As a get away from it all location the Ardanaiseig Hotel has few equals. It stands in the crook of the western side of Loch Awe in Argyll and combines a stunning setting with comfortable accommodation, country house style, great service and outstanding food. The hotel is best reached from Taynuilt by travelling some five miles along the single track B845 through Glen Nant to Kilchrenan, and then a further four miles along a more minor road to the hotel itself. Once there you drive through the rhododendron-clad gardens before being greeted by the attractive frontage you see above. You can read our dining review for Ardanaiseig Hotel here.
The Ardanaiseig was built in the Scots Baronial style as a private house for Colonel Archibald Campbell in 1834 by the noted architect William Burn and looks through gaps in trees eastwards over Loch Awe towards Ben Lui. It is surrounded by 100 acres of gardens now being restored to their former glory, which extend down to the side of the loch.
The public rooms in Colonel Campbell's house were intended to impress visitors, and they continue to do so today. The wow factor kicks in as you enter the main hall, complete with its imposing staircase and, on a cold day, roaring fire. Off to the right is the grandest of the public rooms, the drawing room, which occupies the whole of this end of the ground floor of the house: and actually looks as if it belongs in a much larger stately home. Beyond the hall is the library bar, offering views over the gardens to the loch, and another fire. The restaurant also offers extensive views over the gardens to the loch.
There are a total of 16 en suite guest rooms in the hotel itself. Four of these are on the upper floor in the main part of the house. Many of the remainder are on the ground floor or at first floor level in the wing that extends to the north of the main house. In addition there is a magnificent bedroom suite in the converted boat shed on the loch side. It is no surprise to find that this is one of the most sought after rooms, as it offers split level accommodation and a full height glass wall overlooking the loch. The morning view from the upper, bedroom, area can be seen in the photograph on the left. Additionally, self catering accommodation is available in Rose Cottage, which effectively serves as the gatehouse to the hotel.
Of the rooms within the hotel itself, 6 are graded as master bedrooms with a loch view and 6 are graded as master bedrooms with a garden view. There are also 4 double bedrooms with a garden view. Guest rooms are individually decorated, styled, and furnished, some with striking colour schemes: full details are give on the hotel's website, see link on the right.
The Ardanaiseig is an ideal setting for weddings and it is a nice size for hiring on a exclusive use basis. The hotel has a licence for civil or religious ceremonies, and these can take place either within the hotel itself or in a purpose built amphitheatre in the gardens close to the side of Loch Awe. Receptions can be held for up to 50 people in the dining room and the drawing room is perfect for a drinks reception. The boat shed is a highly favoured bridal suite.
The hotel has boats available for guests' use on Loch Awe, and safe (but often cold) swimming is possible in the bay in front of the hotel. Fishing permits are available for salmon, brown and rainbow trout, char and pike. The extensive gardens provide fascinating walks in the area around the hotel. For the less active, there is a snooker room in the basement of the hotel. There is also a piano in the drawing room. The Ardanaiseig was built in an era before access was designed in. Disabled access is therefore problematic: though it is possible to the ground floor public areas, and one guest room has been found to be suitable by some mobility impaired guests.
The Ardanaiseig Hotel has a great deal to offer the visitor to Argyll in search of some time away in an idyllic location. It is a hotel whose reputation, setting and physical presence raise extremely high expectations. It is nice to be able to report that it fully lives up to these expectations, and in many ways exceeds them. Our most recent visit was on a day on which the worst storms in decades swept Argyll, leaving many roads blocked by fallen trees; staff and guests stranded; and the hotel without power, working phone lines or a mobile signal. Yet we still enjoyed a superb welcome, excellent accommodation, an outstanding dinner and a great breakfast. You can read our dining review for Ardanaiseig Hotel here.