Heather-dappled glens, a mountainous backdrop, vast expanses of calm-as-a-millpond loch and the potential for four seasons’ worth of weather in a matter of hours. When surrounded by such breathtaking scenery, where you stay becomes a matter of unimportance. Unless you happen to be staying at Cameron House.
Equally as majestic as the loch itself, the splendor of Cameron House (don’t be fooled, it’s less house, more gothic castle) manages to perfectly echo the sentiment of its surrounds. We visited late September, perfectly timed as the leaves were turning which lent the landscape a startling fiery-amber resonance, making you inclined to curl up with a warming Scotch in front of one of the hotel’s roaring open fires. Which, we of course did.
The House itself is at once imposing and inviting. As you enter the lobby of the hotel, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into an Abercrombie and Fitch store, all darkly candlelit mood lighting and deep mahogany wood furnishings. Except, rather than images of semi-naked teens emblazoned across the wall, you’ll be faced with humorous mock taxidermy. And as opposed to averting your eyes to actual semi-naked teens, you’ll be welcomed by the most charming and helpful of hotel staff, clad in traditional tartan dress – although luckily considering all of the lifting and moving they do – without a kilt in sight.
Once settled at Cameron House it’s all too easy to not venture farther than one of the homely sitting rooms, (I became quite attached to The Library – perfect for settling into an oversized tartan armchair with the Sunday Supplements) or the Great Scots Bar. And that’s only if you can bear to tear yourself away from the cosiest of bedrooms. Ours (room 121), beautifully incorporated plush mauve furnishings, asphalt grey tartan walls and deep mahogany furniture with free-standing and table lamps offering soft, subtle lighting. The beds are huge, and never-want-to-leave comfortable, to be coaxed out of only by the breakfasts (which I’ll come to), whilst the bathrooms – as a beauty journalist these are always the deal breaker – are beautifully considered. Underfloor heating adds a comforting touch, particularly if you’re visiting in the colder months, the rainfall shower is suitably soothing after a day spent in the fresh, crisp autumn air and the towels and robes are fabulously fluffy. (There’s also the benefit of free broadband, plasma tv, iPod docking station and tea, coffee and biscuits in the room, should you be so inclined.)
One thing worth leaving the comforts of Cameron House for is the Celtic Warrior Loch Cruise. Layer up and hop aboard the hotel’s luxury yacht, for a ninety-minute cruise, where, chilled champagne in hand, you’ll be encouraged to wrap up in locally-produced tartan rugs and blankets and admire the views whilst the skipper regales stories of the Loch. Pointing out a nudist beach located on one of the Lochs islands (yes nudist’s seemingly know no bounds when it comes to extreme temperatures) to news of a mob of wallabies that made the outlying regions their home. Wonder at the startlingly expensive and exclusive Loch Lomond Golf Club, where joining fees tot up to £150,000 per year (ouch!), the stunning celtic chapels that are dotted along the banks of the Loch and the hugely visible, yet stable fault line that runs straight through the mountainside.
Back on the pier, windswept and rosy-cheeked. Head into the relaxed surrounds of the Boat House, offering exquisite views across the Loch without the whipping wind. What once was a small zoo – or so we were told – has been converted numerous times, with the most recent incarnation boasting a seafood bar, lounge area and restaurant. It just so happened that we stumbled off the boat and into the midst of the Champagne and Oyster festival that was running over the weekend. Experts in both fields assisted with our selection. And we soon thawed out as the local chefs competed in an oyster-opening competition.
For those in the mood for something a little heartier, The Boathouse’s menu boasts a range of fresh-from-the-Loch (Fyne if you want to know) local seafood, thin-crust pizzas from the wood-burning oven and a range of American-style treats (the burger was one of the best we’ve ever tasted!). The resort features a number of restaurants. Formal dining comes by way of Martin Wishart, awarded a Michelin Star last year for its exquisite signature dishes and then there’s the Cameron Grill, which, although sophisticated is in no way stuffy and offers a variety of a la carte options at supper. The Grill is also home to the unmissable breakfasts which more than set us up for the day ahead. Along with an a la carte option of kippers, eggs benedict and various more specialist early morning appetizers, there is also a stack-your-plate-high buffet, including haggis – but of course.
Making for the ideal mid-winter escape Cameron House has it all. Indulge in guilt-free relaxation, head-clearing fresh-air and the option to do as much or as little as you want (or need). You won’t want to leave.
Double room rates at Cameron House, Loch Lomond start from £139 per room per night including breakfast. Devere-hotels.co.uk