six of the best family-run places to stay
Sophie Dening picks six scenic, welcoming, family-run places to stay
on a springtime road trip in the Scottish Highlands.
The Sunday Telegraph - March 2012
Number 4 on Sophie's List: The Crinan Hotel, Lochgilphead, Argyll
It's 42 years since the Ryans acquired Crinan Hotel, an ancient drovers' inn in a tiny fishing village, which assumed a more baronial identity during Victorian times. They've kept it looking handsome, yet moved with the times.
Nick Ryan (whose trews, I swear, match the chairs in the bar) and his wife, the artist Frances Macdonald, now see the place as "an art gallery with rooms".
Where there was once a seafood restaurant on the first floor, overlooking the tiny boatyard and lock-keeper's cottage, visitors can now view (and buy) art by Scottish artists from the Royal Glasgow Institute and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. A second gallery is housed in a coffee shop down the road, near the annexe that is due to open this year as a studio for visiting artists.
My room is big, comfortable and very quiet, with a picture-window view over Loch Crinan towards Moine Mhor and Kilmartin Glen, where I'm heading the next day to clamber up the Iron Age fort of Dunadd. This hotel is as full of life as its remarkable owners: look out for the white piano originally shipped in for Dave Brubeck; Nick's collie-cross, Fly, who uses the lift if you'll push the button for him; and, of course, dashing seascapes by Frances. There is a ground-floor restaurant, with loch views, a seafood bar, pub and coffee shop.
Sailors love it here, especially the pub, where you can eat razor clams from Colonsay, and smoked salmon from Rothesay. Dogs are welcome – 11 in situ at once is the record.
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