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The Loch Melfort Hotel stands in a magnificent location overlooking Asknish Bay on the coast of Argyll a little less than 20 miles south of Oban. As a first time visitor soon discovers, people are attracted here for a variety of reasons, including the warm welcome and the excellent service; the range and quality of the accommodation on offer; and the outstanding food. You can read our dining review for The Loch Melfort Hotel here.
People also come here because the hotel stands immediately beside the National Trust for Scotland's Arduaine Garden: and for the views. The Loch Melfort Hotel faces slightly west of south and the views are some of the best you will find anywhere. On the one side they extend along the Craignish Peninsula, while on the other they include the islands of Shuna, Scarba and Jura, plus many smaller islets. The hotel is designed to take full advantage of these views, and sitting in one of the lounges or on the outside terrace enjoying a quiet drink is an experience it is hard to beat.
The story of the Loch Melfort Hotel began in 1897 when James Arthur Campbell, who had made his money in South African diamonds and Celonese tea, purchased the peninsula forming the southern side of the entrance to Loch Melfort and named the estate Arduaine, or Green Point. In August 1898 Campbell began work on what is now known as Arduaine Garden, and a month later work began on a grand residence for his family. Problems with the contractor meant that the part-built house had to be demolished and work restarted, but what emerged in 1905 was Arduaine House. In 1967 the house was sold and extended to become what was initially known as the Loch Melfort Motor Lodge, and then the Loch Melfort Hotel.
As you approach the hotel you find the main house is to your right, with the wood clad Cedar Wing to your left. The reception area is close to the foot of the nice staircase leading to the upper floor, while the public rooms are almost all on the far side of the building, enjoying the stunning sea views. Here you find the Asknish Bay Restaurant, which extends out from the hotel to really immerse diners in the seascape beyond; the small and large lounges; and the Chartroom II bistro and bar. The only public room not overlooking the sea is the beautiful wood panelled library.
There are 25 individually styled guest rooms at the Loch Melfort Hotel. Five of these are on the upper floor of the main house and comprise two suites and three rooms that can be set up as king size doubles or twins. All benefit from the superb sea views, and one has its own private balcony. 20 guest rooms are in the Cedar Wing, ten on the upper floor and ten on the ground floor. This Scandinavian style extension is accessed by means of a covered corridor from the main hotel. The rooms are fitted and furnished to a high standard and all offer sea views, with the upper floor rooms having private balconies and the ground floor rooms access to a terrace. A number of the hotel's guest rooms are baby or family friendly, and five of the ground floor rooms in the Cedar Wing are dog friendly.
Disabled access is very good. One of the ground floor rooms in the Cedar Wing has been converted to be fully accessible for disabled guests, while the other nine ground floor rooms are ideal for anyone wanting to avoid steps. All Loch Melfort's public rooms are accessible by wheelchair, including the restaurant, bistro and lounges.
There is a vast amount to see and do in this part of Argyll: though for those not wanting to stray beyond the hotel itself, a therapy room is available. Or you can visit Arduaine Garden, or do nothing at all and simply put your feet up and enjoy those views...
The spectacular setting helps make Loch Melfort a popular location for weddings. Parties of between 2 and 100 (or 150 with a marquee) can be accommodated, and weddings can take place in a number of locations within the hotel, in the grounds, or in local churches. Meanwhile the neighbouring gardens take some beating when it comes to locations for wedding photography. The Loch Melfort Hotel is also able to accommodate a range of business meetings, conferences and corporate hospitality events.
We approached our stay at Loch Melfort with high expectations, and found them more than met. This is a hotel with a real buzz about it; a hotel you find yourself leaving with regret; and a hotel you would without hesitation recommend to friends and family. You can read our dining review for The Loch Melfort Hotel here.