Highland getaway, a mere 90 min drive from Glasgow
Situated between Crianlarich and Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands (it's far north of the actual Highland boundary fault even though it's just south of the Highland Council boundary) and right on the West Highland Way, so ideal for walkers.
Bridge of Orchy Hotel ticks all the location boxes. Add to this being overlooked by Beinn Dorain and right beside the quaint bridge it is named after. We stayed over for the night to escape from the city and chill out with a room within earshot of the bubbling river and also chalk off another stage of the West Highland Way.
By car, the hotel is around 90 minutes from Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh (perfect for a night away or somewhere more exciting for dinner). Or you can do as we did and take the leisurely and scenic Scotrail train from Glasgow Queen Street Railway Station. The 12:24 train arrives into Bridge of Orchy railway station just in time for check-in and the hotel is a mere 5-minute walk away (down a slight hill).
If taking the train you'll have views like this to look forward to. The train from Glasgow is direct but may stop to split in Crianlarich, as half the train travels onto Fort William and the other end goes to Oban.
The old military road built by General Wade and the bridge by General Caulfield in around 1751 gives its name to the settlement. The vast road-building programme was a means of moving troops quickly around the country to suppress feisty Highlanders. The newer A82 road was based on designs by Thomas Telford and constructed in the 19th Century.
Things to do near Bridge of Orchy Hotel
As mentioned, there’s the West Highland Way plus the River Orchy is popular with canoeists and white water rafters. The Munro’s of Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh tower over the village and can be reached by using the underpass beneath the railway at the station. If you fancy a pub ‘crawl’. The Inveroran Hotel is an hour's walk away (along part of the WHW).
We took a relaxed walk around the local area, which was good for photos. Our bedroom was in a new complex separate from, and behind, the actual hotel building so away from the main road.
A cosy and welcoming room at just the right temperature to warm us up. The room has a separate lobby area for storing luggage and clothes (or smelly boots!). There's a flat-screen TV with built-in DVD player, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities with a selection of Scottish snacks and bottled water.
You may be miles from the nearest shop but not to worry when the room includes Mackie's haggis crisps, a Tunnock's caramel log, Brodie's shortbread and Highland Spring still and sparkling water.
Each room has patio doors leading out to decking, allowing easy access to the grass, paths and bridge itself - this is a dog-friendly hotel as well.
This was the view from just a few steps from our patio doors. It was chilled and relaxing by the water.
The en-suite bathroom has a shower, White Company luxury toiletries and fluffy white towels warmed on the towel heater.
The restaurant at the right hand side of the hotel when you enter reception will be relaunched later this year, so on our visit all meals were served in the bar at the back of the building. As a result the food is a mix of bar meals and fancier fare. The menu on our visit was:
Bread, marinated olives, house churned butter £7
Great Glen venison & green peppercorn salami, house churned butter & pickles £9
Roasted parsnip soup, hazelnut gremolata, hazelnut oil £5
Roast heritage pumpkin, pomegranate, feta, yoghurt dressing £6
Potted hot smoked salmon rillettes, capers, crème fraiche, sourdough £8
Gressingham duck leg, honey, burnt apple sauce, peach £8
Baby aubergine, smoky baba ghanoush, hazelnut dukkha, apple, seeds £7
Cullen skink, crusty bread and butter £8
Schiehallion beer battered haddock, hand cut chips, tartare sauce and peas £14
House made beef burger, pretzel burger bun, tomato, gem and Monterey Jack £14
Bitter & Twisted braised belly of pork, sweet potato puree, bacon jam, crackling £18
Braised hispi cabbage, celeriac puree, celeriac crisps, remoulade £12
8oz rib eye steak, tomato, mushroom, fries, 'chimi churri' sauce £26
Traditional haggis (veggie option also available), neeps and tatties £12
Hand cut chips £4
French Fries £4
Chicken Salt fries £5
Mixed leaf salad £3
Sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel & bourbon sauce, vanilla ice cream £6
Mackie's ice cream selection £5
Selection of cheeses from around the world £9
Aerated chocolate and passionfruit torte, honeycomb, chocolate sorbet £7
Venison carpaccio, red cabbage jam (Forest, Field and Glen) £7
Salt + lemon cured Gigha halibut with crab and apple £9
Asian style Shetland mussels £7 / £12
We were also informed that there was one other special too - a single sea urchin dish and that’s something you don’t come across often in Scotland or the UK. In fact, I think we have only ever eaten sea urchin in Japan so we gladly accepted the offer.
Gigha halibut is a great product. So much so, that when we see it on restaurant menus it's usually always picked by one of us. This was another one of the day's specials and special it was - lean, tasty and so soft. It came with crab pate and fresh apple on the side.
