“ Gray Street, Killin, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, FK21 8SL.Tel: +44 (0)1567820270 „
THE TYPE OF PLACE THAT GETS SCOTLAND A BAD NAME.
I have been in the travel business for many years as a tour operator and therefore have travelled extensively in Scotland and abroad. I can say that without exception the night I spent here was the worst value I have ever had and I have stayed in some pretty rough spots, while riding over the Sierra Madre in Mexico and at the docks in Piraeus, Greece, amongst others. I have also had the good fortune to stay in some fabulous hotels, The Chelsea Hotel, New York, Knock Castle, Crieff, too many to mention.
Anyway, lets start at the beginning with this one. £95 a night, an average amount of money for a hotel in one of Scotland's most stunning locations. We arrived and there is no reception desk, so we checked in at the bar. As the barman was showing us to our room he said, "if you have any problems or complaints just let a member of staff know". At that point the alarm bells began to ring. The room was basic, no TV, no phone, no amenities, no bulb in the bed side lamp, but heh! what the hell, it's got a view of the falls.
After a long day trudging up Ben Lawers we got back to the hotel, tired and weary, looking forward to a nice long bath and the luxury advertised on their web site. There was no hot water, obviously we were too late, the other guests had used it all. No phone to complain, so my partner got dressed, no reception, so she went to the bar, Friday night, bar's busy and so nobody is interested.
I had a cold bath and realised that there was no way to wash my hair other than to dunk it in the bath, (I couldn't imagine my partner, with her Charlie Miller coiffured hair doing that though). No shower attachment, no mixer taps, not even a jug that I could fill up,(check it out on there web site pictures). Once out of the bath, with cold wet hair, you guessed, no hair dryer.
Down to dinner to sample the wonderful delights on the web site. Six people complaining vociferously at the next table and the waitress telling them they had got the order wrong. There must be a good butcher in Killin because my burger was good, McD's do better presentation though and the meat was the only thing I ate. My partner didn't fare any better and was totally put off her meal by an unidentified member of staff, who wanted to sort out the problems with our room, while we were in the middle of our main course. We still were gracious enough to pay the £35 for dinner and left a tip.
And so to bed. Room 7. The amount of rust that has accumulated on the bed springs since it was purchased in the '50s would sink a battle ship. I have literally slept through a hurricane, my partner,however, is not so blessed and the only way she managed to get any sleep, was to take two pillows and lay on top of them.
Breakfast was good and Betty, the waitress, was terrific, she listened to all our woes and was very sympathetic.
We went to pay the bill at the bar and the barman said ,"£95 please", I said, "I don't think so". So he phoned the owners who were too chicken to talk to us and left it for poor Betty to sort out. We reached an agreement with Betty that we would pay £65, she gave us the receipt for the cash and we departed feeling totally drained. Only to find as I write that they have debited my partners account for the other £30. The matter is now in the hands of her bank's fraud department.
"STAY AT YOUR PERIL !!!"
(Note from reviewer: I understand that the Falls of Dochart Inn is also a hotel - and if it is, judged on the standard of its bar & restaurant it'll more than likely be a jolly good one - but this review refers only to the catering side of the business as I've only ever eaten a meal there.)
In my experience it's a taking terrible punt, eating at a pub or restaurant you don't know in Scotland, because there are so many duds out there - and I'm referring specifically here to the surprisingly many Australian-themed eateries (both past and present) that have existed in the county of Angus (and that I've been forced to visit under duress) over the years. Happily the Falls of Dochart Inn turns out to be an outstanding gem amongst the more usual dross. The clue for us, with retrospect, would have been that the relatively small-looking premises has a large overflow car-park round the back - a sign in this case of a rightly thriving business.
We visited last Friday - a day of uninterrupted heavy August rain across the whole of Scotland, and even given that we arguably didn't see the place at its best, it was still pretty spectacular. The Inn is in the village of Killin, at the western end of Loch Tay. The Inn frontage looks out across the road and over the beautiful Falls of Dochart, which is where the dark, peaty waters of the River Dochart tumble picturesquely through pools and waterfalls down a wide series of rocky steps. It's exactly the sort of Highland backdrop you see in postcards of leaping salmon and if you get a good window seat indoors in the Inn and you're there at the right time of year, I think you'd stand a good chance of seeing some.
The interior of the pub is nicely decorated in an olde-worlde if slightly hit-and-miss Scottish style; there is antique-stained rough plasterwork and an alarming life-size effigy of an auld mob-capped Scottish wifie sitting by the fire, but on the plus sides, an impressive stag's head mounted on the wall, a flagstoned floor and best of all an open log fire in a hanging brazier, so over all the effect is very nice - this in spite of the irritating Highland reel / Clannad-style folk music tapes that the bar-staff play in a continuous loop; evidently there's no accounting for taste. Two out of three of the younger staff members we met were friendly (the Scottish lad) to extremely helpful (the Australian lassie) whereas the third was a bit dour, but I suppose that's the Trossachs for you. The bar is stocked with the usual drinks and there are a number of local Scottish draught beers on offer (which we didn't try as it was only lunchtime) but these also looked good.
The atmosphere in the Inn was good, but it was the food that made this place outstanding - I thought it was really excellent. We had duck & orange pate to start with, which was so good we enquired at the bar about it - the helpful Australian bar-person told us was made by a local company who specialize in this sort of thing. The pate was served in a generous portion, accompanied by a nicely dressed mixed leaf / rocket salad, redcurrant jelly and dear little circular oatcakes. We also had carrot, coriander and honey flavoured soup which was about as good as any carrot-based soup could ever be, and afterwards the Aberdeen Angus burger served with cheddar cheese (that special orange-coloured type that you don't see so often these days, although it tasted very nice) and Ayrshire middle bacon. (I find that Ayrshire middle bacon cuts can often be a bit gruesome because of the high fat / water content, and so I was prepared to have to dissect the edible portions out - but on the contrary this turned out to be very nicely cooked so the fat was soft and edible, rather than being all nasty and rubbery.) The burger also came with more of the nicely-dressed green salad, chunks of tomato and pepper slices, raw onion rings and a big helping of chips. The quality of the meat in the home-made burger was excellent and mine was very well-done, exactly as I'd asked for it to be. All this was served directly on a large wooden board which had a hole in it to contain the round-bottomed pottery bowl the chips came in. (I haven't been served food directly off boards very often in the past, so this detail was more than enough of a novelty to get me quite excited at least).
The main courses were around £9 to £10 each, and the starters around the fiver mark so it's pretty much a mid-range priced restaruant. Given the genourousness of the portions, I think a starter would do for a light lunch if you're not too hungry; we certainly didn't manage a dessert course at the end of our meal, although there was an interesting cheeecake listed on the 'specials' board that day that looked pretty good. There are also bar snacks for less than a fiver (eg a range of toasties which I think they might have called 'paninni' on the menu), a kids' menu with the usual options at £3.50-£4 each and from the main menu a selection of pub-grub favourites (eg. home-made pie, locally produced sausages & mash, etc.)
The restaurant and bar looked full almost to capacity the day we went, when as I say, it had been raining heavily since the previous night, which may well account for the faint but slightly odd odour that confronted us on first going in (no doubt it was coming from all those wet waterproof coats) - though we got used to this quite quickly. It's obviously a place with a deserved, very good reputation and I'd definitely, highly recommend it.