“ Glenfinnan, By Fort William,Highland Region, PH37 4LT. Tel:+44(0) 1397 722235 „
My partner and I recently enjoyed a 2 day break over on the west coast of Scotland where we benefited from better than average weather and spectacular scenery, I want to tell you a little bit about Glenfinnan and our accommodation whilst staying. This trip was in fact our 2nd visit to Glenfinnan, and the Glenfinnan house hotel.
***GLENFINNAN HOUSE HOTEL***
Set on the picturesque shores of loch Shiel across the bay from the Glenfinnan Monument, one of the National Trust for Scotland owned properties with spectacular views of Ben Nevis on a clear day. Glenfinnan House Hotel provides a retreat for couples who just want to have a break away from their busy lives and just spend some time relaxing.
The house itself was originally an Inn between 1752 and 1755 and was half the size of it's present form, going on to become a farmer's dwelling until 1842 and following that the property was converted into the mansion house that stands today. The Mansion house was converted into a hotel in 1971 by the MacFarlane family and the hotel itself is currently managed by award winning chef Duncan Gibson and his wife Manja both of whom I have met in person.
***Arriving at Glenfinnan***
Glenfinnan is some 15 miles west of Fort William on the A830 so it wasn't long after we passed through Fort William till we arrived at our final destination, which was just as beautiful as I'd remembered it being, with the gorgeous Loch Shiel on the left of us and the rolling hills and countryside set all around us. Just a couple of minutes past the Glenfinnan Monument and we arrived at the sign telling us to turn into the House Hotel where we promptly parked and headed into the mansion. Upon entering the hotel we were greeted by Duncan, the hotel chef and co manager, who I am very pleased to say is of Scottish origins. What a delight to go to a Scottish hotel and be greeted by an actual Scotsman, I would expect to go to other countries and be greeted by locals at any accommodation I choose to stay at. After several minutes of conversation with Duncan we were shown to our room and told to make ourselves comfortable.
***Types of Break offered***
Glenfinnan House hotel offers 3 different types of break for residents; the short break, the romantic break and seasonal breaks. Or alternatively you can just book however many nights you wish to stay with bed and breakfast with the option to add dinner on per night for a £30.00 supplement, their tariff includes a per night and per week cost.
**The Short Break**
The short break is basically a 2 day package where you can enjoy a 2 night stay at the hotel complete with dinner bed and breakfast in any of the four poster, superior or standard bedrooms. The tariff for the short break as found on the website is as follows
May & September 2009
Four poster bedroom £380
Superior bedroom £340
Standard Bedroom £300
March, April, October & November 2009
Four poster bedroom £350
Superior bedroom £310
Standard bedroom £270
They also offer additional packages which can be added on to the basic 2 night stay for an additional cost including;
**The explorer package**
Ordnance Survey map
transport to and from your local walk if required (within 5 miles)
pick-up from Glenfinnan station if required.
Encouraging residents to take in the fresh air and the surrounding countryside which is a great addition for anyone who likes the outdoors
**The cruise special: **
home-made shortbread in your room on arrival
Loch Shiel cruise on the "Sileas"
So if you fancy venturing out onto the Loch for a history lesson then you can add it onto your stay.
***The Romantic Break***
The Romantic Break is much the same as the short break with a few differences. Guests can choose from the Four Poster or Superior rooms for the 2 night stay accompanied by dinner, bed and breakfast but will find fresh flowers and chocolates waiting in your room upon arrival.
An alternative option to the standard Romantic break package is the birthday / anniversary package for that special someone which incorporates a 1 night stay at the mansion complete with dinner, bed and breakfast, flowers in the room of your choice and a home-baked cake. The tariff for the Romantic break options according to the current tariff published on the website is as follows:
Four Poster Bedroom £390
Superior Bedroom £350
Four Poster Bedroom £230
Superior Bedroom £210
Standard Bedroom £190
Glenfinnan House Hotel is a Seasonal Hotel and is only open from March through to November. Weather in the winter can often make the Hotel inaccessible so it closes at the end of November through to the beginning of March. The house hotel offer spring summer and autumn seasonal breaks which are based on a 3 night stay
The hotel only has 13 rooms but caters for Family's, couples and single residents. The rooms that are available are; the Four-Poster Suite also known as Room 1, which is a very spacious bedroom complete with a four-poster bed and private en-suite bathroom. The superior bedroom, which ranges from a single bedded room to a King size bedded room set in the tower of the house and there are 4 of these bedrooms altogether, The Standard Room which comprises, single bedded, double bedded and twin bedded rooms of which there are 3 in total, the Family Suite - two adjoining bedrooms, one with a double bed and another with two singles and a private bathroom and finally, the Family Room of which there are 3 in total which comprise a room with a double and a single bed. All of the bedrooms are complimented with views of either Loch Shiel or the Hotel Garden and are furnished with solid Mahogany and Oak Furniture.
