Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Best B&B in B&BLand: Kerrow House or The Shakira of Scottish B&Bs

Scotland (as well as Ireland, but we’ll come to her later), should be called B&Bland. Every third home in Caledonia has at least three rooms for sleepy tourists. As with anything, some are better than others. That said, you’ll always get a tea and instant coffee cooker in your room and “Amazing Grace” piped into the breakfast room.
What sets the B&B men apart from the b&b boys is something called traditional Scottish hospitality, which, being from the South, I know a thing or two about (at least the hospitality part). I’ve stayed in quite a few B&Bs now, so I can tell you that the mark of a truly wonderful experience is getting to your car at the end of the stay and forgetting to pay.
This happened to us at Kerrow House near Glen Affric National Park, which is close to Loch Ness. Oh, I almost forgot: I spotted the Loch Ness Monster. I’m publishing my scientifically verifiable findings here for the world to see. This is Nessie. Very purple.
Kerrow House is not even on the same planet with the beaten path. It’s on a gaited estate, secluded from the sheep in the fields by a sedate copse of don’t-ask-me-but-they-were-pretty trees. The house, a lovingly converted hunting lodge, is near Tomich, Plodda Falls, Cannich, Glen Cannich and Glen Affric. There are lots of trails nearby for hikers of all abilities.
From the moment Liz (half of Liz and John, the proprietors of Kerrow House) welcomed us into her home, she treated us like family. And I liked her. They were in the middle of dinner, entertaining friends, but she took time to get us settled in, give us a bit of information about the glens, and recommend a restaurant in the village.
Our room had the standard tea and coffee tray, but the tea was gourmet and the cookies looked home-made. There were robes to use when going to the bathroom, which was just across the hall, very clean and fully stocked.
Breakfast was served in a beautiful dining room at one large table, which I find better than sitting at individual tables. One reason you book a B&B is that you enjoy a more intimate atmosphere. You want to meet people. Right? Almost everyone we ate breakfast with, from Edinburgh to Doolin (Ireland), was German or German-speaking. I ended up speaking German almost every morning.
Kerrow House was the only B&B whose owners went to great lengths to make sure I had something gluten-free for breakfast. They made gluten-free toast for me and let me take the rest. It’s no surprise that they were prepared for my special diet: Liz called me in May to ask me what I wanted for breakfast (in August).
She also hugged me good-bye, and then said, “Um, you do need to pay.” My dad and I laughed about that all the way to Grantown-on-Spey, the next stop on our Scotland trip. I must be off, Christopher