Scotland on Sunday travel
This classic Victorian Scottish Baronial revival-style mini castle is almost a country house within a town. However, location is everything as, while it is firmly in Crieff, it occupies a commanding position above the town itself, giving magnificent views across Strathearn. Built in 1885 by Glasgow architect John Honeyman for retired merchant William Miller, it was completed at a cost of £4,515, which, even at the modern equivalent of £405,000 seems a bit of a bargain. It was bought by David MacBrayne, of Caledonian MacBrayne ferry fame, in 1932. The main house remained in the MacBrayne family until the late 70s when it became a health spa under the auspices of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The current owners bought it in 2007
Budget or Boutique
If the Victorians did boutique... Knock Castle was, and still has the very strong feel of a small-scale Scottish stately home. Classic dark wooden décor, a grand staircase with stained glass window, sumptuous leather furniture and tartan carpets.
The accommodation is equally luxurious ranging from Castle Deluxe rooms to junior suites and suites, all with names reflecting the local area such as Glenalmond, Ben Chonzie and Glenturret. The Glenalmond suite offers a large and extremely comfortable sleigh bed, superb views and plenty of space to make yourself at home. The bathroom has a real wow factor with an excellent modern shower and a dramatic sunken bath.
Wining and Dining
A warm and comfortable snug bar offered the chance for a pre-meal G&T with the now seemingly obligatory large selection of specialist gins. A fine selection of whisky was also available for a dram afterwards with a particular emphasis on all the varieties from the local distillery, Glenturret. The meal was served upstairs on the top floor of what is a slightly unsympathetic extension. However, the newest part of the hotel overlooks the surrounding countryside with a clever semi-outdoor terrace area making the most of the views of Strathearn.
The menu offered a selection of dishes for meat and fish lovers and vegetarians. West coast crab cakes and baked cauliflower souffle were both delicious starters, followed by Solway sea bass with a mussel and kale broth and polenta cakes with tempura veg and delicious smoked garlic cream. Ensuring a strong Scottish flavour to the menu, other dishes included Aberdeen Angus beef, Ayrshire pork belly and hand-dived scallops. It added up to a really delicious meal and general manager David certainly knew his way around the wine list. Smoked fish for breakfast is a Scottish hotel tradition and Knock Castle didn’t disappoint with an Arbroath Smokie and perfectly poached egg.
Worth getting out of bed for
A selection of indulgent luxury spa treatments is available, from facials to the intriguing “chocolate” treatments and a lava shell back massage. all featuring luxury Pinks Boutique organic skincare products. The leisure facilities include a pool with steam room and Jacuzzi as well as a small but well-equipped gym. You could wander the woodland gardens, keeping an eye out for red squirrels or have a coffee or pot of tea in one of the small summer houses.
The Glenturret distillery visitor centre is literally just down the road, while Crieff itself is a lovely provincial town with a high street full of independent shops, ideal for an afternoon’s browsing.
Quality toiletries were supplied, as well as bath robes and slippers to make the most of the stunning bathroom. If you want to bring an extra guest in the form of a furry friend, the hotel is dog friendly.
Delighted with the room and facilities and impressed by the friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable staff.
Knock Castle Hotel and Spa
Crieff, Perthshire PH7 4AN
Tel: 01764 650088
Rates range from £149 B&B for a standard double room (£249 with a la carte dinner) to £259 B&B (£359 with a la carte dinner) for a suite. However, there are numerous packages and offers on the hotel website