The first autumn chill is in the air as I sit overlooking the western shores of beautiful Loch Fyne.
Despite the cold, I am cosy and warm – very cosy and warm, in fact. Turns out, the best way to take in Scotland’s stunning landscapes is from the comfort of a bubbling hot tub.
We are staying at Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa, situated on the outskirts of the historical town of Inveraray. We are taking advantage of their Thermal Experience that allows guests to enjoy the sights and sounds of Scottish nature from the comfort of a hot tub, and which also includes access to their outdoor barrel sauna too.
Once we have had our fill, we head back into the spa to swim in the luxurious pool, lie down on the heated loungers to relax our muscles, and pop into the salt room to soak in its soothing and energy boosting benefits. Before we finish our spa day, however, we cannot help ourselves – we have to head back to the outdoor hot tub and its stunning views for one final, luxurious soak.
Earlier in the day I had visited the hotel’s lovely Shore Spa for a treatment. There were so many amazing options, but I eventually opted for their 55-minute ishga invigorating massage. For those of us who spend a lot of our time at a desk, a treatment like this is a perfect way to loosen off muscles and reset our bodies.
Turns out I really needed it – what I thought had been a small but annoyingly persistent kink in my lower neck turned out to be a rather large knot in my left shoulder. When the treatment was over, I was left feeling relaxed, recharged and, most importantly, blissfully pain free.
We finally let ourselves into the Glen Ord suite, which is the hotel’s largest room and which boasts further breathtaking views over the shores of Loch Fyne.
This suite, like the rest of the hotel, is a wonderful blend of modernity and tradition, managing to be distinctly Scottish without being stuffy or old-fashioned. The large, four-poster bed with super-soft pillows and duvet makes me want to curl up and go for an afternoon nap right away but I cannot go to sleep before I get the chance to try out the suite’s copper roll top bath.
The Cladach Mòr Bistro is cosy and relaxed, and we pass a group in the bar area who are playing scrabble with an evening drink before a huge roaring fire.
The small menu belies the fresh ingredients that the bistro favours, working with local suppliers to give their diners the highest quality foods. I opt for the Rannoch Moor smoked female barbary duck for my starter, which is succulent and full of flavour.
For my main course, I decide on the North Atlantic saithe fillet, which is wonderfully mild and tender. I still have serious food envy when my boyfriend’s large T-bone steak arrives. He generously lets me try it, and the small sliver I have is so tasty. I cannot remember the last time I had such a hearty and fresh Scottish feast.
After a great sleep, we are up and ready to explore the historic town of Inveraray. We take a turn around the shops, venturing into the Fyne Malts of Inveraray to sample the drams. The shop favours only small whisky distilleries, meaning that malt lovers will be sure to find something new and exciting for their palette. Then we head to the shore, and the morning mist has not quite lifted from the calm waters of Loch Fyne. It has hard to believe that a place so beautiful and serene exists only an hour and a half away from Glasgow.
The rest of the day passes by in a happy blur. We explore Inveraray Jail, a well-preserved slice of history that has plenty for adults and children to enjoy. We take a short drive to Cairndow to the Fyne Ales Brewery Tap and Shop, which has a cool outdoor area where my boyfriend samples a flight of Fyne Ales’ artisanal beers (as the driver, I choose a fancy bottled lemonade).
We finish our day at the Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, which is home to a lovely walking trial through the forest with plenty of wholesome twists along the way. There is plenty to see among the trees, including beautiful sculptures, a fairy garden and their famous Gruffalo Trail, which stages scenes from the Scottish version of the popular children’s book.
It is finally time for us to return home, but on the long drive back, we make excited plans to return to this fyne part of Scotland very soon.
If you want something more regal to visit than the jail, Inveraray’s castle is a must. With beautiful gardens that have been used by the likes of Downton Abbey as a location, you’ll love its iconic beauty.
From £165 per person for a two-night break with dinner at Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa. Visit crerarhotels.com
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