Luxury from start to finish
We arrived by taxi in darkness, down a fairly long road but the house was obscured by trees - we turned a corner and suddenly Mar Hall was there! The taxi dropped us off at the entrance which was impressive but didn't quite show off the full scale of the 19th century mansion from the side.
The main entrance is just at the right-hand side of the picture above.
We entered through the door, along a red carpet and up a short flight of steps where we found a couple sitting by a burning fireplace and were greeted by reception staff. We had a quick peek in the Grand Hall while we waited to be checked in...
Our bags were carried for us and in a short space of time we were taken to our ground floor room...
Now how's that for a bedroom - it was huge with a large four-poster bed! We sat down and perused the in-room info and there was plenty of it! Then we had a leaf through a "This is Glasgow" book which was in the room and the list of spa treatments; the following magazines were also on the office desk: Evo, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Health and Olive (all Nov/Dec editions). The window was open when we arrived but the room was still warm and it was very quiet outside, we closed the window over and drew the curtains and noticed that they were thick and huge. Hidden inside one of the wardrobes was a good sized TV, a safe and a fridge. The hot drinks selection comprised of Pg tips tea; English garden green, lemon, chamomile & peppermint teas; cappuccino and Aero hot chocolate. There was also a few packs of Deans shortbread.
The en-suite bathroom
It was a clean modern bathroom with bath, shower, heated towel rail and selection of travel-sized toiletries but the thing which really took our eye was the phone on the wall beside the toilet seat!
We made our way to the Spike Bar before dinner for an apéritif and were lucky enough to grab a seat beside the fireplace (NB: you can eat your dinner in here too). We were handed a drinks menu with a fairly large selection of gin, vodka and whisky etc. They also had 1 real ale: Houston Crystal from the nearby Houston brewery. Some nibbles were brought to our table along with our drinks, and we took these through to the hotels' restaurant, The Cristal...
Once in the Cristal we had a look at the great wine selection, we spied a Red Boar Bobal 2012 from Spain at £33, we'd never heard of Bobal until earlier this year when The Butchershop Bar & Grill introduced us to this fairly uncommon grape variety so we ordered a bottle and it had a lovely red berry fruit aroma and was really easy to drink. A selection of bread was then offered to us: Parmesan bread which gave off a strong but pleasant cheese aroma and taste, and black olive and finally onion bread. All the breads were fresh and lovely!
We went for choices from the À la carte menu but a market menu was also available for £35 per person.
Twice baked isle of Mull cheddar Cheese soufflé £9.45
With a toasted exterior but fluffy & creamy and of course light & airy inside. Good cheddar cheese taste and the salad also came with Parmesan.
Home-made Chicken and Stornoway black pudding parfait £8.95
A big portion for a starter. Very meaty, with a strong taste of sage. Served with sweet brioche toast.
Roast canon of highland Venison £21.95
A huge portion. Soft rosti with crisp exterior. The haggis bon-bons looked like savoury Ferraro Rocher! Rather strong tasting asparagus and red cabbage, which I hardly ever see on restaurant menus. The meat and veg were all lovely and there was a pleasant saltiness to this dish.
Herb crusted 3 bone rack of Ayrshire lamb £19.50
Another huge portion! The mustardy herb crust lovely and piquant. There was a good assortment of vegetables - all beautifully cooked, especially the dauphinoise potatoes. Pink tender lamb in a rich jus - extremely tasty!
Raspberry and coconut tart £6.25
Raspberry and coconut - a match made in heaven! And this was a light crumbly tart with all the flavour you'd expect! On the side was a very nice custard and tangy raspberry sorbet.
Semi-Freddo Tia Maria and hazelnut parfait £6.25
A slightly unusual looking semi-freddo with pleasant boozy nutty taste to it. Very light - an ideal dessert if you don't have much room for more food!
We also ordered 2 white coffees and these came with 2 white & 2 dark chocolate truffles. Mmm!
We took our time and sat in the Grand Hall after dinner - we were there just before Christmas so the Grand Hall was decked out with candles, decorations and of course a tree and was looking rather festive.
Some more shots of the cosy Grand Hall, complete with wall-hung tapestry.
After a refreshing night's sleep we headed down to breakfast where we found a fairly extensive hot buffet selection: Lorne, links, bacon, black pudding, potato scone, mushrooms, scrambled and poached eggs, a good selection but a bit disappointing for a 5 star hotel to have a buffet fry-up as the food can become dry and overcooked, however the items were also listed on the breakfast menu so I think you can order freshly cooked items to order.
We also ordered some kedgeree.
I love kedgeree so it was good to see it on the menu as you don't come across it too often. In addition we also had toast with Bonne Maman jam and coffee.
The breakfast buffet was served in this room, and there were a number of other similar rooms which looked as though they could be hired out for private functions.
After breakfast we headed out for a stroll (the Mar estate covers 200 acres!) and took in views of the 18-hole Earl of Mar golf course looking over the Clyde towards Bowling and Old Kilpatrick hills.
And back inside we found a table tennis/ping-pong table!
And not only that but a shuffleboard too!
How many hotels have you ever seen that had games like this randomly placed between rooms?! This room was doored off from the bedroom corridors so noise shouldn't be an issue should anyone play a game but who knows what else is hidden down the other hallways!
Sadly we didn't have time to make use of the pool, spa facilities or golf course but we've been assured that they are all in tip-top shape. We had a quick peek at the pool and everything looked good and as we were leaving a group of golfers were checking in.
Mar Hall is a splendid and well-looked after gothic mansion with plenty of facilities which is only a short distance from Glasgow and not far from the M8 motorway, Glasgow airport and rail links to the rest of Great Britain. Our room, which was £148.50 per night, was large, immaculate and impressive with the comfy bed delivering a good night's sleep, the en-suite bathroom was clean & modern and the bath and shower provided easy-to-control hot water.
Staff were courteous and professional throughout, offering to take our bags to our room and look after them while we went for a walk outside, and we were asked if we had a pleasant stay or had any issues on check-out which not enough places do!
At dinner staff managed the items coming out the kitchen well and had a good handle on where each dish was headed; the maître d' was also very good and paid attention to anything we asked.
Mar Hall is a an exceptional place to spend a romantic night away and if you're from further afield it makes a good base to explore Glasgow and the surrounding area. I've heard that it also makes an excellent wedding venue.
We got to/from Mar Hall by getting the train to Bishopton and then a taxi from West Renfrewshire Cars (0141 8127755). A Glasgow Central to Bishopton single is £3.90 and takes 16 - 23 minutes depending on which train you take. The taxi took about 10 minutes and was less than £5 each way.
If you're driving, typical driving times are:
- 25 minutes to Glasgow city centre
- 100 minutes to Edinburgh city centre
For more info and to book click www.marhall.com
The À la carte dinner menu can be found here.