It is the sign of a fantastic hotel stay when all you want to do when you return is tell everyone you meet how amazing it was.
A recent sojourn to Knock Castle Hotel and Spa in Crieff provided exactly those reactions.
My wife and I were fortunate to spend a day and evening at the luxury residence and we were thrilled by the whole experience.
As soon as you drive into the grounds the ‘ooo’ factor is there. The beautiful historic building that greets you is quite simply stunning and we immediately looked at each other and uttered ‘Wow!’
As a few couples had arrived at a similar time, we had a quick look around and the ambient decor and furnishings are a joy to behold. We felt welcome and we hadn’t even spoken to anyone.
The check in experience was simple and the reception staff treated us like old friends even though we had never met before.
We booked dinner for that evening and were then shown to our room, a lovely suite.
As we were enjoying a romantic weekend (the hotel was named Romantic Hotel of the Year 2014) with a couple of spa treatments thrown in, what greeted us was a delight.
A bottle of Champagne was chilling alongside a sumptuous fruit platter and some home-made chocolates. A lovely touch!
The main room of the suite featured a bath at the window and Mrs Stormont certainly enjoyed sipping her Champers while enjoying a long soak. I would love to comment on the chocolates, but Mrs S made short work of those.
The main bathroom with shower was off the room, while the bedroom also had an en suite.
Sufficiently refreshed after our journey, we headed along to the rooftop bar and restaurant to enjoy a drink before dinner.
The views from the restaurant over the Perthshire hills are breathtaking and we really want to visit again in the summer so we can eat out on the terrace of the rooftop restaurant and enjoy the panorama.
Whilst being completely unprepared for the joy of our stay to that point, the dining experience was overwhelming.
I chose the Degustation Menu - seven course tasting menu which provides the opportunity to appreciate various foods - while Mrs S decided to choose from A’La Carte.
My wife started with the Cauliflower and Smoked Cheese Souffle served with a Creamy Cheese Fondue.
She then followed it with the Shallot and Blue Cheese Risotto topped with a Sakura Salad.
To finish, it was a Dark Chocolate Fondant.
Curious I tried some of her risotto because blue cheese is a strong flavour and I thought it may overwhelm the dish. It most certainly didn’t and she refused my overtures to swap!
The other dishes, she tells me, were lip smackingly good.
The menu provided for me had my tastebuds on fire – and that was before I had even started it. The anticipation of the delights was satisfied by food the like of which I have never tasted before.
First of was the Mi Cuit of Duck Liver served with a Honey Roasted Fig, Brioche Bun and finished with Vanilla Dressing.
Following were West Coast Hand Dived Scallops on a White Chocolate Risotto.
The palate was cleansed be a delicious chef’s choice of sorbet. On this occasion lemon before Loin of Highland Venison with Rosemary Mash and Honey Roasted Carrots with a smoked Aubergine Puree was served.
Whilst all the dishes were amazing, the venison for me was the star of the show.
To conclude a delightful menu were a Dark Chocolate Fondant and then a Cheese Plate with Auld Alliance cheeses, celery, chutney and home-made oatcakes.
After a hearty breakfast the following day we were treated to our spa treatments. I enjoyed a massage which was truly relaxing and I felt awesome afterwards, while my wife took the opportunity to have a professional manicure. I would certainly recommend the massage.
Head chef and manager Jason Henderson’s philosophy is simple; visit Knock Castle, love your stay and enjoy the fine dining. Whatever else you want while you’re there all you need to do is ask and they will endeavour to make it happen.
The hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway, ideal for a spa weekend with so many treatments available and, with over 10 golf courses in the vicinity, a weekend or longer on the fairways would appeal to many.
A final note, every single staff member was polite, courteous, knowledgeable and chatty. Lovely people adding to a top class experience.
They have a huge percentage of repeat business which is a sign that they are doing a lot right in my opinion. I will certainly go back.
I cannot praise Knock Castle high enough. Visit it for yourself and enjoy the magic!
Dinner, bed and breakfast in a standard room start from £149 per room per night. In a suite, dinner, bed and breakfast is from £319 per room per night.