A Scottish Castle Break at Stonefield Castle Hotel, Loch Fyne:(invited press review)
Stonefield Castle Hotel sits virtually on the shoreline of Loch Fyne in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Built in 1837 by John Campbell in the Baronial style it commands magnificent views over the aforementioned Loch which forms part of the coast of the Cowal peninsula. Loch Fyne is a 40-mile long saltwater sea loch on the west coast of Argyll and Bute, Scotland famous for oysters and for herring fishing. Who wouldn’t want to accept an invitation to stay in a Scottish castle hotel and explore the stunning countryside?
Stonefield Castle Hotel itself sits in 60 acres of grounds and has a huge collection of Rhododendrons and Magnolias. John Campbell’s cousin, Archibald, was one of those avid Victorian plant collectors, travelling the world with Joseph Hooker, collecting seed and plant material and sending it back home. The hotel grounds still reflect that passion.
There are a number of paths through the grounds, and plenty of walking is available, with plenty of wildlife spotted regularly by hotel staff and guests. Although, from the record book that guests are encouraged to complete, it seems that not all of them take it seriously! We had hoped to see a red squirrel, but alas did not.
Stonefield Castle Hotel is not an ultra-modern refit of an old residence like some, it retains a faded elegance and uses it to its advantage. There are thirty-six en-suite bedrooms, many overlooking Loch Fyne and three with four-poster beds.
Tall ceilings and long wide hallways and impressively large fireplaces abound. Many of the windows are virtually full height, floor to ceiling, to allow unimpeded views to the exterior.
Views are a strong point here. Scotland has some of the finest scenery on the planet in our view, and it would be criminal not to appreciate it. As with many hotels based on old buildings, Stonefield has had its extending works to make more room available. One major extension is the dining room. You can see the extension work is reminiscent of 1970’s architecture, but fortunately, the exterior has been blended in reasonably with its finish. The payoff, however, is shown from the interior, with a truly panoramic view across the Loch.
Breakfast for us was rewarded not only with hearty food but absolutely stunning views as well.
Our double room was very comfortable with a massive mahogany four-poster bed. Our windows looked out onto the grounds and Loch, and we were fortunate enough to have a bright sunny morning on our February stay rewarding us with amazing early morning views across the Loch. Stonefield Castle is currently undertaking a renovation/refresh plan on all its rooms to keep them up to standard.
Staff were all courteous and friendly, and managed to attain that approach that comes only with good training, of being there when you need something, and just nearby when you don’t. You often see both ends of the spectrum in hotels, one is where staff are impossible to find who can help you, the other…. where staff are politely trailing you around and jump on any sideways look to endeavour to help you. Stonefield gets the balance right. The Hotel is dog-friendly and there’s free wi-fi throughout.
Most of the large rooms on the ground floor are public areas for residents and other customers, with the Dining room and its fabulous views, an excellent bar with a large drinks menu, a drawing room with comfy sofas and a cosy open fire, and also a Snooker room with a full-size table!
There is plenty to do around this part of Scotland. We stopped at Inveraray for a wander around, and a swift purchase of a locally made cashmere jumper!
At the top end of Loch Fyne, if you enjoy a beer there is Fyne Ales, a microbrewery that has been operating since 2001. They operate brewery tours with tastings and we had a great time there being ably assisted and informed by Stuart from the brewery. They make some truly excellent beers and are well worth a visit. These are also available in the Stonefield Castle Hotel bar. Also near to the brewery is the renowned Loch Fyne Oyster Seafood Restaurant which we visited on our way to Stonefield. The oysters were gorgeous, and the salmon burger delicious.
Another excursion to make is south from Stonefield to Campbeltown. Campbeltown was at one point the Whisky Capital of the world with 22 operating distilleries in the one town! We took a tour of Glen Scotia distillery, with Callum our extremely knowledgeable and engaging guide. Their whiskies are also available in Stonefield’s bar (amongst a choice of 50 or so!).
Whilst you might not have heard of Campbeltown you can’t have escaped hearing Wings’ song, ‘Mull of Kintyre”. This is the area of Scotland where Paul and Linda McCartney raised their family away from the media spotlight. It was rather touching to see that the locals had created a garden in Linda’s memory – a testament to how much she did for the community.
The Loch is well known for its excellent quality seafood, the salmon and shellfish are known across the UK as some of the best you can buy. We had a chat with the hotel manager at Stonefield Castle regarding the seafood. It transpires that the small boathouse situated down on the shoreline is used by fishermen who supply the hotel. So your langoustines, for example, are fished in the loch at 5 a.m., landed 100 yards from the kitchens, and then brought up directly to the Stonefield Castle kitchens by the fisherman himself. Ready for lunch and dinner that day. That has to be some of the shortest food-miles travelled, for the freshest ingredients possible!
We took supper in the evening in the dining room and restaurant. Stonefield Castle Hotel Restaurant has a fairly short menu, of classic dishes that make the best of local ingredients. We chose a variety of dishes from the menu. Starting with cock a leekie terrine, and a beetroot and goat’s cheese tart.
We followed this with Scottish ribeye steak and those aforementioned locally freshly caught langoustines from Loch Fyne. We shared a pudding of chocolate bombe. Service was attentive throughout the meal and we tumbled upstairs to bed.
Breakfast the following morning was, aside from the stunning views, very decent. Between us, we tried both the full Scottish breakfast and Smoked Salmon and scrambled eggs. Both were of excellent quality and thoroughly filling. Also offered alongside was an array of juices, cereals, and fruit, and continental options of cheeses and meats. Stonefield Castle Hotel offers an authentic Victorian Baronial Scottish hotel experience, with plenty of modern trimmings. It’s a leisurely 2-hour drive from Glasgow Airport, with spectacular views all along the way. If you are looking to get some fresh air, some walking, and the best seafood, coupled with a comfortable county house stay, then please do think of Stonefield Castle. The warm welcome is guaranteed.
Stonefield Castle Hotel,
Disclosure: We were guests of Stonefield Castle Hotel. All content is editorially given.