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Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Due to our tricky dates and our last-minute request to stay an additional two nights, we stayed in 3 different locations on-site during our 6 nights at Portsonachan. Before describing and reviewing them, I must focus on what were the absolute highlights of our stay; the people and the food. The staff are incredibly friendly, helpful, and attentive; special mentions to Beatrice, Alex, Razvan, Angela & Diane, who were always cheery and prompt in fulfilling our requests for another beer, dinner bookings, additional nights stay.

We dined at the restaurant for dinner every evening and had a takeaway delivered to our lodge one evening also. The food was to a very good standard, we could not fault it. Steaks, lamb, curry, burgers, pizza, we tried all at least once, they were consistently good and fairly priced. A extra bonus was finding good draft Guinness in the bar.

It was no surprise to us that we met many returning guests during our stay.

The room/lodge apartment

The rooms are comfortable, however they are in need of maintenance and /or deep cleaning. On the surface they are clean, but they are aged and a higher standard of maintenance & modernisation is required. The management is no doubt aware of this, and I suspect attempting to get on top of it, which will be a challenge, but a worthy one as I suspect this investment would justify proportionate additional charges.

To be more specific the appliances were old or of a low standard, the beds likewise and the general feel of the lodge, in particular, is that it had not any major upgrade in perhaps 20 years. Papering over the cracks perhaps a suitable analogy.

Despite the issues with maintenance and decor, we would stay again and would recommend Portsonachan for anyone seeking a relaxing, fairly priced, getaway.

The view is beautiful, the staff are excellent and the food is delicious.

Date of stay: September 2021
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Ross M
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tracey W, Marketing at Portsonachan Hotel & Lodges On Loch Awe, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Hi Ross. Thank you for your lovely review and taking time out to post this for us. So pleased you enjoyed what Portsonachan has to offer and we will make sure the staff see your comments including our Chef. We are currently redecorating and refurbishing which has taken slightly longer than we anticipated to Covid and its aftermath. It is a work in progress and, like you said, we are getting on top of it. We look forward to you revisiting us in the future.

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Reviewed 5 weeks ago

We wanted a small break where we could take our 2 large dogs and saw vouchers for this at a dog festival 2 years ago. On booking 2 years ago, I had asked for an upgraded room and was offered the Coach House, which certainly sounded like an upgrade on paper. I had also stated that I needed a disabled room as I have degenerative disc disorder and struggle with steps. With covid, our initial booking had been cancelled. We managed to rebook for last week (10-13 September 2021).

Before arriving, we received an email from the hotel stating that they have their own water supply and as such, whilst it's ok to shower using the water, their water runs brown and isn't drinkable. As such, bottled water would be put in the room for us. They also said that all rooms are fogged before each new visitor arrives and that no one else will have access to the room during our stay. Therefore, any rebuild for coffee, teas, water, toilet rolls etc are available from reception.

We set off at 0800 from the Midlands and, take into account these breaks are for 3 nights, leaving on a Friday proved to be horrendous. Firstly there were roadworks from Wigan then off and on for as far as the Eskine Bridge as you get through Glasgow. We were sat in traffic for 40 minutes at Hamilton. We eventually arrived at 1815. Tebay services was absolutely rammed, with very few parking spaces and we couldn't even get into the shop, let alone get food, so it was merely a toilet stop for us and the dogs. Lucky enough, we had taken food and drink for us and our dogs for the journey.

We booked in at the reception and the member of staff was very courteous. The dog smell was very noticeable all around the hotel, but as dog owners, you'd expect that. For non dog owners, the smell of damp dog will certainly not be pleasant. We booked into the restaurant for evening dinner. We were put in the room Etive in the coach House. We were also told the hotel was fully booked. However, the coach house certainly was not as glamorous as it sounded. Firstly, it was on the upper level with rickety steps up to it. Greyhounds are not good climbing steps as it is so that was the first challenge to get her up there. It wasn't safe for me either but we knew there was nothing we could do having already been told the hotel was full.

