Great Places to Stay
- Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond
Treat yourself to a fabulous retreat at Cameron House, the 5 star country house resort - as experienced by travel writer Vivien Devlin - and indulge in luxurious comfort, watersports, spa, golf, superb award-winning cuisine - and a room with a view to die for.
"O ye`ll tak` the high road,
And I'll tak` the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye.
But me and my true love will never meet again,
By the bonnie, bonnie banks o` Loch Lomond."
History of Cameron House
The south-west bank of the loch is the perfect location for Cameron House, a gracious 18th century baronial mansion. The name derives from the Celtic phrase cam sron meaning crooked nose, to describe this peninsular that juts out into the loch. For three centuries, the Cameron House estate remained in the hands of the Smollett family, originally merchants and shipbuilders from Dumbarton and later wealthy landed gentry. Sir James Smollett was one of the commissioners responsible for drawing up the Act of Union in 1707, later becoming the first Westminster MP for the district.
Tobias Smollett was a famous 18th century novelist and poet who travelled widely to France and Italy, yet the vision of his Scottish home was never lost.
"I have seen Lake Garda, Albana, de Visco, Bolsetta and Geneva. Upon my honour I prefer Loch Lomond to them all."
It was not until 1986 when Patrick Telfer Smollett sold the estate and Cameron House was developed into a luxury hotel and leisure resort.
Cameron House Today
There are 89 bedrooms and 7 suites in the original old house and the new extension, many with fabulous loch views. We enjoyed the spacious comfort and privacy of the Fyne Suite with its huge four poster bed, and a lounge featuring a sofa, armchairs and a dining table and chairs at the window, ideal for a leisurely breakfast while gazing out at the distant hills at the far side of the loch.
With period style furniture and rich velvet and brocade fabrics, it carefully blends classic elegance with 21st century lifestyle. In-room facilities include radio, mini-disc and CD player, Satellite TV, selection of movies, PlayStation, a selection of books, tea/ coffee, fully stocked mini-bar as well as decanters of whisky and sherry. The bathroom provides quality Molton Brown toiletries, warm soft white towels and a Hans Grohe power shower above the bath.
Leisure and relaxation are the key words here. Set amidst 100 acres of magnificent woodland and manicured lawns the hotel offers every kind of activity and fun both on and around the loch. There's the Wee Demon, a rather challenging 9 hole golf course, tennis courts, croquet and activities for all the family including off-road driving, mountain biking and pony trekking. Down at the private Marina, a range of water sports are available to guests - salmon and trout fishing, boating, windsurfing and water skiing.
Leisure and Relaxation
The hotel is a complete leisure and Spa resort featuring an attractive lagoon-shape swimming pool, children's pool with flume, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi. Whatever the weather outside you can keep fit on the squash court, play badminton or work out in the well equipped gymnasium. The attraction for families at Cameron House is that children are very well cared for to allow parents to enjoy a round of golf and go boating or take a well earned rest. There is a playroom, a supervised crèche and the children's Cammie Club organises a full programme of indoor and outdoor games during holiday times and weekends.
Alternatively, forget the exercise and be pampered from head to foot with a selection of gorgeous beauty treatments, for women and men. Enjoy and feel the benefit from a revitalising and detoxifying aromatherapy massage, a deep cleansing facial, an algae wrap, body scrub. Rejuvenating and soothing - feed the mind, body and soul.
We've booked a trip on the Celtic Warrior, the hotel's private luxury motor yacht, which has daily scheduled and private charter cruises. With a capacity of twelve guests, you can sit inside the cabin - featuring all mod-cons, comfortable seating, bar, galley, sleeping berths for six and private facilities - or feel the breeze on your face up on deck as you circumnavigate some of the loch's islands, with their thick woodland, sandy beaches and castle ruins. Only from the centre of the loch can you appreciate the expanse of water [23 miles long, 5 miles wide] and the wild scenery all around. Observe too the abundant bird-life - geese, waders, golden eagles and hear the plaintive call of the oyster catcher. The heavy grey clouds loomed and the rain began to drizzle, but it didn't matter a bit. The Celtic Warrior offers an absolutely fabulous experience as you sip a glass of Moet, relax and savour the view while cruising up the loch. This is a particularly popular "venue" for an intimate and stylish wedding ceremony.
Wining and Dining
8pm and time for dinner. First a long soak in a hot bath (glass of sherry to hand), before we changed into suitably glamorous evening attire and went downstairs for an aperitif. We were shown into the beautiful sunny drawing room decorated in colours of pale yellow and blue and sat by the window overlooking the loch. An unusual sight caught our eye - a gaggle of geese had sauntered onto the lawn and were quietly grazing like sheep!
An ice cold glass of champagne was presented as well as the impressive menu. Under executive chef Peter Fleming, the Georgian Room restaurant has been awarded a prestigious Michelin star for the past seven years, and also has 3 AA rosettes, Taste of Scotland award, and Egon Ronay De Luxe rating. Our taste buds tingled.
After contemplating the extensive menu featuring beef, lamb, duck and a good selection of seafood, I began with pan seared sea scallops with a light crab and ginger vinaigrette while Ken selected the escabeche of red mullet, both deliciously succulent. Then an innovative intermediate course - soft poached quail's egg on a spring vegetable risotto, glazed with a chive saboyon. A simple, tiny dish but exquisite. Then a platter of lobster and langoustine for me, while my partner enjoyed a casserole of baby vegetables with duo gnocchi and roasted cherry tomatoes. A welcome rest while we sipped a smooth, chocolaty Vina Valdivieso Single Vineyard Reserve Malbec. We finished our feast with a selection from the cheese trolley, both Scottish and French, served with home-make oatcakes and crisp fruit biscuits. The service throughout was extremely professional, attentive and unobtrusive.
Cameron House has the choice of three restaurants: Smolletts is more informal than the Georgian room and serves breakfast as well as an a la carte lunch and dinner menu; Breakers bistro down at the Marina is ideal for a casual lunch, sitting on the verandah.
Exploring the Area
Cameron House is at the heart of excellent motoring country: take a trip up to Inveraray and stop off en route at the famous roadside Loch Fyne Oyster Bar for wonderful seafood. Or take a loop up to Crianlarich over to Killin on Loch Tay and south again via Callander. And you must visit the Drovers Inn at Inverarnan, the famous Highland watering hole. Untouched for around 300 years you'll find bare floors, oak beams, log fires, barmen in kilts and great home-cooked meals. It's packed out with like-minded motorists and energetic backpackers; the ambience is warm and welcoming.
Everything about Cameron House today is luxurious, from its unique, romantic setting and first class service hospitality, classic elegance matched with contemporary lifestyle. Loch water lapping along the shore - restful, soothing, seductive.
It is fascinating to note that the indefatigable travellers, Boswell and Johnson visited Cameron House in 1773 returning from their Journey to the Western Isles. "From Glencoe through a pleasant country to the banks of Loch Lomond and we passed a night with Mr. Smollett. The civility and respect which we found, it is ungrateful to omit. From here we were met by a post-chaise that conveyed us to Glasgow "
However comfortable and speedy the horse-drawn carriage, I feel that we were more fortunate in the choice of our Maserati sports car.
With the roof down, we set off with delightful memories of our weekend on Loch Lomond lingering in the mind and recalling Sir Walter Scott's romantic impression of the loch and the shadowy aura of Ben Lomond.
"Farewell to the land where the clouds love to rest,
Like the shroud of the dead on the mountain's cold breast,
To the cataract's roar where the eagles reply,
And the lake her lone bosom expands to the sky."
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