Great Places to Stay
- Dunblane Hydro, Perthshire
The Dunblane Hydro is one of Scotland's most well known hotels, a modernised leisure and conference resort, set within and around the 10 acres of gardens of this impressive Italianate, Victorian mansion. Dunblane is just 45 minutes from Glasgow and Edinburgh and an ideal base for touring around Stirling and Perthshire.
There are 206 bedrooms, including 5 suites and 2 executive suites. The majority of the rooms are situated in the recently refurbished Stirling Wing, stretching out to the right hand side of the original house. Apart from standard double rooms, there are 72 King Rooms. These superior doubles and twins offer a little more space. However, don't expect palatial luxury - the King Rooms are still virtually the compact, average, typically furnished hotel bedrooms. However, it's an unusual and welcome touch to offer the guest something different from home.
The Triangle Health & Fitness leisure centre, built as a separate complex within the hotel grounds, with swimming pool, gym, spa, solarium, steam room, sauna and beauty salon is a popular attraction for all ages. So why not be pampered with a massage or facial? Guests are advised to book spa and beauty treatments well in advance. Relax and enjoy yourself and don't worry about the kids - there are supervised weekend and school holiday activities as well as a crèche to keep all children entertained.
Dunblane Hydro has developed superior conference facilities featuring meeting rooms, the Strathmore suite seating 650 guests for a variety of private functions and a business centre with full secretarial support. The banqueting department pride themselves on being able to cater for and provide lunches and dinners for small and large events, from parties and weddings to business conventions.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner is served in the Balmoral restaurant, a most attractive and elegant L-shaped dining room leading through into a bright and airy conservatory. This is where the Dunblane Hydro excels itself. With hundreds of guests wishing to eat around the same time, morning, noon and night, the Balmoral restaurant is run with military style efficiency and friendly, prompt service, under the watchful eye of Manager, James Ryan. In a nutshell, the food is simply superb and far exceeds the expectations of this resort hotel.
The dinner menu offers an admirable wide choice for a hotel restaurant such as this. Starters - from a selection of 14 - may include Chicken and Goose Liver pate, Poached Darne of Salmon, Smoked Perthshire Venison with compote of Blairgowrie berries, Italian Plum tomato and basil soup, or Garlic Bruschetta with herb glazed Goat's cheese.
Moving on to main courses the menu may offer classics such as Roast Prime Sirloin of Beef, Braised Lamb in a red wine jus, Oban King Scallops, Chargrilled steak, North Atlantic Sole filled with Spinach and Asparagus or a vegetarian dish of Brie, Feta and Roasted vegetables with red pepper sauce. A large platter of fresh vegetables, eg. potatoes, broccoli, carrots and mange touts, is also served as an inclusive accompaniment.
During dinner, a pianist plays a medley of easy listening tunes in keeping with this traditional Victorian leisure resort. After dinner entertainment may be a Ceilidh or a Disco in the ballroom.
History of Dunblane Hydro
The history of the hotel goes back to 1878 when on 13th September, the Dunblane Hydropathic was opened, the superb Italianate designed property costing £ 60,000, a small fortune at the time. The reason for opening a Spa Resort on this site was due to the Mineral Wells at Comrie, 17 miles to the north which had been discovered in 1813, and provided a valuable and therapeutic source of pure water. When the Hydro opened there was a resident doctor, Dr. Clark advising up to forty resident guests who came to drink three glasses of the "waters" each day as well as other hydropathic treatments which were believed to cure rheumatism, alcoholic related diseases, depression and other illnesses.
People flocked to the Dunblane Hydropathic. Whether written by happy guests or perhaps as marketing blurb at the time, the archives are filled with such comments as " it woos the tired mind to sanity" and "the bright sunshine and bracing air puts vigour into the steps of men and paints roses on the cheeks of ladies".
Outdoor exercise to put colour in guests` cheeks was also on offer nearby. In 1892 the first manager Mr. Henderson also was the man in charge of creating the first golf course in Dunblane on the Lainghills.
During the late 19th century and early 20th century several Hydropathic Spa resorts opened across Scotland [ Peebles and Crieff Hydros for instance], as part of a fashionable trend to keep fit and cure aches and pains in a homeopathic way.
Today the Dunblane Hydro continues to offer a Spa resort but now with 21st century leisure facilities to suit both families on holiday and business conferences. The reception and lobby is a spacious open plan lounge area featuring, rather incongruously in this otherwise elegant old hotel, a modern self-service café, Café Cino, serving drinks, sandwiches and snacks in order to cater for hundreds of guests. Conference guests do have their designated meeting rooms but inevitably when at leisure at the end of the day, they spill out into the public areas such as the lounges and cocktail bar.
This is not the place therefore to expect a quiet drink before or after dinner or for a peaceful and relaxing rural weekend retreat. Dunblane Hydro is however undoubtedly a popular, busy and bustling resort hotel with ideal facilities to please its target leisure and business guests, providing a quality service and doing what they aim to do very well indeed.
For more information or to make a reservation see the Dunblane Hydro Web site.
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