On entering the room, we saw the next problem. It was so small it wasn't big enough for 2 adults with 2 large breed dogs. It would only, at a push, be suitable for 2 small adults and 1 small dog. We struggled to fit the dog beds in and get around the room with them on the floor. There was no water in the room and the room was thick with dust. I had packed some antiviral wipes anyway, having got health issues meaning I'm very conscious about hygiene, so before we could even unpack, I had to wipe down the bed, the pictures (of which the tops clearly had never seen a duster), the doors (which were the most noticeable for the dust), the toilet, bathroom etc. Then I had to face the rickety stairway again to get water whilst my husband was bringing things up to the room. The mattress was about 2" thick and it was like sleeping on concrete. It played havoc with my spine. I think it was a small double and not even a full sized double as it was certainly smaller than or bed at home. There was mould around the windows, walls and bathroom. The paper was peeling off the bathroom ceiling. The bulbs were flickering (I'm sure they were halogen lights which are no longer soldl in the UK). There was a very very old Dimplex heater in the bathroom. It was in dire need of modernisation, cleaning and making safe. The tiles on the floor were cracked. Given we had asked for an upgrade, we said we dreaded to see what the hotel rooms were like given the state of this. Most of the photos of the hotel itself are taken from across the loch. In reality, the render is falling off the walls, there's damp and greenery growing out of the external walls.

We took our dogs for a walk up the lane to stretch their legs. However, we assumed from the website that there were walks around the loch. This isn't the case and over the next few days it became apparent that any walks needed to be driven to. The lane to the hotel is about 3 to 4 miles of single lane traffic and only a few narrow
pass points. It's not safe to walk dogs down there if I'm honest. The website describes they have a beach and exercise area. There is a small pebble area where dogs can have a paddle in e loch but the stones are very sharp and not ideal for a dog's pads. There is a small grass verge near to where a couple of small dingys are. That's basically it. There were only 2 bins for dog mess, both of which were overflowing.

We went for our meal, but knowing our rescue dog wasn't good with other dogs, thought it was best to eat outside. My husband had ribeye steak which he said was lovely. I had a veggie burger which again was nice, but the chips were cut like door stops and were raw. Again the staff were very pleasant and couldn't do enough for you. We had an early night, exhausted from a ridiculously long drive. Salt we didn't sleep well at all. The bed was incredibly uncomfortable. It was like sleeping on bricks. We also had to leave the windows open as the room steamed up.

The next day we took our dogs for a short walk before breakfast then let them sleep while we went to the conservatory for breakfast. The breakfast was simple but plenty of it. Choices of cereals, porridge, toast, croissants, fruit juice, yogurt, teas and filter coffee. The lady servicing was very helpful and polite. After breakfast, we headed to Inveraray, around 30 minutes away. We had been there before. It's a very small town but quaint. We had a lovely walk through the castle grounds and there is a woodland walk up to the turret on the hill (although it is a steep hill which, at a leisurely pace, killed a few hrs). The views over the town and the loch from the top were lovely. We walked around the town, but this proved to be a nightmare as everyone takes their dogs there, so if you have a dog who isn't keen on other dogs, it just becomes a barking scene. There are many coffee shops that will let you sit outside with your dog if you want to eat. Done of the shops will actually allow well behaved dogs in. We went back to the hotel and thought we'd go back to Inveraray late afternoon/early evening for something to eat when it was less busy which was a great idea as you can walk alongside the loch, stroll around the town just before closing time.

