Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Macdonald Forest Hills in the Trossachs
Macdonald Forest Hills in the heart of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park has just undergone a £3.5 million refurbishment with all guest rooms, cocktail bar, piano lounge, reception and restaurant areas given a make over. We’ve visited the Trossachs many times but never stayed at the hotel so we were keen to go along for the night to check it out.
We arrived from the North after a flying visit to Skye and approached the hotel via the stunning and sometimes stomach churning (for the passenger!) Duke’s Pass. Approaching Aberfoyle, signs for the hotel start to appear and it’s only a short drive along the side of beautiful Loch Ard to the hotel. It might be only an hours drive from Glasgow and one and a half hours from Edinburgh but you certainly arrive in another world. The grand hotel sits in immaculately landscaped grounds right beside the loch. We were hoping the rain would go off so that we could get out and about to explore, but sadly it looked like it was on for the night.
After check in, we arrived in our huge room on the ground floor, sadly our view was of the car park but the rooms at the front have lovely views across the gardens towards the loch. As part of the refurbishment the rooms have been upgraded with flat screen televisions and wifi (two pretty essential ingredients for a hotel these days) and along with new furnishings, the whole ground floor has been re-carpeted. Our bed was huge, very comfortable and we had high hopes for a great night’s sleep.
It was still pouring outside so we decided to head straight for the cocktail bar and have a Friday night G&T before dinner.
It’s five o’clock somewhere…
The hotel has two bars, the cocktail bar next to the Garden Restaurant and Rafters Bar and Bistro over in the Spa building. Rather than get wet, we decided to sit in the relaxed cocktail bar and mingle with the pre-dinner crowd. Ordering our Gin and Tonic we realised the hotel is missing a trick with only Blackwoods Gin and Tanqueray available as their token Scottish Gin offering. With the current explosion of Scottish Gins, this seems short sighted as visitors to Scotland are keen to try our fantastic gins and are usually willing to pay a bit more for the experience. Blackwoods from Shetland has been there since the start of Scotland’s Gin journey and is one of our favourites – the perfect accompaniment to our nuts and olive bar snacks.
Dinner in The Garden Restaurant
The airy Garden Restaurant as you would expect has lovely views over the hotel grounds and is an enjoyable room for a relaxed dining experience. We chose from the A la Carte menu which offered a good selection of dishes.
As regular readers will know, I love black pudding, so this combined with a soft poached hen’s egg was the ideal starter. The black pudding sat in pool of sweet potato puree, a new flavour combination for me that worked extremely well. It seemed the perfect treat for such a dreich summer evening.
Raymond’s goat’s cheese and black pepper mousse turned out to be less of a mousse and more like a chunk of goat’s cheese rolled in pepper. He was expecting a lighter dish but being a goats cheese lover, he still enjoyed the chunks of tangy cheese, olive tapenade and earthy beetroot flavours.
My large rib eye steak with tomato, mushroom and hand cut chips was pretty juicy, served medium and was delicious. I decided to forgo sauce (£4), but the usual suspects were on offer; Béarnaise, Sauce Dianne and Peppercorn. The Grill Menu also featured Perthshire lamb, quail, haggis and beef fillet.
Treacle roasted fillet of pork sounded interesting, so Raymond decided to choose this for his main course. It was served with confit pork belly, carrot veloute and saute of wild mushroom. The pork belly had a vibrant intensity which was incredibly moreish, and the veloute kept the dish nice and moist. The sauce was welcome as the fillet was a wee bit overcooked and lacked the promised treacle flavour that piqued Raymond’s interest in the first place.
Room for dessert?
Who would have thought that a scattering of honeycomb would make such a difference to one of Britain’s best-loved puds? We chose sticky toffee pudding with caramel crunch ice cream and honeycomb for dessert, and it was a real triumph with the honeycomb adding a delicious crunch and texture to the sponge and sticky syrup sauce. We were scraping the plate!
Time for bed….
With full bellies, we headed back to our room hoping the bed was as comfy as it looked. We can confirm that it was! We had one of the best nights sleep we have had in a long time, helped by the supportive mattress, good quality linen and blackout curtains that ensured no light sneaked in.
After a very refreshing sleep, we were looking forward to sampling the breakfast delights and headed back to the Garden Restaurant. The continental breakfast table had an excellent choice – the highlight of which was proper bircher – delicious! There was also a great selection of fresh fruits, cereals and juices.
The hotel cooks the hot selection to order, and you choose from the usual list. My breakfast was delicious with perfectly poached eggs, sautéed mushrooms, bacon and a wee bit of Stornoway black pudding. We also had coffee and mixed toast which could have been a bit toastier, but overall we thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast.
Out and about at Forest Hills
After breakfast, we had a walk down to the lochside where most of the hotel’s activities take place. As you will see from the sign, there are lots of experiences to keep the whole family entertained at Forest Hills. If you’re looking for more of a chilled out time, then there’s always the swimming pool and spa to enjoy or plenty of space to relax in one of the loch view lounges and lose yourself in a good book for an hour or two.
If you fancy getting out and about in the area then Forest Hills is also ideally situated to visit Glengoyne Distillery, voted best Whisky distillery tour in Scotland. The distillery is unique as the spirit is distilled in the Highlands and matured across the road in the Lowlands. The road acting as the Highland/Lowland boundary line. Glengoyne offer lots of different whisky tasting experiences such as whisky and chocolate pairing and a tasting off all their gold medal malts, so you are guaranteed a great day out.
We enjoyed our visit to Forest Hills. The setting is spectacular, and you really do have the opportunity to relax and chill out. The hotel has benefited from multi million pound investment, bringing the services and standards guests expect from a modern, high-quality hotel.
Visit Forest Hills
Macdonald Hotels And Resorts,
Many thanks to Forest Hills for inviting us to experience the newly refurbished hotel.