Monachyle Mhor

Perthshire, Scotland, United Kingdom Book from £185

Relaxed, family-run gourmet bolthole, with lashings of style at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands
Travelling to this snug gourmet retreat is almost as much fun as arriving there: you snake 4 miles through woods along the edge of Loch Voil, enjoying the snow-capped peaks of the Trossachs around you. Or, if you’re feeling flush, you can arrive by sea plane on the loch in front of the stone farmhouse and down a glass of champers on the shore. There’s history here too: this glen is the home of the MacLaren and MacGregor clans, and the most notorious MacGregor of them all, Rob Roy, is buried in the churchyard nearby.

Once you reach Monachyle Mhor you’ll be reluctant to stir. Inspirational gastronomy, stylish design and a personal welcome make this a truly special place. It’s run by siblings Tom, Dick and Melanie who were all raised here on what started off as a farm and is now a bijou gastro-bolthole that foodies and design aficionados traipse to from afar. The 2,000-acre farm, its produce, and the Lewis’ infectious enthusiasm remain firmly at the heart of Monachyle. You’ll find it hard to leave.

Highs

  • The food is superb - well presented without being fussy, and bursting with taste and inspiration
  • 14 quiet rooms with modern design and oodles of funk factor within the original stone farm buildings
  • You can't get much more remote in the UK - and yet it’s only 90 minutes' drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh
  • An atmosphere that’s intimate and friendly, yet also has a touch of Kensington sophistication

Lows

  • A large deposit is required on reservation
  • The snug little bar is the only nightlife here, so you’ll have to provide your own
  • Not really geared up for children, except tinies
  • Not for budget travellers (food and drink costs mount up and portions can be small), nor for those seeking an old-fashioned Scottish tartan experience
  • If you're on a romantic break, be aware that some double beds are singles zipped together
  • The Highlands can be cold at any time of year

Best time to go

Any time is fab: come in winter for cosy fires and warming dinners, washed down with a whisky or 3; come in summer for the long days, the views and wandering in the gardens and the glen. In May, there’s a Food and Drink Festival on Loch Lomond, and in July don’t miss the Lochearnhead Shears, one of the UK’s largest sheep shearing competitions. The hotel is closed in January.

Our top tips

Between Easter and October the hotel runs a tearoom in Balquhidder, 2 miles up the glen. The cakes are definitely Mhorish!

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 14
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 14 rooms inside the old stone farmhouse and its outbuildings have been gradually decorated over the years, making for an eclectic mix of styles, from unfussy classic to spoil-yourself-rotten luxurious. House Rooms tend to be more traditional and smaller, but have the best views over the loch. Courtyard Rooms are conversions of the horseshoe of outbuildings, and tend to be larger and lighter, with a distinct designer feel; the stupendous bathrooms are as good as they get.

Melanie, whose modern artworks you’ll see throughout the hotel, and Comrie-based interior designer Fiona Denholm have come up with some contemporary design ideas that make for plenty of pleasant surprises. Don't be surprised to find deer antlers and cobbler’s lasts in your bathroom, and windows between bedrooms and bathrooms. Ample use is made of natural materials, like wood, slate and linens, and designer furnishings sit alongside locally-foraged antiques. Everywhere you notice the attention to detail, from homemade biscuits, fresh milk and filter coffee, to L’Occitane toiletries. You even get a choice between feather or synthetic pillows. If you’re after unashamed luxury, go for one of the Feature Rooms: 2 have their own personal steam rooms - ideal for unwinding after a yomp on the fells - as well as a TV/DVD for rainier days, which you can watch from the sofa in front of your own wood-burning stove.

The only drawbacks are that some double beds are single mattresses zipped together; and we have heard that bedrooms can be chilly on arrival (though ours was toasty).

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Let’s face it, the food is one of the reasons for coming, and given the quality of Tom’s award-winning cuisine you’re unlikely to want to dine anywhere else during your stay. In fact, this is so often the case that dinner, bed and breakfast rates are also offered.

