Excellent food, a vast beer garden and a spacious suite – it’s what a summer holiday in Scotland is all about.
On possibly the hottest day of the year we pulled up outside the Atholl Arms Hotel in the centre of the rather cute town of Dunkeld. We peeled our sticky children from their car seats and, as it was 6pm, we knew our delightful tots would be hungry and tired, and could transform into gremlins at any moment if service wasn’t swift and smooth.
CHECK IN – Thankfully check in was easy, quick and friendly. The hotel doesn’t have any designated family rooms, which doesn’t mean you’re waved away with a stick, it means the opposite. They’re able to transform their rooms into accommodation to suit the needs of your family. We were led upstairs to the Victoria Suite, a spacious 1300 square foot room that was now toddler territory.
THE ROOM – There are 17 ensuite rooms in the Atholl Arms but the Victoria Suite is a real treat – high ceilings with original mouldings, marble fireplace, relaxing seating areas and views of Birnam Hill and the River Tay. The toddler bed and travel cot were in place when we arrived, so all we had to do was dump our bags, change our grubby children, grab the suncream and head out to the beer garden.
DINNER & THE BEER GARDEN – With the quite exceptional weather I was nothing short of delighted to discover a huge beer garden, running down to the banks of the Tay. In many towns you wouldn’t have stood a chance to get a seat but Dunkeld’s a little quieter and we secured a table in the sun with ease.
The menu looked particularly good – better than I’d initially expected. The staff brought our drinks, gave the boys some crayons and carried a high chair outdoors for Mr Baby.
Service was swift. Our starters looked and tasted simply excellent. Mr Husband had a beautifully done pork belly and my scallops with black pudding and roast cauliflower completely hit the spot. The boys’ meals were automatically brought out with our starters (I love it when common sense rules the roost) so they tucked into bangers and mash with peas. Our mains were of an equally high standard – mackerel and pea risotto, and a seafood platter featuring crab, prawns, salmon and trout. The kids meanwhile were slathering themselves in strawberry ice-cream.
The Atholl Arms cuisine is a definite cut above your usual hotel fare – it’s fine dining in an informal, enjoyable and family friendly atmosphere. Their food is award winning and has been recognised by Eat Scotland, the Gourmet Society, the Scotch Beef Club and the Scottish Hotel Awards. Even if you’re just passing through it should be on your dining radar.
After dinner it was bath time- or suncream/icecream removal time/chase children in pyjamas time. The hot water takes an absolute age to reach the taps due to the hotel being an authentic old building with old plumbing, but this isn’t much to grumble about. Despite the Atholl Arms being located on the main street of Dunkeld it was silent at night – clearly nobody drives after 10pm in Perthshire. I suspect we made the most noise in the locality when our babies started their day at 6am the following morning.
BREAKFAST – The full Scottish breakfast did its job and the staff were good with the children, even bringing us more napkins when Mr Baby decided the best place for them was on the floor.
LOUNGE – Check out was at 11am and whilst we arrived on probably the hottest day of the year, we checked out on what was certainly the wettest. Having no real desire to get absolutely drenched we sat in the hotel lobby, Mr Husband read a paper and the tots were delighted by a box of toys we discovered. It was very chilled, and a nice end to our stay.
LOCATION – The Atholl Arms is right in the tiny heart of Dunkeld, which is in the heart of Perthshire, in the heart of Scotland. The town itself has all the local amenities you’d expect as well as lovely little cafes and independent shops. What I love about this area is there’s so much greenery, forests and woodland on your doorstep to explore, as well as key attractions a short drive away like the Scottish Crannog Centre, Highland Safaris, Dewar’s Whisky, the Birnam Arts Centre and the National Trust’s Hermitage. I’ve got more posts to come on these topics and I’ve fallen for Perthshire all over again.
Lastly, whilst I had quality time with my family at the Atholl Arms, part of me secretly hankered for the suite and the excellent food for me and Mr Husband (on our own)- just saying.
THE LOWDOWN – We drove from Aberdeen to Dunkeld which took under two hours, but to find out more about public transport click here. There is private parking at the hotel but free on-street parking too. In normal Scottish weather dine inside at the Riverview Restaurant. Tots2Travel were guests for one night including our evening meal and breakfast – considering how gorgeous the room was, to say the highlight was the food is praise indeed, our compliments to the chef. Do note there’s a different Atholl Arms Hotel located in Blair Atholl, Perthshire, so please be sure of which one you’re booking. Happy travels.
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