The Galley of Lorne Inn stands in the village of Ardfern. From the road through the village you could be forgiven for thinking that it remains no more than a traditional drovers' inn, as this is the face it turns to the world. In reality, while it retains its traditional roots, it has developed into very much more, including a large and very successful restaurant and a small boutique hotel. You can read our dining review for The Galley of Lorne Inn here.
Ardfern is a busy village standing on the Craignish Peninsula close to the head of Loch Craignish on the west coast of Argyll. It can be found a mile and a half from the junction of the B8002 with the main A816, and is roughly 16 miles from Lochgilphead and 23 miles from Oban. Its location makes the inn an ideal touring base for a large and fascinating area.
The origins of the Galley of Lorne Inn date back to the establishment of an inn here in about 1680 to serve drovers who had ferried their cattle across to Craignish Point from Jura (and from Islay via Jura) en route to markets in Crieff and Falkirk. The age and character of the original inn are reflected in the hotel's public bar. Here you can sit and enjoy surroundings of dark wood panelling and a beamed ceiling, and a slate floor which though a recent addition is very much in keeping with the traditional feel of the inn. The public bar is home to part of the inn's collection of 50 hand picked whiskies, while in keeping with their passion for local sourcing, Scottish real ales are also available.
Pass beyond the public bar and you enter the inn's lounge bar. This offers a considerable contrast, being much more contemporary in look and feel, though also very attractive. The lounge bar serves as a gateway into the inn's largest space, the bright and airy restaurant. Here you find a room that is comfortable, modern and chic, and which when fitted out for a function can seat 120. The far wall of the restaurant is wholly of glass, offering beautiful views over Loch Craignish and the island of Eilean Mhic Chrion. Beyond the restaurant and accessed from it is a decked area offering outdoor seating on fine days. The restaurant and lounge bar are both hung with excellent artwork, much of it produced by local artists and available for purchase.
Also largely hidden from view from the road is the Galley of Lorne Inn's accommodation wing. A comfortable and welcoming reception area whose walls are adorned with more excellent artwork leads through to a corridor from which the six en-suite guest rooms are accessed. Each of the rooms is named after a Scottish island, and doubles, twins, singles and family rooms can all be provided. Rooms are well equipped and comfortable, and styling has a slight boutique edge without going over the top. Virtual tours of the rooms are available on the inn's website.
The restaurant doubles as a capacious function room, which can accommodate weddings of up to 120 guests, or more if a marquee is used. The inn is licenced to hold weddings, or a church wedding can be held in the neighbouring Craignish Parish Church. A range of other functions can also be accommodated.
Disabled access is good. Parking is conveniently available and the whole of the inn is one one level with no steps. There are disabled facilities, and the ample space in the lounge bar and restaurant make access straightforward. No guest rooms are currently specially adapted, though one has a large bathroom with almost level shower access.
The Galley of Lorne Inn will surprise most first time visitors. It has an appearance from the road that suggests a modestly scaled and very traditional inn. And the public bar delivers exactly what you are hoping for as you walk through the door. Yet the inn is also goes far beyond your expectations, offering a choice of contrasting bars, a magnificent dining room, and the outdoor decking: plus six comfortable guest rooms. The inn is open all year round, though check in times are more restricted in winter. You can read our dining review for The Galley of Lorne Inn here.