Not a special but equally great, our first main was the 8oz rib eye steak, tomato, mushroom, fries and 'chimi churri' sauce. The hotel's beef is supplied by John Gilmour butchers in East Lothian, who are responsible for supplying steak restaurants like Hutchesons in Glasgow. So, again when you see this on a menu it makes sense not to pass it up. Cooked medium-rare with a good helping of chimichurri, the fries were good but not as good as our extra portion of...
Chicken salt fries. Like regular fries but much more moreish, which is probably an understatement - these are highly addictive and thoroughly recommended if you visit!
Bridge of Orchy Hotel has a full beer font of Harviestoun beers, plus a few extra available in bottles too. We're big fans of the Clackmannanshire-based brewery so had a few to help 'digest' our dinner. Bitter & Twisted is one of their most well-known beers and on the main menu was Bitter & Twisted braised belly of pork, sweet potato puree, bacon jam and crackling. Sweet and savoury flavours with crunchy and smooth textures, finely complemented by the chicken salt fries!
Cheese is always a good way to end a meal. Often we find that restaurants never give you enough oatcakes - three is often the amount for three slices of cheese - but thankfully there was no such oatcake shortage here! Butter, quince and grapes were also provided.
Finally, Aerated chocolate and passionfruit torte, honeycomb, chocolate sorbet. Think of like an Aero or Wispa mixed with a Crunchie but with a tropical flavour.
After a good night's sleep it was time for breakfast and here is the actual view from our table. For warmer weather there are actually tables and chairs on the balcony outside.
Breakfast is served from 8am until 9:30am and the Continental selection consisted of:
Katy Rodgers natural yoghurt, compote and granola
Fresh fruit bowl
Jams & preserves
From the kitchen you can also order hot items, such as:
2 free range eggs how you like them
Eggs Royale, with Inverawe smoked salmon
Inverse smoked salmon with scrambled egg
Full Scottish breakfast - sausage, egg, bacon, beans, tomato, potato scone, black pudding
Vegetarian breakfast - sausage, spinach, roast tomato, potato scone, egg, mushroom, beans
Hot filled breakfast rolls are also served from 8am until 12 noon (sausage, bacon, egg, potato scone or black pudding).
It's to be expected that one of us orders the Full Scottish Breakfast, which thankfully came with a tattie scone and not a hash brown! While eating this we heard someone on another table say that 'eggs and beans are the worst thing together' which we thought was a bit extreme given the world we live in today - at least the beans were contained within a ramekin for anyone with an egg and bean phobia! This was a well-cooked, filling breakfast setting us up for the day ahead as we walked the portion of the West Highland Way from here to Tyndrum.
Eggs Benny is another favourite of us but when brilliant local produce is available it made sense for us to pick the Eggs Royale, with Inverawe smoked salmon instead.
After breakfast we took some time out in the bar before embarking on a day's walking. The front portion of the bar is a proper walker's stop with local, historic photos on the wall and a cosy stove in the corner.
One other thing - should you come here and find yourself in the situation where, miles from shops, you have forgotten something, at reception you will pretty much everything you could need for sale. They have items such as West Highland Way maps, power banks, post cards, candles, phone charger cables, toothbrushes, toothpaste, chap sticks, combs, tissues, antihistamines, plasters, painkillers, midge repellent, head nets, lighters, dog poo bags, ponchos, camping gas canisters and ear phones, phew! There's also a post box if you decide to buy and use a post card.
A pleasant night's stay in a beautiful part of the country with great food and beer. Bridge of Orchy hotel is an ideal place for a quick break from the city, a romantic getaway or a walking holiday (with or without a dog).
The room was compact but modern providing easy access to 'the bridge' and path alongside the river. The in-room snacks and water were well received.
Dinner was excellent but our main standout from the meal was the chicken salt fries as they were highly addictive. We have since made a chicken salt mix at home but it's not quite the same so we recommend that if you're just passing you can at least stop in for food to try this!
The hotel is very easy to get to, whether it be by car, rail or bus. Although it's on the main road, the A82, we didn't hear any traffic noise from our room and had no issues crossing the road to get to / from the train station on the other side of the road.
+ The chicken salt!
+ Great views, relaxing stay
+ Good selection of Harviestoun beers
+ Easy to get there by car, bus or train
- Our bedroom was in a separate building to hotel, which could be an issue in wet and windy weather
Bridge Of Orchy Hotel,
Bridge Of Orchy,
Disclaimer: Fred sez his hoomins got a free stay so they could write stuffs but it looks like they had a good honest time.