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Fonab Castle Hotel
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Reviewed 7 October 2013

Had a great stay at this "potentially" 5* hotel above Pitlochry. The one thing that nearly put me off booking this hotel was the poor website. Great customer service and friendly atmosphere already. The facilities that are available at the moment are very good; had a lovely meal in the Brasserie, great views of the loch at breakfast. No fine dining restaurant yet, but this should open by Christmas. Spa in the process of being built to open next Spring/Summer. Our room was a Woodland Suite with a patio. The decor in the room was very light and contemporary, there were two TV's, one very large one in the living area and a smaller one in the bedroom. The only problem was with the electrics, not very well thought out. The phone was allocated on the top of the suitcase rack where they had put the phone socket, instead of on the large desk on the other side of the room, so there was no space to put your suitcase. There were no sockets above the dressing table to plug in the hairdryer, unless you wanted to crawl underneath. Hope that all the upgrades that are planned will make this a 5* hotel eventually.

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank dodeen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FonabCastleHotel, Manager at Fonab Castle Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 8 October 2013

Good afternoon.

Thank you for your comments regards the staff, service and food.

Regarding the bedrooms and electrics, this is a work in progress. We are looking at making more facilities available for electrical goods.

The other facilities, like your quite rightly stated, will be opening in the six months. No one is more frustrated than everyone at Fonab as we have had to delay opening and building due to matters outwith our control.

We look forward to seeing you again when the hotel and spa facilities are finished.

Best regards,

Gary White
Deputy General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 October 2013

Stay for 1 night and first impression was fantastic . Rooms lovely , staff very helpful, very nice place . Bar drink prices reasonable and food prices average but that's what you get, average food! Ordered the fonab burger and it was dripping with grease as was the chips . My wife ordered steak and again was very average .
After dinner drinks were confined to a small room which became crowded quickly but this is only until the upstairs bar is finished .
We had the cooked breakfast in the morning and again was average . The most annoying part of our stay was the staff trying to be over helpful . Four times during breakfast we were asked if everything was ok whilst eating which didn't make a great dining experience .
Would go back once it's finished but feel it's slightly over priced .

  • Stayed: October 2013
    • Value
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2  Thank Jockster8812
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FonabCastleHotel, Manager at Fonab Castle Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 8 October 2013

Good afternoon.

Thank you for your comments regarding the hotel and food.

I am sorry to learn about you dining experience and the quality of food. I will pass this onto the kitchen brigade immediately. I will also ask the Restaurant Manager to ask the staff to "tone it down" as i agree that four times is excessive.

We hope to welcome you back to Fonab where you will certainly notice an improvement,

Best regards,

Gary White
Deputy General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 October 2013

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.

Room Tip: Room 503 was on the A9 size so perhaps noisy if the windows open in the summer - ask for a loch view suite.
  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank 17SarahP73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FonabCastleHotel, Manager at Fonab Castle Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 8 October 2013

Good afternoon.

I'd like to thank you for kind comments about the service, staff and the decor of the hotel. We are always working on the next stages of the hotel. There are areas that are not open yet such as the fine dining. This is down to the Directors and Senior Managers not being happy with the size of the custom made furniture. The Spa is equally as frustrating for us as for all of our guests. We have just been granted the building permit which is a lengthy process. The spa will be scheduled to be open for the beginning of summer next year. Well worth the wait, as it will be the most modern and up to date in Scotland with no expense spared.

In relation to the room, I must personally put my hands up regarding the Bath. Not having children myself, i am guilty of not making the link between younger kids and a bath. Something i am personally working on now. It was myself that you spoke with a few days before arriving.

Breakfast will be changing. Its an operation where we have to try it and see which unfortunately I agree with you on. In the next couple of weeks we will be changing the menu and removing the buffet altogether, offering our guests the items served from the kitchen including the fresh fruit selection.

I am pleased that the in room amenities were pleasing to you and worked out in your favor. The lighting in both the rooms and the Brasserie are a work in progress.

Thank you once again for your review, and we look forward to having you back to Fonab.