On getting back to the hotel at 1800 hrs, we could hear some dogs barking anxiously. We assumed that they had been left in the lodges. We went to our room, and our dogs settled down in their beds. At 1900 hrs we could still hear these other dogs barking constantly which we put down to separation anxiety, guessing their owners had gone for dinner. We went to get a drink ourselves and got back to our room around 2020 hrs. However, as we were near our room, we could still hear these other dogs. A car passed so I stood next to a parked Land Rover to keep out of its way, as there is very little light around the hotel due to its location in the middle of nowhere. It was when I stood by the car, these dogs were going frantic. To my absolute horror, I realised the dogs were in this Land Rover. No windows were open. I shone my phone light through the window to see a German shepherd looking back looking very distressed. They'd been left for more than 2 hours by their disgustingly cruel owners. I ran to the reception and told them and said if the owners can't be found, I will phone the police and put the windows through to get the dogs out. The receptionist sent a member of staff to look for the owners. I ran back to the car and took photos and contacted the police with the vehicle details in case the owner didn't return. There was another hotel resident near the car by this point who said she too had heard the dogs for hours, and like us, thought the dogs were in the lodges and was also horrified to find out that they had been locked in the crate in the car for hours with no open windows. We took our dogs out for a stretch, but hearing these other poor dogs in so much distress broke my heart. I was in tears at such cruelty having previously seen a dog in the past have to be rescued in similar circumstances and sadly the outcome was grim. Lucky enough the staff found the owners and the owners returned to the car to let the dogs out. According to other guests the next day who had heard the commotion as well, these people left very early the following morning. I have passed their details to the police and to the RSPCA. They should be utterly ashamed of themselves. But credit to the staff for acting quickly and finding them

Yesterday, we asked the staff if they could recommend some nice dog walk areas. The lady on the reception recommended Dalavich for the waterfalls and woodland walks. We went near there and also to Eas Urchaidh. Both had some beautiful scenery and were very quiet. There's some pretty waterfalls at both. However floods have damaged the roads and paths which has meant that the forestry commission for Scotland has had to make the paths safe with gravel. Again this is not ideal for walking any distance up into the glens for dogs. We did stumble on a woodland walk just off the B road as we headed towards Dalavich which was lovely. Our dogs loved it.

The staff are lovely and are very helpful, but sadly the hotel is in dire need of restoration. The lodges and log cabins appear to have been done but the hotel and coach house are in a poor state of repair.

We decided to leave on Sunday evening. Having seen the traffic on the Friday and having checked the traffic reports on the Sunday evening, we realised we could knock nearly 4.5 hours of the journey back to the Midlands by avoiding work day traffic. Not only that, we were tired having not slept well in the bed and wanted the comfort of our own bed with a lot more space for the dogs. We passed Helensburgh in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs which has a good beach and is an ideal stop off point if dogs need a break before hitting the motorway services.

Date of stay: September 2021
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank D6393BFpaulab
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tracey W, Marketing at Portsonachan Hotel & Lodges On Loch Awe, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

HI, thank you for taking time out to send your feedback of your 3 day break. We are pleased you enjoyed some aspects of Portsonachan and the surrounding areas. We do have larger pet friendly rooms/apartments/lodges which are available for a small upgrade price. You purchased a special offer in a standard double/twin room for 2 people. As you were bringing your dogs with you, you were accommodated in the Coach House which is dog friendly and, as a gesture of good will, because you did not want to upgrade, we only charged you for one dog not two. Our rooms are of a standard size and we are confused about your comments regarding the mattress as this is a silent night memory mattress so should have been very comfortable. Once again, thank you for taking the time to post this.

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Reviewed 5 weeks ago via mobile

This is our second stay at The Portsonachan Hotel, so we were already aware of the remote location & the windy road to reach it. The position of the hotel on Loch Awe is fantastic, the views & the silence are so peaceful & tranquil. They have a lovely outside terrace to sit out on & we were very lucky with the weather so managed a few drinks out there.
We stayed in McDougall room which was very spacious, we didn’t have a Loch view but the road was very quiet so we were never disturbed by noise. As the water is not suitable to drink we were issued with bottled water & when you ran out of anything the friendly reception staff were always on hand to get more supplies.
As we were on a special deal we had a set menu, continental breakfast (which due to COVID restrictions was not help yourselves but non the less was quite varied) & a three course evening meal. All the food was well cooked with generous portions. As stated in some other reviews the service was slow but it wasn’t as if the 3 staff were just standing about, they were rushed of their feet & on the whole did a good job. Also it’s not as if anyone would be going anywhere in the evening, it was just nice to sit back, look at the views, talk & relax.

