Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Inverlochy Castle hotel

Inverlochy Castle Hotel is the closest thing to heaven I’ve ever experienced. The luxury castle hotel is tucked away in its own estate just outside Fort William which makes it easily accessible from both Glasgow and Edinburgh by train. Alternatively, if your budget stretches far enough, you can arrange for Rolls-Royce or helicopter pickup pretty much anywhere in Scotland. In the words of my lovely other half: “For this, you might need to remortgage your house.”

A stay at the five star hotel complete with a Michelin restaurant doesn’t come cheap but, boy, is it worth it. From the minute you enter through the ancient wooden doors you’re attended to by a team of impeccable staff who are genuinely interested in your wellbeing and comfort throughout your stay.

inverlochy castle hotel hall

If you arrive too early for check in, you’ll be ushered into the drawing room and served refreshments of the highest caliber. Meanwhile, your luggage will be taken care of.

It’s easy to lose track of time at Inverlochy Castle Hotel. There’s something to be admired wherever you look, from the pristine furnishings and decor to the stunning artwork adorning the walls. Also worth seeing is the collection of elk heads in the snooker room, shot in North America by the late owner of the estate.

inverlochy castle drawing room

I can’t comment on all the rooms but ours was incredibly spacious with a blue, yellow and floral theme, a TV, Bang & Olufsen sound system and other expensive details. The bathroom featured both a bath and a shower and boasted a full set of Penhaligon’s toiletries.

Dinner is served in a room furnished with antique tables and cabinets gifted by the King of Norway in the mid-20th century. You’d best know your cutlery before dining here. Don’t fret if you’re not a wine connoisseur, however, as there’s a sommelier on hand and you’re given thirty minutes before dinner to browse the wine book, whilst enjoying your amuse-bouches.

Everything we ate was divine and beautifully presented. Local seafood and game feature heavily on the menu. I recommend opting for the cheese board for dessert as it’s like no other I’ve ever seen. Expect a waitress to arrive at your table with a silver tray loaded with around ten cheeses, some Scottish, others French.

After dinner, it’s a pleasant surprise to walk into your room which has been prepared for the night – duvets turned down, curtains drawn, night lights on.

The bed linen of goodness-knows-what-high-thread-count guarantees a good night’s sleep, unless you suffer from post-cheese-board nightmares!

inverlochy castle snooker

Breakfast is once again served in the dining room with a view across the loch and hills in the distance. Again, there is a menu to consider and you’ll leave very energised for the day ahead. By breakfast time I felt a little less intimidated by the grand surroundings and highly enjoyed the opportunity to people watch. As a 24-year-old and 29-year-old couple we were the youngest guests by far. Some guests seemed to be regulars while others were obviously visiting Scotland from afar. Remember to bring posh clothes to fit in! In the evenings it’s suit and tie only in the dining room.

We were sad to have to check out, so unwilling in fact, that we popped back in the afternoon for a cheeky break and beverage before departing for our bus.

Inverlochy Castle hotel chess

Photos by Grafyte.

Bracklinn Falls, Callander Revisited

This weekend I revisted my beloved Callander just a hop and a skip away from Stirling. After stocking up on meringues at the lovely Mhor Bread bakery on the High Street, my three Lithuanian companions and I ventured further to one of our dearest spots, Bracklinn Falls, a place of natural beauty that never ceases to amaze. The weather wasn’t the most delightful so we stayed warm by running through the heather, playing a bit of football and snacking on the gooey meringues.

At one point the sun came out to play and produced a series of rainbows. We chased one to the end but someone had already gotten their hands on the pot of gold…

North Berwick: a Seaside Escape

North Berwick coastlineStirling may have mountain ranges right on its doorstep but there’s no seaside so if you feel like some fresh sea air and a hearty portion of fish and chips, I recommend hopping on the train to North Berwick. Via Edinburgh, the journey will take about an hour and a half.

Personal tip: a day at the seaside is a highly effective hangover cure

North Berwick has all you could wish for from a quaint old seaside town – sandy beaches, some rocky crags and beautiful views towards the  islands, home to thousands of birds. With the amount of cafes around, you won’t have the chance to get hungry or dehydrated. North Berwick’s also a great destination for someone who’s looking to buy a gift. You’ll find lots of quirky shops on the high street.

North Berwick shore

Beware of the greedy seagulls

The Scottish Seabird Centre is one of the town’s principal attractions and can’t be missed  right on the seafront. Visitors can watch live webcam footage from the bird islands and learn all about seabirds, their history and habits.

