If you look at our other reviews you will see we are not 'harsh markers' but our stay at the Dreadnought left me feeling very perplexed about awarding a rating based on the experience we had.
We stay all over Europe, and use Tripadvisor to give what we feel are balanced reviews, and having seen some of the reviews here that go for the Dreadnoughts jugular, we would like to put forward this review for you in the hope it can help you with your decision.
Can we start with the good?
For the size hotel and it's location, it's good value - you will probably pay £49 ish per room including breakfast, that's less than £25 each, which is far cheaper than local B&B's, in what is one of the nicest little towns in Scotland.
And if you want to bring your pet to Callander to walk the hills (as we do), this is the only hotel in the area that is pet friendly.
It has 50+ rooms, and McNabs (the bar area) has been totally refurbished and is of a high standard compared to some other bars in the town.
The Dreadnought was once the flagship hotel in the Callendar area but it is obvious to any visitor that this hotel has been allowed to run down over the years without any investment by its previous owners, and to give credit where it is due, the Company that now own the Dreadnought have begun a refurbishment.
Unfortunately, this hotel is so big, it would take at least a six month closure, and some very serious money to do this all at once, and I'm guessing Bespoke hotels have chosen a 'one at a time' approach to room refurbs.
We stayed in room 229, with the corridor served by both stairs and a lift. Room 229 had yet to be refurbished, but I can bear witness to other rooms on the same corridor that had been modernised, and they looked quite nice (I snuck in to check out a couple whilst housekeeping were changing the bedding).
229 was large enough, with a desk, two chairs and double bed, wardrobe and shower room.
The bedding was clean (duvet and pillows with a spare blanket)... the room had just seen better days, and was obviously in the refurb queue. The shower room was just about adequate, with a Triton shower, toilet and sink, but unlike other reviewers we found the room clean and tidy.
The room gave a side view of the surrounding hills, but over the courtyard and kitchen area.
Our visit was not for sightseeing, but if it had been, we would have phoned the hotel and asked for a room with a view, and there are pleny of those, overlooking the river and adjacent hillsides.
The hotel provided basic shower gel and shampoo in the bathroom, and tea and coffee making facilities which were replaced daily by housekeeping.
We didn't have an evening meal in the very, very large dining room (must have been palatial once!), but breakfast comprised of cereals, grapefruit or orange segments and juices, as much toast as we wished for, plus a choice of various hot breakfast food from the menu, including waffles, porridge and a cooked breakfast comprising of the egg of your choice, bacon, sausage, haggis and a potato scone.
Adequate for us, and as an example, two Canadian ladies on the next table asked for just bacon, and they were brought generous portions.
Parking is to the rear of the hotel up the unmetalled lane to the left, or you can choose to leave your car on the municipal car park just behind that for £2.70 for a 24hr stay.
The hotel doesn't have wifi - but if the 'support better broadband for Callander" posters in every shop window are anything to go by, most of the town seem to be in the same boat.
The hotel staff try hard, and work hard, but it must be difficult maintaining any sort of staff morale when bad review after bad review hits them from TA.
The town itself is a real gem, hill walking with a plethora of paths up into the hills behind the hotel, a riverside walk that is very easy and with ample benches - plus the town has created a dead flat walking and cycling path to Strathyre along the path of the old railway.
Loads of shops to buy touristy stuff, takeaway food outlets and some quite nice bars (The Riverside inn, opposite the Dreadnought, is pet friendly, and allows you to sit out on the riverside terrace or bring pets inside if the weather is inclement).
So there we are, what we hope is a truly balanced review of the Dreadnought, without any ranting.
Yes, at the moment it's seen better days, but Bespoke are on to that, and we can see why people who have built themselves up for a Highland Holiday could feel a tad depressed when they walk into reception but for the money you pay it's fine - we've paid double the nightly rate for a lot worse, just don't expect the Ritz for Travel Lodge prices.
Please keep this in mind - it might have a lot of bad press here on TA, but we found it clean if a tad shabby at the moment, it costs you less than £25 pppn with breakfast included, in a truly lovely highland town, and Bespoke are aware of the amount of work they have to do to bring the Dreadnought back to its former glory.
Don't write the Dreadnought off, just lower your expectations and everything will be fine.
We hope this helped you with your choice of hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This place is temporarily closed. It will reopen in March 1, 2018 Originally built in the 17th Century by the Chieftain of the clan McNab as a hostelry for his fellow clasnmen travelling to the north, the Dreadnought has remained an important landmark as well as retaining a distinctive character of its own. From the wood panelled lounge bar to the architecturally listed stained glass windows, the Dreadnought has a very unique atmosphere. Centrally situated in the popular town of Callander, the 17th Century Dreadnought Hotel successfully combines the attractions of history with modern day comfort. Callander is the gateway to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, making it an ideal destination for a Scottish break. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dreadnought Hotel Callander, Scotland