The Mill has recently been restored, and was christened by its first guests as “the wow factory.” With rooms on four levels, it will accommodate up to 14 adults, and up to 22 guests in total, in real style and luxury.
The main feature is the open plan 80m2 ground floor reception area which opens up from a fabulous kitchen, through the dining area with vaulted ceiling, into a generous living/lounging area with open fireplace. The dining and lounge areas feature the original exposed stone wall and light floods through a large glass archway incorporating the main house entrance into the courtyard.
All the reception areas on ground and mezzanine levels are tiled in a natural riven slate that goes beautifully with the old stone walls and new white plaster walls, with underfloor heating throughout the house provided by an environmentally sustainable ground source heat pump. The stone fireplace features the saw bench from the original mill, as the mantelpiece. Some of the bedrooms have quite quirky layouts and they are generally smaller than the bedrooms in the other properties within the estate. However, they all have the same quality of goose-down feather pillow and duvet, the same gorgeous linen and the same quality of mattresses!
A river runs thorugh the grounds and facilities include a shared indoor swimming pool and a tennis court (although both of these can be privatised for certain hours in the day). Two other properties are located within the estate but both are entirely independent so your group will have utmost privacy.
The large stylish contemporary kitchen area features a granite work surface throughout, twin stainless steel sinks and two dishwashers, two electric ovens, a large American style fridge freezer, and gadgets galore. There’s a kitchen table for eight – expandable to sit a comfortable 12 – and a breakfast bar for up to six. The separate utility room features washing machine and drier, an additional large fridge and freezer, and extra storage. As well as the stunning main open plan reception area, the ground floor also features a utility room, a loo, and a separate TV room-cum-play room with 42 inch flat screen LCD TV with full Sky plus package; this room has its own access to the garden and to a sandstone terrace facing the river. An additional South-facing sitting room on the mezzanine floor gives access through a pair of french doors onto another terrace with garden furniture and to the private rear garden, river and woods. Guests also have access to a separate games cottage with snooker, darts and table tennis, shared with Argyll Barn.
There are nine bedrooms altogether, each offering double or twin accommodation. The bedroom layout makes the most of the available space to maximize the number of guests we can accommodate, so while none of the rooms are enormous, four of them have either additional bunks or fold-away beds to increase the overall capacity to 22 including children. The six main bedrooms all have stylish contemporary wash-handbasins. Four bedrooms feature raised platform beds with storage underneath. There are three stunning bathrooms, with wall to wall travertine marble walls and slate floors, two of which feature jacuzzi baths, and a separate sauna.
We also have an indoor heated swimming pool that is shared between the three houses on the estate. Each house gets their own hour of exclusive swimming time in the morning and in the afternoon – outside those six hours, it is a “free for all” in the pool. The same rules apply for the tennis court within the estate.
Set amidst the 20 acres of woodland, and enjoying lovely views across the glen and up the mountain, the gardens are mainly laid to lawn and terrace with hydrangeas, rhodedendron and azalea, as well as reputedly the tallest Grecian fir in Scotland. Our own woods feature numerous tree species and adjoin thousands of acres of forestry commission land through which guests are welcome to wander. One of our terraces features a Grade A listed sundial. A tributary of the river Ruel runs through the gardens, from the Lochen that supplies our private water supply. There is a lovely waterfall walk within the garden, and a rope-assisted climb down to a pool for outdoor bathing. It’s a fabulous location for kids.
*Please note, locations shown on the maps are approximations only
Although just an hour and a half from Glasgow, the house sits in some of the loveliest scenery in Scotland. The Kyles of Bute are renowned amongst both walkers and sailors as amongst the most stunning bits of coast in Scotland. Whatever the weather in Argyll – and we do enjoy a remarkably mild micro-climate - this is great country for site seeing, with every corner revealing a new variation on the theme of mountain, loch, valley, sky, woodland, sea, rock, beach. The Cowal peninsula is a fabulous base for an active holiday with marvellous wildlife, numerous gardens and other tourist attractions to visit, and all sporting activities catered for.
