Imagine the arrival: you drive down a private road, it twists and turns ever so slightly to reveal a grand old mansion house set directly on the banks of a beautiful Scottish loch. It’s September, and the sun is fairly low even in the middle of the day, hitting the water to create a dreamy light that reflects the scenic surroundings and pale blue sky, the puffs of grey cloud creating a hazy blur. The seaplane – yes, seaplane – sits at the end of the dock, its silhouette romantic and elegant.
Your car circles in front of the hotel, the concierge is there – one kind face smiles, nods and takes your keys, while another retrieves your bags. You climb the stone steps, enter the enormous door, and find yourself in a modern, stylish reception area.
This is Cameron House on Loch Lomond. Its location is beyond beautiful, and it would be easy to while away the hours just staring out across the grounds to the loch beyond, glass of wine in hand. For us though, well, we had a seven month old and a border collie in tow… so total relaxation was out of the question. Between teething pains and an energetic canine, the husband and I weren’t quite able to enjoy the tranquility of our surroundings, though we did manage to take the baby to the leisure pool and enjoy dinner at the family friendly restaurant.
We had invited to stay at Cameron House, and I was super excited about visiting the popular resort – so many people I know rave about it, and go often. It was, indeed, lovely (it’s a gorgeous house hotel in the Scottish countryside) but I have to be honest with you – I had a total disaster with my spa treatment, which I’d been looking forward to after hearing many amazing things about the Carrick Spa.
Unfortunately, we weren’t told about the spa being almost three miles off site – by the time I figured this out and got the shuttle bus (which runs every half hour) I missed most of the appointment. Most five star hotels I’ve been to have a complimentary concierge service that will provide a car at a moment’s notice – what luxury resort doesn’t offer this service, especially when the spa is off site by a significant distance?
I was disappointed, to say the least, so I did what I always do in any frustrating situation – I ordered a glass of champagne. A sparkling glass of chilled bubbles instantly make life that little bit better, don’t you think? I sat on the terrace beneath the warm September sun and enjoyed the time alone (a rare treat these days), sipping my Moët. The one thing that would have made the situation better would have been for the spa to have offered the champagne – or at least a tea or coffee – while I waited.
Once back to my boys the spa blip was soon forgotten and it was time to get ready for dinner at The Boat House. A quick DIY facial and a hot shower later, and I was ready to eat. (Actually, let’s be honest – I’m always ready to eat.)
The Boat House was lovely and wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of Dawson’s Creek. Set on the loch beside the marina, just a short stroll from the hotel, it made me think of wealthy Americans who spend time at the country club dressed head-to-toe in Ralph Lauren – but without the stuffy attitude. The staff were friendly, the atmosphere warm, and the food good. We ate prawns and mussels (both delicious), followed by fish (excellent) and steak (not so great), all washed down with a gigantic Sundae (as good as any other overload of ice cream). The bottle of red was expensive, but nice, and worth every penny because, well, after the teething and the dog and the spa, we needed it…
The morning of departure, we enjoyed a peaceful and scrumptious buffet breakfast in the most gorgeous restaurant, the Cameron Grill. The interior design in the hotel bar and restaurant is gorgeous, totally on trend but cosy, and not intimidating. I could easily have spent hours in each chatting with family or friends over copious amounts of wine, and this is what made me realise: Cameron House is a place for a romantic weekend away or a few indulgent days with friends, either at the spa (I’ve been told it’s fabulous) or on the golf course.
At Cameron House you’re thoroughly spoiled by the location. Loch Lomond is one of the most scenic parts of Scotland and it is the perfect backdrop to any special occasion or ‘you’ time. However, we are very lucky to have stayed at many 5* hotels and resorts, and the majority of them have exceeded expectation with regards to customer service and experience. It’s the small details, the finer considerations, that make five star a five star, but, to us, it felt a lot like Cameron House had become a bit complacent in this regard.
My tips before you go? Allow plenty of time to enjoy the spa, and why not treat yourself to a short flight in the seaplane? The location and views are what make this resort quite so special.
Want to see more? Check out this video shot during our visit.
Location: Cameron House
Images and video: Kris Miller