Stylish self-catering in Scotland

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.

 

Teenager horizontal

 

 

Courtyard Shop

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.

 

 

Teenager vertical

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

 

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About Trish Burgess

Trish Burgess started her blog ‘Mum’s Gone To…’ with a series of posts called ‘Mum’s Gone To Iceland’ where she was extremely ill on a whale-watching trip and thought she would die snow-mobiling on a glacier. Thankfully she survived and continued with less scary family trips: ‘Mum’s Gone To…Canada, Cyprus, Barcelona, Berlin etc. Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne she now lives in South Lincolnshire and travels with her husband and occasionally with her son, who is now at university. Trish can be found on Twitter at @mumsgoneto

16 Comments

  1. 11 April 2013 / 10:39

    This looks absolutely perfect!!

    I know my OH would love to go and try out swimming in some lochs and I’ve always wanted to visit.

    Did you fly, drive or go by rail?

    • 11 April 2013 / 21:48

      It was such a great place.
      We drove. My family live in Newcastle so we had a couple of days there en route.

  2. 11 April 2013 / 12:02

    Looks like my OH’s ideal holiday – keen outdoor swimmer! How far is it from a’port/nearest station?

    • 11 April 2013 / 21:53

      The main station is probably at Perth, 45 minutes drive from Kenmore and where you could probably hire a car. Smaller station at Pitlochry, 25 mins from Kenmore. Or fly to Edinburgh, about 1hr 30 mins away šŸ™‚

  3. 11 April 2013 / 18:41

    Rory is such a good sport!
    Years ago, we had a similar holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond. It was blissful except for the bloody midges. My niece and I were literally covered in bites from head to toe.

    • 15 April 2013 / 09:44

      Sorry I’ve only just spotted your comment, Toni. I must admit we’ve not been to Scotland in the summer months so haven’t experienced the midges. They would make a beeline for Dougie, that’s for certain.

      And yes, Rory is a good sport. I always ask him if he’s happy for me to mention him or put a photo of him on my blog and he never seems to mind, even the daft photobomb one last week.

  4. 12 April 2013 / 07:14

    Can I just say a word for ‘quality assurance’? The key difference between Trish’s first and second paragraphs is surely the expression ‘5 star’. Not that we can all afford 5 star. But Mains of Taymouth have cottages at both 4 and 5 star, and my point is they are all quality assured by the tourist board. I use a website where *all* the properties are quality assured – http://www.embracescotland.co.uk. Really useful, and we’ve had some great holidays!

    • 12 April 2013 / 16:05

      Fair point, Alison, but actually I have been to some 4 and 5 star self catering properties in the past which have had blunt knives and musty smells!
      But good idea to check with tourist board for quality assurance šŸ™‚

  5. 13 April 2013 / 09:19

    Enjoyed reading this post, and hearing about your trip. Looks gorgeous! I will definitely check it out.

  6. 13 April 2013 / 21:21

    Thank you, Lindsay. We were very impressed with the accommodation and the location: the good weather was a bonus.

  7. 14 April 2013 / 01:20

    Loved the ‘teenage default’ position – same at ours! Gorgeous accommodation – and I’ve never heard of ‘quality assurance’ but I really like the idea! MrL would be all over the jeep safari and would undoubtedly want me to take the mountain bike skills course so he could share yet another of his favorite pastimes with me…

    • 14 April 2013 / 09:40

      The jeep safari is run from a village called Dull. It’s anything but…!

  8. 14 April 2013 / 16:53

    It looks fab – I am still amazed that you can persuade Rory to go with you – what is your secret? there much be some bribery involved surely?!

    • 14 April 2013 / 19:54

      He gets fed and watered and a comfy bed: that seems to be enough to tempt him. He would have to get his own food at home and that’s probably too much like hard work šŸ˜‰

  9. libby
    14 April 2013 / 18:24

    This place is going on my list of ‘one day I will visit’ destinations.

    • 14 April 2013 / 19:56

      I thought Sweden was stunning last summer: I forgot that Scotland was on our doorstep and just as beautiful.