Hotel Review: Broomhall Castle

Broomhall Castle in the morning sun

Our first view of Broomhall Castle was as a yellow light floating in the distance.

We’d rented a car from Glasgow Airport and driven down in M8 through the growing twilight. By the time we reached Stirling it was pitch black and foggy. We’d passed through un-countable roundabouts, been honked at by an angry Scotsman, and were starting to think we wouldn’t last the night.

Then we turned the corner of yet another roundabout, and through a gap in the trees we could see a vast array of lights. At last! Proof of civilisation. We surveyed the vista, and asked, “I wonder what that is over there.” We soon found out… it’s our new home! For the next three days at least…

Broomhall Castle

The main, absolute, fundamental selling point of this hotel is simple: it’s a castle. Admittedly, not a *real* castle: it was built in the late 19th century, not the 15th; and it hasn’t even a moat or turrets. But it’s still a castle, with towers, on a hill, that backs onto an awesome moor, in Scotland. It was perfect (and relatively reasonably priced).

I also really liked the decor: simple, pleasant, not too swishy. All the other hotels in the area seemed very modern, with glass things and silky purple walls. That isn’t my aesthetic at all! Everything at Broomhall Castle was wooden and homely and traditional. It also had one of the biggest baths I’ve ever seen in a hotel, which was amazing after a long day walking up a Scottish hill.

Location

We were in the area for two reasons: to walk up a hill; and to visit Stirling Castle. Broomhall Castle was very well positioned for our walk – it’s in a village called Menstrie, which had a perfectly located footpath running up into the hills behind. Unfortunately, being in a little village, it wasn’t so well located for Stirling. If we hadn’t had a car, we would have had to get a taxi or the bus. This probably wouldn’t have been a huge problem, but it certainly wasn’t as convenient as being in Stirling itself.

To be honest, even having a car wasn’t ideal. There was so many roundabouts, it felt like it took twice as long to get everywhere, especially driving a manual! Also, it meant that we couldn’t drink at dinner when we ate out. This, and the fact at it got so dark so quickly, meant we were very tempted just to eat in the hotel all the time.

Food

Breakfast was included, and that was awesome. I had a full cooked breakfast every day: sausage, bacon, beans, tomato, toast, mushroom, and a strange potato bread thing. I also could have had haggis and black pudding, which is very Scottish. It was delicious – perhaps not very good for my arteries but hey, we did a lot of walking!

I also could have had ‘traditional Scottish porridge’. However, we suspected that it would be made with water and be salty – unlike our usual English porridge, which is made with milk and sugar. I wanted to ask how ‘traditional’ the porridge was, but I was so nervous that they would think I was a wet, soft Englishperson when I inevitably declined their tough, hardened Scottish porridge that I never got up the courage.

Dinner was delicious, if a bit odd. The starters were awesome: I had sweet potato soup on the first night and seafood chowder on the second. They both came with huge chunks of this soft, seeded, herby bread which I really enjoyed.

For mains, on the first night I had venison in a raspberry sauce. It was a strange combination, but quite pleasant by the end. I’ve never had venison before, but it seemed well cooked and tender. On the second night I had a lovely steak, perfectly cooked, which came with ‘haggis bon bons’ – i.e., deep fried breaded haggis balls. Very strange, not entirely necessary, but fine.

I also had a white chocolate cheesecake, which was huge and a little heavy – but then again, I still ate every crumb!

Staff

The people who work at Broomhall Castle were easily the stand-out part of the trip. Very friendly and welcoming, but also professional – the perfect balance. A special shout out is needed for Scott, who carried out suitcases up the stairs as if they were filled with feathers, not heavy boots. I also very much appreciated the hot chocolate Gary heroically made for me: it may have taken several tries but in the end it was delicious and silky smooth.

Overall, I’m so glad that we chose to stay at Broomhall Castle. It suited us perfectly, and made our trip to Stirling so easy and special. 

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