If the five-star treatment at a castle in the Scottish Highlands sounds good then take a look at my Fonab Castle review…
Looking for an in-depth guide to Fonab Castle? Then jump right into my Fonab Castle review…
Last year I was lucky enough to stay at luxury five-star hotel, Fonab Castle, for a special occasion. My half-brother had a big birthday and wanted to bring together family and friends from lots of different locations in the UK. Cue an invitation landing through my letterbox for a special dinner at Fonab Castle.
Located in the Scottish Highlands just outside of Pitlochry, Fonab Castle is unlike anywhere I would usually stay. It’s definitely a lot more expensive than the cosy Airbnbs or mid-range hotels I normally book for sure. However, if you’re looking for enchanting this is it. Hello. There are turrets, a shimmering loch on your doorstep, amazing scenery, and proper castle doors complete with studs. What did I say? Magical.
For one night only I got to be Cinderella and step into the world of five-star luxury resorts. Luckily, I did get to stay the night – and not turn into a pumpkin at midnight – but it did feel like a bit of a different world. One that I was more than happy to soak up however. If you’re looking to celebrate a birthday in style or you just want to treat yourself after the washout that was 2020 then it doesn’t get much better than the five-star treatment in Scottish castle, right?
So let’s get started with my in-depth Fonab Castle review…
What is Fonab Castle?
Fonab Castle is a luxury hotel and spa which located in the heart of the Scottish countryside, just outside of Pitlochry. Peeking out of its woodland setting and overlooking the still, calming waters of Loch Faskally, it’s impossible not to be charmed by the building and surroundings. It’s pretty much everything you need when you want to get away from it all.
Fonab Castle’s history
Fonab Castle was built in 1892 and is a Scots Baronial castle, which refers to the architectural style it is designed in. Popularised during the 19th century Gothic Revival, it’s known for its conical roofs, battlements and small turrets – known as tourelles. So basically, it sounds like everything you would want and expect from a proper fairytale castle, right?
The castle has been lovingly restored and has operated as a luxury hotel and spa since 2013. It also has the much coveted honour of being Pitlochry’s only 5-star hotel.
Who owns Fonab Castle?
The property is currently owned by the Clark family, who are responsible for transforming Fonab Castle into a hotel. It was originally built for port and sherry merchants Sandeman in 1892 and remained in the family for a number of years into the 20th century.
Somewhat bizarrely, the castle was actually the headquarters of Scottish Hydro Power for a short while in the 1940s. It was also on the buildings at risk register for a while before it was thankfully bought and converted into a hotel. Thanks goodness for that – I hate beautiful buildings going to waste.
Where is Fonab Castle?
Fonab Castle is nestled in the heart of the Scottish countryside in Perthshire. As I mentioned, it sits in a wonderfully romantic location on the banks of Loch Faskally in the fringes of the nearby woodland. It’s pretty much as dramatic a location as it can get. However, the good news is that Fonab Castle is also really accessible to get to.
So how far is Fonab Castle from Pitlochry exactly? It’s really close – the castle is only 0.5 miles from the centre of Pitlochry. The castle is also just 300 metres from the A9 Great North Road. See what I mean – it’s both charming and well-connected.
Fonab Castle Hotel address: Foss Road, Pitlochry, PH16 5ND
Now let’s dig into the facilities at Fonab Castle…
Fonab Castle rooms
You might be wondering: how many rooms does Fonab Castle have? Well, there are 42 rooms and suites in total at the hotel. You can either stay in one of the rooms in the castle, which is where we were, or you can stay in one of the woodland or loch view suites. Everything looks much the same, and equally charming. However, it’s not often you get to stay in a castle, right? I was more than happy to soak that experience right up.
The rooms the Fonab Castle are gorgeous. I can be quite picky with décor and I sometimes find in hotels in Scotland that it’s all a bit too twee and tartan for my taste. It’s almost like they’ve been designed specifically to cater to tourists looking for a ‘Scottish’ experience.
I didn’t have this issue with Fonab Castle however. After walking up the winding staircase of the tower we were greeted by a room that was luxurious, stylish, and gently nodded to its Scottish location. The tartan cushions and cute highland cow ornaments being a couple!