The house has grounds of 23 acres, and sits about a mile above the head of Loch Riddon, enjoying complete privacy and lovely views down the glen to the river Ruel. The Island of Bute itself is as little as 15 minutes away from the house – accessed via a ferry from Colintraive – and was a “must visit” destination long before Stella McCartney got married there or former racing driver Johnnie Dumfries moved into Mount Stuart House as the new Marquess of Bute.
Inverary with its famous Jail and Castle, seat of Clan Campbell for the last few hundred years, is only 45 minutes away, as is Loch Lomond. Dunoon is another tourist destination in its own right, and just under half an hour away. You can get to Glen Coe in an hour and a half, to Stirling, Oban or Fort William in under two. Loch Ness and Edinburgh are easy enough day trips – reachable in less than 2 and a half hours.
As well as general site-seeing and trips to the Island of Bute, Inverary and further afield, there are a host of other activities you can undertake around Glenaruel. It’s fabulous walking country and we’ve also provided twelve mountain bikes for those who want to explore on two wheels rather than four. There are some really excellent and quite varied routes direct from the house, involving all sorts of terrain and levels of strain!
Golf – there’s a lovely 9 hole pay and play course ten minutes away above Tighnabruaich. We’ve supplied five bags of golf clubs for the house and they probably won’t be too fussed about the usual rules re golf shoes provided you don’t arrive in jeans and carve the course up. The same applies to the almost equally spectacular nine hole course at Blairmore & Strone, half an hour away. Cowal Golf Club at Dunoon and Inellan are the 18 hole courses in the area that welcome visitors.
Fishing - too many options to go into here, but you can spend anything from £9 per day to over £1,000 for river fishing in the area. You can fish for trout in our own stream for nothing or in the Lochen at the head of the river. Mackerel on a line in a boat on the Kyles is a right of passage for hundreds of West of Scotland kids every year. They swim in shoals all around these waters – the mackerel, not the kids - and there’s no permit payable.
It’s a fabulous part of the world for water-sports of all sorts. Horse-riding, climbing, canoeing, caving, archery, quad biking, paint-balling, and clay pigeon shooting are also all available either on site or in the area. It’s not our thing, and the house ain’t full of antlers, but we can help you arrange a day’s grouse or pheasant shooting, or stalking in season, if some of your party want to do that.
There is a wee shop selling all the basics at the camp-site in the Glendaruel valley, about a mile’s walk away, beside the historic Kilmodan standing stones. You get a slightly bigger choice in the Spar at Tighnabruich five miles away, and all year round opening. Dunoon is 16 miles away and is a thriving market / harbour town with award-winning bakeries, cafes and butchers, as well as a big Co-Op and a big Somerfield supermarket.
Scotland isn’t really well served by pubs in general; this area is definitely an exception. The Glendaruel Hotel is a lovely wee pub, a two mile drive away – or about a mile and a quarter as the crow staggers – and serves good pub grub or better. The Colintraive Hotel and Tighnabruich Hotel are each a tad busier and a tad more ambitious in terms of menu. Chatters in Dunoon is highly recommended, and the Whistlefield and Coylet Inns on Loch Eck are also worth a visit. Our favourite restaurant in the entire universe is on Loch Fyne, overlooking the old Castle Lachlan. (The view from the Inver Cottage terrace is one of the Robbie Innes pictures on our drawing room wall.) It’s less than half an hour away from the house. The Benmore Gardens tea room is not half bad, either, and the Otterferry Inn and Loch Fyne Oyster Bar have good reputations (on which, it might be said, they trade slightly) All in all, though, there are few areas of Scotland where you can enjoy such a variety of excellent, reasonably priced menus.