Date of stay: September 2021
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank GerryThomas
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tracey W, Marketing at Portsonachan Hotel & Lodges On Loch Awe, responded to this reviewResponded 5 weeks ago

Dear Gerry, thank you for your lovely detailed review and so pleased you enjoyed your second visit with us. All hospitality is suffering slightly for waiting staff which is the aftermath of Covid unfortunately, but, as you said the staff do everything they possibly can and we thank our guests for their patience. The location is beautiful and just looking over Loch Awe from the terrace is spectacular. I will pass on your comments to all the staff including our Chef and glad you had a relaxing and pleasant stay. Hopefully see you again soon.

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Reviewed 13 September 2021

This was the third time we had stayed in Portsonachan Hotel, and this stay was over a year late due to Covid. As previous visits, we had booked McLean room which had a view of Lock Awe. On arrival we found this had been changed to McInnis, again with a Loch view, and quite frankly this was a nicer room and was situated on the first floor (McLean is on the 2nd floor). Much better for us 'old seniors' as the hotel has no lift. The reception staff were very helpful throughout our stay. The room & bathroom were very clean and although not serviced we just has to ask if we needed more water, loo rolls, towels etc and they were readily available. On our final morning the hotel had no hot water, but we managed a cool shower without an issue. When booking remote hotels, I always pack a flannel & a torch to cover all eventualities!
The restaurant was very busy for breakfast and evening meals. Breakfast was a good continental one. Service was a little slow but done in an orderly manner. Tea & coffee was always piping hot as was the porridge and if you needed anything the staff were very obliging. We ate in the restaurant twice this visit and the food was good quality, hot with a good choice of menu. Again service was a bit haphazard but after a long day sightseeing it was nice to sit in the restaurant, unwind and admire the sunset over Loch Awe.
There are a few cosmetic issues with the decor but we certainly noticed updates since our last visit. Overall we were very happy with our stay and there was nothing that would stop us staying at Portsonachan again
'.

Room tip: McInnis, Ist floor with Loch view. Excellent room
Date of stay: September 2021
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank MaryE963
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tracey W, Marketing at Portsonachan Hotel & Lodges On Loch Awe, responded to this reviewResponded 5 weeks ago

Dear Mary, thank you for taking time out to send us this review which we do appreciate and it was lovely to see4 you again and thank you for your patience in the restaurant. As you are aware we are making improvements which is a work in progress so you will see more changes on your next visit and you will have to ask for McInnes next time :-) I will also pass your comments to the staff as it is nice for them to be recognised. We look forward to seeing you again.

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Reviewed 8 September 2021 via mobile

Finally managed to redeem our long awaited 3 day break here, having had to delay twice due to covid. I had read a few reviews prior to arrival and approached with some trepidation, however...Upon arrival we were amazed with the beautiful view and location! We stayed in the Wallace room within the hotel and apart from some minor details we were on the whole pleased with the room and our overall stay. We ate every night in the restaurant and can honestly say the food was amazing albeit a bit limited on the menu but we never had a bad meal once, the waiting staff were doing an amazing job in what i feel were unique times and deserve all the praise i can muster! Please be aware the location means the road to the hotel can be rather hairy, being a one track road and very isolated. But well worth the journey. The reception staff kept us well informed throughout the previous delays and were always friendly and helpful. One thing i will say for anyone planning to stay, if you have mobility issues there are no lifts and many rooms are spread over 2 floors. Dont let the bad reviews put you off staying here, there are 1 or 2 minor attention detail issue but these are far outweighed by the whole stay! Thank you to the staff that made our wee trip so enjoyable and we will see you again in the future!! Jamie and Mel

Date of stay: September 2021
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank B110KOjamesm
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tracey W, Marketing at Portsonachan Hotel & Lodges On Loch Awe, responded to this reviewResponded 9 September 2021

Hi and thank you for your lovely review. So pleased you enjoyed what Portsonachan has to offer and I will pass your kind words onto our staff as it is nice for them to get this feedback. We are redecorating and refurnishing which is a work in progress but does not detract from the existing accommodation. Just to let people know, we do have apartments which are accessible for people with mobility issues and these are situated outside of the main hotel. In the near future we will be adding to our menu as and when the social distancing eases up. We would love to see you back and so pleased you enjoyed your "wee" trip. See you soon.

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