A bonnie break: Cameron House, Loch Lomond 

Mhairi Mann

22 April 2022

Cameron House is a sweeping, thoroughly Scottish estate on the bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond, with a state-of-the-art spa, championship golf course, self-catering lodges and all manner of family-friendly pursuits 

22 April 2022 | Mhairi Mann

T

he setting at Cameron House is hard to beat: a Scottish flag flutters in the wind above a turreted baronial castle, built by architect William Spence in 1830. Kilted men flank the doorway, looking out across the fabled Loch Lomond – an expansive, glimmering body of water, enveloped by rolling lowland. Speedboats dash across the surface, set against Ben Lomond’s mountainous peaks. It embodies the wild, rugged romanticism and ethereal remoteness that Scottish authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott have written about for centuries.

And yet, it is only a 30-minute drive from the West End of Glasgow, and an hour and a half from Edinburgh. Cameron House is one of Scotland’s leading luxury hotels. It was tragically engulfed by a fire in 2017 and has spent the past five years completely overhauling many of its facilities. The resurrected result is a multifaceted, modern retreat that oozes luxury. The hub of the hotel is the Art Deco-inspired reception area and lobby bar, serving afternoon tea against magnificent views of the meadow-fringed water.

The hotel's new incarnation is a luxurious blend of modern Scottish design – think thistle-print velvet cushions by Timorous Beasties, Johnstons of Elgin plaid and just the right amount of tartan – with worldly opulence, which is apparent in the gold chinoiserie wallpaper, marble-topped bar and heavy velvet drapes. 

This style is continued throughout the 140 generously-sized bedrooms and 24 suites. Many of these have loch-facing vistas, as well as cavernous marble bathrooms with gleaming gold fixtures and freestanding tubs. 

Barack Obama chose the hotel’s opulent Cameron Suite during Glasgow's COP26 climate change summit – a vast duplex penthouse that is primed for entertaining, offering 100 square metres of living space with outdoor terraces and a private bar. 

The Auld House Suite at Cameron House

This winding estate is far more than a house or a hotel, with sports facilities, self-catering lodges and the championship Carrick golf course, which remains one of its biggest draws. The seemingly boundless grounds offer an extensive range of activities and amusements for all ages. 

Outdoor pursuits include pony trekking, archery, clay pigeon shooting, falconry, hiking, offroad driving and segway safaris. At the marina, there are speed boats and jet-skiing trips, kayaking and katakanu excursions, or a romantic champagne cruise on the hotel's Celtic Warrior boat. Perched on the water's edge, the standalone Boat House restaurant buzzes at all hours of the day, with a relaxed, seafood-led menu.

The Boathouse restaurant

The hotel’s fine dining restaurant is headed up by revered culinary duo Martin Wishart and Paul Tamburrini. Tucked away at the top of the hotel, it is an intimate ode to traditional Highland hospitality, clad top-to-toe in crimson and tartan. The tasting menu presents hearty Scottish fare in elegantly diminutive form: tender pan-fried deer loin, sourced from Perthshire; monkfish in a smoked cockle sauce and silky veal sweetbread with cauliflower soubise, truffle and hazelnut. Follow with a nightcap in the handsome Great Scots Bar, where an impressive and ever-growing whisky collection (currently 300 and counting) might cause you to nearly lose the way on the winding route back to your grand chambers.  

The family-friendly leisure centre

Families will love the new leisure centre, which is one of the best in Scotland, if not the UK. The pool is kitted out with twirling flumes and a separate heated toddler area with baby slides and spray rings. The adjoining Taverna Bar is a warm and casual affair with large screens showing sport. Staff in checked shirts pull pints and serve burgers and battered North Sea haddock, while wet-haired little ones wear themselves out on the pinball machine. 

This also means that children are kept far away from the adult pool and Espa spa, which is an elegant temple of wellness, topped by a heated rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the golf course.

On a bright summer’s day, there is very little that beats a walk around the loch’s calm, sun-dappled waters. Rain and brooding grey skies, however, create a beguiling, misty moodiness that feels fitting for this centuries-old Scottish site, steeped in history and legend.

Suited and sporraned staff couldn’t be better or more informed than at Cameron House, whether welcoming smart families, American tourists laden with suitcases or local golfers, fresh from the green. The verdict? This 400-acre estate has everything one might need for an immersive weekend away, whether seeking romance and fine dining; whisky-fueled revelry or enough activities to thoroughly wear the kids out before bed, all brought together in one majestic setting. 

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From £400 per night, A82, Loch Lomond, Alexandria G83 8QZ, cameronhouse.co.uk