Our self-catering holidays in the UK have been a bit hit and miss over the years. We have booked properties which look wonderful on a website or brochure only to discover they are a bit shabby with hard beds, thin towels, blunt knives and damp, musty smells. Then it rains.
Not this time. This time everything was perfect. A 5 star luxury self-catering apartment with comfortable beds, fluffy towels, sharp knives and underfloor heating which kept the whole place warm and dry. It didn’t rain.
|The Gallops apartments at Mains of Taymouth|
Where did we stay?
Our Highland fling this Easter took us to the Mains of Taymouth Country Estate on the edge of Loch Tay in Perthshire. The accommodation varies from cosy cottages through to chic apartments and large family houses so there are plenty of options whether you are a couple, a small family or travelling with a big group. It’s also very pet-friendly with several of the cottages happily accommodating dogs. Whatever your choice, the fittings and furnishings are fabulous. Some have hot tubs, several have wood-burning stoves but all have the attention to detail which makes you feel you are staying in an upmarket hotel…with a kitchen. We booked a first-floor apartment in The Gallops: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a massive living room, large balcony and well-equipped kitchen. In fact, the kitchen was so well-equipped with all manner of gadgets, there was no cupboard space left for our KitKats and Pringles. I kept opening cupboards, only to find a dishwasher or washing machine hidden within. Complimentary tea and coffee sachets and shortbread were provided plus other extras you need but quite often have to bring yourself: kitchen roll, dish cloths, washing up liquid. The bathrooms were toasty warm because of the underfloor heating and there were complimentary toiletries too, from Highland Aromatics.
|Interior of The Gallops apartment|
Our son Rory, aged 17, was pleased there was free WiFi in the apartment and also took ownership of one of two large sofas so he could watch the TV in comfort. Here he is in his default position of horizontal.
What facilities are available?
Mains of Taymouth has a restaurant/bar and a shop/delicatessen. The restaurant serves local freshly prepared food all day and is very stylish and contemporary. We did eat there one evening but, although the food was good, there was a mix-up with our starters so the service for us that night was rather slow, which was a pity. The Courtyard shop, however, is a gem of a place. It is independently run by a husband and wife team, both old friends of mine who used to be managers at John Lewis so you can imagine they use their experience to good effect. Lots of high quality products for self-catering plus a great selection of unusual oils, Scottish produce as well as gifts and souvenirs. The complex also has riding stables, a 9-hole golf course and a Bespoke Beauty spa. Nearby on the loch is the Loch Tay Boat Centre where guests can hire canoes, kayaks, boats and bicycles.
What did we do?
We were blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine during our short break so were keen to make the most of the weather. Yes it was chilly but the lack of wind meant it was enjoyable to just be out and about in the fresh air. We walked a lot, climbed up hills to see waterfalls and came down again to have a tasty lunch in nearby Aberfeldy at a delightful bookshop and cafe called The Watermill. Rory was happy to be outside and vertical, putting one foot in front of the other at a surprisingly fast pace. He was also ‘doing his Geography homework’ by spotting mountain features, river erosion and being aware of tourism and sustainable development. His method of taking notes was to just take photographs of information signs using his phone!
We only stayed for three nights but if we had been here longer we might have tried a Land Rover Safari or Mountain Bike Skills course or taken to the water for some canyoning or white water rafting. The area has plenty to engage children of all ages and is very much geared up for tourists.
We left after too short a time feeling very refreshed and energised and taking with us some new tartan cushions after an impromptu shopping spree. I think there was a tear in my Scottish husband’s eye as we crossed the border and headed home.
If you need another reason to visit this part of Scotland then just take a look at the photograph below showing Loch Tay in all its beauty.
|Loch Tay, Perthshire|