Review: Fonab Castle Hotel, Pitlochry, Perthshire - Scotland on Sunday Travel
This five-star hotel and spa is nestled in a prime location surrounded by the stunning verdant scenery of Pitlochry, and is based around the distinctive ochre-exteriored, turret-tastic Fonab Castle building that dates back to 1892.
The pages of the baronial mansion house’s history books include being owned by wealthy merchants and operating as a British Red Cross auxiliary hospital in World War I.
Recently ranked the UK’s favourite Scottish castle getaway, I am more than happy to be visiting to coincide with a trip to The Enchanted Forest, the dazzling night-time light and sound spectacle in nearby Faskally Wood.
I take a quick taxi ride to the hotel after travelling by train to Pitlochry, although you can call the hotel to be collected if they have availability, or if you aren’t arriving after dark you could walk.
Budget or boutique
A definite boutique feel - each bedroom is unique, and there are Christmas and Hogmanay packages. It also has sister properties Dunkeld House Hotel and the Daffodil Hotel & Spa in Cumbria.
The hotel has 42 bedrooms, spread across the main castle (including the Penthouse), and Woodland Wing and Lodge rooms in more modern buildings.
I’m happy with my Loch View Lodge room, the biggest hotel room I’ve stayed in for a while. It has one accent wall in floral gold wallpaper, under which sit the bed and two leather armchairs. There is also a coffee table and sofa, the perfect spot to tuck into a complimentary Tunnock’s Teacake, while the large bathroom has a bath and separate shower and is stocked with Noble Isle toiletries.
From the balcony I can admire the beautiful view including Loch Faskally.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is excellently located for a visit to The Enchanted Forest, which I find even more impressive than I had expected, winding my way around the magical and extensive route, with a favourite section a stunning red and mauve illumination of trees reflected in the water. It’s easy to see why the attraction has welcomed more than 650,000 visitors in the past two decades, and has just launched tickets for 2024’s show (3 October – 3 November).
Pitlochry itself, where I spent many childhood holidays, is definitely worth a wander, with several appealing local walking routes. Local attractions include Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre in the shadow of the hotel, several local distilleries, and Pitlochry Festival Theatre which is showing Sunshine On Leith until December 23.
Wining and dining
The hotel has two restaurants - the three AA Rosette award-winner Sandemans, and the more relaxed 1892 On The Loch, with its huge window overlooking Loch Faskally and Ben Vrackie. I order breakfast (a delicious bacon sandwich) at the latter and am very pleased to see copies of Scotland on Sunday sister title The Scotsman on offer for diners.
The hotel has new outdoor “pods” - 12-seater spaces for dining with adjustable heating, mood lighting, personal music system, service button, “and your very own host”.
The spa facilities include a 15-metre swimming pool and outdoor jacuzzi, with treatments using products by luxury brands Matis from Paris and the Hebridean Ishga which uses locally harvested seaweed.
For more of an adrenaline rush outdoor activities like off-road driving, bungee jumping, and helicopter rides are available, but reading a book in your hotel room with a cuppa is also an activity in its own right.
I am pretty taken with this high-end property that combines the prestige of a historic castle with luxurious modern amenities, set against a stunning rural backdrop.
Prices for a room at Fonab Castle Hotel start at £239 per night. Fonab Castle, Foss Road,
Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH16 5ND, tel: 01796 470140. www.fonabcastlehotel.com.