Kind regards,

Gary White
Deputy General Manager

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Reviewed 5 October 2013

I stayed at this hotel 24th to 26th September 2013 and have no affiliations with this hotel or any others in Scotland.
This hotel is classified by Booking.com as a 5 star luxury hotel...NO!!! No
association has given this accreditation and it will be interesting to see if,
what and when it gets one. Some 5 star hotels in the area include The Old Course hotel, St Andrews and Gleneagles.
Having read all the rave reviews in a well known travelers guide,
tripadvisor.co.uk, I was looking forward to an outstanding stay and an almost gourmet standard eating experience!!!
However, 1st challenge, the door to this castle hotel is not the main and original one but a side door which I thought was a tradesman's entrance and it even looked like one
when I got inside! I mentioned this to the gentleman at the small desk, he snapped back that it was a 26 room boutique hotel and reception was typical boutique style. I later discovered that the gentleman in question is actually the General Manager.
The spa was not open nor were many other facilities advertised on the hotel web
page.
The brasserie, the only restaurant open, is a total disaster!!! Harsh blue white
spotlights hit everywhere above the tables and seating areas. I felt as though I
was going to be interrogated or have truck drivers sit alongside me rather than have an elegant dinner befitting a “5 star hotel”!!!
The soup of the day was grey in colour and grey in taste (it was later taken off
the menu). I ordered the cod in a cream sauce with cabbage and mashed potatoes. The
plate was a funky deep bowl shape so I could not scrape any cream (it was NOT a
sauce!)away, the cabbage had no taste but it would have filled only a small
teaspoon so nothing was missed anyway, the "mashed' potatoes were a tasteless
potato puree. I asked for something else and chose the lamb chops which were OK
but came with the same pureed potatoes and this time overcooked asparagus and green beans.
I quietly complained and was not charged for the soup nor main course.
In the morning, my paper did not arrive at the room as requested. Breakfast cereals were in little cartons with no bin to put the empties and the selection and presentation was of a simple B&B.
Later, I had a chat with the GM, Peter [--], who quite aggressively
defended the hotel so much so it was pointless discussing the matter further.

In conclusion, I based my stay on that well known travelers guide as well as
contributions from Booking.com guests and maybe a staggering 97% thumbs up from
51 reviews (some were 1st time reviewers) in only 8 weeks of being open
is hard to believe or…… maybe I went to a different hotel or……maybe they are all
right and I am wrong or....

Some rooms face the very busy and noisy A9 highway so it would be wise to check which rooms are available when booking.


Very disappointing.

Room Tip: Some rooms face the busy and nearby A9. 24/7 noise.
  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled solo
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11  Thank ianthomson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FonabCastleHotel, Manager at Fonab Castle Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 8 October 2013

Good Morning. I hope all is well.

Firstly I'd like to thank you for writing a review on TripAdvisor and for what you believe is honesty.

We have taken your comments on board, as we always do and I have no doubt that your stay was not 100% perfect. There are teething problems and design faults that we are actively working on which we cannot do accurately without guests like yourself telling us your opinions and where you think the practicality has gone missing.

Unfortunately I feel we cannot be compared to 5* Resorts like Gleneagles (where I trained) and The Old Course (where our Head Chef trained) as these are hotels that have been open and an institution for over 100 years! We have been open 9 weeks. Regarding the facilities, it was myself who emailed immediately after you booking via Booking.com, asking if you would like to make a reservation in our Brasserie (which I made clear at the time), if you required a link to the online menu to be sent to your iPad and if you required directions? The facilities that are unavailable are mentioned on our website, but also tell you that they are unavailable - hence the reason no one can book a table in Sandeman's Fine Dining via the booking widget.

The comment comparing the Brasserie to a "Truck Stop" I feel is over exaggerated and extremely harsh, however we notice that there is an issue with the lighting and we are in the process of working on this. "The reception looks like a Tradesman's Entrance" - this I have to say is obviously your own opinion which we of course value but completely disagree with.

Regarding the food, we have indeed spoken with our chef who has accepted that the Cod was under seasoned and has taken all of your comments on board. For this he has apologised. Regarding the bowls, this is customer preference as actually some people like bowls - I tend to agree with you in the sense I would rather eat off of a plate. The chef is taking this into consideration also.

