MARTYN McLaughlin checks into a luxury retreat overlooking a peaceful and spellbinding stretch of Loch Lomond
CHOOSING the most spectacular view of Loch Lomond is like being asked to pick your favourite from a clutch of winning lottery tickets. Few experiences compare to sitting outside on the patio of a luxury lodge as the sun comes up over the sparkling waters of this natural wonder.
Located in a quiet stretch of the loch’s southwest shores overlooking the mature woodland on the island of Inchmurrin, the cluster of lodges that form part of the Cameron House resort offer a spectacular setting for a short staycation that is ideal for families or large parties looking to mark a special celebration.
Since taking over Cameron House last November, the new owners, QHotels, have maintained the high standards that ensure the destination remains one of Scotland’s most exclusive. But while the main hotel is an enduring draw, the resort’s Carrick estate, two miles north, is arguably its hidden gem. Set in a nature reserve, the estate comprises the Carrick, an 18-hole championship golf course, an award-winning spa and swimming pool, a restaurant, and a series of self catering-lodges which hug the shoreline. One of more than a dozen units scattered throughout the Carrick estate, our bolthole forms part of the Auchentullich development, the most westerly and secluded offering.
WINING AND DINING
While other restaurants in the Cameron House campus – the Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart and The Cameron Grill – have been rightly lauded, The Boat House is a superb option for families. It is perched beside the marina at Cameron House, with a generously sized outdoor terrace allowing you to gaze out over the boats and lochside.
Inside the restaurant is airy and spacious with light spearmint coloured woodwork. On a crisp, sun-kissed autumn evening, it reminds me of Massachusetts, a comparison helped by the seafood and grill orientated menu. Large, succulent prawns and a smoky, brothy clam chowder make for very good starters, but the highlight is our main course of steaks, a sirloin and a fillet cut sourced from Cairnhill farm in Ayrshire’s Girvan valley, with handcut chips. Accompanied by a fine Chilean merlot, these create an excellent meal, while the light garlic sauce in the mac and cheese from the children’s menu ensures the entire party is well catered for.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Thanks to the quality of the five-star accommodation and facilities, boutique – but the various dining options on offer ensure there are affordable choices at hand.
Our accommodation consists of one wing of a quaint, cobbled courtyard spanning two floors. On the ground level, a sprawling living room with patio doors overlooking the waterway is decorated in tasteful, muted tones, with a television and Blu Ray. Above, two generously proportioned bedrooms, both en suite, are finished to a high standard. The highlight, however, is the kitchen, with top of the range fixtures and appliances set around an island and dining table.
With a range of Arran Aromatic toiletries and a mini hamper of locally sourced food and drink laid on, the lodge offers a relaxing, modern environment, although the Bose sound system in the kitchen could do with an update for the latest Apple connectors.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Cameron House can arrange a trip on the luxury motor cruiser Celtic Warrior, allowing you to explore the iconic waterway and see the hotel from a different point of view. Golfers will also find plenty to do. If you are renting a lodge, a round can be played at the Carrick for as little as £35 per person, with junior rates starting at £7.50. The nine-hole Wee Demon course at Cameron House is even cheaper.
A complimentary concierge service will whisk your party to and from the main Cameron House resort.
A restorative hideaway commanding majestic views over one of Scotland’s natural beauty spots, with first-rate service and excellent dining options.
• Autumn and winter rates for a stay at The Carrick resort start from £161 per lodge per night, based on a two-bedroom Mansion House apartment. A lodge at Cameron House is available from £170 per night. Cameron House Resort on Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire G83 8QZ (0871 222 4909, www.qhotels.co.uk)