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A Gem Of A Hotel In Scotland
Ballachulish Hotel (Ballachullish, Scotland)
Member Name: Machair1
Ballachulish Hotel (Ballachullish, Scotland)
Advantages: An exceptionally friendly hotel
Disadvantages: The bathroom I was given looked slightly tired and in need of an upgrade
This Christmas our travel plans to visit the Outer Hebrides held a great deal of uncertainty as the ferries were often being cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. As our destination is the chain of islands made up of North and South Uist we have two choices as far as ferries are concerned, one is to travel from Oban to Lochboisdale in South Uist, and the other is to go from Uig on Skye to North Uist. On the day of our departure it was unclear which ferry would be running, and this is how we managed to stumble on The Ballachulish Hotel as we were looking for a base to spend the night. This hotel is perfectly situated as it is ideally positioned, allowing easy access to both ferry terminals which are within a few hours driving distance.
Ballachulish holds a special place in my heart, as in my childhood it was home to a ferry which in 1975 was replaced by a bridge. It used to be a bottleneck for traffic, but it heralded to me the start of my summer holidays as we travelled north in our old Austin Cambridge. I saved all my pocket money to buy a painting of the ferry for my Dad which still hangs proud in his house today. The colours and the light on this painting are gorgeous and this scenery still exists in all its glory today.The hotel is situated on the south side of the ferry and many travellers used it as a base when waiting to cross.
The Ballachulish Hotel
I purchased an overnight stay double room with breakfast from the booking agent at Travel Republic. This is a favourite of mine as the deals are often cheaper than other agents. We stayed here on the Saturday night 17th December for the excellent price of £50. As frequent visitors to Scotland I always find rooms to be available in stunning hotels with fine locations in the off season. This affords me the chance to sample them, when maybe in the summer I would be less likely to as the price is prohibitive, especially if you are essentially just passing through. The hotel was delighted to accept my little dog Molly for the additional charge of £10.
The hotel is situated just outside the village of Ballachulish in a quiet spot just off the A82 Glasgow to Fort William road. It is a very old hotel with rustic charm; it won't appeal if you seek modern sophistication. Think tartan and old stone walls and you are on the right track!
We arrived very late at night and had driven through Glencoe and Rannoch Moor as snow was lightly falling. I had lost count of the number of deer that we saw in our headlamps, it was a beautiful scene and as we pulled up at the hotel the rain came down in torrents. We were so grateful when the night porter opened the side entrance for us so that we could unpack the car without getting too wet. The porter was so kind and welcoming, and I said to my husband that this first impression was just something special which was mirrored in every aspect of the service that was to follow.
We were escorted to our room which was beautiful and had white shuttered windows which opened out onto a stunning view across the loch to the mountains beyond. The room had crisp white bedcovers and a Celtic cross above the bed. I adored this, but my husband felt it was a little too much as it made him feel uncomfortable- "Chapel of Rest" was his first thought, but I felt it was peaceful and different. The room had plenty of places where you could work if you wished, and all the rooms have free unlimited Wi-Fi access. There was a kettle stowed away neatly within a cabinet and plenty of teas and coffees and shortbread biscuits.
The room we were given had only a shower, which worried me slightly as I have ME and I can't stand in showers and had forgot to ask for a room with a bath. I was able to shower by sitting in the shower tray, however, which allowed me to inspect it at close distance. To be honest it did need a freshen up in places where the grouting was less than adequate, but it was spotlessly clean and there were plenty of towels provided. It wasn't luxurious though, and certainly would need to be upgraded to impress a traveller who was paying more than I did.
The bed was very comfortable and the pillows were spotless when I removed the covers to inspect them. I always do this in hotels as I think it is imperative that the linen is spotless whatever the price. I had a wonderful sleep in this bed which was of excellent quality.
Breakfast was superb. We were seated by a manager who was kindness itself. The hotel must be a very happy place to work in as every member of staff is so friendly and joyful - it had the best atmosphere of any hotel I have stayed in for a long time. There was a cold table with all the usual croissants and pastries, and a hot buffet with the traditional cooked breakfast items. Tea coffee and toast are served at the table, and the rest is help yourself. The dining room was really busy with some murder mystery participants who I gathered were there for the weekend, and some climbers who were gearing themselves up for a day in the hills. It was such a vibrant dining room, and I loved the view across to the mountains which were bathed in morning sunlight. The food was beautifully cooked and presented, and the table linen was immaculate with local slate place mats and sparkling cutlery.
If you enjoy leisure facilities these are available just up the road at their sister hotel and are free of charge for guests.
Check out Was Perfect
Check out was just as friendly as check in with a smiling face who was just delighted to spend time talking to us. We didn't leave straight away though as I wanted to check out the lounges. These were beautifully decorated with Christmas trees and roaring fires were ablaze, even at ten in the morning when we departed. There were many sofas and comfortable chairs and a book library. I could have stayed there all day it was so cosy and warm, and I can't wait to return as this hotel has become my number one at the moment for overnight stays in this region. The photographic opportunities from the hotel kept me far too long, and we had the hurried task ahead of us to scrape the car windows free of ice, in order to head for the next leg of our journey north and then west.
In conclusion I would say I can recommend this hotel for a warm welcome, and it certainly made our journey something to remember and to look back on. I think the bathroom we had could do with upgrading in the near future, but the rest of the décor was lovely and the hospitality second to none. I must confess to preferring a minimalisitic decor these days rather than traditional as this is. However it was just so homely and warm, and the style seems right as it is cocooned in walls, some of which which date back to the 15th century. It is said that Queen Victoria commented in her diary on this beautiful hotel as she crossed the ferry all those years ago - I like that!
This review is also published on other sites by myself. It is published on Ciao with photographs under my user name Violet1278.
Summary: Well worth a visit.
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