Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel, Aberfoyle Review

Foodie Explorers MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel Spa Aberfoyle Glasgow

Just 40 mins from Glasgow, but a world away in relaxation, is Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa, on the outskirts of Aberfoyle on the shore of Loch Ard.  I was invited to stay to see all the improvements after a £3.5m investment (we had previously stayed here in 2015).


The hotel is set within beautifully tended grounds and set against the stunning Trossachs. I had a wander around the grounds on Saturday morning – luckily the weather had improved from the previous day to show off the scenery. What a location!

Foodie Explorers MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel Spa Aberfoyle Glasgow

The room had everything I needed: robe, toiletries, fresh milk and even an umbrella to borrow – well you know Scotland!

MacDonald hotel forest hills Aberfoyle As you may know, I love my bath and the bath here was a good size for a long soak. There was also a shower and Arran toiletries.

After settling in, I headed off to check out the on-site spa with Elemis treatments, swimming pool, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi.  There is also a gym, tennis courts and squash courts.  Not being a fitness fanatic I didn’t utilise these facilities 😉.   There are plans to refurbish the old gym hall at the rear and turn it into a cinema and area for kid’s activities.

MacDonald forest hills Aberfoyle elemis spa

First things first, a spa treatment. I picked a neck, shoulder and back massage. Just what I needed after slouching in front of a screen all week.  I was so relaxed I could have slept. 😍  A quick swim was followed by some more chilling, this time in the jacuzzi.

Foodie Explorers MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel Spa Aberfoyle Glasgow
The Garden Restaurant, Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa

All this relaxation made me hungry. There are two restaurants on offer, The Garden Restaurant and Rafters. Rafters provides a more casual dining affair and my choice for the night, The Garden Restaurant provides fine dining and beautiful views of the grounds.

Service here was leisurely and friendly. I’ll post a review of the meal separately as it deserves it.
Foodie Explorers MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel Spa Aberfoyle Glasgow

Executive Chef James McCulloch Thomson has been recently appointed to the Macdonald Forest Hills and brings over 30 years experience to the hotel.  The food was delicious with a wide range of dishes on the menu from trout to lamb.

Next door to the restaurant is the main bar and then the piano bar – when I entered an impromptu piano concert was taking place courtesy of two guests. I later learned they were pianists Francis Martineau and David Glass.

After one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had – no cats, no railway, a firm bed and peace 😍 – it was time for breakfast. Now this is a view I wouldn’t mind seeing with my cornflakes every day!

MacDonald forest hills Aberfoyle

The breakfast menu consisted of the usual full fried breakfast, as well as a vegetarian option or eggs benedict in various guises (e.g. eggs royale) included in your room price, cereals, pastries and ham & cheese were available on the buffet tables.

MacDonald forest hills Aberfoyle
Breakfast Menu

I had to test the eggs benedict, this time with some Scottish salmon gravadlax on top of a toasted muffin with poached egg and hollandaise sauce. It was perfect. 👌

MacDonald forest hills Aberfoyle
Eggs Benedict Royale

After a leisurely breakfast, I ventured out to Glengoyne Distillery which is around 20 mins drive.

There are various tours on offer with something for even the most anti-whisky drinker – how about pairing whisky and chocolate?

Find out more about Glengoyne Distillery here.

As well as the spa and sports facilities, the loch-side setting enables some water based fun.  Unfortunately I missed out on some canoeing fun as it clashed with a facial appointment – maybe next time 😉.

Later on I attended a private dinner to showcase what the hotel has to offer. We got to meet the chef and were guided through the wines on offer from the restaurant. The meal was a Scottish/French affair with local produce matched to delicious French wines. Dishes included haggis pomme dauphin, followed by an exceedingly tasty  treacle roast loin of venison. The tarte au citron dessert was mouth-watering. Tart filling with a crumbly and buttery crust. 😍

I lingered over some Glengoyne whisky in the bar discussing the dinner before it was time to return to the comfy bed.

Recently appointed executive chef James McCulloch Thomson has more than 30 years experience and spent seven of those cooking in high end establishments in Melbourne, Australia. His menus have an emphasis on locally sourced Scottish ingredients and a commitment to provenance. He said: “Basing the menus around Scotland’s larder is the key. It’s by far the best there is and I focus on seasonality and using the best suppliers and producers, from the fisherman and farmers to gamekeepers.” Highlights on the menu during my stay included a variety of fish dishes in season, lamb, and all sorts of treats from the grill. I enjoyed a trout starter followed by duck in a beetroot broth. An elegant cheese board and delicious chutney finished my meal perfectly. This is proper grown-up food

The Macdonald Forest Hotel & Spa is an ideal location for a night away or better a few nights away to discover the Trossachs and relax without being too far from Glasgow or Edinburgh.  Be you sporty, a hiker or looking for spa treatments, there’s something on site for everyone.  The grounds encourage you to get out and enjoy the scenery with beautifully tended areas, there’s a lily pond, waterfall and chess and checkers to play with as well.   I certainly returned feeling refreshed.

MacDonald forest hills Aberfoyle elemis spa

Many thanks to the Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa for the invitation.

The hotel has 55 rooms with prices starting at £84.

Spa treatments are available and range from £10 to £149 for an ultimate spa day.

Find out more about the Macdonald Forest HIlls Hotel & Spa here.

Come say hello

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I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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