None of the rooms have televisions or telephones, which I find rather unique, but it gives you the motivation to get outside and explore the surrounding areas. Another aspect of this hotel is the fact that none of the guests are provided with keys to their bedrooms, as the hotel operates on a unique trust policy, they will however provide guests with keys if they specifically request them (I don't think anyone ever does).
My partner booked us a romantic break in room 1 - the four-poster suite. Upon entering the room I couldn't believe how spacious it was....more than enough room for my partner and I. The four poster bed had been delicately arranged with scattered rose petals on the sheets and waiting for me was a large bouquet of flowers, a plate with chocolates on, a bottle of champagne and a Glenfinnan House Hotel branded gift box also full of chocolates for us to take away with us at the end of our stay. It is this attention to detail that I absolutely love whenever I go to stay somewhere.
The room had more than ample hanging and drawer space for the clothes we had packed for our 2 night stay and it wasn't long before we had unpacked all of our essentials and neatly stored them away in the wardrobe and drawers provided which were beautifully made out of mahogany.
We also had a gorgeous mahogany fireplace in our room which looked as though it was probably still used in the winter months which would make for a very cosy bedroom when it gets cold.
We had 3 windows altogether in our room, 2 of which looked out of the front of the hotel onto the lawn and had fantastic views of the Loch, the Glenfinnan monument and also Ben Nevis, and one which looked out onto the car park (not the greatest view in the world but the other 2 windows more than made up for it. We had tea and coffee making facilities in our room and we also had an en-suite bathroom complete with bath / shower toilet, wash hand basin and so on.
The en-suite bathroom although small was comfortable and contained everything we needed including the usual complimentary toiletries and was also heavily decorated with mahogany panelling on the bathtub and a mahogany toilet sea and so on. The style and décor was very traditional and elegant throughout and best of all the whole place was spotless.
***The Bar facilities***
The hotel although a quiet country retreat in most respects has a bar which is open to both guests and locals throughout the season and has only just begun to hold entertainment evenings to try and generate more local interest and obviously business for the hotel. It is quite a small bar area but has a very homely and inviting atmosphere, there is ample seating and all of the usual alcoholic and indeed non-alcoholic beverages are available behind the bar, along with a selection of high quality "pub grub", such as soups, salads and pasta or more meaty products such as venison sausages with mash etc etc. The specials menu often incorporates dishes appropriate for the season and where possible, local, fresh produce is used.
You can choose to have meals in the bar or indeed just enjoy the odd drink or two. You can even enjoy your meal and drinks outside where a number of picnic benches have been set up overlooking the loch for a more atmospheric dining experience.
As my partner and I had received our complimentary bottle of champagne in our bedroom as part of our package and it was a glorious day outside - we decided to take full advantage of the outdoor seating and take in the breathtaking scenery and indeed enjoy the quiet serenity of the great outdoors. What a great way to start off our holiday.
In the evenings the hotel staff light up the fireplace situated right at the entrance of the hotel and you will very rarely find the seats in the foyer unoccupied. Guests and locals alike enjoy the cosy, comfortable and relaxing atmosphere in front of the roaring fire.
There is also a drawing room where board games and books can be located if you're looking for some light entertainment if perhaps the weather isn't the greatest and you don't fancy leaving the comfort of the hotel. This is where guests are invited to sit and enjoy a drink or two in the evening whilst waiting for a table in the hotel restaurant, or alternatively you can choose to sit in front of the fireplace in the foyer. Both are very comfortable options.
Located at the front of the hotel and enjoying similar views of the Loch and Ben Nevis, the hotel restaurant serves it's a la carte menu which has a wide range of dishes to choose from guests really are spoilt for choice.
