Ballathie House Hotel, Kinclaven, Stanley, Perthshire

As befitting any Scottish Institution today, Ballathie House Hotel has re-invented itself, aligning the appeal to a broad, modern-day market, whilst retaining all the glory of its historical roots.

Built in 1880 within the beautiful Perthshire countryside and slap bang on the banks of the River Tay, Ballathie has, unsurprisingly, played host to a number of Royal guests and dignitaries, who no doubt, enjoy the seclusion and inherent ambience of the turreted, Scottish manor house.

Ballathie’s ethos is steeped in tradition, with a service and pride befitting of any Royal establishment. A genuine enthusiasm and professionalism fills its fine rooms, which I found to be both refreshing and comforting; Ballathie is Scottish service at its absolute, magnificent best.

With a seemingly effortless grandeur, Ballathie exudes tradition, from stately rooms and furnishings to a service from all staff, at all times, which falls nothing short of perfection. It is immediately apparent that the building is held in high esteem and the respect it earns from the people who work amidst the many walls is hugely evident, in the pride they take in every task.

We were fortunate to arrive on a beautiful Summer’s afternoon; a wonderful journey down a long driveway shrouded by mature trees, secure in the knowledge that what lies beyond shall be equally as magnificent.

Sure enough, Ballathie stands proudly, yet humbly, within gorgeous parkland; the River Tay flowing through the manicured grounds  – all the ingredients of an authentic Country House Hotel, right there. But what sets Ballathie aside from other hotels within this category is something which is difficult to articulate; an ambience permeates Ballathie; welcoming, trusted, homely, valued and familiar – a unique combination, considering the all pervading traditional values.

It is a country home, very at ease with its surroundings, which lends itself to plentiful outdoor pursuits – many of which are enjoyed by guests, each day. Residents or ‘acquaintances of the hotel’, gather in the bar and lounge of an evening, to speculate on their respective catches from the day’s events at Ballathie, from fish to game to that elusive hole in one at nearby Blairgowrie – again Ballathie is a hotel of traditions – sport is no exception.

Within the buzz of the day’s events, a pre-dinner gin and tonic afforded a studious session of the evening’s dinner menu – a critical part of the stay, with the hotel’s recent achievements, not to mention the 2AA rosette award winning fine dining restaurant. Locally tendered fish and game were expected attractions but not dominating the menu, where additional Scottish delicacies and trusted Chef’s choices also featured. It was however, not only the supreme fayre but the minute attention to every detail and presentation which added to the very special experience; Ballathie kitchen baked bread with matching butters; simple yet intricate and well worth the painstaking perfection – a pure delight!

Our superb wine waiter expertly matched a supreme Chateaux Cissac with our food choice and was pleasantly attentive; at all times the serving staff were obliging, friendly, professional and made dinner an entirely enjoyable and luxurious occasion. And how refreshing also to see guests truly dressing for dinner at Ballathie, where etiquette is alive and thriving amongst a multi generational clientele.

The balmy evening was calm and sunny, allowing the dining room doors to be opened to the terraced grounds, leading down to the Tay, where we finished the perfect evening with coffee, before retiring for the night to our riverside suite.

It is no surprise that Ballathie has earned, yet again, multiple awards in 2014;  Independent Hotel of the Year in the 2014-15 Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards and Manager of the Year in the 2014-15 Scottish Hotel Awards, to name but two. A superior team of people, led by GM, Jody Marshall; himself, passionate, loyal and dedicated; embrace their task and their hotel and commit it to being the best it can possibly be – a Scottish Institution, with its place firmly established in the best of Scottish hospitality.