Ballathie House - A gem in the heart of Scotland
It was my first visit to Scotland and Ballathie House met the Scottish welcome and warm hospitality that I thought I might expect. From the sign at the front door that suggested people with wet muddy boots might like to use the Sportsman entrance I knew I was in for a genuine 'Country House' experience! Overlooking the River Tay and offering fishing and shooting within the 1500 acre estate, award winning Ballathie House is the ideal destination for those seeking additional outdoor activities to golf alone. Additionally it's a very popular location to host weddings, and won the Best Rural Wedding Venue in the 2011 Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards.
Ballathie House very much has the feel of a 'lived in' country house - nothing overly stately or pretentious about it, but instead a very relaxed country atmosphere. There are log fires, cosy seating areas dotted around the wood paneled public areas to relax in with morning coffee and the lightest of Scottish shortbread biscuits. In contrast the restaurant and drawing rooms are light and elegant with wonderful views across the lawns and down to the River Tay. When the weather is too blustery to be outside, a very appealing alternative is a spot of afternoon tea, relaxing in the big settees and soft chairs. The full afternoon tea comes highly recommended with a mouthwatering selection of cakes, sandwiches and of course scones!
The restaurant offers fine dining in an elegant setting, and is the choice of locals for a special evening or celebration. Head chef, Andrew Wilkie uses the best of local produce where possible and combines classic Scottish dishes with a contemporary twist. Both lunch and dinner menus are changed daily to give you the best of the market or catch of the day.
The food is beautifully presented and the waiting staff attentive without being over fussy. The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list and if you are spoilt for choice the restaurant staff are happy to help you with your selection. The restaurant won the award for Best Rural Restaurant at the Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards in 2010. Breakfast is a hearty affair, perfect for setting you up for a day's activities outdoors.
The bedrooms at Ballathie House are all furnished individually, but all in keeping with the country house feel. We stayed in Room 10 "Inverness" and enjoyed a lovely four poster bed, views over the River Tay, plenty of space to spread out and a spacious bathroom. The bath is huge - there are few hotels which can offer a bath you can stretch out completely in, and deep as well - an indulgent treat after a day outside! The rooms have all the usual amenities, along with fluffy monogrammed bathrobes and a heated towel rail for that extra luxury. There is a mixture of doubles, twins, kings and single rooms all decorated and furnished in accordance with the original layout of the main house - no box, standardized rooms here!
There are additional rooms in the Riverside Suites, each offering a patio or balcony to enjoy the views over the River Tay. The Riverside Suites are connected to the main house by a short path. The Sportsman Lodge offers a fully equipped self catering holiday lodge as an alternative.
The staff at Ballathie House make you feel very welcome, and with a high rate of repeat business, they go the extra mile in remembering your favourite room, drink at the bar or restaurant dish. There is a low turnover of staff which is a sure sign of a quality establishment. Individual staff have been recognized at the 2011 Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards with General Manager, Arnaud Merrouche, winning an award for Hospitality and Head Housekeeper, Maureen Grant winning Superstar Housekeeper award!
Ballathie House is the perfect spot as a relaxing country retreat, but with the city of Perth just 15 minutes away and ideally located to reach Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen there is plenty to see and do. Within a short drive there are a number of distilleries, castles, historic houses and gardens including Glamis Castle and Blair House, and for those preferring retail therapy there is the House of Bruar shopping centre offering the best of Scottish products. Aside from the shooting and fishing available on the estate itself there are numerous outdoor activities that can be arranged from an offroad 4wd driving experience to mountain biking, horse trekking, kayaking and walking.
Golf in the area
Ballathie House have recently teamed up with top local course The Blairgowrie Golf Club, located about five miles away. The club was founded in 1889 and features two championship courses, the Rosemount and Lansdowne, plus a short nine hole course.
Ballathie have a whole range of packages available at very attractive rates offering discounted bed and breakfast rates plus discounted green fees. Additionally they are working towards making this a seamless service for visitors, handling the tee times and any other arrangements that might be required.
Also just down the road is the world famous Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Club host course for the Ryder Cup in 2014.
Golf Today's Course Guide.