Ruggedly romantic loch-side escape in wildest Argyll
MYTH HAS IT that Ardanaiseig was built on ancient settlements by those drawn here by the magic well of youth whose crystal waters formed Loch Awe on Scotland’s west coast. You can still feel the spell; it’s a wildly romantic setting
at the end of a winding road, and one where this imposing baronial mansion commands enviable views of the loch, crannogs and little islands (one of which is their own) amid 100 acres of woodlands littered with exotic plants.
You’ll want to cut a swathe through the interior; we loved the bold midnight blue walls
and stippled gold paintwork setting off chunky Gothic furniture and owner Bennie Gray’s remarkable paintings. Reception areas are decorated with choice chintz, while a log fire sizzles in the grate. Bedrooms feel effortlessly arty, and all have loch or garden views.The dining room looks out over water, and the only distraction (apart from your partner) will be chef Gary Goldie’s well composed cuisine.
Lovers of Scotch can wallow over one of the fine cellared whiskies before dinner – there are over 50 malts
to choose from.
Hit the Spot
On the rugged shores of Loch Awe.
Drop anchor in the ultra-private Boatshed at the water's edge.
You're a drive away from the nearest main road, let alone a town.
Made for those who love things on the wild side.
Shores of awesome Loch Awe
Ardanaiseig is ruggedly romantic outside
and moodily romantic within. You can soak in Cuaig’s decadent gold bath, sprawl across the vast canopied bed of Ben Lui or drop anchor in the ultra-private new Boatshed, with its huge floor-to-ceiling windows, wide-open views and glass balustrade right on the water’s edge. Five turf-roofed rooms, built deep into the hillside, will be added soon overlooking the loch.
Fascinating artworks line the walls – be sure to look out for the re-take on the Last Supper with its '60s celebrity twist. Oil paintings, rich colours and well spaced tables encourage intimacy in the dining room, where seafood – caught that day – is a speciality. Menus tempt with Inverawe smoked trout, pan-fried sea bass, seared scallops and vanilla pannacotta. Just-picked herbs from the garden add extra zest to dishes. If you'd sooner eat out – literally – just head off with a picnic to the hotel's own little private island in the loch
Ardanaiseig was reviewed for Room for Romance by Mike North
Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.
Dishes have a French flavour – try velouté of celeriac with duck confit, followed by best end of lamb with haricots blanc, aubergine puree, garlic crisps and tomatoes. Round off with a warm black fig tart with cinnamon ice cream and berry compote.
If you don’t mind the drive, try the fish restaurant Ee-Usk on the pier in Oban.
See & Do
Nibble on smoked haddock ravioli with Maux mustard sauce and crispy leeks.
Dress the part
Pretty skirts and chinos are perfect
Window tables have terrific loch views
Literally hundreds of miles of scenic walking trails start from the doorstep, boats and fishing tackle are for hire and clay pigeon shooting, gliding and horse riding can all be arranged. For something more sedate, have afternoon tea on the lawn and a game of croquet. And don’t leave without seeing Kilchurn and Inverary castles, or even (for the scientifically minded) a tour around Cruachan power station.
Head for the stores of Oban, around 40 minutes away
Since the village pub is three miles away you’ll be left to your own devices. It’s light at night here in midsummer, so after-dinner walks by the loch are a must.
Ardanaiseig’s own amphitheatre stages ballet, classical music and storytelling at a 120-seat amphitheatre tucked into the hillside.
Check out the Highland games in Taynuilt and Oban
Kilchrenan, by Taynuilt, Argyll PA35 1HE
There is free guest parking
Taynuilt station – 10 miles
Boat and seaplane
For special occasions, you can charter a boat from Loch Awe rail station or even charter a seaplane. Details available on request.
Around GBP 30 from Taynuilt
Glasgow – 87 miles. Transfers can be arranged.
Rooms and suites
17 rooms and one suite
There are three four-poster rooms, two rooms with roll-top baths, open fires in all public rooms, a helipad and tennis courts.
There is wi-fi in all rooms and some have DVD players.
From GBP 120
Closed 2 Jan – 8 Feb
Minimum night stay?
Full breakfast is served until 10am
Available morning and evening.
No children under five are allowed in the restaurant.
Dogs are welcome
English, Swedish, Italian
Yes – for up to 48 guests and based on exclusive hire of the property.
Five new turf-roofed bedrooms buried in the hillside and with spectacular views over the loch are planned soon.
Peter Webster – general manager