Pierhouse Hotel, Port Appin, Scotland
While on a short journey through Scotland, we spent only one night at a hotel called Pierhouse at Port Appin. Unless you were a fisherman, you would likely not end up in Port Appin if you weren’t looking for a unique and rather peaceful place on the Western coast of Scotland.
I didn’t expect that there would be such a variety of small but also luxurious hotels, lovely pensions and very intimate and beautiful B&B in almost any small village – in particular along the coast.
The Pierhouse is located directly on the sea-side and near the small ferry terminal to Port Lismore (one of thousands of smaller islands). There is always some traffic which makes the location a bit busier than some of the other spots along the coast. Villagers or locals might stop here briefly, so it isn’t a place only for snobbish traveler. The view is wonderful, if not even stunning. If it isn’t raining you may experience a beautiful sunset, if not, you get great Atlantic sew view with a fantastic sky.
You immediately recognize that this place is run by a family which makes for very personalized hospitality. The reception area is also the bar, and the stairways and corridors are narrow since it is an older house, and the walls are covered with nice historical photos of the area. Both of our rooms were really very nice, not too large but very comfortable and well-appointed. Linen, pillows, bedspreads and additional items are high quality and very well composed. It is a bit of a shame that the service isn’t the very best respectively polite. Maybe they were short on staff during our stay.
As beautiful as the rooms are, it takes some getting used to the atmosphere of the in-house and excellent seafood restaurant, the bar plus an additional room. As they have – according to their website – only twelve rooms to stay, the capacity of the restaurant is rather small as well. On one hand, this gives a personal and exclusive feel to the place, on the other hand, ideally you would like to have a bit more space. As soon as you get your seafood plate, it ceases to matter where you are seated, since your whole attention will be drawn to the fresh mussels, lobster, crabs, langoustine, oysters, scallops and razor clams. All this wonderful stuff is fresh, which means from local waters or the region. It is probably – aside of my experiences in Vietnam – the freshest seafood I’ve ever been served. Raw, grilled, boiled, steamed – just as you want! You can add salmon in a variety of styles. Some bread, some garlic butter or just a few vegetables and that’s it! A dream, because the food itself is so good that it doesn’t require haute cuisine knowledge for preparation; nevertheless, the chef knows very well how each of these foods should be prepared and served – even boiled or grilled – as it never lost its amazing freshness and therefore local characteristic.
If you stay longer they offer also meats prepared in a variety of ways. I am very sure that the meat comes from the region as well!
Scotland is Whiskey land! I usually never drink whiskey but there I took two or three glasses. But you cannot drink whiskey with seafood – at least in my point of view this doesn’t fit. Alternatively you can find some reasonable beers. This said, the real minus point of this great place is a very boring wine list which is uninspired. It is not necessary always to have a too large selection, but just to offer a few rather medium and common French whites plus three or four wines from the so-called New World isn’t enough! I don’t know why people think that an average Sancerre is a good combination for such fantastic seafood! Even I – not being a sommelier – had some ideas of what I would have liked to drink along this very fresh, special seafood flavor. Perhaps the only interesting approach was a Muscadet. I probably had some rather flat and average wine – but it does say a lot if I cannot remember the wine I had!
Please see the website of the hotel by yourself: http://www.pierhousehotel.co.uk/. It is very well done and shows the commitment of the proprietors. Everyone who goes there will experience one or more great nights and damned good food! But it is also a remarkable landscape!