I could tell by my partner’s face that I should be worried. She entered the “cabin” first and came back out immediately to say that I should not expect too much...
Firstly I should say this review is of the Altamount Cabins, now advertised as “lovely” rather than “luxury” – so they must have had many complaints about the way they advertise their accommodation on KGB deals and Groupon. Be warned though – the same level of service can be expected in the Hotel as the same people service it, and the “cottages” are in fact modern builds, though they look very pleasant from the outside.
The problems with cabin number 13 (unlucky for anyone who gets this chalet), were so bad you couldn’t make it up. As we entered the cabin the damp, musty smell reminded my partner of something – it turned out to be a ramshackle old shed her dad put together years ago made of old bits of wood and discarded doors. The closest experience I have of accommodation like this is in the bayous of Louisiana. Out in the swamps the poorest of the poor live in “gunshot” wooden cabins on stilts (you can see the swamp through the slats below your feet) and covered in corrugated iron. Here you could see through to the next room, the gaps between the warped wooden timbers had been filled in crudely with plastic wood. It was late so I thought we had to give it a chance – maybe I was over-reacting when I had been promised a “luxury” cabin. We had been in a beautiful log cabin just a year ago near Warkworth and I loved it.
Then a series of mishaps occurred over the next 24 hours which made for a fine Victorian farce. Firstly my toddler daughter explored the room, opening the doors of the dilapidated kitchen. She opened a cupboard door which immediately fell off, hit her in the face and just missed her feet. No damage done, but I was annoyed. On closer examination it appeared that the door had been fixed to the hinge with an improvised cardboard plug. A handyman came straight away and took the door away. The owner came to examine the space where the door used to be and was very pleasant.
Although we had asked for a bed for our daughter there was only a double bed in the tiny bedroom. So we called service and a tatty old zed-bed was delivered and dumped in the hall. It looked exactly like the things we used in the 60s. It was dirty and stuffing was oozing out of it. Yes reader, I know it is hard to believe it could be so bad, so I have provided a picture of it for your delectation.
Can I just mention the shower was one of those rubber fittings on the bath taps. Do you remember them? At least the suite wasn't avocado.
Finally we got our little one to bed and settled down in front of the only object in the cabin newer than 30 years old – the brand new 19” TV – (maybe it was this that made the cabin luxurious). As we sat down on the vinyl sofa we slid towards each other ending up in the centre. When I took a closer look at the sofa it was collapsed in the middle. Luckily there were a few paperbacks in the cabin we could use to prop the sofa up.
The double bed was cheap and nasty like the rest of the cabin, and I woke up several times that night with springs sticking into my side. Not a good night’s sleep when combined with the loud, fast traffic from the road outside. My city dwelling is much quieter at night.
You can imagine my surprise when things only got worse. Reader – it rained. We got out early in the morning to walk into Blairgowrie – along the busy road the cabins sit on. Did I mention that location is not “secluded” at all? We dined in a really nice little restaurant called Cargill’s, but that was probably the only thing I can commend about this experience apart from the Peacocks which delighted my little girl.
When we got back that evening, the cabin seemed worse than I remembered it, and when I went to get the ancient zed-bed ready for the night is was very wet. It was standing under a leak in the roof. From the staining in the wood of the ceiling, the leak had been there for some time. Eventually we were offered dry accommodation in the stables, but that was done with little grace, and I was even accused by their handyman of lying about the leak. So I have photos of that too for you to consider.
We left the next day. The handyman had eventually put a tarpaulin over the roof of the cabin, and we were supposed to go back to stay in that wet room. When I asked for my money back, I was referred to KGB deals who referred me back to the Hotel, who ignored me. I want my £119 back! However – they have their wish – I am sick of chasing them for the money.
This is the list of complaints I made in email to the Hotel. Miraculously they replied that all issues had been addressed within the week. I suspect that only a bulldozer (it wouldn’t have to be a big bulldozer as the place was pretty rickety) would sort out the problem:
1. One of the kitchen doors came off and hit my child in the face, just missing her foot. We were pleased with the speed and efficiency with which you addressed the problem, but the kitchen was shoddy and worn out.
2. There were no kitchen knives and few utensils.
3. The pots provided were dirty, bashed, needed replacing, and in one case the inner lining was rusted.
4. The old sofa had collapsed in the middle, and needed replaced. We managed to prop it up with paperback books.
5. The door lock was inadequate, and poorly installed.
6. The microwave oven was rusty inside
7. The zed-bed was unfit for use, torn with stuffing sticking out, and so old it was very uncomfortable and not fit for use.
8. The double bed was also very uncomfortable with springs sticking out and making a good night's sleep impossible.
9. The fridge was also well passed its best and the door on the freezer compartment was missing.
10. Overall the chalet was very damp and therefore unfit for use.
Strangely I feel a bit embarrassed by the whole experience. Scotland is my home and we encourage people to come here to visit. This cabin reminded me of holidaying in Scotland in the 70s. The levels of accommodation and service were so poor in those dark days that I only holidayed in Scotland in my tent for two decades. Better to go somewhere clean and civilised with great food, like Italy. It was cheaper too!
In recent years I have embraced the staycation – staying in some fabulous hotels and self catering accommodation, enjoying our beautiful countryside and natural resources. It is a shame on Visit Scotland and Visit Perthshire that places like this are allowed to operate. Alex Polizzi would weep.
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- Also Known As:
- Altamount Chalets Blairgowrie, Scotland