Tak­ing a trip to his­toric haunts around the coun­try, our sub­scribers un­cov­ered some charm­ing hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions to add to your bucket list

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

Our sub­scribers re­view ho­tels that are steeped in his­tory


The Perle is a grand old build­ing at the head of the Ferry Ter­mi­nal and has been re­cently re­stored to for­mer glory com­mand­ing won­der­ful views out across the bay. There is no ded­i­cated park­ing for guests and while there is me­tered on-street park­ing this is lim­ited. If you come by train how­ever, you’re only 100 me­ters from the sta­tion.

Re­cep­tion staff were very pleas­ant, help­ful and checked us in and con­firmed our book­ing for din­ner in the ho­tel’s Eastern Mediter­ranean-themed restau­rant.

Our room was on the 1st floor fac­ing the sea. The rooms have been up­graded to a high stan­dard and are well ap­pointed and equipped. Ho­tel beds can be a dis­ap­point­ment but we couldn’t find fault here.

It has been some years since we have been to Oban. Gone are the ma­jor­ity of the tar­tan tourist traps to be re­placed by a wide range of in­de­pen­dent shops show­cas­ing the qual­ity of Scot­tish pro­duce.

As well as the BAAB Meze & Grill, the ad­join­ing Brew & Co Bar and Café pro­vides cakes and pas­tries to­gether with a wide range of cock­tails and more tra­di­tional tip­ples.

Break­fast is served in the main din­ing room with a se­lec­tion of fruits, ce­re­als, cold meats, fruit juices, bread (self-toasted) and pre­serves. A full cooked break­fast is also avail­able.

It can be said that Oban is a long way from ev­ery­where but, with ac­com­mo­da­tion of this stan­dard, the trip is well worth the ef­fort.


Leav­ing the busy Ed­in­burgh city by­pass, we were soon trav­el­ling along the edge of the Pent­lands to the his­toric bor­ders vil­lage of Car­lops (Car­lin’s Lowp or ‘witches leap’).

The Al­lan Ram­say Ho­tel, built in 1792, is a wel­com­ing tra­di­tional coach­ing inn named in hon­our of Al­lan Ram­say (1684-1758), cel­e­brated Scot­tish poet and au­thor of The Gen­tle Shep­herd. This Scots pas­toral com­edy is set around the vil­lage of Car­lops and Ne­whall Es­tate. His son, also called Al­lan, was a fa­mous artist, whose works in­cluded por­traits of Ge­orge III, Bon­nie Prince Char­lie and Flora McDon­ald.

On ar­rival, we were wel­comed by the friendly and at­ten­tive staff. After be­ing shown to our room we quickly set­tled into the cosy din­ing room with its invit­ing menu of­fer­ing a good range of fresh lo­cally sup­plied Scot­tish food. The fine se­lec­tion of Scot­tish works in the li­brary area and the abun­dance of Al­lan Ram­say’s po­etry on the walls, adds to the am­bi­ence. Un­for­tu­nately we were too tired to chose an after din­ner drink at the only sur­viv­ing Penny Bar.

After a very com­fort­able night we en­joyed a freshly cooked break­fast. The Al­lan Ram­say is a per­fect stop to ex­plore some of the Her­itage Trails which al­low walk­ers to dis­cover the scenery of The Gen­tle Shep­herd. This would be an ideal cen­tre to ex­plore the many routes through the Pent­land Re­gional Park, or as some guests were – start­ing their Out­lander Trail! The ho­tel hosts an an­nual fes­ti­val to cel­e­brate the cul­ture and his­tory of Al­lan Ram­say and the vil­lage of Car­lops.


