A warm welcome at East Haugh House Hotel
We were looking forward to our overnight stay at East Haugh House Hotel situated just off the A9 outside Pitlochry. January so far had been fruit smoothies, water and lots of exercise, so the promise of a chilled out, relaxing stay with great food, comfy beds and cosy fires was going to be a real treat. The McGown family has owned the hotel, originally built by Atholl Estates in the late 1600s for the past 28 years. We always love to hear that the chef patron is in charge of the kitchens and Neil McGown and his team ensured we dined extremely well during our visit. When it’s your business, and you’re staking your reputation on the food – it has to be good – and it was.
The award-winning East Haugh House Hotel is well kent in fishing, stalking and hunting circles with guests travelling to the hotel from far and wide to take part in the MacNab Challenge. The aim is to stalk a Red Stag, shoot a Grouse and catch a wild salmon all in one day. Thankfully we arrived at the “wrong” time of year and a relaxing weekend was on the cards instead.
We arrived after nightfall, but the hotel glistened like a wee bit of gold in the heart of the Perthshire hills. Fires were lit and crackling away, and the welcome was equally as bright and warm. We were quickly checked in, given a tour of the snug, dining room and the very cosy bar, before heading upstairs to our bedroom.
A bedroom fit for a king!
The first thing you notice as you enter the room is the fireplace at the end of the bed! How luxurious! Then the kingsize bed itself with pristine white linen and tweed blanket looked so inviting. The luxury doesn’t stop there as the bathroom also has a huge spa bath and fluffy bathrobes.
As a Highland boy, the priority was to get a fire started! Luckily they provide a supply of peat, matches and firelighters, so we had a glowing peat fire on in no time (refills are available at £6 a basket). The next priority was to crack open the bottle of Edradour whisky and have a dram by the fire while nibbling on the homemade Macaroon left on our tea tray. Oh my what luxury – we’ve never had an open fire in our bedroom before but thoroughly recommend it!
After chilling out by the fireside, cocktail hour arrived, and it was time to head down to the snug for pre-dinner cocktails.
Cocktails in the snug
East Haugh has recently launched a new cocktail menu with drinks expertly mixed by George, the barman. Raymond chose the Bitter and Spritzed, and I just had to have a Kilt Lifter. Raymond’s drink was one of George’s creations and was a mix of Campari, Martini Bianco, Orange and Prosecco. My Kilt Lifter continued the whisky and peat theme of the evening and included Edradour 10yr Whisky, Drambuie, Lime and Essence of Peat. Some bars offer fantastic sounding cocktails but are let down by the execution and taste; East Haugh has got it right – a concise cocktail list and an excellent mixologist. George certainly knows how to make a mean cocktail.
Dinner in the Bar
After our cocktails, it was through to the bar for dinner. East Haugh gives the choice of dining in the main restaurant or the bar with its wood burning stove. We chose to eat in the cosy bar and were soon tucking into homemade five spice bread which our waitress said had a hint of gingerbread about it! It did but with the texture of bread rather than cake.
Raymond was craving carbs after all these fruit smoothies, so it was the wild mushroom and ricotta tortellini with walnut and ricotta pesto (£5.95) that attracted his attention. The pasta arrived deliciously sticky with the walnut and ricotta pesto and each pouch was full to bursting with the ever so flavoursome wild mushroom filling (not often you can say that about pasta!). A good sprinkling of ash salt completed the excellent dish.
The haggis spring rolls, crunchy salad and Irn Bru chilli sauce were causing quite a stir with other diners so luckily that’s what I had chosen too. The haggis was lovely and spicy, and the chilli dipping sauce had a real taste of Irn Bru sweetness about it. The crunchy salad was a thoughtful mixture of vegetables and not the usual run of the mill friseé lettuce from a bag that I loathe.
Raymond’s house speciality of slow braised shoulder of lamb turned out to be the perfect dish for a cold February evening. The flavoursome lamb just melted in the mouth and the dauphinoise potatoes, buttered spinach combined with the rosemary juice really hit the spot.
East Haugh House Hotel has won Scottish Fishing Hotel of the Year for the past seven years, so I thought it only right to have the pan seared salmon with lime and coriander cous cous, spinach and scallop roe velouté. The salmon arrived just the way I like it – moist and flaky with a golden crust and worked so well with the rich and creamy but delicately flavoured velouté. I’m not sure the cous cous was the best accompaniment as it was a wee bit bland, but maybe I’m just not a cous cous fan.
Raymond chose a dessert from the specials list of steamed cranachan sponge pudding with whisky creme Anglaise – the perfect choice since our visit was so close to Burns Night. The steamed pudding was moist with an oaty texture and raspberries througout – a delicious new take on a Scottish classic.
I decided on the passion fruit meringue pie where the fruit provided lots more flavour than the usual lemon filling resulting in a deliciously light end to the meal. The sweet meringue was still soft and gooey, perfectly contrasting with the delicious passion fruit base which managed to maintained an inner thigh wobble.
We thoroughly enjoyed the public space at East Haugh as it’s warm, cosy and very welcoming but our bed and peat fire beckoned, and we headed to bed for a great nights sleep followed by one of the best hotel showers we have experienced. Lots of hot water, lovely toiletries and powerful jets – the perfect start to the weekend.
Breakfast in the restaurant.
We enjoyed breakfast in the bright and airy main restaurant at the front of the hotel. A continental buffet-style breakfast is laid out in the middle of the room with fresh fruits, fruit juices, Blackwoods Vodka (just in case you fancy a Bloody Mary!) and homemade preserves and cereals. Freshly made Scottish porridge is also available from the kitchen.
You can also order from a choice of boiled free range eggs with soldiers, grilled Loch Fyne kippers, smoked salmon and scrambled free range eggs, French toast with bacon and maple syrup, smoked haddock with a poached egg or The Full “East Haugh”. You certainly won’t go hungry if the continental options don’t hit the spot.
Raymond chose (this is becoming a habit!) French Toast as it’s not something we make at home very often and he loves it. The eggy bread was perfect, and the sweetness of the maple syrup and smokiness of the bacon was a match made in heaven. A naughty but very nice start to the day.
My full “East Haugh” was one of the most delightful arranged and tastiest breakfasts I have had in a long time. I think the last time I had fried bread was at my gran’s as a boy so was looking forward to it! When the plate first arrives you think it’s a wee bit mean just giving half a piece of haggis and black pudding rather than a whole slice. The breakfast, however, turned out to be perfectly balanced and you left the table feeling full but not stuffed.
How do I book a stay at East Haugh House Hotel?
We had a fabulous evening at East Haugh House Hotel and would thoroughly recommend you visit. The service provided is excellent, and it’s great to see all the staff working so hard with the customer at the centre of everything. We were so impressed by how all the staff can turn their hand to any task and put the customer’s needs first rather than being restrained by rules and protocol as so often happens in other establishments.
East Haugh House Hotel is the perfect home from home in Perthshire.
East Haugh House Hotel
Tel: 01796 473 121[/su_gmap]
Many thanks for our kind invitation to come and stay at East Haugh House Hotel.