I have read the other reviews of Kilmichael and I have read the responses from the proprietor so I am hesitant to write this review, hence the delay in doing so. However, I am a strong supporter of TripAdvisor and it is there as a forum for travellers to independently review their personal experiences. So, at the risk of receiving a hostile or priggish response or a critique of my other reviews, here is my review...
My husband and I chose 'Kilmichael luxury self-catering cottages' for our honeymoon for several reasons: we wanted to have this special holiday in Scotland, on Arran in particular; we wanted relaxation, luxury and escape from all things 'hustle and bustle', and we didn't want to have to travel long before our honeymoon could begin. I travel extensively for work and the more I travel the more I appreciate how perfect Scotland is and how much I don't want to leave.
We knew the accommodation was at the upper end of expense for self-catering in Scotland but this was to be such a special holiday that we almost welcomed the extravagance. The website for Kilmichael sells a fairytale dream and appealed to us on many levels so we stopped looking at options and booked almost immediately. We married on a Sunday so our earliest arrival being Monday meant we lost 2 days of the break. The proprietor was kind enough to offer us nights in the house hotel to extend the break but we declined at the time of booking. We were impressed at receiving kind words wishing us luck for our approaching wedding, whether we booked Kilmichael or not.
The approach to the house and the setting are scenic, beautiful and rustic. When we arrived on the Monday evening we were shown to the cottage. It wasn't the cottage we had booked; that one had been reallocated because it was ready sooner and we were arriving later. We had no issues with this and in fact considered the cottage we were allocated to be even more private and secluded. Our first impression of the cottage was that it had been tastefully decorated and furnished with 'all mod cons'. Unfortunately the infrastructure of the rural setting doesn't fully support these mod cons and we experienced some difficulties which we raised with the proprietor first thing the next day and which were fixed later that night when he returned from the mainland. We were grateful for that.
The master bedroom was very comfortable and the kitchen was pleasant. We enjoyed the complimentary goodies of eggs and jam, although quite different to champagne and fresh fruits associated with most honeymoons. I personally loved that there is no mobile phone reception (at least for O2 customers) and that because of the horrific weather that week we were forced to cosy up indoors.
On the flip side, we didn't find the cleanliness of the accommodation to be of a good standard and this did detract from our break: we found lipstick stained glasses with greasy fingerprints in the cupboard and a grill pan with stale fat hadn't been cleaned; there was dog hair on the furniture (we fully respected the furniture and our well behaved dog stayed off the settees), and footprints on the laminate flooring. Rather unfortunately I had flu for most of the honeymoon but more unfortunately (for us) there is no housekeeping during the lets (very different to other self-catering lets we have experienced before) and the hot water tank only had enough hot water for one bath per night (I inadvertently let the plug out without noticing and suffered for it.) The proprietor had forgotten to let us know there would be a Visit Scotland inspection during our stay so we were quite taken aback to return from a drive to find people coming out of the cottage we were staying in.
We did not discuss these issues with the proprietor at the time because he wasn't there when we checked out and because we didn't want to have to end our honeymoon with a complaint. Also, with the exception of the grill pan which we purposefully avoided, we cleaned the offending items and swept the floors before we left. However, I did write to the proprietor not long after we returned and have raised these issues with him; he apologised for not meeting our standards of cleanliness and placed the blame on the previous guests.
Perhaps if we hadn't been on Arran for a romantic break and if I hadn't been ill then we would have spent less time inside the cottage and wouldn't have been quite as irked by our experience of the accommodation or by the dawn-to-dusk calls of the peacocks. Beautiful and majestic birds to look at but incessantly noisy.
To finish on a positive note, we enjoyed a delicious meal in the House on our last night. The furniture in the house reminded me a lot of the furniture I have been brought up with and still am proud to display in my own home. The upstairs drawing room, the menus, the fireplace, the piano, the canapés, the waiter-gardener-mechanic (!) all contributed to a lovely final night of our honeymoon. The dining room was delightful and the food was delicious. The wine list is extensive and the whole meal experience was exceptional.
Our conclusion is that while part of the promise of luxury was delivered, there were some fundamentals that were missed. Kilmichael may well offer luxury hotel and self-catering accommodation, but our personal experience is that it didn't make the grade for honeymoon accommodation; such a special holiday needs extra little touches to differentiate it from any other holiday week in self-catering accommodation. We would recommend the house hotel to others and we would recommend the cottages but not as a honeymoon choice.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
October 31, 2009
Why, oh why, do some people prefer to post a complaint on tripadvisor months after their stay, rather than alert us to a problem as soon as it arises, so that we can put it right there and then? My parting words after showing people into the self-catering cottages are – invariably – “Enjoy your stay. If you need us for anything you know where we are”.
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Obviously staff do not go daily into the self–catering cottages as they do into the (fully-serviced) hotel. But I saw this guest on several occasions during the week, always exchanging pleasantries and every time they went into the village they had to pass my door. At no time did they give me any indication that anything was wrong.
When they later wrote to tell me of the problems I was mortified. Clearly this wasn’t up to our usual high standards and I wrote and apologised profusely. I also explained that, although there was no excuse, there was an explanation. The previous guests had left the cottage in such an appalling state that we knew we couldn’t possibly get it ready in time for the first new arrival, so we swapped the booking – to an identical 5-star property. Two housekeepers then spent hours stripping all the contents of the bedrooms and sitting rooms to remove dirt, dog hairs and the smell of smoke. They returned the next day and spent a further 4 hours to finish the job. Unfortunately, in focussing on the exceptional, they overlooked some of the regular tasks, including the grill pan. They were devastated - after all their hard work- to receive such a critical report, but also a bit frustrated because they could so easily have been called back to correct their oversight, if only we had been asked…
As for the hot water, the house has a large storage tank, which charges up automatically three times a day, has a freely-available booster, and an over-ride switch so that it can be left on 24 hours a day – as can the central heating – at no extra charge. What more can we do? I really don’t think we can fairly be blamed if the guest forgets to put the plug in and all the hot water drains away!
As I write this we have a German couple staying who got married from one of the cottages last year. They are back again to mark their first anniversary because they fell in love not only with each other, but also Arran and Kilmichael. I do hope that if they find anything not exactly as it should be, they will let us know immediately, so that we can put it right at once. We want to send them away with happy memories, looking forward to another visit – just like countless honeymooners before.
We work very hard to earn our outstanding reputation. Since this guest kindly acknowledges that everything else was so good, I can’t understand why it did not occur to her that there must have been an exceptional mistake here and alert us to it.
If you are an avid tripadvisor reader and have got this far in the saga, let me urge you to take one thing away with you: wherever you go, anywhere in the world, if ever you find anything wrong in a hotel or holiday let (because even the best people can make mistakes) tell the management straight away and give them a chance to put it right. That way you will enjoy your holiday (or your honeymoon) so much more!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.