With starters like goats cheese with caramelised onion or black pudding with apple, Inverawe smoked salmon and roast quail, and main courses incorporating crispy sea bass, monkfish tail, Scottish fillet of beef and duck, I really did feel spoilt. Desserts were nice and traditional with options of sticky toffee pudding, cheesecake and Raspberry cranachan or for those guest without a sweet tooth a range of savoury Scottish cheeses.
The décor in the dining room is much the same as the rest of the hotel with Mahogany furniture and fireplaces and lovely big bay windows overlooking the large lawn, Loch and picturesque countryside.
Of course if you choose to book a room only stay then you have the option of heading into Fort William for a selection of restaurants or alternatively the Princes hotel is just a couple of minutes up the road if you feel like a change of scenery.
Breakfast is served in the same dining room as the restaurant meals and you can choose from a continental style breakfast with Croissants, cereals, fresh fruit and a selection of cold meats including venison in a sort of buffet style, pick your own format, and menus are placed on the table with a wide variety of cooked breakfast options to choose from. I think the most popular option for us was the cooked Scottish breakfast, but you could also choose from kippers and salmon to smoked venison and poached eggs. I'd say there was something for everyone on the breakfast menu.
In 2009, the hotel has obtained the SHOTY small country hotel of the year award which they had previously just missed out on in 2005 along with the rising star of the year hotel award. Another mentionable award includes the 'sensationally Scottish' award in 2006. Just a couple of awards that I think make the hotel a little more appealing.
The hotel also offers individually tailored wedding celebration packages for those couples who wish to take their special day over to the west coast of Scotland, and can be reserved for exclusive use as a wedding, honeymoon or anniversary destination. I can just imagine a reception marquee tent out on the front lawn with the sun setting over the loch as the newly weds slow dance on the patio in front of the hotel - ah isn't imagination a wonderful thing.
***Things to do and see in Glenfinnan***
For those of you who are fans of Harry Potter, Glenfinnan offers the Glenfinnan railway viaduct which featured in both the first and second Harry Potter movies, which is a spectacular site in its own right carrying the Fort William to Mallaig railway right over Glenfinnan valley. A walk right up to the Viaduct offers an alternative perspective where you can see the amazing structure from below. The sheer size and engineering of the structure is a wonder.
**The Station Museum**
To compliment the railway viaduct Glenfinnan also offers up the Glenfinnan station museum, which is a fully operational railway station with the added features of an exhibition which provides a background into rail travel as it was on the west coast of Scotland back in the 1950's. There is also a dining car which serves lovely home bakes and of course a gift shop for you to buy memorabilia.
**The Glenfinnan monument**
There is also the Glenfinnan monument which is just a short walk from the hotel as previously mentioned. A National Trust for Scotland owned property erected in 1815 in recognition of the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie 'raised the standard' at the beginning of the Jacobite rising in 1745. The visitors centre provides the history of the Jacobite rising and indeed of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the form of an interactive exhibition along with toilets and a coffee shop. We often saw coach loads of people stopping off at the Glenfinnan monument from our hotel room so it's a very popular visitor attraction and one we certainly didn't pass up being members of the National trust ourselves.
**Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm**
Sometimes when your in a location such as Glenfinnan, in amongst the countryside, you can find lots of short and indeed more challenging walks to fill your time, and you can almost be guaranteed the spectacular scenery you would expect from the highlands. Amongst these walks are two munros situated on a long twisting ridge at the head of Glenfinnan. The start of this walk is only about 5 minutes away from the Glenfinnan hotel so if you're into your walking / hiking then this is definitely something for you adventurers to get your teeth into.
**The Loch Cruise**
As guests of the hotel you can request a booking to be made for this unique guided cruise spanning the whole 18 miles of freshwater that is Loch Shiel and obtain a small discount. The experience includes golden eagle spotting, red deer and a variety of other wildlife while captain Jim Michie offers up his knowledge of the area, entertaining passengers and providing them with an educational outing. Downstairs a range of refreshments can be found, hot drinks, cold drinks and snacks, a thoroughly enjoyable morning or afternoon out.
***My overall impressions***
If you hadn't already guessed, I am a big fan of the Glenfinnan House hotel and indeed Glenfinnan itself, it's just one of those places where you can go and really escape it all. Friendly staff, great food and lots of things to see and do in the area. I would thoroughly recommend a trip to the west coast of Scotland and of course a stay at the charming Glenfinnan House Hotel.