Great Places to Stay
- The Inn at Kippen

Kippen, Stirlingshire
Kippen is a charming little village just 8 miles west of Stirling, nestled at the foot of the northern edge of the Campsie Hills, enjoying views to the Highlands to the north. Kippen is thus an ideal base for visiting Stirling Castle and other historical sites nearby such as Bannockurn Heritage Centre, Wallace Monument, Doune Castle, Dunblane Cathedral and for touring scenic attractions such as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, including Loch Katrine and Inchmahome Priory on an island in the middle of the Lake of Menteith.

It was in Kippen in 1891 that Duncan Buchanan planted a vineyard within a glasshouse and soon one of the vines grew to be the largest in the world. When fully grown it had an annual crop of over 2000 bunches of table grapes with a record, in 1958, producing 2956 bunches. The Kippen Vine covered an area of 5000 square feet spreading across four greenhouses. It became a famous tourist attraction and people travelled miles to see it, up until 1964 when the Kippen Vinery unfortunately had to close. The memory of that Kippen Vine is perpetuated by the logo used by the Kippen Inn (see graphic).

A Traditional Village Inn
When travel writer Vivien Devlin wrote a review of the Inn at Kippen for Rampant Scotland about ten years ago, it had just opened as a completely new refurbishment of the former Crown Hotel, offering locals and travellers alike a stylish bar, large TV screen, a restaurant and accommodation in four comfortable bedrooms upstairs. Since then, there have been two changes of ownership and the Inn is now operated by Gordon Wright and Ron McKinnon who have many years of experience in the catering world. They have made further improvements, including re-instating the feature log fire to provide additional warmth between the entrance hall and the dining room.

This is a country inn, combining a cosy, welcoming pub atmosphere, rustic charm, polished pine tables with comfortable chairs and sofas in a variety of fabric and leather covers. Around the walls are large, modern prints of Scottish scenic views. Out in the front of the Inn are wooden picnic benches for summer time drinks and lunch (when the weather permits). These facilities are popular with those who smoke as smoking is not permitted in any restaurants in Scotland (or the UK for that matter).

There is a small, casual bar area adjacent to the restaurant where you can enjoy the same menu as in the restaurant. The Inn at Kippen also has a separate, large dining area which can accommodate parties of up to 70 for weddings and other celebrations whether it is drinks and canapés or a full dinner service.

The bar itself has a very wide selection of wines representing the best of the world's wine producing area. Along with cask ales, they also have a large selection of bottled and draft beer. Based on the proprietor's long career in the Scotch whisky business the bar boasts a superb range of spirits which can be enjoyed on their own or turned into classic and contemporary cocktails.

Staying at the Inn at Kippen
Let's take a peek at the bedrooms upstairs. There are three double bedrooms - a twin, a double and a king-size room available. All the rooms are newly decorated and furnished in stylish, quality furniture, soft duvets and linen, a wardrobe, dressing table, TV and en-suite bathrooms with power shower. Also provided is a hair dryer, tea and coffee making facilities and quality toiletries. And of course there is access to the Internet via a Wi-Fi connection - almost an essential these days.

The proprietors aim to go that "extra mile" to make a stay at the Inn at Kippen as comfortable and memorable as possible with nice touches such as a choice of flowers or drinks in the room or arranging a specific dinner menu.

Even though the Inn at Kippen is on a main road through the village, it is a quiet little place and guests can be sure of a really quiet night's rest.

And you will certainly be made to feel welcome, as I was, by the friendly and helpful staff who also look after you in the restaurant.

In the morning, there is of course a full Scottish breakfast available. Select from fruit juices, cereals, healthy fruit, yoghurt or traditional porridge.

To follow there's the traditional Scottish fry-up with selection of egg, bacon, sausage, potato scone, black pudding, tomato and mushroom. If you are perhaps not up to a substantial cooked breakfast (perhaps having enjoyed the generous portions at dinner in the inn the previous night) there are alternatively boiled eggs or scrambled eggs available.

Dining at the Inn

See the separate page on Great Places to Eat - Inn at Kippen. Suffice to say here that the menu is based on seasonal, locally sourced and freshly prepared ingredients. The menu is extensive and portions are generous, catering for travellers and local residents who are looking for a tasty, hearty meal. And service is quick and friendly.

More Information
The Inn at Kippen is at Fore Road, Kippen, Stirlingshire. See the Web Site for more information or contact the Inn by Email. The UK telephone number for reservations is 01786 870 500.

December 2011

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