One of my real bugbears about hotels is the journalistic license they take when describing their location. Lakeside shouldn’t mean having to cross a dual carriageway or muddy field and sea view is a misnomer if it entails standing on tip toes, using binoculars or peering between buildings. I’m delighted to say The Lodge on Loch Lomond does what it says on the tin. Most of the rooms are within a stone’s throw of the waters edge, many are literally feet away from the loch. Indeed you get the illusion of being surrounded by water when you are in your room if you choose a Corbett, it almost feels as if you are on a large boat.
The hotel is incredibly easy to find, it’s ten metres off the A82 which is the main road that runs to the west of Lomond. The A82 and adjoining major roads will take you easily into Glasgow and the much nearer Dumbarton should you need to do any shopping during your stay.
The Lodge only has 47 bedrooms and there were three receptionists on duty when we arrived. So check-in was both friendly and efficient. Within minutes we were in our gorgeous room (number 38) and enjoying the fantastic view from the balcony. The hotel is on the edge of Luss so at the wider part of the Loch. It really is beautiful giving vistas of the islands, Conic Hill on the eastern side, Ben Lomond to the left (over 3,000 feet high) and Luss pier a short distance away. It’s quite simply the best panorama I’ve had from a hotel room in the UK. There was a dusting of snow on the peak of Ben Lomond and this topped things off perfectly. One small complaint, I’m not shy and I’m not unfriendly, but nor am I a lover of open balconies. I’d prefer them to be three quarters enclosed so I can talk to my neighbours if I choose, have privacy if I’d prefer. The balconies here give uninterrupted sightings of every other guest enjoying the outdoors on the entire floor. A pullover canopy would also have had benefits. Nonetheless a truly outstanding location to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine.
Some of the guests commented that the wood cladding in the rooms made you feel as if you were staying in an orange crate. Certainly when you were relaxing on the bed and gazing upwards, you were looking at an expanse of timber. But the clue is in the name, it’s a lodge and it was what we expected. I thought the rooms were classy and very different from the norm. Quality is the word I’d use and how many times do you get a sauna in your room ! I’m not a lover of any type of steam room but my wife thoroughly enjoyed this extra. Twin sinks, a nice deep bath and a high powered shower finished this part off admirably. No complaints whatsoever in this department.
The lounge area (of the room) had a lovely comfortable leather sofa, a sturdy armchair, very adequate writing desk with huge mirror above and a fair sized flat screen TV. An excellent view of the loch was available from all of the seats as well as the bed through the large windows and glass door. The internet connection failed a couple of times but on the whole was better than expected in a mountainous region. The double glazing was clearly of a very high standard and the room was cosy and well soundproofed from the outside world. Storm Jonas was in full flow when we stayed but caused minimal interference noise wise.
The swimming pool was extremely clean and tidy and the jacuzzi small but powerful. As I’ve said previously I’m not a lover of saunas or steam rooms but the hotel also boasts a laconium. This was the perfect temperature to ease an aching back and sore calves from hill walking. I’d score the leisure facilities highly. There was no gymnasium but the facilities were definitely adequate considering the relatively small size of the establishment.
The restaurant, Colquhouns, once again takes full advantage of the magnificent views. Staff try to get you a window seat whenever possible and this certainly adds to the whole dining experience. We were always seated promptly with regard to the time we’d booked and starters came quickly after that. A large lounge with subdued lighting, great views (again) and a log fire was situated adjacent to the restaurant for those who wanted to enjoy drinks before and after their meal. Price wise, a half lager and half diet coke (I was doing Dry January at the time) came to £4.50. Very reasonable considering the standard and location of the hotel.
Both my wife and myself found the menu slightly limited although the food was of a very high standard. It seemed to us that most of the guests were staying for only a couple of nights and therefore the choice would have been adequate. In our case we’d travelled 250 miles from the north east of England and were staying for four nights. The menu did not alter and we found six starters, three with supplements, to be not quite enough. Normal price for the likes of Sweetcorn Pannacotta and Confit of Duck was £7.95. In fairness there was also a daily special but although we are not particularly demanding people, we did find we were struggling to make a choice by the last day.
Likewise we thought a £7 supplement for a relatively small ribeye steak was slightly excessive. The main courses averaged £17 and this was about right for what were fairly modest portions.To add another £5 for Monkfish for example was pushing things a bit. The desserts on the whole were delicious. These were priced at £6.95 and included such things as a Pineapple & Passion Fruit Mille Feuille, Peanut Butter Parfait and good old Lemon Meringue Pie. They were divine. I still found myself snacking before bed just an hour and a half later. Anyone with a hearty appetite would find the food enjoyable but not necessarily filling.
Breakfast was always a pleasurable experience. A three hour slot with so few guests meant you invariably got a plum seat and excellent service. The downside of course is that a buffet breakfast runs the risk of going cold and the food was often only lukewarm. I don’t know whether it’s a health and safety issue, but I’m amazed more hotels don’t have such a run-of-the-mill thing as a microwave oven available to guests.
As I’ve said previously, the location of The Lodge on Loch Lomond makes it very easy to find. It also means it’s perfectly situated to venture out and enjoy what the national park has to offer. Luss is within walking distance and it’s like stepping back in time. Quaint cottages are dwarfed by the distant hills and mountains and the village is a photographers dream. Slightly further afield is one of the world’s great golf courses. The Scottish Open was always played at Loch Lomond until fairly recent years and regularly ranks in the top 100 as rated by top pros. Our hotel room actually displayed a snap of Sam Torrance who stayed there in 2001 when competing. Journeying further south you pass the town of Dumbarton which I’ve alluded to previously and then Balloch where hundreds of pleasure boats, large and small, are moored. Going in the opposite direction from the hotel the loch gets increasingly narrow and the mountains bigger and more numerous. It’s a little known fact that Loch Lomond, or at least a major part of it, is actually in the Highlands. The fault line that lead to the formation of the higher ground runs across the loch not far from Luss. So only a dozen or more miles to the north, past the iconic Sloy hrydo-electric power station, you come upon Arrochar and Crianlarich, both famed hiking and climbing regions. Not much further, on the opposite side of the loch, you have awesome waterfalls like the Falls of Falloch and the much photographed and hugely powerful Falls of Dochert
We love our waterfalls, swift flowing rivers and cascades. So while it may not be everyones ideal time to travel to this part of the world, for us there’s none better. The amount of water gushing down the hillsides near Loch Long and the brilliantly named Rest and Be Thankful carpark on the A83 was astonishing. Indeed there were scores of environment workers frantically working to secure the mountainside, such is the saturation at the moment.Further afield the Falls of Clyde had to be seen to be believed, the volume, speed and power of the water verged on the frightening.
So while Scotland is perennially beautiful in the summer, notwithstanding the midgies, it has a raw and more brutal appeal when the rain has been relentless. Dress as the elements dictate, be prepared to tough it out, and Winter is Loch Lomond and the Trossachs finest hour in my opinion. And when you’re tired, cold and hungry, there are fewer better hotels to return to than The Lodge, RIGHT ON, Loch Lomond.
Thank you for reading.