“ Address: Glenurquhart Road / Inverness IV3 5PB / Scotland / Telephone: 0044 (01463) 239075 „
We needed a place to stay in Inverness for a couple of nights recently, having booked tickets for a concert which was taking place in the city. I had checked the hotel websites such as Premier Inn, Travelodge etc but on finding out about the concert taking place they had hiked their prices up, with Premier Inn actually charging £118 for one night's stay on the night of the concert! I was not prepared to pay their hugely inflated prices so began looking elsewhere. At this time of year the guest houses in Inverness are busy accomodating the tourists who flock to the area and I was informed that I should book early. The concert was in July and so back in March I began looking at suitable places to stay. On searching the internet, one of the first places I noticed was the 'Avalon Guest House' and clicking on the link, http://www.inverness-loch-ness.co.uk/ brought up the guest house website. I was impressed with the information and photo's about the Avalon and discovered it has been voted the number one guest house in Inverness on Trip Advisor as well as being rated four stars by the AA. I was also pleased to discover it looked to be a 5-10 minute walk from the concert venue and therefore decided to check availability right away via the website and was pleasantly surprised to find they had one room left available for the dates I wanted. I booked it there and then and received an immediate confirmation of my booking via email. I did not have to pay a deposit, just simply leave valid credit/debit card details. Full information of cancellation terms and conditions were included in the email. ~~ Avalon Guest House, Inverness ~~ The Avalon Guest House is situated on the A82 tourist route into Inverness and is only a ten minute walk away from the city centre along the banks of the River Ness. If you drive up from Fort William, it is a very scenic route going right alongside Loch Ness and as the road takes you into Inverness, you will find the Avalon guest house on the right. Driving in from the busier A9, takes a little longer but it was still easy enough to locate following the directions provided. Avalon is set back from the road and has off-street parking. It offers 5 Double Rooms with Double, King or Super King Beds and 1 Twin Room with Single Beds. All room are en-suite with the exception of one which has its own private bathroom right opposite the room. This was the room I had booked as it was the only one left. Bed & Breakfast for myself and partner was £70 per night, which was a lot cheaper than the Premier Inn were charging and also you would have to pay extra for breakfast at the Premier Inn/Travelodge too. ~~ Our Stay ~~ We were greeted very warmly by Jo and Brad the owners and right away I was impressed with the Avalon guest house, from both the inside and outside . Jo ushered us into the guest lounge where I was asked to fill in a small guest details form whilst Jo chatted to us about our journey and why we were visiting Inverness. Right away we felt very welcome and at ease chatting to Jo as she gave us a handy map of Inverness pointing out where the concert was being held as well as where we had arranged to meet friends. Jo pointed out the guest lounge could be used at any time and there was even a laptop there for guest's use! Wi-fi was also available in our room. We were then shown to our room on the ground floor which was more than suitable for our needs. The rooms are described as being decorated in a modern contemporary style and ours was no different. Both myself and my partner were very impressed with our room and Jo pointed out a few things to us, before showing us our private bathroom right opposite ensuring we understood it would only be used by us during our stay. Whilst it is nice to have an en-suite, I knew when booking that I was getting the only room without one and it was really no hassle at all to go to the bathroom as it was right opposite our room and as Jo promised, totally exclusive to us. Our bedroom was decorated in shades of brown and cream and was really lovely. We could find no fault with it at all. The brown leather double bed was very comfortable and made up with crisp white linen and comfortable pillows with contrasting runner and scatter cushions in shades of brown. Also on the bed were fluffy white towels with an Elizabeth Shaw mint thoughtfully placed on top of each bundle. Indeed it is such attention to detail at Avalon which makes it extra special, such as the inclusion of fresh cut flowers in the bedroom and ipod speaker docks. It certainly looks as if a lot of thought has gone into the design and decoration as well as what to include in the bedrooms here. Also in the room was a wall-mounted flat screen TV with freeview channles (SKY channels were available on the TV in the guest lounge), a small kettle with coffee, hot chocolate and a variety of teas as well as cookies. You can even request fresh milk for your drinks if required and I liked the fact that even the sachets of tea/coffee etc were stored in a brown leather box, which matched the bin and other items in the room. Mahogany contemporary bedside cabinets housed twin brown lamps and the ipod speaker dock as well as a brown leather tissue box. Like I said, a lot of attention is given to detail here. The dressing table matched the cabinets and there was also a brown leather bucket-style chair in the corner. A hairdryer was included and you could request straighteners if needed. Reading the guest information provided, stated that Jo would be happy to accomodate a load of washing for you upon request or assist with any other laundry needs. Clothes hanging space was inside a built in cupboard and there was plenty of room and hangers included. This was where we noticed two white towelling robes provided for our use, which again I thought was a nice touch and came in handy just to pop on when going to the bathroom. Breakfast was served between 8 and 9am in the dining room just off the guest lounge and again this was decorated in a contemporary style with individual tables and brown leather chairs. I particularly liked the layout and the fact there are individual tables, so you are not sat around one big table with others guests like I have been on occasion at other guest houses. Photo's of Inverness and Loch Ness adorned the walls and small vases of fresh flowers were placed upon the tables, again the attention to detail stood out. On a long table at