Classic British hotels are something we’ve grown up reading about but when it came to our stay at Ballachulish Hotel, we got more than we bargained for.
It’s late afternoon and it’s pouring with rain. After experiencing one of the most majestic and mysterious locations we have ever seen, we are soaked to the bone and looking forward to a hot shower, a warm meal and a comfortable bed, so our hopes for tonight’s lodging are high.
As we pull up to the hotel, we notice it’s roadside parking for the night (as the back car park was full). While there was ample space, it makes us a little skittish when cars are driving past at between 60-80 miles/hour in the dark. Our hopes begin to seem a little spotty. But then we enter the stately home and we are blown away by its appeal. Our first thoughts are that it seems like the perfect setting for Miss Marple, or any of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries.
The check-in process is easy and we are sent on an adventure to find our room in the newer wing–Room 225. Nothing outlandish, the room was spacious enough to accommodate our suitcases and belongings. The bed is comfortable, there’s hanging space for your clothes and the shower is definitely hot so our mood is beginning to improve.
One of our earlier arrivals on this trip, we decide to make use of the hotel bar before our meal at the restaurant. The servers are personable and welcoming, and best of all no money exchanges hands–all can be billed to the room (except tips). There are a plethora of beers available and also top shelf scotch whiskeys for those who want the real Scot experience. We stick with our favorite beer, that also happens to be Scottish, Innis & Gunn.
For dinner we have the option of a two or three course meal, along with an al a carte selection. We opt for three courses meal and aren’t disappointed. We start with smoked trout and a haggis and tatties stack. The trout is local sourced and is smoked to perfection, while the haggis is surprisingly nice–served crunchy and salty over a bed of the creamiest potato we’ve had. Next up is a Thyme Chicken served with veg, along with local Venison. Both meats are exceptionally juicy, not dry at all, and served with just the right accompaniments. And, after what turned into a habit on our trip, we both ended the meal with sticky toffee pudding which, served warm and drizzled in it’s syrup, makes the cold and drenching rain from a few hours prior seem like a distant memory.
Settling in for the night, we turn on the TV and fall asleep to the soothing sounds (but unfortunately, not smells) of the Great British Baking Championship.
Every great hotel needs a mystery or a ghost. This had both.
A few hours later I begin to stir as I hear what sounds like someone inserting a key into our door. The noise is loud but a thought crosses my mind that it may be our neighboring room. A little slow to react, I decide to sit up and as I do, I hear the noise of the door opening and then briskly closing. Without my glasses, I squint and can see from the bed that the door is closed but within seconds the bathroom door sways open with a gust and exposes more light into the room (we left the light on). Half awake, I take a few steps out of bed and turn the corner into the bathroom. No one is there and there’s certainly no room to hide. By this time, Bernie has stirred. I ask if he heard the door open. “No” is his answer and he falls swiftly back to sleep. I take a little longer to head back to the land of nod, fitting in a binge session of trashy late night UK TV.
As an aside, cut to two weeks later when we sit down to discuss our stay and the angle we should take when reviewing this hotel. We booked it on a whim as it was one of the only hotels with availability that would put us in close enough proximity to explore Glencoe. We start doing some research and realize the the hotel is allegedly haunted. There are reports of mysterious shadows, footsteps AND doors opening, as close as room #223. And that is just in one article. Apparently the hauntings are in connection with a hanging on the site in 1752. Spooky!
A buffet breakfast is served in the morning and has options for all tastes. The staff are surprisingly bubbly and remember us from the night before, reminiscent of a Cheers-esque environment. They staff, honestly, made our stay exceptional.
Before we check out, we take some time to explore the property. A drawing room and library are on the bottom floor, along with a sitting room, complete with a house cat and wonderful views of the neighboring loch. We wish we had more time to unwind here, but we’re moving on to the highlands.
Ballaculish Hotel was a fantastic place to stay and we would definitely recommend stopping in, even if only for the food and drinks, if you’re in the area. It’s a stately manor with all of the comforts of home. The food and service were exceptional and can certainly be raved about, but we’re glad, for once, that we didn’t do our research before our stay or we may have missed out on the experience entirely, or at least some sleep!