I was lucky enough to be invited along to stay at the Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and spa – what an amazing couple of days!
The visit was intended to showcase the whopping £3.5m refurbishment of the hotel. I had never visited before, so I can’t compare it, but I can tell you that it’s a beautiful place.
The hotel is situated about an hour outside Glasgow (but you feel a million miles away) on Loch Ard which is to the east of Loch Lomond. If you don’t want to drive you can get there by train to Balloch followed by a taxi…or a long walk!
After the obligatory look at the bathroom, wardrobe space, view out the window and a jump on the bed, our stay started in the best of ways…the spa!
The small but lovely spa has a swimming pool, steam room, sauna, small jacuzzi, gym and spa treatment rooms.
The spa treatment rooms are found down a dark corridor, lit by only little Moroccan style lanterns. It’s so beautiful. I am an absolute sucker for a massage so I indulged in two massages which were both amazing. I could’ve stayed there all day and had the girls rub me!
Our dinner on the first night was in the hotels Garden Restaurant – you can see the full details of that meal here.
Our first morning started with breakfast in bed. Breakfast wasn’t massively impressive – apart from the perfectly poached eggs. I personally will pick the following faults:
1. Our choices of breakfast items and fruit juices weren’t correct.
2. The toast was essentially warm bread.
3. The portion was tiny, especially for the price.
4. The mushrooms were wee shrivelled sad looking ones that resembled those from a tin.
5. The potato scone was bone dry.
6. The bacon and sausage just weren’t great. The sausages were flavoured with herbs which weren’t to my taste.
Breakfast the next day was all correct, but it was over half an hour late being delivered to the room. So a bit of a ‘meh’ experience, but luckily that’s all that bothered me! These aren’t huge issues – a lack of finesse maybe – but when you consider the price of a cooked breakfast (a whopping £21.50 if you don’t have it within your booking). Add a £5 tray charge for room service…I have to say, the breakfast is a total rip off. If it wasn’t included in my trip I would drive down the road and find somewhere else, truth be told. The restaurant is amazing, so this needs to improve!
We went for a walk around the stunning grounds and met the hotel’s neighbours – a mountain goat family! They’re completely wild and unstoppable, which is a shame for the gorgeous gardens in the hotel which cost thousands to decorate, but fun for us to watch them! If you’re visiting, just be careful when driving in and out of the grounds – just in case!
The grounds are just beautiful – views over Loch Ard, their own burn (stream) with a waterfall and gorgeous bridge/walkway to view it, a huge pond with fishing area and a huge expanse of land for walking. It really is an idyllic setting for a relaxing break.
We stopped off at The Rafters – the casual dining venue/pub which is connected to the spa for some food (the biggest prawn sandwich ever)…
…and another massage (it’d be rude not to).
This was before heading across the road to Go Country, an outdoor pursuits company who link up with the hotel. They offer loads of outdoor activities which suit a range of interests and ages.
This wasn’t one of them, but I couldn’t resist!
Out of the range of fun things to do here, the one planned for us was canoeing across Loch Ard to a little island, where bottles of Moët were cracked open. Now that’s how to enjoy the Scottish countryside!
I. Loved. Canoeing.
Plans for the future will be that the hotel will sell hampers that you can take to the island for a picnic – how romantic would that be?! I would absolutely love to do that again with a hamper of cheese, chutney, breads and wine.
Also – the wee island has a bothy. My favourite menchie was this one:
We then got back to the hotel for a delicious tasting menu matched with wine, and our sommelier/story teller entertained us throughout the meal with stories and tales of Scotland and wine.
Our apperatif for the evening was a glass of Muscadet Sur Lie Coteaux Jaques Guindon (France 2014).
Haggis Pomme Dauphine with Whisky Jus
Bosworth Puritan Shiraz (Australia 2015)
Treacle Roast Loin of Venison, Pomme Anna, Haunch Croquette & Pumpkin Velouté
Catena Malbec (Argentina 2014)
Tart au Citron, Raspberry Gel & Meringue
Royal Tokajii (Hungary 2014)
Scottish & French Cheeses
The Bulletin Zinfandel Rose (USA 2015)
After the meal we retired to the beautiful piano bar area for some drinks to aid the digestion of the ridiculous amount of cheese I ate!
Let’s just say a couple of people at my table don’t like Brie and I most certainly do! I literally had chest pain.
Click here to watch the video clip I took – Disney fans will enjoy it!
I had an amazing stay here at the hotel. The rooms are absolutely gorgeous – spacious, modern and have stunning views of the grounds. I think it’s important to mention that the bed was essentially a huge marshmallow.
The food was delicious and the staff are very friendly, helpful and attentive. I left this hotel wanting to return – it’s a beautiful getaway, and only about an hour away from Glasgow!
Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa