TTKS Tries: A weekend at the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel in Luss

Despite being just 40 minutes from Glasgow, picturesque Luss feels like a world away from the city’s fast pace and crowds

Photo: Helen Russell Photography

One of the best things about a wedding is family. Whether it’s toasting the start of your new life together with your other half, or rounding up your relatives from all over the globe for a good ol’ knees up, the sense of coming together to celebrate makes everything feel that little bit more special. That’s why I had such a good time in Luss recently, where a cosy and intimate atmosphere ripples through the village.

The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel was my home for the weekend, which is owned by Luss Estates, which also holds a number of other local businesses. Its current clan chieftain and chairman, Sir Malcolm Colquhoun’s strong commitment to preserve and sustain the local community is seriously impressive (some ground adjoining the hotel was recently sold for £1 to build affordable housing to attract families to the village).

A recent extensive refurbishment of the Loch Lomond Arms retained all of its old-world charm – think a healthy helping of taxidermy, roaring log fires and carefully sourced antique furniture – while a modern update added soft toned furnishings and a newness to the decor that’s missing in a lot of seasoned venues. Even the simplest of touches were considered, like power sockets on both sides of the bed and enough hangers to avoid the inevitable argument about splitting them (anything less than ten will be a disappointment now).

Luss Smokehouse’s heavenly salmon

With visits to other Luss Estate businesses on the cards, the weekend was jam-packed. A tour around the Clan Museum and Shop is heaven for a history buff, and the Luss Seafood Bar made for the perfect brunch spot. You’ll forever turn your nose up at supermarket smoked salmon after trying the melt-in-the-mouth Luss Smokehouse version – which is beech-smoked for up to 12 hours just yards away from the restaurant. Luckily, it’s available to buy in the adjoining General Store, so I stocked up for Christmas.

On the weddings front, the ever-growing number of ceremony and reception spots offered is equally matched by the lengths the management and events team are willing to go to keep their happy couples just that.

Everything has been carefully thought out: like the design of the new Inchconnachan Suite, which has £15,000 soundproof doors to allow the band to set up and soundcheck while the festivities are underway in the other half of the room. With no turnaround, the evening reception area of the suite is ‘revealed’ when the doors are pulled back.

A bride who lusted after a lochside location to get married was the inspiration for the new Slate Quay. This marquee space is right on the water, and ceremonies can even be held outdoors. Want to arrive on a boat, or have your ceremony on one of the loch’s islands? No problem. It seems the word ‘no’ isn’t used very often when it comes to planning a wedding here.

The team even sourced an obscure Columbian beer for a bride who wanted a taste of her home country on her big day. There was almost a sense of disappointment when assistant manager Valerie explained she’d been unable to get hold of an elephant at the request of particularly eccentric bride and groom. Obliging another couple’s request to open champagne bottles using swords eased the defeat slightly.

Fellow foodies should put the Loch Lomond Arms on their must-visit list when scouting for venues. We were treated to a picnic lunch atop a hill overlooking the loch that would be the perfect way to milk one more day out of the festivities. I say picnic, but the beautifully dressed table, chiavari chairs covered with pelts and chilled prosecco is hardly sitting on a damp blanket eating soggy Scotch eggs. Speaking of which, as someone that doesn’t even like Scotch eggs, I’m still dreaming about the hotel’s version which we enjoyed at the picnic, but is also available as a starter in the restaurant.

A hilltop lunch is a fantastic idea for a post-wedding brunch (Photo on left: Stephen Murphy)

Before dinner, we headed over to Camstradden House. The Colquhoun family live here, but allow use of the walled gardens for drinks reception for a select few weddings each year. It’s resplendent during the day, but when we headed over the greenhouse was decked in fairy lights and the garden was filled with poseur tables with stag’s head candelabras. It felt positively enchanting, but that might have been the mulled cider and gin mojito’s effect (sorry rum, you’re never getting near my mojitos ever again now I’ve tried this crisp remix).

A five-course tasting menu awaited us on our return. It’s so easy for a wedding breakfast to get lost in the flurry of activity on the day, but this meal would give your evening guests such bad FOMO that you’d be better off having everyone along for the full day. The succulent venison wellington was the winner, by unanimous vote, but the quirky beef ‘tea’ starter with homemade corned beef put up a good fight.

The view of Slate Quay from Camstradden House, with one of the chic vessels that can whisk you away for your ceremony or drinks

Each course was washed down with thoughtfully paired drink, so there’s no need to worry you won’t apease the wine snobs in your family. Even if you browse price over provenance when selecting your vino, rest assured that you’re in more than capable hands when putting together your wedding feast and what to wash it down with.

After the meal, we rolled up the stairs to our cosy bedroom. The hotel sleeps 26, but also has a number of cottages on the estate, as well as nearby Inverbeg Holiday Park, so there’s plenty of room for all your guests. The population of Luss is 120, so it’s practically a takeover if your guests list has a similar headcount!