Monachyle Mhor

My birthday and Bean’s sit in very close proximity.

So over the years we have developed birthday traditions which have merged our individual days into more of a week-long celebration.

Since neither of is in need of any more stuff, probably ever, we usually go away on a little mini-break.

Once, we went to Hadrian’s Wall for a special torchlighting ceremony, which always reminds me of Lord of the Rings.

Once, we went to Stockholm for a gloriously romantic Scandinavian getaway and I had the best bacon of my life.

And this year, we went on a weekend roadtrip, to Monachyle Mhor.

It is, quite literally, the best birthday trip yet.

I have been in many a swanky hotel in my day, but few country four-stars offer five-star service, five-star amenities and a Michelin quality restaurant.

Oh, and it’s in one of the world’s most beautiful nature reserves.

I’d been recommended it by many people over the years, and none of them had overstepped the mark with their glowing praise.

This was our room (the photo here and above are theirs, not mine. Can you tell?)

The old stables turned into a chic contemporary pad. A mix of rustic farmhouse and urban luxury.

A delightful tea-tray greeted us on arrival, as did the adorable potbelly stove.

Plus, the house is nestled in the mountains in such as way that our windows looked out directly onto hillside.

There was nothing but grass in view. I was skeptical at first, but it made the place surprisingly cosy and Hobbitlike.

Unless of course you craned your neck a bit. Then there was no mistaking we were in Perthshire.

Now I could rave about the steamroom in our suite or the wingchair headboard that made reading in bed so delightful, but that’d just be bragging.

One of the nicest bits that I have to mention however, is how unpretentious the whole thing was. I didn’t want footmen or sycophantic hangers on.I wanted a private weekend getaway for two.

In a famous five-star in Glasgow once I ordered room service and it came with a waiter. Seriously. My own staff to wait in the corner of my room to fetch things and take the tray away when I’d finished. If ‘d wanted strangers to watch me eat, I’d have gone down to the restaurant. And worn more than a bathrobe. I had to send him away in the end. Supremely awkward.

This was the exact opposite.

I mean, we were greeted at the door by a kid in a banana costume.

I kid you not. He was filming a class project in the front hall as we arrived. It was a very family run sort of place.

And it was the perfect start to a casual, comfortable, luxurious weekend of silliness and simplicity as I could have asked for.

I only wish we’d had longer to explore the countryside – the foot of the Highlands offers wild, heart-rending scenery like nowhere else. The haar rolling across the Trossachs is a sight to behold, and with homemade sourdough toast and that bathtub to return to, even the dreichest of weather can’t dampen the spirits.

Suffice to say, the next time you want to splurge, this is definitely the place to go.

[But do ask for an upstairs room – the decadent underfloor heating creaks in the old timbers like there is no tomorrow, and in a Hobbithole, however nice, the rather odd noise coming from the ceiling is a surprising thing to wake up to!]

That aside though, the views are to die for and there was hardly a moment that wasn’t idyllic.

We’ve been floating on air ever since for all sorts of reasons. It was utterly charming.

We’ll be back. For sure.

In the meantime, happy birthday to us!

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