A VISIT to Oban and its surrounds invariably means spending time in the great outdoors, enjoying everything this wilderness has to offer. However, after a long day wandering the hillsides, taking in the glorious island and mountain views, you’ll want to snuggle up cosy and comfortable.
Somewhere you can continue to enjoy the stunning Argyll scenery long after you’ve pulled off the hiking boots is at the Scottish Tourist Board and AA five-star, eco-friendly Artorna b&B in the village of Barcaldine, near Oban. Recently awarded a regional Scottish Thistle Award, this stylish and modern accommodation feels more like a boutique hotel than a B&B. And with each of the glass-fronted rooms facing west and on to Loch Creran, you might be lucky enough to enjoy a fantastic sunset. •
WINING AND DINING? While dinner isn’t on the menu at the Ardtorna, owners Karen and Sean O’Byrne are happy to advise on the best restaurants the area has to offer. If you don’t fancy the ten-mile drive to Oban, it’s easy to arrange a free minibus pick-up – which, after a ten-minute journey, will see you settled at the Creagan Inn, marvelling at the stunning loch views. The menu includes Loch Creran oysters, as well as Argyll Scotch beef. You can wash dinner down with a real ale or two and, when your bed starts calling, alert the bar staff – within minutes, your carriage will await.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
It’s definitely more boutique than traditional B&B in feel. Purpose-built with tall windows and high ceilings, it feels like a place that might have featured on TV’s Grand Designs.
With modern furniture and contemporary art, our room also featured a wet room with power shower and a range of Molton Brown products. After washing off the stress of a long drive, it was good to wrap up in one of the gigantic bath sheets before reclining on the super-comfortable king-size bed.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR?
The breakfast served at a communal table will certainly help you rise and shine, and a range of gourmet options are available – including the speciality of poached eggs on a bed of streaky bacon with grilled halloumi and capers. Out and about, Oban is a gateway to the islands and recommended is a walk on Kerrera, where we discovered the ruined Gylen Castle and a great little tearoom.
The room rate includes a fridge with nibbles and two bottles of Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer, and if you’ve a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy the Quality Street chocolates. As well as the tea and instant coffee available in our room, we found an espresso maker and a jug of fresh milk just outside our door. We could also help ourselves to a dram of Bailey’s or Glenmorangie, which were left on a tray nearby. The fresh flowers and fruit in the room were also a lovely touch. If you can manage to check in late afternoon, you will be rewarded with one of Sean’s homemade scones fresh from the oven.
The welcome was warm and friendly and the view from the breakfast room was remarkable. Just the ticket if you need to unwind in a beautiful place. Prices range from £75 to £100 per person per night for bed & breakfast. One-night stays incur a £25 room surcharge.
Ardtorna, Mill Farm, Balcaldine, by Oban (01631 720125; 07867 785524, www.ardtorna.co.uk)