the back of the room were cereals, pastries, croissants, cheeses, fruit juices, a large bowl of fresh fruit salad, fresh fruit and a small fridge containing yoghurts. After helping ourselves to what we wanted from the table, Jo asked us what we would like cooked from the breakfast menu. A full Scottish cooked breakfast is provided and you can choose exactly which items you want in any combination you choose, including bacon, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes, beans, eggs and mushrooms, which are then cooked to order. Jo and Brad pride themselves on offering good quality home-cooked breakfasts, using award-winning bacon and sausage sourced from a local provider and our breakfasts were delicious, beautifully cooked and presented. Jo was very attentive during breakfast and the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. We particularly enjoyed chatting with Jo during breakfast and also with her husband Brad afterwards. They both asked the guests what they were doing that day and would give a lot of useful help and information. There is no curfew at the Avalon and guests are free to come and go whenever they wish. If you needed Jo or Brad at anytime during your stay and they weren't around, there was a bell to ring near the front door. We spent two very comfortable nights at the Avalon Guest House and I can understand why this guest house has been voted number one on Trip Advisor. Nothing is too much trouble for Brad and Jo, we were welcomed warmly into their home and spent two very enjoyable days here. Walking into town along the scenic River Ness only took a few minutes and the concert venue was indeed only a few minutes walk away from the Guest House too. Although the weather was very warm and often humid throughout our stay, it was unfortunate that the heavens opened on the night of the concert and we got soaked to the skin! Although we didn't let it spoil our enjoyment, we were glad of those fluffy white robes on our return to the guest house that night and enjoyed a good laugh with Jo about it the next morning. I can highly recommend the Avalon Guest House if you are visiting Inverness and if I visit the area again, I won't hesitate to book a room here. Avalon Guest House, 79 Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5PB Tel: 0044 (01463) 239075 or visit http://www.inverness-loch-ness.co.uk/index.htm for more information.
***Background*** My hubby and I had decided it was time we got away for a little break together without the kids and as we have some good friends in Inverness, we thought it was also an ideal place to visit. The area up that way is beautiful and although I've visited before, it was somewhere that my hubby hadn't been so all that was needed was to find somewhere to stay, to make for a comfortable but reasonably priced base. Usually when I'm looking for a hotel or guesthouse, my first stop is lateroom.com because they have a good selection on their books and this is where I first found Avalon. To get a better idea of this guesthouse I visited their own website and found out that it was situated on the main road into Inverness from Fort William. As we were actually arriving via this road, we thought it was ideal especially being advertised as only a 10-minute walk from the city centre and of course it was on route from the scenic drive past Urquhart Castle. ***Making The Booking*** The website www.inverness-loch-ness.co.uk, was very informative and easy to use and I noticed that it had a section to check availability and prices on a secure connection. When doing so I have to say I expected it to be a little bit more expensive than with laterooms but I was delighted to see that it worked out £15 cheaper for the Friday and Saturday nights that we were looking to book. We later found out from the owners that this is because they charge higher prices through laterooms because of the commission payable to the company. Booking online was easy and after looking at the website we decided to go for the large double bedroom with en-suite facilities. There are 6 rooms in total, ranging from twin, double and family in size, all with en-suite. The website also advertises that this establishment can also cater for someone with disabilities with a room especially decorated with comfort in mind. Although the details of the booking appeared on screen, I was also sent an immediate email containing everything we needed to know. ***Arriving*** We arrived at around 4pm and after the amount of rain that had been pouring for the majority of our journey, we were pleased to see that parking was not only off street but was in close proximity to the entrance. A few seconds after ringing the bell we were warmly welcomed into the house by a friendly young woman called Jo, who was clearly expecting us. She chatted to us while we filled out our details for her and asked how our trip had been. She showed us the guest lounge and the breakfast room while informing us that breakfast would be served between 8 and 9am. These areas were bright and warmly decorated with yellow walls and green carpets with a very Rennie Mackintosh feel to the place. It all looked lovely and clean and made for a welcoming start. We were given keys to our room and the side door near where our room was situated so we didn't have to trail our cases through the breakfast room and lounge. We were also told that we could come and go as we pleased and that they didn't have any type of curfew, as you find in some guesthouses. ***The Room*** We were then taken to our ground floor room and I have to say when we first entered the room I felt that it was a little bit masculine in decoration with a chocolate leather headboard that matched a couple of chairs. Five chocolate coloured cushions sat atop white pillows and duvet and chocolate curtains adorned the windows. Three African styled face pictures sat on the wall above the bed. Green washable walls and a green carpet helped to set off the green jacquard bedspread that was laid over the bed. Once I had a chance to properly look around though, I found that this room was more feminine that at first glance with a beautiful flower picture on another wall and a small spray of fresh carnations sitting in a pretty vase on the desk. There was also a good selection of magazines in a rack that were obviously aimed towards the female visitor. As with most rooms, there was a television in a corner that had Freeview on it, although we were too busy to really sit and watch anything. Underneath this was a shelf