Doonbank Cottage is a very pretty thatched cottage in its own woodland in Alloway, with views of the nearby River Doon. We stayed with our three dogs first in September last year and returned this month for a second visit. It's hard to find anywhere to rent where more than one dog is welcome but this place exceeded all our expectations and we would definitely go back again. It is spacious, full of light, very comfortably furnished with nice wooden floors, quality bedding and towels and every facility you could wish for including an open fire, plenty hot water, dishwasher, washing machine, freezer, tv, dvd, hifi, wifi and lots of books and games. The surrounding woodland is quiet and lovely, with masses of snowdrops and wild garlic while we were there. We frequently heard and saw pheasants, woodpeckers and owls and we were lucky to have very mild weather for March. The dogs had great walks along the river and on the beaches nearby and all sorts of useful bits and pieces were thoughtfully provided for them too. TV reception was too erratic to be really watchable but plenty other things to do. We would go away with our dogs much more often if we could find more places of this quality where responsible dog owners are welcome.
Well where do I start? Just had the most fantastic week at Doonbank cottage, Alloway! We went with our 2 dogs, 1x14yrs old and the other 1yr old, both really enjoyed the woods surrounding the cottage and the walks along the river banks. The garden is very safe and we were more than happy to let them out without their leads.
The open fire was wonderful when we were all tucked up at night, and the beds were so comfortable it was an effort to get up in the morning!
We had a very nice meal at The Balgarth, just under a mile away which we could have walked to but decided to get a taxi instead, well it was my hubbys 60th birthday!
All in all everything about our week at Doonbank cottage was perfect!
We will definately go back and would definately reccommend it to anyone looking for a nice relaxing week with the dogs, kids or just for a romantic break for 2!
We stayed here for the week from Saturday 28th February. We have had a couple of bad experiences with dog friendly cottages in the past in that they seemed to interpret dog friendly as an excuse not to clean them properly. This is not the case here at Doonbank, although our initial good impression of the cleanliness did fade a little but not too much. Most of the very nice glass table mats and coasters were dirty as they were covered in rings from plates and cups, which I think is as much the responsibility of those staying there as the owners to leave them clean. I ended up cleaning the insides of the windows in the sitting room as they were very dirty as a result of the open fire being smoky before the chimney was cleaned. I didn't notice this until the sun came out the day after we arrived, but I could not sit there and leave them dirty.
It has to be said that any problems which were noted by guests in the visitors book were acted upon immediately by the owners. Someone had mentioned the fire being smoky and the chimney had been cleaned the next week and a problem with the shower had been repaired with similar speed.
The cottage is nicely furnished with some very attractive pieces and colourful throws and cushions on the beds. The bedding is very good quality (a Sanderson quilt cover and pillowcases on the king size bed we used) and was spotlessly clean.
Although linen and towels were included in the rental there were no tea towels or hand towels provided in the kitchen, although this may just have been an oversight. It was strange that there were no salt and pepper pots available for us to use either, though the kitchen was full of equipment such as a food processor and a slow cooker. Neither were there any other basics such as a few tea bags and a small amount of coffee, which we have found in every other cottage we have been to. This was the first time we had not taken any with us as we decided we would go shopping on the Sunday rather than carry it all up with us from Yorkshire. Many cottages advise that there will be a basic store cupboard with tea, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper, oil, flour, ketchup etc but this was not the case here.
There was a teapot in the shape of a cottage on the kitchen windowsill in which I found a mouldy tea bag, which again should have been cleaned out by the guests, but in defence of the owners I would have thought it was purely ornamental and would not be used. On the other hand though, apart from that tea pot the only other one was part of a set high up on the shelves which again seemed to be there for decoration rather than daily use. There was no cafetiere either.
I would have thought a hairdryer would have been provided but we ended up buying one in Asda together with a set of tea towels and a decent dishcloth. The dryer cost less than £4 and there has been one in every other cottage we have stayed in. Again a minor niggle but they do add up.
We only cooked once during our stay and when I turned on the oven it was incredibly smoky as though some oil had been spilled on the racks and oven tray. This was just about cured by putting them in the dishwasher on the longest cycle, but there must still have been a little oil or grease on the bottom of the oven as it was still a bit smelly when I turned the oven on again to check it. Had I made the mess in the first place I would have cleaned it up but I certainly did not intend to clean up after someone else with sloppy standards. I mentioned this in the visitors book so I have every confidence that it would have been dealt with accordingly.
I know I have only really complained and concentrated on the negative points which really are outweighed by the exceptionally good points. The cottage really is very nice, in a very good location, especially for those with dogs who are concerned about them getting out. There is a good gate at the end of the drive and a huge garden for the dogs to roam around in, which leads down to the riverbank and the path along the edge. We found the easiest way down to the river was by following the path which runs down the slope alongside the fence at the back of the garage. Another path was a bit more precarious due to some uprooted trees which had slid down the bank.
In the study there is an excellent choice of books together with a few dvds and videos and in the dining room there is another bookshelf and lots of games to choose from. The sudy also has a very extensive supply of tourist information leaflets covering a wide area, including Arran.
The beds are comfy, as are the sofas and even though it snowed quite heavily whilst we were there we were never cold. The bath is fitted with a set of jacuzzi type jets, which though a bit dated, was a pleasant surprise. The bath rack even had a support for your book and a holder for your wine glass (shame I'd given up alcohol for Lent!) otherwise that would have been very well used indeed. The towels are excellent quality from The White Company.
We had to make sure our two dogs stayed around the back of the house down towards the river whilst the pet pheasant was having his breakfast. They disturb at least one every morning on their walks back at home and although they have never caught one we were worried that Hamish would be traumatised for life if Ted or Scruffy had met him. Thankfully he was never disturbed but several rabbits were given a good run!
The provision of the free wireless internet connection was invaluable and I suppose worth more than a £4 hairdryer!
The gardens were just waking up for spring and in the summer the borders which are filled with perennials must be a beautiful sight.
All in all we really would highly recommend this cottage. Just bear in mind that this was written by a forthright Yorkshire woman who also happens to be an Aries (so I am always right, about everything) and I also worked as a professional housekeeper in a large private country house so I do look at everything with a gimlet eye and report accordingly.
Doonbank cottage is a delightful retreat set next to the forests bordering the river Doon. Its rustic feel and gorgeous views delight the very soul, whilst the local fishing, hiking, sightseeing and golfing opportunities keep you busy from dawn until dusk.
Coming down the drive, the first view is of a delightful hideaway. We used the back door of the house for the most part, which opens up into a traditional style kitchen complete with cooking range. Just down the corridor the dining room provided ample opportunity to gaze out onto woodland with the sounds of the river close by. Probably the most fantastic feature is the huge sitting room complete with baby grand piano and wood burning fireplace. Despite the living room's size, you can be assured of being very cosy at nighttime, sitting in front of the fire and listening to owls outside.
3 comfortable bedrooms gave us plenty of space to while away the small hours before planning the next day's activity.
Doonbank has fantastic gardens and setting, and just a brief stroll away along the banks of the river is the fabled Brig O'Doon.
It is altogether a lovely place to spend some time - highly recommended.