite the hotels car park, or visit Castle Stalker which you will pass on the way to the hotel. A flag is raised when the current owners are in residence. Visits can be arranged when the castle is occupied and two weeks during August.
There is an abundance of activities around Argyle, Oban and Port Appin - it all depends on what you fancy doing, from falconry to sea adventures, from hill walking to land rover tours. Robert and his team are on hand with local contacts and leaflets. But if that’s not your thing, you can always curl up in one of the hotel lounges with a good book by the fire, take in Afternoon Tea or enjoy a dram. It’s completely up to you.
Overnight stay at Airds Hotel starts from £325 per room including a 5 course dinner and breakfast depending on availability.
TWO SPECIAL DEALS
On 22 September Airds Hotel launches its new 3-night Autumn Gold package – The 3-night package, from £495 per person, is based on 2 sharing ½-board and includes extra treats and VAT.
On Saturday 26 October, Airds Hotel will host an exceptional 9-course Champagne Dinner pairing exquisite cuisine with flawless fizz. Duval-Leroy, the chosen champagne house is a pioneer of sustainable viticulture based in Vertus in the Côte des Blancs region to the south of Epernay, famous for producing elegant wines of delicacy and finesse.
Wine expert Tony Sparrow will introduce the champagne before each dish exclusively created by Airds’ Head chef, Calum Innes. The price is from £495 per person and includes the Champagne Dinner, overnight accommodation (2 sharing a classic double room) and full Scottish breakfast. The Champagne Dinner is open to non-residents for £145 per person.
Book direct: 01631 730236 email@example.com
We had an absolutely fantastic time at the Airds Hotel and along with Hamish, oor wee hi’land coo, we were sad to leave. The Airds Hotel most definitely restores the soul and looks after your every whim, even those that you didn’t even know you had!
Airds Hotel, Port Appin, Argyll PA38 4DF. Tel 01631 730236 www.airds-hotel.com
My Spoon Award : Tartan Spoon 10/10
I was invited by the Airds Hotel to review their hotel. Accommodation and food were complimentary but the views are very much my own.