Travel: The Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish
Just a mile or two out of the infamous glen, at Ballachulish, the Isles of Glencoe Hotel inhabits a spot on the banks of Loch Linnhe looking back towards Glencoe itself in one direction, and to Fort William and the biggest of the Bens, Nevis, in the other.
Just offshore there are three small islands – hence the name – one of which has traditionally been used as a burial ground. A more beautiful place to spend eternity one could scarcely imagine.
The hotel can arrange cycle hire and canoeing and kayaking for anyone who wishes to get hot, wet, or both, and as our husky Ellie found, the hotel is extremely pet friendly, with a dog blanket and food/water bowls, not to mention a little bit of welcome kibble, provided on arrival, along with a helpful list of doggy dos and don'ts.
Wining and dining? Head chef Willie McCutcheon knows how to get the very best from the simple Scottish ingredients on the hotel's menus. Dishes on offer include breast of chicken in creamy peppercorn sauce, or fish pie made with shellfish and white wine and topped with puff pastry.
For something a little special, go a la carte and enjoy – as we did – delicious pan-fried sea bass served over potatoes and asparagus with a pear chutney, or grilled fillet steak on a bed of mashed potato, topped with haggis and red wine sauce. All with a view of clouds performing a beautiful light show across hillside and water.
Room service? As soon as we were shown into our room we headed straight for the French doors which opened out to the hotel grounds, allowing us to wander down to the water's edge with an aperitif before dinner, while Ellie tried to catch a fish or two for her dish.
There are wooden benches, tables and chairs where guests can enjoy lunch and a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc at the lochside, but make sure you are armed with plenty of insect repellant in summer to keep the midges at bay later in the evening.
Worth getting out of bed for? Simply sit, gaze and take in the beauty and the peace, or pedal and paddle into the sunset on the aforementioned bicycles and canoes. There are lots of walks – Brecklet Wood became a favourite with our tireless hound.
Don't miss the slate quarry just across the road, now a monument to the men who built the Scottish slate industry, and where you can see huge natural sculptures by the side of still ponds where mallard ducks, with offspring in tow, wandered dangerously close to a husky snout.
Budget or boutique? If you like fluffy white bathrobes, minimalist decor and designer labels on your shower gel, this is not for you. However, if friendly and enthusiastic staff, great food, a comfortable, reasonably priced slice of heaven is your desire, then you've got it.
Hidden extras? There are the usual tea and coffee-making facilities in your room – not to mention shortbread biscuits for the humans and indeterminate ones for the canines – and you can use the swimming pool, steam room, whirlpool bath and exercise facilities at the adjoining leisure club too. They do have fluffy white robes.
Guestbook comments? Thanks to the staff for a wonderfully warm welcome, and very relaxing stay, and for the best view we've had from a hotel room in Scotland. We will be back, and rabbits/mice/fish beware ... so will Ellie.
The Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish, near Fort William (0844 855 9134, www.islesofglencoe.com)