If you’re making the journey by car, stop off in Dirleton along the way. The local castle is a prime example of historic Scottish architecture. Castle Inn pub just across the street serves up local produce in a laid-back atmosphere with a roaring log fire. When we stopped by, there was fresh game on the menu that changes regularly.

Myreton Motor MuseumNearby Myreton Motor Museum is also worth a visit. Housed in an old barn, the museum is home to a private vehicle collection dating from 1899.

– Miss Red

City guide #2: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljublana, Slovenia

Ljubljana has strongly secured itself a place in my Top 3 cities in the world. I even caught myself googling ”masters studies Slovenia” the other day… I’ve rarely felt so at home in a foreign city.

Both Rosé and I had been to Ljubljana before and adored it so we decided it was high time to pay the city another visit. We were there in mid-June and the weather treated us so well. There’s no better way to enjoy the place than by sunbathing with a cool drink in hand at one of the many cute bars and cafes aligning the banks of Ljubljanica river.

To stay: Alibi Hostel is cheap and cheerful and located smack bang in the centre of Ljubljana. It’s very basic accomodation – you literally just get a bed and access to the common room. There’s no kitchen in the hostel but being so close to supermarkets and city centre cafes, that’s not really an issue.

Celica Hostel is slightly less central but near the railway station and trendy arts area Metelkova. It’s really modern and designed to perfection but seems like quite the party place so not necessarily the best choice for travellers who want a good night’s sleep.

To eat: Frks on Kongresni Trg was recommended to us by an Aussie traveller at our hostel. €2.50 gets you a massive wrap with a generous filling. You can choose from a selection of vegetarian or meat options like the Greek wrap with feta and veg or the Mexican wrap with chilli beef.

Cafe Lolita, LjubljanaMy new favourite cafe in the world is Lolita at 1 Cankarjevo Nabrezje. I would call it an absolute must-see for any visitor to the city. It’s beautiful, detailed interior (complete with cherry-shaped lamps and a local edition of Lolita) and outdoor terrace will lure you in easily, as will the trays of freshly made sweets and other goodies. We ventured in for an afternoon treat expecting to pay at least a fiver each but an espresso, a mocha and a mouthwateringly good raspberry macaroon set us back, get this, €4.30! Well-priced luxury indeed.

Le Petit Cafe at 4 Trg Francoske Revolucije is, surprise surprise, a French-themed cafe serving up brunches, coffees and luscious-looking cakes and tarts. It seems to attract the trendiest of the trendy locals who really do make the place look Parisian, cigarette smoke clouds included. The coffee is excellent.

To go out: Bi-Ko-Fe is a hipster hangout on 2 Zidovska Steva, right near the university. Expect to see lots of people on bikes and at least one person in a corner making use of the free wi-fi on their Mac. The atmosphere is really laid-back and the music is definitely not chart-topping hits. One for the ladies – the barmen are drop dead gorgeous.

Metelkova, LjubljanaMetelkova is an area outside the city centre (though nothing is far in Ljubljana) that used to be an artists’ residence and has now become a hive of bars and clubs. We were in town during the week and nothing much was going on but we heard it gets wild from Thursday onwards. It’s a grungy looking area with some pretty strange sculptures dotted around including a Foot-Mouse, which we had great fun playing with. Even though we probably looked way out of place there and very touristy, no one seemed to mind our presence – the crowd’s nice and welcoming.

Pr’Skelet on the river bank between Alibi Hostel and Lolita cafe is a cocktail lover’s heaven with a skeleton theme… The prices don’t sound too great – it’s more or less €8 a pop, however, when the clock strikes happy hour… you get 2 for 1 and may I say the measures they use are frightening. A few sips and I’m not afraid to admit I was a tad tiddly 🙂 The barmen also have their very own party trick but I’d ruin the fun if I told you what it is so go check it out for yourself.

To do: We ran out of time to do everything we wanted to but next time I’ll be in Ljubljana, I’ll definitely rent a bike from the city’s Bicikelj scheme. Locals seem to love their bikes – it must be amazing cycling along the river bank and through Tivoli park, especially during the summer months.

Visit the central market to stock up on some vitamin C. Local produce is sold at quite good prices and you’ll be tempted to try a lot. There’s also a milk vending machine or Mlekomat that looks like it could be fun to try out ;D

Every guide book will tell you to climb up to Ljubljana castle to admire the views across the valley and I can only encourage you. Stroll over to Tivoli Park too for a picnic.

– Miss Red