I loved the overall aesthetic of the room, and in particularly the wallpaper. While it could feel quite busy in another context in this space it just felt calming and fresh. It was also lovely to have a couch to cosy up on, which we used to sit and watch the rugby on TV!
Each room comes with the following facilities:
- En suite with walk-in shower
- Bathrobes and slippers
- Thierry Mugler toiletries
- Nespresso machine
- Fresh fruit and mineral water
- Flat screen smart TV
- Free Wi-Fi
Trust me, where you stay at Fonab Castle you won’t be disappointed!
Fonab castle dining
I couldn’t write a Fonab Castle review without talking about the food, right?
The hotel has 3 AA rosettes for fine dining and so, suffice to say, the food definitely has the wow factor. We enjoyed a three-course dinner as part of the birthday celebrations and every course was incredible. I had celeriac and truffle lasagne to start, followed by poached smoked hake. For dessert, I’m sorry to say that I have no idea what this is! Bad travel blogger. It does look amazing though, right? The only thing I can remember is that I wolfed it down so it must have been good.
We enjoyed our meal as part of a private dining experience. However, there’s also the Fonab Brasserie or Sandemans Fine Dining restaurants in the hotel. And that’s not all. There’s also the Fonab Castle afternoon tea to try, which all looks rather heavenly.
If you’re like me and you like to have a good peruse all of your eating and drinking options before you make a reservation then you can look as the Fonab Castle menus here…
Breakfast at Fonab castle
Of course my Fonab Castle review wouldn’t be complete without a full breakdown of what I had for breakfast. There was me thinking that after a three-course fine dining experience the night before I wouldn’t be all that hungry the next day, but who am I kidding? I woke up starving, just like every other day.
Breakfast at Fonab Caslte is served between 7am-10am in the Brasserie. You can choose between a continental breakfast, which comes on a stand and includes things like yoghurt and berry pots, breakfast pastries and a selection of Scottish cheeses. Sound yummy!
There’s also an a la carte breakfast at Fonab Castle, which is where you’ll find your hot breakfast options. There’s a full cooked breakfast, French toast, grilled kippers, and a few other options. I opted for the eggs benedict – my favourite – which was delicious. There’s nothing some silky hollandaise, runny egg yolks, and a dose of carbs won’t fix. As far as my Fonab Castle review goes, the breakfast got top marks!
You can view the breakfast menu in full here
Spa at Fonab Castle
We didn’t arrive at the castle until about 4pm on the Saturday and left pretty promptly the next day. That meant that unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to experience the spa at Fonab Castle for myself. Much to my disappointment!
However, I wanted to include it in my Fonab Castle review because you can also visit the spa just for the day, which may be something I look into doing in the future. So what kinds of facilities are there at the spa? Well, there’s a 15ft swimming pool to enjoy for starters.
In terms of the spa itself you can choose from a variety of massages, body wraps, facials, exfoliations and other indulgent treatments. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.
Oh, but if that’s all a little TOO relaxing and you actually get a bit twitchy when you’re not doing anything then you’re in luck. Say hello to Fonab Castle gym. I have to confess that this was not visited by me on my trip and is unlikely to be however long I happened to be staying for (I’m more of a runner) I’m just saying. It’s there.
Fonab Castle pods
Want to enjoy drinks and dinner starlight at Fonab Castle by? Well, you can.
We discovered the pods while wandering the ground the following morning. They’re a fairly new addition to the castle, having only been in place since 2019, but they’re a great way of making your stay even more unique – or your private party that little bit more exclusive.
Each glass pod fits six to twelve guests (depending on whether you’re having dinner or just drinks) and comes with their adjustable heating, mood lighting and a sound system. There’s also a service button and a host allocated to each pod for that five star service experience.
With gorgeous views of Loch Faskally and the other surrounding scenery, I reckon the pods at Fonab Castle are a great way to make the most of being in such a beautiful location. I definitely get some pumpkin vibes from the design too (is it just me?) which also ties in my theme of feeling like Cinderella for the evening. Yes I really am going to beat that metaphor to death over the course of this blog post.
It costs £75 to hire a pod and you can book one here.
