A room with a view
19 miles south of Oban and located right next door to the National Trust for Scotland's Arduaine gardens on the shores of scenic Loch Melfort (technically Asknish Bay at the cove) you will find the aptly named Loch Melfort Hotel. It's unassuming from the car park but once inside it's another story!
This is the gorgeous spacious and bright suite which greeted us, complete with: TV and couch, Senseo coffee maker, DVD player, separate tea/coffee making facilities, fresh fruit, water and a bookcase stacked with an eclectic selection of books, from Danielle Steele and DH Lawrence to George Orwell's 1984 and Albert Camus' The plague! Navy-themed stories by Alexander Kent were the most popular books on display.
The Master Room even has a private balcony with table and chairs which looks out onto...
This stunning view! There are even binoculars provided to look out to sea. There's a path which takes you down to the water past the Highland cows, where will you find a rocky beach and boathouse with a small sandy beach a little further walk away. Don't worry if you can't get the Master Room as all 25 bedrooms have sea-views!
A well-equipped en-suite with a huge bath and shower, toiletries and his n' hers robes.
Tidy and well maintained interior staircase and hallways.
There's another set of binoculars here - this time huge ones which were used by the Royal Highland Yacht Club from 1881 - 1981! There's also a fairly large outdoor seating area if you go out the door.
The fine-dining 2AA rosette-awarded Asknish Bay Restaurant has local seafood and meat on the menu and provides sea-views over the bay. For less-formal eating and drinking the Chartroom II bar/bistro is next door.
We thought this looked good so we both opted for it!
2 thick slices each of fennel & caraway seed bread and tomato bread. Absolutely gorgeous; both were fresh, warm and so so soft. A choice of butter was also provided: regular and rosemary & olive.
Veal sweetbreads Pea and mint fricasse
Tender light meat in a red wine jus which was very strong, tangy and salty - a bit like Bovril! It provided a meaty contrast against the light meat inside.
A chilled refreshing, fruity palate cleanser.
Guinea fowl breast and stuffed leg, pom anna, carrot and cumin mousse
Good portion. Moist, crisp skin. The mousse was rather unusual but worked well with the meat and potatoes. Mmmmm, the olive & rosemary mash was not strongly flavoured but was smooth and delicious.
Chocolate heaven - mouse cylinders like small chocolate Swiss rolls! One had gooey toffee, one had melting chocolate, Chocolatey, really chocolatey!
It also came with a sablé biscuit and crème fraîche sorbet, which sounds bizarre but was light and cleansing. The ice-cream rested on a bed of crunched pistachio. An excellent dessert full of contrasting flavours and textures: sweet smoothness and a bit of crunch.
We saw a few other couples who were surprised by this one as it looked a bit like a crystal ball! Lovely poached peach, vanilla ice-cream, raspberry coulis with a caramel "basket" (or crystal ball!) encasing the dessert inside. Absolutely gorgeous!
There was also a good choice of sorbets on offer if you wanted something lighter.
The hotel has an impressive array of accolades including: 2013 Romantic Hotel of the year in the Highlands and the proprietors, Rachel and Calum Ross are Scotland's hoteliers of the year for 2013 as well. The hotel has also won numerous other awards over the years. All well-deserved in our opinion!
Being beside the sea we felt we should take the fish options for breakfast, and with the kippers you have a choice of 1 or 2 full kippers. We opted for 2 but it was a huge portion, so regrettably we couldn't finish it, but they were well-cooked and tasty.
Haddock and poached egg
Delicious haddock with a perfectly poached egg on top.
Buffet breakfast table
A good selection of cereals, yogurts and fruit juices was provided.
If you're touring the west of Scotland, simply after a relaxing break away from the city or even looking for the perfect honeymoon destination then The Loch Melfort Hotel is ideal. Location-wise it’s within driving distance of Glasgow and Edinburgh etc. but far-away enough into the countryside on a secluded bay off the main road (A816) midway between the nearest big towns of Oban and Lochgilphead.
Our room was clean, modern and well-looked after and the bed was huge and comfy. All rooms look out to sea west-facing towards the islands of Shuna, Scarba and Jura so you can witness some spectacular sunsets. There's a National Trust for Scotland garden next door (which was threatened with closure but kept open thanks to the efforts of Rachel and Calum) so there is plenty of greenery and wildlife on the doorstep; in fact there are Highland cows in the field beside the hotel and there are a couple of well-behaved hotel dogs, so the hotel is dog-friendly too!
The food, courtesy of Head Chef Peter Carr and his team is excellent, inventive and well-deserving of 2AA rosettes. The waiting staff are also friendly and helpful, and for the location the drinks prices are good too. Note that all spirits come in doubles (50mls). Local real ales from the Fyne Ales brewery are also available.
We found our stay to be very calming and rejuvenating and the area around Loch Melfort is picturesque. There are nearby historical sites at Kilmartin and other sites of interest include "the bridge over the Atlantic", the humpbacked bridge onto the island of Seil which is next to the historic "Tigh-An-Truish" (House of the Trousers) pub which is worthy of a visit and pretty much every other pub on, or off the A816 is worth popping into.
All-in-all an excellent place to stay in a beautiful part of Scotland and somewhere we shall hopefully re-visit soon!
Disclaimer: our visit to the Loch Melfort hotel was complimentary so Fred was most jealous as it really is a great place to stay.