Monday, June 26, 2017

Family Trip to Scotland: Accommodations

On this trip we booked three different (but similar) kinds of accommodations: a bed & breakfast, a self-catering flat, and an AirBnB flat. No hotels this time.

Although the five of us all planned to arrive in Edinburgh within two hours of each other, we knew when we started looking for places to stay that first night that any of us could be significantly delayed. We therefore didn't want to try to drive all the way to Oban to catch a ferry that same day, but rather decided to break the trip near Tyndrum.

Bed & Breakfast

By luck and by chance I came across Ewich House in Crainlarich - what a gem! I'm sure I found them on Trip Advisor or some such site, but I never book through those third parties. I contacted the hosts directly, told them we'd be 5 travelers coming from Germany and the US and would need three rooms, and they responded very quickly, ending the email in German! It turns out the couple who has been running the B&B for the last year or so is Swiss. We asked if they had rooms also available on our way back to Edinburgh from Mull a week later, and they did. 

Their rooms are spacious and comfortable, and they have a living room available to their guests with a TV, DVD player, and a bookshelf full of DVDs and books - many of them in German! We felt right at home. There's a wood-burning fireplace, though it was warm enough not to need a fire our first evening. Wifi/WLAN worked beautifully, and although there's no mobile phone reception inside the house - even for the hosts - because of the thick stone walls, that wasn't a big deal.



The town of Tyndrum is just a short drive away, so after we unloaded we drove to the Real Food Café for fish-n-chips. Neither Liv nor Steph are fish fans, but they both tried the haddock and agreed it was pretty good!

M and I sat in the living room after supper for a glass of wine, and the hosts (Silvia and Daniel) will provide wine glasses if you ask. It was nice to relax and discuss our plans for the next few days. Silvia also let me put in her refrigerator the string cheese Al and Liv had brought for me from Wisconsin so it wouldn't go bad overnight.

Silvia told us breakfast would be served between 8:00-9:00, which was perfect for us. They offer everything you could possibly want, and Al ordered the "full Scottish breakfast", which included an egg, bacon, sausage, sauteéd mushrooms, baked beans, a grilled tomato, toast and black pudding. They provide cereals and yogurt, juice, fresh fruit, something special such as Hefezopf on Sundays, and of course tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Coffee!!! We heard the familiar sound of a Jura Kaffeemaschine coming from the kitchen and knew the coffee would be good.


a full Scottish breakfast
After our week on Mull we returned to Ewich House, knowing already we'd be happy here and looking forward to the coffee! Silvia and Daniel helped us out tremendously with our ongoing rental car problems. Since we didn't get mobile phone reception inside, I asked if I could give their land line number to the rental car company. They needed to call me back three or four times that evening and the next morning, so it was important they had a way to reach me. Check-out is 10:00, but since the local mechanic couldn't get there until after 11:00, Silvia and Daniel told us we could wait in the living room. She even offered the kids something to drink, which they found so sweet. 

We would so happily stay here again and recommend it to anyone who is traveling through this area of Scotland.

Self-Catering Flat

I have written plenty about Glengorm Castle and Estate, so here I will only write about what was different from previous visits. 
The ground floor windows show where the Terrace Flat is.
We stayed in the Terrace Flat, which is situated along a long corridor at the seaside of the castle's ground floor. The rooms here were once the accommodations of "visiting ladies' maids and gentlemen's valets," according to the wonderful book The Story of Glengorm, written by the current owner's mother and available from the castle.

This was our view from the Terrace Flat windows.
The flat can sleep six, with one double room and two rooms with twin beds. 




There is a small table with four places in the kitchen, and a dining room that comfortably seats six.
The kitchen is supplied well enough with pots and pans and utensils, but as usual M brought his knife sharpener, which was needed. One big meat knife, though -  and I wish I'd taken a picture of it - was so abused by a previous guest that it was beyond repair. The blade was bent and damaged to the point that we wondered if someone had tried to open a beer bottle with it. Come on, people! Do what you must with the spoons, but respect the knives!




The spacious bathroom had a shower and tub, though we never used the latter. We're all about quick showers so we can get on and do something fun! When I asked Steph how the water pressure was, she said, "Like being licked by a cat." So those of us with thick, long hair weren't always as quick in the shower as we wanted to be. But it was fine.

The living room was also nice for relaxing and watching Braveheart. The closet is full of games, puzzles, books, and DVDs, so for those who aren't hardy enough to brave the weather every day can spend a rainy one inside. There's a wood-burning fireplace and plenty of wood, and across from the living room is a utility room with washer and dryer, additional toilet, and more wood. That was also a great place to dry out boots and jackets from wet and muddy walks, because with the water boiler in there, it was quite warm.


As with all Glengorm's self-catering flats and cottages, the key is in the door when the guests arrive, and you don't see or hear from the owners or the staff unless you need help. We tidied up before we departed and left the place as we found it. We did see Pam in the castle office, because our car problems were ongoing and mobile reception on the island was sketchy at best. She was extremely helpful, allowing us to use her landline to make and receive calls with the rental car company.

This was our fifth stay at Glengorm (M's sixth), and we will keep coming back. 

AirBnB

For our final three nights in Scotland, I booked an AirBnB flat in Leith, near Edinburgh. This was my third time using AirBnB, but M was leery about it. I have read about all kinds of mixed experiences with AirBnB, and I wanted to try it again.

The flat is very comfortable, and upon walking through the door the first thing that hit me was a fresh, clean smell. Clearly the flat is well cared for. It is spacious, the beds and furniture are comfortable, and the photos online are true to what's there. The fact that there were two separate full bathrooms (one en suite) was huge - and a detail I'd forgotten! 


We decided not to cook dinners, mainly out of laziness and because we felt like eating out, but it's good to have a place for breakfast and to make sandwiches for the day if desired. Tea every morning, wine and cheese in the evening...

On the last evening Liv went into the kitchen to get a Coke, and after a moment we hear, "Where's the fridge?!" We all laughed, because we'd all had the same problem (just earlier, like on the first night or morning). It's "hidden" behind the door that matches all the other cupboards in the above photo to the far left.
how the "kids" spent most evenings:
violent games of Peanut
The bus stop (Bus 11) is a very short walk away, and the bus ride to the Scott Monument is just 10 minutes. Although this flat is close to the city and in a busy area, it's on a dead end street and I found it very quiet at night. That's important to us since we usually fall into bed exhausted and hate being awakened prematurely.


I don't know if we're easier than most to please or if we just got lucky, but we were truly happy with all our accommodations. I have read some of the less-than-positive reviews of Glengorm and Ewich House, and I'm left scratching my head in puzzlement. But that's for another post.


For more in this series:


2 comments:

  1. Oh I'll take a note of these! I loved Crianlarich when we passed by two years ago, so would be great to go back :) haha we also have a hidden fridge in our kitchen but honestly I prefer that that the old flat with a big old fridge in the middle of the kitchen because they were built before fridges haha

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    1. The B&B in Crainlarich really was lovely, and obviously we highly recommend it. The "hidden fridge" looks quite nice, we think! It was just a surprise at first. There was a split second when I think, "Wait, no fridge? I don't actually remember verifying that there is one in the kitchen!" :-)

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