Review by Fiona Duncan, published 22nd April 2007.
One has only to step inside a hotel to know, instinctively, if it's well run. Arriving at Castleton House in a gale, two neatly uniformed receptionists sprang to greet us. Our bags were collected from the car and within minutes we were installed in front of a roaring fire with complimentary tea and home-made shortbread.
Castleton House is a handsome Edwardian house that stands in the fertile fields of the Vale of Strathmore
Our rooms were no less exemplary: conservative, attractive and immaculate havens in which it was a pleasure to spend time. The sort of rooms where you find yourself picking the bathrobe off the chair and hanging it neatly on its peg (almost the only hotel bathrobe, made of soft towelling and silk, that I have ever been tempted to wear, by the way).
No surprise then, to meet Verity Webster, who created the rooms six years ago when she opened Castleton House with her husband, David, and discover that she and I had attended the same highly regimented prep school in the dim and distant past (very distant in my case) and that, while I notched up an impressive array of disobedience marks and punishment runs, she rose to become head girl.
I always used to resent head girl types, but of course I see the point of them now. Friendly and practical, Verity went on to be a nurse specialising in palliative care. When she met David, who had a background in hotel management, including the Savoy and Turnberry, it was time to "continue caring for people, but in happier circumstances" and open their own place.
The skills that made her a head girl while I ran round the games pitches again have created an almost faultless six-room Scottish country house hotel. How funny that I, of all people, should have to report on her...
Almost faultless. Let's get the minus points out of the way. Castleton is a handsome Edwardian house built on a little hill on which a wooden fort once stood, surrounded by a moat that is now a woodland path carpeted in snowdrops and spring flowers.
It stands in the fertile fields of the Vale of Strathmore, with plenty to see and do within an hour's drive, including Glamis Castle just up the road... the A94 road that runs right by the house.
And that's the problem. The A94 is awfully close, and although in summer tall trees largely obscure the view, there is also an ugly potato store opposite and a large dairy farm next door. There are many beautifully sited hotels in Scotland but this, if I'm to tell you what the brochure doesn't, isn't one of them.
Which is not to say, for a moment, that you shouldn't most definitely stay at Castleton House, at least for a night or two. Not only are the bedrooms charming, with comfortable beds (my snug four-poster was deliciously cosy) but the food in the attractive conservatory dining room is excellent and the service, delivered by a close-knit team of local girls, impeccable.
Chef Andrew Wilkie has been with Verity and David from the start and produces carefully judged, locally sourced dishes, including tender home-reared Tamworth pork (you can see the pretty pigs from your window), chicken and quails, and melt-in-the mouth local beef. For breakfast: proper porridge - of course.
By Glamis, Angus (01307 840340, www.castletonglamis.co.uk). Doubles from £180 to £240 per night including breakfast. For further information on the region visit www.visitscotland.com or call 0845 225 5121.