Well, if it’s good enough for Andy Murray, I figured it must be good enough for me.
It has to be said I was full of “love” for Dunblane after a few days in the homeland of the Scottish tennis star.
The tiny town is situated right in the heart of Scotland’s central belt. But what it lacks in size, the Cathedral City certainly serves up when it comes to hospitality, history and, most importantly, a relaxing holiday.
It might be less than an hour from the big cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, but Dunblane really transports its visitors a million miles away.
The views of the beautiful greenery, rolling hills and forests of the nearby Trossachs makes it seem more of a countryside retreat.
We spent a few nights at the aptly named Old Churches House a boutique hotel overlooking the beautiful Dunblane Cathedral.
At three months old, it’s the town’s latest offering alongside the long-established Dunblane Hydro and Cromlix House, the hotel bought by Andy Murray which opens in spring.
But Old Churches House is already proving a strong contender. From the outside, it looks like a row of old cottages, but step inside and there’s a modern, contemporary feel.
It’s this combination of the old and the new that has created a warm, welcoming hotel. Old Churches House is, as its name suggests, steeped in history.
The building is the former Scottish Churches House where generations of Scottish Christians enjoyed holidays and meetings.
Among its claims to fame are a visit from the Queen in 1967 and an old spinning wheel gifted by the Pope in 1982, which still remains in the building.
Scottish Churches House closed in 2011. But Old Churches House owner Alex McKie saw the potential to bring it back to life and into the heart of the community. After extensive refurbishment, he opened the doors of the hotel in the summer.
The new name, Old Churches House, reflects the respect Alex has for the history that has gone before him.
And he’s tried to retain that in the hotel. Old black and white photographs of bishops and ministers line the walls and he’s currently restoring the 13th Century chapel at the back of the building for anyone who fancies a bit of meditation, just as it was used for in days gone by.
It’s the modern twists that make Old Churches House a home from home only bigger and better.
The super comfy ‘double’ beds are big enough to house a whole family, and the same can be said for the showers. And each and every one of the 11 bedrooms overlooks the Cathedral what better view to start your day. Aside from breakfast of course! And dining at Old Churches House is a pleasure at any time of day.
The food is cooked to order with locally sourced ingredients, which makes everything ooze that little bit more flavour.
From a full Scottish in the morning to Sunday roasts and sticky toffee pudding, the food is traditional, yet flavoursome.
But if there’s one thing I’d definitely recommend trying at Old Churches House, it’s the afternoon tea.
The hotel has its own in-house baker, Caroline Earnshaw, and I can certainly vouch for her talents.
She whipped us up a selection of sweet treats, from sandwiches, scones and shortbread to cupcakes and cheesecakes, as well as meringues and mini strawberry tarts, which we topped off with pots of tea and a glass of posh champers in front of a roaring fire. And just to be polite, of course we tried each and every one! It was the perfect start to a relaxing afternoon.
Old Churches House has everything you need for a few nights away, but if you want to venture further there’s plenty to explore in Dunblane and the surrounding area.
The town boasts quirky shops, and there are a few pubs nearby, from the traditional Tappit Hen to the more modern Riverside.
Dunblane also has its own golf course, sports club and, of course, Andy Murray’s famous golden post box a photo opportunity must!
We walked off our afternoon tea with a stroll along the bonnie banks of the Allan Water, followed by a wander around and inside the Cathedral. Then we checked out Callander, just 20 minutes’ drive away.
It’s a quaint, yet busy town with plenty to do, from a walk around the lake to mini golf and a stop off at the famous Old Fudge Shop, which is bursting with delectable delights and old favourites like cola cubes and sherbet lemons. But the piece de resistance was a walk to Bracklinn Falls and up Callander Crags.
I’m not much of a walker, but at just 2.5 miles it’s not too taxing and it’s worth the trek to the top for the magnificent view of Ben Ledi and Ben Lomond, not to mention Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.
Nearby Doune home to Doune Castle of Monty Python fame is also worth a visit.
If you fancy being more active, try Trossachs National Park. The varied landscape is perfect for cycling, watersports and fishing. Or, there’s always the option of Stirling for a bit of shopping.
All in all, Dunblane is a real hidden treasure and the perfect destination for a few days away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There’s certainly more to it than simply being the hometown of the King of British tennis.
In fact, it’s a downright smashing wee place!
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