Tessa Waugh visits Dunalastair Hotel Suites in Perthshire, a Highland hotel that's had a very modern makeover.
Kinloch Rannoch in Perthshire contains all the essential Highland ingredients: sublime scenery; a decent-sized hill, Craig Varr; a huge silvery loch, Loch Rannoch; and, as of this year, a spanking new boutique hotel.
A major part of the refurb saw a purge of all old-energy artefacts: out went the stags’ heads and tartan; in went abstract art, avant garde furniture and wall-to-wall greige. The interior is a bit John Major (I keep thinking of the Spitting Image puppet), but the 32 rooms, each with their own small kitchen, massive TV, marble bathroom and White Company products, are all about comfort.
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Walking, cycling, stalking, fishing: you can do it all on the doorstep. I opened the window on a chilly September morning to hear a stag bellowing in the distance.
Edina’s Kitchen, Dunalastair’s restaurant, attracts a reassuring number of locals and serves uncomplicated food with plenty of local produce. Look out for smoked beef and chicken from the Rannoch Smokery down the road.
From £155 per night based on two people sharing a classic suite and including breakfast (01882 580444; www.dunalastairhotel.com)
Come out on top
Walk left out of the hotel and, within yards, you’re on a gravel track beginning your ascent of Craig Varr. It takes less than an hour to get to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Loch Rannoch. Half an hour later, you can be back in your room consuming large quantities of chef’s homemade shortbread.
Alight here for tea
If you carry on around the edge of Loch Rannoch and onto Rannoch Moor, you’ll come to one of Britain’s most remote railway stations: Rannoch.
People usually go to stations to begin a journey, but, at this one, they linger to enjoy the scenery. Michael Portillo has been here and so has Harry Potter (the station featured in some of the films), but it’s the Rannoch Station Tearoom on the platform that makes this place a real destination. Expect a warm welcome, folksy decor and enormous slices of homemade cake.
That’s the spirit
Edradour (to rhyme with power) is a word to roll around your mouth as if you’re savouring a well-aged single malt. It’s the name of Scotland’s only remaining farm distillery, producing just 15 barrels of single-malt each week.
Whisky evangelist and head tour guide John Galt is there to show you how it’s made and spin a yarn about the romance of the spirit he describes as a ‘companion for life’. Try some and leave converted.
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