As we walked into the foyer of the Mac­don­ald Ma­rine Ho­tel & Spa in North Ber­wick, we were greeted by the skirl of pipes; not for us, but for a wed­ding about to start. It was, how­ever, a stir­ring in­tro­duc­tion to our week­end break. This Cat­e­gory B-listed Vic­to­rian build­ing is renowned for its ar­chi­tec­ture and coastal scenery. As we set­tled into the Jack Nick­laus Suite, the first thing that struck us was the as­tound­ing view from the wide bay win­dow: over­look­ing the cham­pi­onship golf course to the Fife coast, Craigleith Is­land, the Bass Rock and beyond.

Once known as the ‘Biar­ritz of the North’, tourists flocked to North Ber­wick attracted by the ease of travel on the new rail­way and the plethora of golf cour­ses in the re­gion. Two trains left Lon­don each week ex­clu­sively for the rich and fa­mous to travel to North Ber­wick. The Ma­rine Ho­tel was the lead­ing sea­side golf ho­tel in Scot­land. Some of the guests in­cluded Win­ston Churchill and a host of golfers like Henry Cot­ton, Nick Faldo and Ernie Els.

While re­tain­ing its Vic­to­rian charm and char­ac­ter, the new­est part of the ho­tel of­fers its award-win­ning ther­mal spa, out­door hot tub and swim­ming pool. We were happy to in­dulge in this, fol­lowed by morn­ing cof­fee in the beau­ti­ful gar­dens over­look­ing the coast. The ho­tel boasts the Craigleith restau­rant, where we en­joyed a fine evening meal fea­tur­ing the best of lo­cal pro­duce. The staff through­out were at­ten­tive and ef­fi­cient. For re­lax­ation in beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings, with a touch of his­tory thrown in, this place has it all.


Visit­ing Shet­land has long been on my bucket list, and the op­por­tu­nity to stay at Busta House was just the im­pe­tus we needed to book the trip. A for­mer laird’s house, the ear­li­est part of the build­ing dates back to 1588. The for­tunes of pre­vi­ous own­ers have been some­what mixed – fam­ily feuds, fi­nan­cial ruin, death, tragedy – so much so that a ghost is said to haunt the ho­tel. Busta House is si­t­u­ated just out­side the town of Brae, 23 miles from Ler­wick and has mag­nif­i­cent views over Busta Voe. Painted white, with stepped gables and set in ma­ture gar­dens, it makes quite an im­pact on ar­rival. As do the gar­goyles which flank the path to the ho­tel. Sir Basil Spence, owner of the house in the 50s, was Lord Lieu­tenant of Shet­land and an MP. When the House of Com­mons, dam­aged by wartime bomb­ing, was be­ing ren­o­vated, Sir Basil ‘res­cued’ the gar­goyles which were about to be thrown away and brought them back to Shet­land.

The ho­tel has 22 in­di­vid­u­ally styled rooms named after some of the sur­round­ing is­lands. We stayed in Lamba which was bright, airy and taste­fully dec­o­rated in sooth­ing creams and golds. We ate in the restau­rant, choos­ing from a menu show­cas­ing lo­cal pro­duce – fish and mussels be­ing among the high­lights. The bar also of­fers meals and is ex­tremely pop­u­lar with lo­cals and guests. The night we were there it was packed and had a great at­mos­phere. We opted to have drinks and cof­fee in the more tran­quil sur­round­ings of the Long Bar, the old­est part of the house, watch­ing twi­light set­tle over the bay. It’s a long way, but def­i­nitely worth the trip.

Perle Oban Ho­tel

Al­lan Ram­say Ho­tel

CAR­LOPS, Penicuik, EH26 9NF www.al­lan­ram­say ho­tel.com Prices from £99 for a dou­ble room with break­fast.

STA­TION SQUARE, Oban, PA34 5RT www.per­leoban. com Prices from £119 per room B&B.

Busta House

Mac­don­ald Ma­rine Ho­tel

BUSTA, Shet­land, ZE2 9QN www.bus­ta­house. com Prices from £99 per night for a sin­gle room or £115 for a dou­ble.

CROMWELL ROAD, North Ber­wick, EH39 4LZ www.mac­don­ald ho­tels.co.uk Prices from £150 B&B.

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