Delighted to be back in Oban, I found myself at the opposite end of the bay, on the hillside, where I was invited to stay at Alt Na Craig House, the historic, 4 star Gold Guesthouse and regional finalist in the Scottish Thistle Awards.
A prime illustration of Oban’s history, the impressive Victorian property sits, as if carved into the rock face, amidst wonderfully landscaped gardens and with the most amazing views over Oban Bay. The tree-lined driveway climbs from the road leading to the architecturally stunning, stone built, turreted frontage and a very grand welcome.
A comfortably contemporary interior sits well amidst the distinguished rooms and ample retention of classic period features which makes Alt Na Craig House what it is today. Experiencing her first heyday in the 1800’s, Alt Na Craig was commissioned by Professor John Stuart Blackie, a revered scholar, poet and socialite of his time who counted Prime Minister Gladstone as one of his acquaintances.
Following Alt Na Craig’s initial flourishing however, Professor Blackie’s once beloved holiday home in Oban experienced a period of depressing dereliction, but was preserved and offered a revival by Ina and Sandy MacArthur, who bought the property and land and began a labour intensive period of restoration and gradual nurturing back to life.
Alt Na Craig is now an impressively powerful testimony to their commitment to this beautiful corner of Scotland’s West Coast and a grand credit to the house’s rich history and original pioneers.
Each of the six bedrooms; all named after Scottish Islands; is unique in character; all of them luxurious, comfortable and large with either Bay or Garden views; equally peaceful, stunning and “just that little bit special” as Ina and Sandy like to say! Rarely do hosts manage to create instant ease, comfort and contentment but here they do in equal measures and without fuss or deliberation.
Little luxuries, enormous attention to fine detail and well chosen pieces of furniture add to the opulence which does not fail to pervade this warm building. There is a familiarity about Alt Na Craig; a palpable, welcoming feeling of refuge of such substance, it can only come from an archaic haven; and that is Alt Na Craig.
Oban’s great sense of community and an eagerness to share and cultivate relationships is evident at Alt Na Craig; numerous restaurants are recommended in the informative room manuals; one of which, The Seafood Temple, an easy 5 minute walk down the hill (and up on the way back!).
Following a peacefully sound night’s sleep, my breakfast was simply divine; carefully sourced and well presented with a wonderful view of Oban Bay and the ferry routes beyond; industrious yet calm.
It is hard to imagine this house in anything but its impressive current standing; Alt Na Craig has managed to recapture her rightful place and stature, has enjoyed a revival and once again assumed a stately stance over her beloved Oban.
Thus at last hath the ideal
On this rock become the real
Born of bright imagination
Outlined forth by contemplation, reared in fancies vague
Now at last in fair expansion
Standeth it, – a goodly mansion
Blessings on its walls and towers
On its gardens and its bowers, Beauteous Alt na Craig!