Honeymoon havens close to home: part 1
As well as featuring lovely weddings, I also want to share some of the unique wedding venues and secluded honeymoon retreats I’ve discovered over the years, as I know what a nightmare it can be to find somewhere to suit your style. Here’s the first of what I hope will be many entries…
I’ve stayed at some amazing hotels during my time as a journalist, but if I’m honest, it’s not the deluxe five-star mansions that really rock my boat. What really gives me a buzz is discovering chic self-catering cottages tucked away in the middle of nowhere, preferably surrounded by mountains, the sea or in the case of Ardyne cottage, both! Described by a previous guest as an “elegant slipper of a house,” its achingly romantic setting in the tiny Scottish fishing village of Tarbert on the shore of Loch Fyne would make it perfect for a low-key honeymoon close to home. My husband and I spent a blissful week at the house in April, reading books, sunbathing (yes really!) on the stunning beaches nearby and snoozing in front of the roaring log fire. The highlight of each day was sitting in the bay window, glass of vino in hand, watching the fishing boats chugging past or spotting the resident seals playing hide and seek in the icy water – a mere stone’s throw from the house.
Ardyne has been in current owner Elspeth’s family since the early 1900s when her great-grandfather, a fisherman who’d been longing to buy the house for years, bought home a bumper catch of herring and used the proceeds to seal the deal. His wife only realised Ardyne was theirs when she walked down the road and found him crying – he’d wanted the house so much that he couldn’t believe his luck. He spent the rest of his days there and died at the dining room table while eating his tea (something we rather spookily discovered when sitting in the same spot reading through the cottage information booklet!).
One of my pet hates are holiday cottages with no personality or sense of place, but Ardyne is very much a home-from-home. Owner Elspeth, who lovingly renovated the house in 2005, has filled the house with so many lovely touches: interesting black and white photos of some of Tarbert’s colourful characters, fascinating books about Scottish history, shabby-chic fabrics, antlers, cosy tweed blankets and lots of nods to the nautical surroundings, such as ornamental wooden boats and whitewashed tongue-and-groove panelling. Some of the furniture is original, including the roll-top bath and cast-iron bed. It might have had something to do with the wee dram of whisky consumed most nights, but the bed was so comfy that even an insomniac like me was lulled into a deep and restful sleep each night.
It wasn’t just the house that wowed us – the surrounding scenery was truly breathtaking (see below) and the local restaurants served some of the most delicious fish I’ve ever tasted. The people were so friendly, too, a real antidote to the push and shove of commuting Londoners! For more information about Ardynne, call Elspeth on 07940 564192 or visit the website. Please give me a mention if you do so, and let me know all about your stay when you get back!