with a small kettle and a selection of Fairtrade tea, coffee and hot chocolate sachets on a tray along with cups and saucers. There were also some fruit teas and some biscuits, which were most welcome after the long drive. A bottle of water was also sitting there for anyone looking for a bit of refreshment. One thing that I did like was that the small milk cartons actually contained fresh milk, which tasted much better than the usual long lasting variety that you usually get. The en-suite was beautifully clean with a shower, toilet and wash hand basin in it. Again there were extra touches such as some lovely Monet prints on the walls and a little flower decoration on the shelf in the corner. As well as the hand soap attached to the wall at the basin, there was a pump action mandarin hand cream. In the reasonably sized shower unit there were containers with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in them too. As well as these, was a basket filled with little goodies of shower gel, shampoo and mouthwash along with cotton buds, cotton balls, a sewing kit and some shoeshine cloths, which came in very useful during our stay. Shower caps were also included although we didn't feel the need to use these. The luxurious white towels were set out on the bed for us when we arrived with an Elizabeth Shaw mint on each pile. Again we thought this was a lovely touch and I have to say I am partial to mint chocolates of this type so I thoroughly enjoyed mine. A hairdryer is available in the room and we were left a welcome pack that told us everything we might need to know for our stay. We found out that if we needed a trouser press or iron, then we only had to ask and that a laundry service could also be arranged for visitors who are perhaps staying a while. This guesthouse also has a wireless network available although we did have a bit of trouble with this and couldn't get the router to connect properly for some reason, despite trying a number of things. This was not really a problem for us though, as we didn't desperately need to get online. ***The Breakfast*** Breakfast details are also given in your welcome pack and we were delighted both days by the selection of food on offer. Cereals, croissants, fresh fruit and yoghurt were all available on a table at one end of the room along with some refreshing fruit juices. After getting what we wanted from there, Jo asked us whether we would like tea or coffee and then came to see what we wanted cooked for us from a list of sausage, bacon, black pudding, beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. Eggs could also be chosen and although my hubby had fried eggs both days, I had scrambled the first and had a delicious omelette the second morning. What really made the breakfast so good though was that the conversation and friendly attitude of the owners made us feel at home. We chatted about our previous day and recommendations were given for shopping and places to eat. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and getting everything cooked to order was a bit more personal than just helping ourselves to pre-prepared food on a hotplate, as you do in a lot of hotels. We also felt that we didn't have to rush because there were ample tables for the amount of guests there and we didn't have to wait long for our cooked food after eating our starters from the breakfast table. I have to say that there were absolutely no complaints there at all. ***My Thoughts*** I have to say that I'm always a little bit nervous when staying at guesthouses, because they can be so hit and miss with service and cleanliness. This meant that I was even more delighted to be able to write this review giving such a good report back. From the moment we entered to the moment we checked out, we were made to feel very welcome and that nothing was too much trouble. The owners were extremely friendly and we felt as though they really enjoyed making people happy and it wasn't all just about making money, as with some places. The room we stayed in really was spacious with ample hanging spaces in a wardrobe and drawers for other items too. Lighting was good and our view was of the back garden where birds could be seen eating at the bird table. I would imagine that this area would look lovely in the summer with flowers appearing. The only thing that spoiled it a little bit for us was that on the first night we stayed, some guests above us came in very late and then were up at 6am the next morning. The floorboards were a bit creaky and we could hear their voices, as they were quite loud. When we mentioned this to the owners they did tell us that there was no one booked in the following night and that they were in the process of decorating the rooms upstairs so sorting floorboards and putting in thicker carpets to minimise noise was on their list of things to do. The breakfast and lounge areas were beautifully decorated and finishing touches such as little vases of fresh flowers made it all that bit more personal. I also liked the fact that they had a number of maps and guidebooks available for guests to peruse, as it shows that they want people to get the most from the area. The idea of a recommendation book that guests can fill in to help other guests decide where to go is also an excellent idea and I'm sure if we hadn't already had a full weekend planned with friends who lived in this area that this would have come in very handy. Checkout is a little bit earlier than in other places but the 10am timing suited us, as we needed an early start back on the Sunday anyway. I would have no hesitations in recommending this guesthouse to anyone because it had everything we needed for a short break but is also ideally placed for anyone staying longer. Taxis into town at night cost under £4, which was very reasonable considering the weather was not really great for walking anywhere at the time but it is very easy to get into town or to walk down by the River Ness from the guesthouse. Friendly owners, spotlessly clean rooms and a delicious breakfast to start the day all made for a pleasant stay and a relaxing place to rest our heads at night. ***Prices*** Going to their own website will be the cheapest option and for the large double room with breakfast, staying on a Friday and Saturday night at the end of February cost us £115. Obviously prices will vary for different times of year but comparing this to other guesthouses or hotels in Inverness, we found this to be pretty good value considering all the little extras there were.