A STEP BACK IN TIME
Taking a trip to historic haunts around the country, our subscribers uncovered some charming holiday destinations to add to your bucket list
Our subscribers review hotels that are steeped in history
REVIEWED BY IAN & ELMA CONN FROM LANARK
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.
REVIEWED BY LIZ & LYNSAY CARGILL FROM EDINBURGH
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.
REVIEWED BY JOYCE & JOHN WATSON FROM ALFORD
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.
REVIEWED BY FIONA & TONY DOWSON FROM PITLOCHRY
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.
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.