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The historic Taychreggan Hotel near Kilchrenan reopened on April 3 after a winter refurbishment, sporting the newly-named Gillie’s Bar, paying homage to a local gillie Lachie, who had the safest boat on Loch Awe – because he couldn’t swim.
Sitting on a peninsula overlooking Scotland’s longest freshwater loch, within 40 acres of woodland and garden, the Taychreggan has just been voted, for the third year in a row, Country Sports Hotel of the Year for Argyll and Lomond at the 2017 Scottish Hotel Awards.
It’s not surprising given the range of wild activities, such as boating, fly fishing for wild salmon and brown trout, sea kayaking, clay pigeon shooting, archery, tomahawk throwing, slingshots and air rifles, and a falconry ‘hawk walk’, plus hill walking on 13 munroes nearby, and cycling along 90 miles of forest roads on Lochaweside.
But guests and diners also visit Taychreggan to get away from it all, retreating into cosy lounges with warm fires and comfy armchairs, with a piano, full-size antique snooker table, and breathtaking views of the 25-mile long loch down to Kilchurn Castle, once seat of Clan Campbell – and occasionally Jocky the peacock.
The 17th-century coaching inn, at Loch Awe’s narrowest crossing point, where cattle swam across, feels deeply connected to its landscape and history, reflected in the names of its 18 sumptuous bedrooms, such as Walter Scott, McCaigs, Fyne, Etive, Cruachan, Sonachan and Arbrecknish.
Its restaurant enjoys an excellent reputation for fine dining, retaining two AA rosettes since the 1970s, and today serving a five-course tasting menu, and a three-course menu of seasonal, locally-sourced and often foraged ingredients, prepared by head chef Vilas Roberts.
The biographer James Boswell visited in October 1773 on his tour of the Highlands and Islands with Dr Samuel Johnson, and said: ‘We supped well and after supper Dr Johnson, whom I had not see taste any fermented liquor during our travels, called for a gill of whisky. “Come,” said he, “let me know what it is that makes a Scotchman happy!”