Tom produces meals that are stylishly presented and, above all, have heaps of flavour. His secret is the quality of his produce: as a farmer as well as a chef, Tom is unstinting in his search for the very best ingredients. Where possible, meat comes from the farm, and in the case of venison and pigeon, is locally shot. (What cannot be used in the restaurant goes into the pies sold at the Lewis’ Mhor Bread bakery in Callander). Fresh fish comes from Scrabster every day and Tom is adamant it must be sustainable. Vegetables, some grown on the hotel’s own veg plot, are whatever is in season.

For breakfast, enjoy a hearty cooked breakfast of Scottish smoked haddock, kippers or Cumberland sausages, with eggs from the farm. Lighter options are available for those who can’t manage the works at this time of day.

Lunch and dinner offer the best of what’s in the garden or the market. You’d be daft not to try the Orkney scallops (hand-dived of course) and oysters, and the farm’s lamb, pork and beef are superb. Unlike many other top-notch restaurants Tom takes vegetarians seriously and the veggie options easily rival the dishes on the main menu for flavour. There’s a serious wine list too, carefully researched by Melanie who travels worldwide in search of the best suppliers. Water is from the hotel’s own spring. Choose to sit in the stylish light conservatory (great in summer for enjoying views of the loch while you dine) or the cosy panelled inner sanctum, ideal on cold winter evenings. Both are hung with Melanie’s paintings and family photographs.

If you fancy eating out, there are plenty of good options in Callander, 17 miles southeast. Top choice would be Mhor Fish, the Lewis’ new fish restaurant-cum-chip shop, where you can select your fish from the fish counter and get it cooked in the manner of your choice. Alternatives include Meadows and Poppies in Callander, or The Barley Bree restaurant with rooms in Muthill. At lunchtime, grab fish and chips at Mhor Fish, or a homebaked pie at Mhor Bread, the Lewis’ bakery along the street.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Walking, whether it’s a stroll to the end of the glen (Monachyle means the ‘narrowing of the wetlands’), or a shin up the nearest peak, Stob Binnein (1165m). Monachyle lies in part of the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, an area with a variety of wildlife and a fragile environment. Ask the Lewis family for hiking ideas - and order a packed lunch from reception the evening before

  • For more information on walks, cycle routes and birds/wildlife in the park, visit the David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre, half a mile north of Aberfoyle on the A821. Several waymarked trails start from the Visitor Centre

  • Mushroom foraging. In season, the hotel can provide you with your own forager (for a fee)

  • Fishing: well, this is Scotland. The hotel will arrange a day’s fishing with boat, ghillie, permit and equipment. Expect to catch trout, Arctic char, or salmon. Deer stalking can also be arranged

  • Visiting Rob Roy’s grave in Balquhidder, an evocative spot. Rob Roy MacGregor, made famous in the 19th century by Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel, was the wild leader of one of Scotland’s wildest clans in the 18th century. His grave has the words ‘Despite them’ defiantly etched on its headstone - a reference to the rival MacLaren clan

  • Watersports, like water skiing, kayaking and windsurfing, can be enjoyed up the road at Lochearnhead

  • There are heaps of great golf courses nearby - 52 of them within a 30 mile radius to be precise. The nearest course is in Callander, 17 miles away

  • Bicycle hire can be arranged by the hotel - a great way to explore the Trossachs. The hotel also has 14 quad bikes if you want something a bit more macho

  • Shopping. Callander has plenty to offer if you enjoy buying outdoor clothing, drinking coffee, or just wandering. Pop to nearby Aberfoyle for one of the best butchers in the UK

  • Beauty treatments, massages, facials are available in your room - just book in advance

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Sailing
  • Wildlife

Kids

Couples with babies, or with well behaved older children, are welcome, including in the restaurant; in-betweens would probably not feel so comfortable here.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for Monachyle Mhor