After a trans-Atlantic plane ride and a long day of driving (on the wrong side of the road) …. well, I was just bumping around the back as the branches scraped the windows, and the rain poured down sideways, not actually driving. But by the time we pulled into the driveway of the Glengarry Castle Hotel, I could not wait to get out of the car, even if it meant running into the drizzle.
The hotel itself looked beautiful. An old manor house in the woods, with a ruined castle complete with a Bonnie Prince Charlie connection on the right hand side, all surrounded by lush, manicured green. It came with a river (I later learned it was a loch) running along the back of the hotel.
The place was wonderful and charming, complete with roaring fireplace and a friendly staff with rolling Scottish accents. Our room had a fainting couch, also known as a chaise, where I spread out my leather jacket and extra layers to dry them. The room also had a nice tray – think breakfast in bed style – which was for our wet shoes. This should have been a clue about the weather …
After a hearty dinner in the warm and cozy dining room, behind a massive beautiful old wooden door, we sat in front of the fireplace and sampled some of the whiskies on the menu. There were 20 (?) different whiskies. I think in our two night there, we tried most of them. After all, we were in Scotland, and our goal was certainly to sample the local brews. And after sipping a few different ones side by side, I could start tasting the various flavors and subtleties. And in front of the fire, it warmed the soul.
The staff at Glengarry Castle Hotel was terrific. Friendly and welcoming. The funniest thing was when G and our friend started going on about their latest science fiction fantasy obsession, and our lovely hotel staff person weighed in with her opinion on casting if the books were made into a movie or TV series. It was just perfect. Like college, but in front of a fireplace. In Scotland. Sipping whisky. Chatting with other hotel guests. Did I mention the hotel is dog friendly? Come to think of it, Scotland was a whole was pretty dog friendly …
The grounds of the hotel were beautiful. There were hikes on the property, which would have been great except it was pretty drizzly, and I was still acclimating to the weather. Oh, did I mention it was really wet and chilly?
Still, we decided to row across the loch and hike up the hill on the other side of the hotel. It was breathtakingly beautiful. But also steep. And a tougher hike than it looked. And wet. Yep, all those impromptu falls etched into the side of the hill meant lots of little mini rivulets trying to form. On the other hand, I learned that walking on top of heather is key, but that walking on purple-y dead ferns was slippery.
After a hike like that, we needed a whisky and fireplace to warm up. Good thing Glengarry Castle Hotel was well equipped with both.
Looks like Scotland was just as advertised. If only the weather were just a tad warmer and drier. But then, it wouldn’t be Scotland, would it?