We stayed at Fonab Castle in order to visit the Enchanted Forest and visit relatives.
Though I would agree with the one negative review on this site that Fonab isn't five star, I would contest the 'poor' rating subsequently given as a little churlish. If the service we encountered means what it should to the powers that be, I would have thought four star was a shoe-in.
We were travelling as a family group from Glasgow - a four year old, 18 month old, 60-something and the exhausted parents, so arriving at Fonab was a bit of a dream after an easy hour and forty minute drive. We had told our son we were going to stay in a Castle and he wasn't disappointed - the original building is a perfectly formed residence with reassuring proportions in the boutique hotel market. I find the scale and impact of Gleneagles etc overwhelming with children and the staff equally imposing, so the friendly yet slick team at Fonab were a breath of fresh air that perfectly matched their environment.
The Woodland Suite (this one Room 503) was lovely - perfect for our needs, with our own access onto the ground floor via a small patio (made loading the car a breeze) and peaceful atmosphere (I only noticed the noise of the A9 with the doors open.) 2 bathrooms, 2 TV's meant all possible conflicts of interest with 3 adults sharing were avoided.
The decor was lovely - very fresh and contemporary, without being flashy. The linen, towels, toiletries, robes, slippers and choice of pillows great. Very clean, house keeping staff efficient and helpful. The TV's are excellent, good range of channels (CBeebies being essential for us, plus European channels for my French partner) great quality appliances throughout. Good connectivity, no issues with mobile signal and great free wi-fi.
The biggest sell, after we'd taken in the room, appreciated the proximity to Pitlochry for our visit to the Enchanted Forest and taken in the view from the Brasserie, is the service. Milk cups washed for the children, hot water bottle filled so as not to boil the kettle and disturb the children, children spoken to like guests not really quite noisy and over-excited wee monsters at times - not once did I regret our decision to go to a hotel rather than self-cater. No baby listening as advertised so don't count on that which was a bit of shame, but we were so relaxed that it didn't seem to matter. Took turns sitting with kids, 1 min walk from lounge to room. Lounge small but very welcoming, lovely quality of fabrics, good table service for drinks. Great selection of malts.
What made it not 5 star?
No spa as yet, and no fine dining available. Make sure you ask for a bath if you want one - excellent showers but I hadn't thought to check and with children a bath is important to us. Hospitality in the room not brilliant - a bottle of water placed thoughtfully by each bed at turn down was lovely, but the limited tea and coffee options and fresh milk only by request due to lack of small fridge was a shame (for me - their thing is 'just ask, nothing is a problem' but I appreciate a some flexibility on that). Lighting levels a bit frustrating - I would have liked to be able to raise the level of ambient lighting in the living area of the suite - my Mum struggled with it a little. In fact the only thing I felt was valuing style over functionality was the lighting. I asked for ear plugs (snoring, nothing to do with location) and they couldn't be provided, but effort was made trying to find some for me at 10.30 pm.
Final barrier to a five star, in my opinion, is the food. Everything I ate was lovely (spiced monk fish really good, if being really picky the spices could have been cooked off a little more) but my Mum was quite disappointed by her rump of lamb, and could have done with some more options for the children. Breakfast set-up a bit of a weak link - was very busy on the Sunday morning and the system seemed to be creaking a bit - waited quite a while for our freshly cooked breakfast, but great to be able to get gluten free options. Too small table with buffet items located in the wrong place by the door, and disappointing range of cereals. Loads of fresh fruits though, and a request for some grapes to take away for the smallest one who didn't eat at breakfast was granted which was a nice touch.
I would definitely like to stay again when the Spa opens as I am sure I could have as lovely a time with girlfriends as I had with family - until the Spa is there though I'd struggle to sell it on the strength of the facilities. Great place to unwind if you like your castles compact and bijou. Worth the extra expense when compared to other hotel/restaurant options in the Pitlochry area with the potential to become a destination stay in itself. I really hope the hotel goes from strength to strength and all their further plans come to fruition.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Fonab Castle is a wonderful and historic building on the banks of Loch Faskally, by Pitlochry. It has been transformed by the Clark family into a fabulous and glamorous new 5 Star hotel. The hotel offers 26 bedrooms including 4 suites and a luxurious Penthouse suite (a number with loch views). The hotel brasserie and lounge provide outstanding vistas of the loch itself and Sandemans our fine dining restaurant is a tranquil setting for experiencing exquisite cuisine and fine wines. The Spa at Fonab is our brand new Spa offering a host of pampering and relaxation experiences. With Thermal Suite, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, treatment rooms and nail bar and pedicure. We look forward to welcoming you to a unique experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fonab Castle Hotel Pitlochry, Scotland