As I mentioned in my last post, we recently stayed overnight at Fonab Castle in Pitlochry. I’d spent ages trying to find a decent 2 night break for my husband’s birthday at the end of Feb but I kept finding niggles with everywhere. I kept coming back to Fonab & decided to book their winter special DBB deal.
The castle itself is tucked away just off the A9 at Pitlochry. Although the hotel is a castle, it has a modern block build onto to which does slightly detract from the novelty of staying in a castle. Inside the hotel, the decor is very modern with splashes of Scottish thrown in with thistles on the wallpaper & stags heads for coat hooks on the doors.
The reception staff were very informative, giving us the low down on where all facilities were in the hotel & taking our reservation for dinner. The hotel has 2 restaurants – a bistro & a more formal dining experience with tasting menus. As part of our deal, we had dinner included in the bistro & being the foodie I am, I had perused the menu beforehand & already picked my dishes!
We had booked a room in the castle (ticking another thing off my bucketlist!) & our room was situated on the third floor. Unfortunately our room overlooked the carpark which didn’t provide much entertainment as you’d expect! The room itself was gorgeous. It had a large oversized king bed, feature wall, nespresso machine, smart tv & ipod dock! What more could you ask for?! Oh yeah, a bath! That was the one disappointing element about the room – the bathroom only had a large shower. Although, the shower head was the largest I had ever seen – it was wider than my head! The toiletries in the bathroom were Thierry Mugler (of Angel perfume fame) so that did make up for no bath slightly as well.
We ventured over to the newly built spa building across the carpark for an afternoon dip. We struck lucky & the pool was deserted! It was obvious that the hotel were finding their feet with the new pool as we had to leave the jacuzzi as the chlorine levels were too high. In the changing rooms, there were more small touches to add to the experience such as luxury toiletries & bathrobes to use.
Since our trip coincided with my husband’s birthday, we brought some champagne along with us. On past trips, when we’ve asked for an ice bucket, hotels have wanted to charge £5+ just to bring the bucket to the room. We knew asking for one, we might face a similar charge given the high class of the hotel. When we asked for one to be sent up, the porter also asked what type of glasses we would like. That’s service you don’t get in a travelodge! And to make it better, we were not charged for it. I’ll admit that it took every ounce of restraint to not take the tray that the bucket & glasses were brought up on. I mean check it out – who could resist that?!
Before dinner, we went for a drink in the lounge which overlooks the Loch. The bar has a mix of chesterfield & oversized fabric sofas which made it feel quite homely. One wall of the lounge is covered in a mirrored bottle rack, with the second largest collection of wine I’ve ever seen, only rivalled by the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong. The hotel prides itself on its gin collection & did not disappoint! It was the first place I have ever seen to stock Rock Rose gin which made me a happy bunny!
Despite picking out my dishes, the menu we were presented with had some changes to the one I’d viewed online. For starters, we had smoked salmon & avocado on brioche & confit of duck. I was slightly disappointed with the salmon as I was expecting either slices or chunks of avocado on the dish. However, the avocado was more like a mousse which made me feel a bit short changed. The whole combo was delicious, along with the lime creme fraiche that accompanied the dish. Duck is not a meat I’m overly keen on but it would have been rude not to sample a bit of the confit. I was pleasantly surprised to taste a smokey & tender meat with no trace of fat. Duck may be another meat I’ve been converted to!
The main I’d had my heart set on, braised ox cheek, was not on the current menu. This left me with a dilemma of having chicken or taking a leap & trying venison. I’d tried venison a few years back but found it too gamey for my tastes. I decided to take the risk & I did not regret it! The venison was slightly pink, making it really tender. For me the taste was between lamb & steak with the sweet yet meaty taste. The dish was accompanied by braised cabbage & a bramble jus which just left me with a taste explosion with every mouthful. It was by far the best dish I’ve had in a long time.
The other main, spiced monkfish with sweet potato & lime & coriander puree, was also a hit. The dish contained the biggest monkfish tail I’ve ever seen! Considering the dish was priced at £19.95, it was a complete bargain for the quality & quantity of food on the plate.
When you stay at a hotel on a DBB deal, it’s usually stated how much allowance you have for dinner. At Fonab, there was no such information given to us which made us unsure if we could have a dessert or not. I’m finding myself being more drawn to desserts these days & the treacle tart on the menu, I couldn’t resist! We ordered that along with a dark chocolate fondant to finish our meal.
The treacle tart arrived & looked scrumptious. One bite into it & I remembered why I don’t order desserts. It was so disappointing. The tart was quite dry & didn’t have the wow factor I had expected. The dark chocolate fondant was a hit with my husband who devoured the gooey pudding.
At breakfast the next morning, the hotel offered a 3 course feast. The offerings include your typical breakfast items such as a full breakfast, eggs benedict & kippers. I decided to branch out & try some of the more unfamiliar items. To start I had caramelised pink grapefruit which was followed by toast. My main breakfast item was steak & eggs. I swear I did not eat late afternoon after such a feast!
The view at breakfast was a nice ending to our brief stay. The restaurant overlooks the Loch with a vista of the snowed covered hills in the background. A reminder of why it’s sometimes better to make the most of what’s on your doorstep 🙂