Exploring the grounds
If you do get a chance to wander around the grounds of Fonab Castle I would absolutely recommend that you do. It was dark by the time we’d arrived the previous day and so I really relished the opportunity to see everything in daylight. Even though it wasn’t exactly the nicest of days – we are in Scotland after all – the scenery was still simply stunning.
The manicured gardens are beautiful and I loved the fir tree in the centre of the driveway, all lit up with twinkling fairy lights. It was also lovely to see the loch glinting in the moody February morning light. It bet it would be even lovelier in summer where you could sit outside on the terrace with a crisp glass of wine and just soak it all in.
Fonab Castle service
Before I finish up this Fonab Castle review I just wanted to mention the amazing service. I guess that might just be the standard at these kinds of places (I wouldn’t know) but it really was second to none.
The welcome was really warm and our bags were carried upstairs to our room – there’s no lift in the castle – which was lovely. Even more than that, our host then brought us some hot tea to sip on as we got ready. Honestly, the service here was just fantastic from start to finish.
How to get to Fonab Castle
For our trip to Fonab Castle we caught the train to Pitlochry from Dundee, which involved one change at Perth. From there, the hotel runs a complimentary pick up service for guests!
This is when I knew I was stepping into another world. There were five us in our party in total, which was too much to fit in the car all at once of course. The driver took my parents first of all (my mum had called arrange this – we hadn’t!) and then came back for rest of us.
And that’s before you get to all the carrying your suitcases and opening doors. It was all those touches that just made the experience all the more luxurious, it really was wonderful.
But let’s get back to how you get to Fonab Castle by train. I’ve included the quickest train routes to Pitlochry below although there are other trains from Edinburgh and Glasgow where you will have to change. No one likes having to do that if you can avoid it though!
Getting to Pitlochry by train
|If you’re travelling from||Catch a train to||And then get a train to|
|Edinburgh||Pitlochry (direct train)||No change needed|
|Glasgow||Pitlochry (direct train)||No change needed|
|Inverness||Pitlochry (direct train)||No change needed|
Getting to Pitlochry by car
As I mentioned, Fonab Castle is only a couple of hundred metres away from the A9 Great North Road. You shouldn’t take the A294 into Pitlochry itself, instead carry on until the road oops around and then turn off when it’s signposted as ‘local access’. Or, if you’re like me, just put it on the Sat Nav and then you don’t really have to think about it.
You might also be wondering about parking at Fonab Castle. Well, rest assured, there’s plenty of car parking at Fonab Castle so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Getting to Pitlochry by bus
There are a number of buses that travel to Pitlochry from cities all around Scotland, so if you’re looking for a budget friendly way to get there then this is it.
What popular attractions are near Fonab Castle?
As I mentioned, Fonab Castle is located in a beautiful location in the heart of the Scottish countryside. That means if you just want to get away from it all and go at a slower pace for a few days then you very much can do – and there’s also plenty to enjoy if you want that restful experience. There are many cosy nooks to while away the hours quite contentedly!
However, if you want to pack your days full of adventures and activities then there’s also lots for you to do. When I say lots I mean it! Pitlochry is an incredible area for tourism in Scotland and so you really will be spoiled for choice with distillery tours, gorgeous walks, exhilarating activities (if you’re brave enough) and some lovely cafes and restaurants.
I’ve written a blog post on things to do in Pitlochry that you can read here, but as part of my Fonab Castle review I wanted to include a quick overview of some of the highlights of the local area…
Visit Blair Athol Distillery
Find out about the how Blair Athol single malt whiskey is distilled on this tour and, of course, the best part is always having a wee dram at the end. Just me?
Go white water rafting
We did this on a recent trip to Pithlochry and I loved it. The instructors are really welcoming and will soon put you at ease if you’ve never done it before – or if you have!
Visit the Highland Chocolatier
Having received chocolates from here for Christmas I’m more of a fan than ever. You can also pop into the café and try the indulgent hot chocolate in the nearby Grandtully – mmm!
Climb Ben Vrackie
If you’re feeling energetic then why not climb Ben Vrackie? Standing at 841 metres high, by the time you reach the top you’ll enjoy stunning views of the surrounding glens.
Explore the Linn of Tummel
The Linn of Tummel is a beautiful wooded gorge that’s a great place to take a walk, and if you keep going you’ll also get to see the famous Pass of Killliecrankie.
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