The house is available on a self-catering or fully-catered basis – or something in between. Most of the weekend parties are for big celebrations - and not everyone (even with a four oven Aga and an additional stove at their disposal) wants to take on the task of cooking for 30 of their nearest and dearest. So we are delighted to have been able to recruit Roger and Bea McKie (formerly of An Lochan and now co-proprietors of Taste Scotland) as the contracted caterers. From a wedding breakfast for 150, through a formal four course dinner for 24, to a serve it yourself home-cooked fish pie, from a buffet, to a picnic, to a barbecue, they can offer up a menu to suit at a budget that works for you.
When catering a dinner for you, as a one-off, the taste team will always leave you with some delicious fresh made bread and a vat or two of homemade soup for lunch the next day – along with your left overs. It’s a lovely touch, and effectively means that you’ve got two meals for the price of one! The default setting for the house is still self-catering but if you prefer, then Roger and Bea can work for you as live-in caterers during some or all of your stay. They can be accommodated either in one of the en suite bedrooms, in the wee Garden cottage we are renovating in early 2010, or in a local B&B.
The financial arrangements are between yourselves and the caterers, and they will design a menu or series of menus for you that works to your budget. Ingredients costs obviously vary by season and do make it difficult for us to give you a price now for a meal in a few months time. Depending on the style you want to go for and on your budget - on whether you want silver service on the night, on how much of the caterers' time you need, and on what sort of ingredients you specify, you could be talking as little as £9.95 per head for a two course meal from their fresh-cooked serve it yourself “Home Taste” menu exclusive to our customers – or four or five times that per head if you have a serious langoustine or fois gras habit.
On a live-in basis, you need to budget £175 per day per chef, dropping to £850 for the full week, plus the cost of ingredients. They’ll agree menu plans with you and then cook you breakfast, provide pack/picnic lunch ingredients and feed children and adults separately in the evening for that. If the big house is at full capacity and you don’t want any involvement in the prep or clearing up, then you need two members of staff. If you are talking about a party of under 20 guests, then it may be possible for a single chef to look after your party.
Other Services Scarlett Johansen’s personal trainer is going to deliver a series of fun and challenging fitness and weight-loss centred Luxury Boot camps; participants are guaranteed to lose weight or get their money back.
Unfortunately we couldn't make an equivalent offer in terms of handicap reduction in golf but why not attend the first ever gourmet golf tours hosted by the PGA Tour and coaching professional Alan Tait in April. The Feast of Golf 2012 is another cracking present and with an all-inclusive price gives golfers rounds at the Carrick, Earl of Mar and Machrahanish Dunes. Not only this but you will also get tuition from Alan.
Charles Jamieson MFA is our equally appropriate host-tutor for The Drawing Room, which is a new residential painting and drawing school taking place in March. Charles is a hugely talented and collected painter, as well as an experienced, intuitive and enthusiastic teacher. He has a fund of stories, and is a great host. The Drawing Room welcomes amateur artists of all standards.
The same applies to our new cookery school; the host and tutor of the Feast of Scotland Cookery Courses is Briton’s most successful cookery tutor, as well as being an outstanding chef. His students have won the UK-wide competition for cookery students an unprecedented three years in a row and he has been awarded an MBE as a result. On all these courses, we take a maximum of 16 participants, and the price you pay is an all-inclusive cost including all transfers, all materials, all visits, all food and drink – and all the laughter.
- Security deposit: £750. This is paid prior to arrival and will be refunded in full after departure subject to damage inspection. - Linen & towels: All linen and bath towels are included in the rental price. - Energy costs: Included in the rental price. - End of stay cleaning: Included. Please leave the property in the state that you found it. - Friday to Friday bookings only in holiday periods. - Arrival time: 4pm onwards. - Departure time: 10am. - Pets: Please enquire. - Smoking: No smoking in the property. - It is recommended that all guests take out insurance to cover against potential cancellation and any accidental damage caused during your stay at the property.
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Want somewhere with a tennis court? Or that’s dog-friendly? Stately Escapes does a great job of listing properties by facility. For example, the Old Rectory House in Norfolk has its own outdoor pool, lets you bring your pooch, and has a pub within walking distance. Expect to pay from £1,500 for the five-bedroom complex for the weekend
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