Great Places to Stay
- Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry

Pitlochry has long been on the travellers' map as a holiday destination when exploring Perthshire and the Highlands of Scotland.

Certainly not a town to pass through on a day trip, but a place to stay: famous for its Theatre Festival in the Hills , (stay 6 days see 6 plays - see illustration of theatre on the right), visitor attractions nearby with beautiful countryside for sports and outdoor adventures for all ages.

Hidden just off the main Atholl Road is the charming Old Mill Inn, tucked down the semi-pedestrianised Mill Lane. Located beside a small stream, the former flour Mill was used in the 1800's but little history is known.

Tradition with Style
From the outside it looks like a traditional village pub with flower baskets, patio tables and chairs and huge old mill wheel. All very attractive but step inside and it's like Dr. Who's Tardis with a spacious bar/bistro and Restaurant and upstairs there are twelve bedrooms.

The Old Mill Inn has recently had a major refurbishment after new owners Fiona and Angus John MacLellan took over in June 2012. They have owned Victoria's Restaurant in town for many years so now this is their major project.

The interior décor is extremely tasteful - creating a smart, contemporary city boutique hotel inside the old stone and oak beam Mill house. The cosy pub is perfect for a leisurely drink or meal with seriously comfortable seats and wing back armchairs. This leads through to the Restaurant with large booths for a family or friends, and very classy furnishings throughout.

My partner Ken and I were shown to a Deluxe Mill Room on the second floor. Opening the door we were unprepared for the Wow Factor. A glamorous vision of black, gold, grey and white décor - a giant super-king bed piled with cushions, a stunning sofa dressed in houndstooth tweed, two gorgeous armchairs, flat screen TV/DVD player. All fabrics, wallpaper and bed linen all ultimate top quality.

If you just want to relax after the journey or the weather is bad, just stay "home" at the Inn. The lounging area is perfect to sit and read, watch a movie, listen to music (iPod dock). Hospitality tray to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee.

We haven't reached the bathroom yet!. Huge. A deep bath to soak in therapeutic hot water and bubbles and a separate Monsoon shower where you can give yourself a mini spa treatment. Complimentary toiletries are from the Highland Soap Company, based on organic, wild harvested herbs for the best skin care. Wrap yourself in a towelling robe and relax.

Standard rooms offer the same style of décor - lots of warm tweed plaid throws and fabrics in rich shades of tobacco and claret. Luxury comfort is the key essential here.

The Pub, Bistro and Restaurant
During our stay we were able to experience lunch in the Bar-Bistro and also a pre theatre dinner in the Restaurant. Just wanting a light lunch, the portion sizes are generous - I enjoyed a large bowl of creamy Cullen Skink, full of thick potato and smoked haddock. For Ken, a giant egg mayo sandwich with crisps and salad. With this feast we sipped a pint of Guinness and a half of Old Mill house lager.

After walking around town in the afternoon, shopping and visiting the Salmon ladder and Pitlochry Dam on the Tummel, we returned to the Inn to change to be ready for supper at 6pm.

The menu is certainly no pub grub. Yes, you can have fish and chips or steak pie, but there are also modern favourite dishes with an international flavour, including Bruschetta, Pasta, Greek salad, Sirloin steak, Tagine of Perthshire Lamb, Roast belly of pork.

I selected Smoked Salmon which comes from the Dunkeld smokery down the road, (delicious), while across the table Ken devoured a goats cheese tartlet with relish, soft melting cheese and crisp pastry. I then enjoyed Old Mill Fishcakes - beautiful soft succulent fish with a herb salad and a side order of chips and Ken chose the tasty Wild Mushroom Risotto sprinkled with truffle oil. Sharing a bottle of crisp, chilled white wine, very happy diners indeed.

Certainly no room, or time, for dessert, as we were off to the Festival theatre. Tonight it was Noel Coward's Present Laughter, a brilliantly amusing romantic comedy.

Breakfast Banquet
A fairly good night's sleep in our huge bed with soft duvet and pillows ( the drone of a kitchen fan or generator outside our window was annoying but may have been rectified by now having passed on our comments).

After an invigorating shower, time for breakfast. This is served in the Restaurant with an impressive buffet table of cereals, fresh fruit, mixed berries, cold meats, cheese - something to suit all nationalities. For hot dishes, porridge with a dash of whisky, full Scottish fry up, perfect scrambled eggs with salmon and superb Eggs Benedict. Excellent strong coffee is served in cafetière flasks to keep warm.

Guests are looked after by a team of friendly young staff who work hard in the busy bar and restaurant.

The Inn is probably the most popular pub in Pitlochry with both visitors and local residents. It's also a real hub for live music enthusiasts with some of Perthshire and Scotland's finest talented bands and singers performing every weekend. With names such as Ballachulish Hell Hounds and Red Pint Timber company - the music is sure to be eclectic mix of Celtic, Country, folk, pop and rock through the year.

There's so much to bring you to Pitlochry for a short break - the theatre, castles, distilleries, cycling, (the Etape race here every May), golf, fishing, woodland walks, hill treks and the scenic beauty of Loch Tummel and Loch Tay.

Plan a visit soon and make sure you reserve a room at the Old Mill Inn - or if can't stay long, do call in for superb food and drink and a warm welcome.

More Information
The Old Mill Inn is at Mill Lane, Pitlochry, PH15 5BH. For more information or to make a reservation see the The Old Mill Inn Web site or telephone 01796 474020.

Vivien Devlin, British Guild of Travel Writers
September 2013

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