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Atholl Arms in Dunkeld – An ideal getaway
You certainly can’t miss The Atholl Arms Hotel standing above the banks of the river Tay on the main shopping street in Dunkeld. Beside the Thomas Telford bridge, it seems to act as a guard and welcome to the town as you cross over the longest river in Scotland from Birnam.
We had visited before in 2013 (click here) before a refurbishment took place and a riverside eating & drinking area were added.
The Atholl Arms Hotel was built as a hotel in 1833 and it is said that Princess Victoria, the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria stayed at the Atholl Arms Hotel. You can stay in the Victoria Suite which looks very impressive and would be ideal for a weekend away to pop *that* question!
There is adequate parking available and the bonus of a recently added garden terrace for dining, or just drinking, by the mighty river and catching some sun while appreciating the beautiful riverside scenery and historic Telford bridge.
The lounge area is bright, welcoming and comfortable with newspaper, free WiFi, lots of cosy seating and only slight nods to twee Scotlandshire with a tartan carpet and a “Hielan Coo” painting on the wall.
We checked in quickly and made our way up to our room. Unfortunately due to the age of the hotel there is no lift, however helpful staff are around to help you with your cases.
Our room looked over the garden terrace and Telford Bridge, what a view! I could have happily have stayed in the room for a few nights longer.
The room had everything we needed – tea/coffee for that important post journey cuppa, guest information, WiFi, a good view and it was very quiet considering we were right on the main road which large lorries and buses come down.
The bathroom was spacious for the age of the hotel and provided a shower and a bath – handy for a post hill walking soak. Toiletries were provided. The only minus point was the noise from the macerator, but nothing much can be done about that.
The hotel has two eating areas: Riverview Restaurant, the more formal of the two, and The Meeting Place, which serves more bar friendly food. You can order from both menus in the restaurant.
The menu looked delicious. One first pick was the local Dunkeld Smoked Salmon. I had tried this previously at the BBC Good Food Show and loved it, so it had to be ordered!
Dunkeld Smoked Salmon Timbale was a light and tasty starter served with crème fraîche. The smoked salmon melts on your tongue and when eaten with the crostini it provided a pleasant crunch and texture.
Perthshire Pigeon breast with parsnip puree, pickled beetroot and brambles. WOW, is all I can say. The woody and earthy beetroot combined with the tart brambles worked really well with this dish. The parsnip purée was creamy and acted as a balance to the tangy beetroot and berries and for the first time in ages we ate pigeon that wasn’t dry!
Ballotine of Guinea Fowl with Toulouse sausage, sweet potato fondant, heritage carrots and Madeira jus. Really meaty chunks with a herby, peppery, saltiness (all good for me!). The carrots were interestingly sitting like standing stones, which is difficult to see here, and they may look burnt but that’s just because of their natural colour. The potato fondant was a little overdone though.
Pan-fried Scottish salmon with crushed new potatoes, broccoli and a lemon butter sauce. A huge big chunk of salmon which was cooked to perfection: moist but with a slight crispness to the skin. The crushed potatoes contained a lot of tarragon, too much for Mrs Foodie but Mr Foodie happily consumed it all!
Now onto the best part of any dinner, dessert!
Cranachan served with shortbread. I’ve never had Cranachan on a plate before, and this was delish! Just the right amount of moussey raspberry and oats. A dollop of craachan on top of one of the buttery shortbread biscuits is recommended.
A traditional dessert and good to see it on the menu. The crème Anglais was light and coated the spicy, moist dumpling. A second helping would not have been refused!
As well as the restaurant, garden terrace and lounge area, you can sit in their bar, The Meeting Place, next door with a good selection of beers, snacks and specials (there is more seating up the stairs on the left at the back).
After a refreshing sleep (is there anything more calm than hearing the sounds of a nearby river?) it was time for breakfast.
A buffet with cereals, muesli, various fruits, yoghurt and fruit juices were available as well as hot food to order.
Mr Foodie planned some walking today so a full Scottish breakfast for him.
A rather picture-perfect and well-cooked non greasy fry-up! Stornoway black pudding, tasty sausage, bacon, mushrooms, a gooey poached egg and it was great to see a tattie scone on the plate as we find that far too many places up north serve a hash brown!
With the local smoked salmon on the menu, I couldn’t resist an order. A perfect parcel served with creamy scrambled egg.
We were very much impressed with how much the Atholl Arms Hotel has improved since our last visit. We had a comfortable stay before but it just needed a wee spruce up in the bedrooms. The staff are hard-working and helpful and appear to take a lot of pride in their work. The new outdoor eating area beside the river is a great addition for sunny days.
You also don’t need a car to get there. We travelled by train to nearby Dunkeld & Birnam station from Glasgow. Journey time is around 90 minutes and if you book at the right time you can get an Advance single for £9.50 each way. You can get a bus from Perth which stops just along the road too. Further info below.
e went walking during our stay and visited the Birnam Oak (made famous by “The Scottish Play”) across the river and the The Hermitage a couple of miles away, there and back seeing the main sites takes a few hours. Look out for a post about that soon!
To find out more about booking and prices please check their website.
+ Great location beside the river Tay
+ Great food/breakfast in the Riverview restaurant
+ Bar next door
+ Riverside beer garden with kitchen
+ Friendly staff
+ Easy to reach by public transport
+ The Birnam Oak and the Hermitage are within easy reach
– Noisy macerator in the bathroom
The Atholl Arms Hotel is easy to get to being just off the A9 and each to reach by rail and bus.
From Edinburgh and Edinburgh Airport
Follow Signs for Stirling A9 then take M9 towards Forth Road Bridge. From here follow sign for M90 Perth. At the roundabout take the A9 for 12 miles. Leave A9 at A923 Blairgowrie.
From Glasgow and Glasgow Airport
Follow the signs to Stirling M80/A80 then Perth A9 then Inverness A9. Leave the A9 at A923 Blairgowrie.
Follow the A9 south for Perth leave the A9 at A923 Blairgowrie
From Aberdeen and Dundee
From Aberdeen take the A90 south to Dundee, then continue along the A90 signposted Perth. Outside Perth, follow the signs for A9 and Inverness. Join the A9, then leave at the A923 Blairgowrie.
Dunkeld and Birnam Railway Station
The hotel can arrange transport, however the station is a pleasant 15 minute walk from the station.
Citylink buses from Glasgow/Edinburgh stop at Milton Birnam Hotel Stagecoach buses from Perth stop just along from the hotel.
We stayed as guests of the Atholl Arms Hotel and Fred vouches that we were truthful in our review, or mega scratches all round!