Without prejudiced, I obviously am not allowed to mention your name on TripAdvisor, however you are of course allowed to mention our staff member’s names. I am not sure if you were aware of this at the time or not, but I was actually present in the Brasserie when you had your discussion with our General Manager in the booth seating at the doors. I was the gentleman wearing the red and white polo shirt, dark hair and standing at the bar signing my check at the end of your discussion. I find your description of this conversation to be both insulting to our G.M. and completely false. You flat out implied that we write our own TripAdvisor reviews, which not only questions our integrity as a hotel and business, but that of every other reviewer on our page and also the organisation of TripAdvisor itself. It questions your integrity as a reviewer as your review is not accurate, therefore it is falsified. I feel the use of the word "aggressively" is a gross over exaggeration as I actually witnessed you standing up and pointing at our General Manager during the conversation which from your part I found to be aggressive. "Quietly complained?", I was sitting down at the windows in the Brasserie and heard every word spoken including the part where you mentioned, on numerous occasions, that you were in fact affiliated with hotels yourself, which you quite rightly declined to name when asked by our G.M. and also the part where you implied Fonab are falsifying TripAdvisor comments as "the majority of the reviewers have only made one review and I find that to be very interesting". The above is why in fact I contacted TripAdvisor and had your first review taken down.

Regarding Booking.com. You cannot be registered as a non-rated hotel. We are trying for 5* which in itself is very difficult. We are currently in consultation with both VisitScotland and the AA who have been out and have done the preliminary audit inspection. There are another two which will take place before an official rating is given.

As a hotel management team, we are working hard with our directors to ensure that every guest is well looked after when they visit Fonab Castle Hotel. As you are affiliated with hotels, you will realise that not every hotel can be suitable for everyone. Something you like, may not be liked by another person, however we take every comment on board and strive to improve every aspect of our hotel, service and customer service to appeal to everyone. I personally feel the only way this is possible is to have accurate reviews and comments regarding the staff and service which we can build on, train on and move on from. I feel that the managers and staff have done superbly over the past few weeks which is mirrored in the genuine wonderful reviews and comments that they have received.

I feel saddened that you could not muster the strength to positively comment at all on the cleanliness, quality of sleep or location which you graded as 5 on your review. We also feel saddened, and regret that you did not fully enjoy any aspect of your stay at Fonab. We only hope that we can do better in the future to meet you expectations.

Finally, thank you once again for your comments and we hope that one day you will return to Fonab and see our hotel once we have all of our facilities available.

Kind regards,

Gary White
Deputy General Manager

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Reviewed 3 October 2013

Stayed here for one night last week en route to the Highlands. This has to be the best hotel I have stayed at in the UK and matches the high standards I've found in other parts of the world. The rooms and their facilities, including a large flat screen TV, free wifi, a very comfortable bed, very nice coffee, and lovely smellies contribute to this. The old part of the building and the scenery and view from the room balcony and brasserie patio certainly help. The food was not only delicious but also interesting - and that was just the brasserie - can't wait for the fine dining. But what made this hotel 5* for me were the staff. Everyone of them said hello and smiled - even the man leaving the kitchen with a box of onions. Nothing is too much trouble - a special drive to Pitlochry to restock on gluten free bread for me. And all this with impeccable service and a twinkle in the eye. Pure luxury with no snobbery creating a wonderful atmosphere for the guests that worked so well that strangers at dinner and breakfast became friends for a day.

Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
2  Thank MaryZ60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FonabCastleHotel, Manager at Fonab Castle Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 5 October 2013

Good afternoon!

I am so pleased to read about your wonderful stay and thank you for the great comments. Personally we prefer to pride ourselves on the staff rather than the fixtures, fittings and in room amenities (although these go a long way to helping guests fully enjoy Fonab), as we believe you can't be successful without a happy team that enjoys their job! Our ethos is "5 star service with a cuddle" which is pretty much what your described in your review.

Fine Dinning will be opening at the beginning of 2014, with the Spa and Leisure facilities scheduled to open around May 2014.

We hope to see you again when you visit the Highlands.

Best regards,

Gary White
Deputy General Manager

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