Seldom can the title Do Not Disturb have been more appropriate. To get to the Ardeonaig Hotel, it is first necessary to reach Killin, a village of 666 souls which is in Stirlingshire but feels more like the heart of the Highlands. From the village, a well-signposted route to the hotel turns out to be a seven-mile single-track road. Initially hemmed in by trees, the road seems to get narrower and narrower with each twist and turn. Gradually, tantalising glimpses of Loch Tay are revealed on the left until the road bursts out on the lochside before yet more bends and the classic roadside frontage of the hotel appears.
There has been an inn on the site since at least the 16th century, and Ardeonaig was built in 1649. Over the centuries it has served the original drovers, steamboat passengers, wealthy Victorians and anglers seeking the famous salmon of Loch Tay. A £1.8 million refurbishment and expansion was carried out in 2009 and the guest accommodation now consists of 11 rooms in the main hotel, two cottage suites and five garden bothies.
As far as peace and quiet goes, Ardeonaig is perfect – surrounded by some magnificent peaks, the result is no TV, dodgy radio reception (AM only) and intermittent wifi. By the way, does anyone know who won The Masters?
Budget or boutique?
More like classic Scottish country hotel, with décor, style and the amenities you would expect to attract well-to-do Americans and continental travellers.
The five thatched-roof garden bothies stretch along the burn that runs through the site down from the main hotel to the lochside. They are divided into two rooms, a luxuriously furnished and comfortable sitting room/bedroom and a huge, modern bathroom. The bedroom features a king-size bed, while the bathroom gives you a choice of a large roll-top bath or a spacious walk-in shower. There is also an outside sitting area with table and chairs, ideal for warmer evenings.
Worth getting out of bed for
Location, location, location. A walk through the extensive gardens to the lochside is rewarded with stunning views up and down Loch Tay and of Ben Lawers, Scotland’s tenth-highest peak, directly opposite the hotel jetty.
That jetty can be used if you wish to hire a boat to explore the loch, and ghillies can be engaged for fishing. It is even possible to have a seaplane land and whisk you away to Oban… though you may have to book a year in advance.
The guest guide in the room featured several local walks of varying length and difficulty.
Killin is worth a visit in itself for the spectacular and curious Falls of Dochart. The river flows past the Islands of Inchbuie – ancient burial place of Clan Macnab.
More information about the area’s history can be had at the nearby Breadalbane Folklore Centre.
Wining and dining
Dinner was from a seasonal menu of Scottish produce prepared to the standard of a very high-end city restaurant. Starters of fennel-cured salmon and potato, celeriac and leek roulades with sage mustard and truffle were delicious. They were followed by cod with broccoli, kale and radish in a vegetable broth and an excellent vegetarian gnocchi dish. The fine dessert was pannacotta with pineapple.
The bar was a very intimate snug but guests are welcome to take their drinks into any of the three lounges. Offering Ardeonaig’s own craft lager as well as a selection of Scottish gins and, of course malts, there was a refreshing selectivity to the options on offer.
The trees along the burn are lit up at night in a changing series of hues which made it worth leaving some of the curtains open. The hotel is dog friendly with the one proviso that they are not left alone in the rooms.
Ardeonaig is worth the journey, with friendly and helpful staff and a stunning location.
Rates vary from £60 to £125 per person for bed and breakfast. Dinner is £34.50 for two courses or £42 for three courses. Ardeonaig Hotel, South Loch Tay Side, Near Killin, Stirlingshire FK21 8SU, tel: 01567 820351, www.ardeonaighotel.co.uk