Having read earlier reviews my expectations were not especially high. I was therefore very pleasantly surprised. I stayed six nights and did not want to leave. On arrival, Staff at Reception were welcoming and helpful and directed me to my room on the first floor. I had booked a room with a loch view - and what a view! That to the north is especially beautiful.The mood of the loch changes constantly, one minute surrounded by sun bathed hills, the next angry under a dark sky, then flat calm, the surface broken only by ripples shining silver in a canvas of purple and grey. One could look at that view all day, and in fact there is nothing to stop one doing just that either from the room or downstairs. The room itself was clean bright and comfortable and everything worked. The furniture might be described as "period" but it did the job and some of the carving was rather fine. Give it ten years and it will probably be the height of fashion.
Breakfast was consistently good and served in the conservatory which was light and airy, made even more so by the clever use of mirrors. The kippers were of the type that we used to enjoy before the supermarkets forced wet fish shops to close, and the porridge was also as I like it, adding a liitle milk and salt to taste. If you are concerned about runny egg yolks then just mention it and they won't be. Evening meals were served in both the conservatory and the spacious dining room. Food was nicely prepared the fried haddock having a very good crisp batter that did not go soggy. Soups were good, particularly the cullen skink. Drinks were good, Staff were at all times friendly and helpful and waiting time was perfectly acceptable. I believe that there are plans to adjust the menu to reflect more the special nature of the area. It will be interesting to see.
The name of the hotel on the board outside has in addition the words "and Country Club". Herein lies a clue. If you are thinking international business class hotel with fitness centre in the basement, forget it. - at least for now, you will not belong. Instead try thinking hunting lodge in which you can relax all day, with a terrace, comfortable lounge and a bar that has over twenty (>30?) malt whiskys and you'll be nearer the mark. Satisfying some modern day expectations without destroying the character of the place is an interesting trick. Having a choice therefore of a room in the main body of the hotel or in one of the lodges or apartments is a good compromise. No doubt the hotel would benefit from some investment, but Charlotte and her team are working hard to address such issues as might exist and I wish them well.
If you want to explore the area you will need transport. Otherwise, the nearest station is Dalmally about 10 miles away. This is on the line from Oban to Glasgow Queen Street and then to Edinburgh. The Hotel may, for a fee, be able to arrange for somebody to collect you from the station - it is worth asking when planning your visit. If you were travelling from London (Euston) the sleeper gets into Glasgow Central at 07.20 giving you an hour to get to Queen Street which is within easy walking distance. I understand that next year the train service from Glasgow to Oban will be improved, possibly doubled. That could be interesting.
Shall I be going back? I hope so.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel, with restaurant and bar. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Portsonachan Hotel And Lodges On Loch Awe
- Portsonachan Hotel Dalmally
- Portsonachan Resort Dalmally