“A cosy, relaxing, personally run hotel with marvellous views and access to the famous Killiecrankie Pass”
Review by Fiona Duncan, published 25th October 2009.
One of the best things about this cosy hotel is the waiters' trousers. Don't get me wrong: it has many other qualities, but the trousers cut a dash, as do the young Lotharios inside them. Called Scotch Potch and made by D S Dundee, these are tartan trews with a difference, made up of not one, but several different plaids.
Bowood Hotel, Wiltshire "When I was first shown what I would be wearing, I nearly ran," says Tom, one of a small band of young staff who work alongside owner Henrietta Fergusson. "But they bring a smile to so many faces that I really like wearing them now."
What about the girls, dressed in black? "Oh yes, poor things, dull peahens compared with the peacock boys," Henrietta says. "But I've found a dressmaker who is going to make them Scotch Potch ra-ra skirts."
You might think a hotel boasting such flamboyantly uniformed workers (evenings only) would be decorated in the same way but you'd be wrong. Henrietta's choice of trousers reflects the irreverent, twinkle-eyed side of her character, but the rest of the hotel is her too: splendidly "country" but down to earth, unpretentious and Scottish through and through.
After years involved with smart country house hotels (Greywalls, Skibo, Bovey Castle), Henrietta has bought her own modest Perthshire fiefdom. The whitewashed 1840s church minister's house has been a hotel since 1939 and become increasingly tired in recent times.
Henrietta, who took over in 2007, hasn't immediately thrown money at the place, but she's given it a much fresher look and is gradually upgrading the 10 bedrooms. "They aren't all perfect," she tells me, "but I'm certainly not ashamed of any of them now."
Nor should she be. The bedrooms are pretty and homely, all different, all shapes and sizes, with an assortment of furniture (some past it), country house fabrics and prettily upholstered chairs, some with large bathrooms, some small, ours uncomfortably so. You'll find a vase of flowers, and your Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner.
This is a welcoming, easy-to-be-in hotel. The sitting room may be cramped, the bar, though popular, a bit uncomfortable and rooms, bathrooms and common parts in need of further upgrading, but somehow the hotel feels just "right", with Beanie the spaniel setting the tone.
Killiecrankie, by Pitlochry (01796 473220; www.killiecrankiehotel.co.uk) Doubles from £198, including dinner, bed and breakfast (discounts for subsequent days). Ground floor rooms are availabel for guests with disabilities
How it rates (out of five)
The Hotel Guru verdict
"superiors" are only slightly dearer than "standards"
Happy team lead by consummate hotelier
Genuine; hands on. singles well cared for (two good rooms)
|Food and drink|
Contented food from contented chef; intelligent wine list
|Value for money|
Pricey room rates; worth staying several nights for a discount