When I help people plan their trips to Scotland, I focus on choosing a limited number of ideal bases from which to explore the surrounding countryside. This strategy often makes accommodations a crucial choice. The last thing you want is to dread coming back to a sub-optimal flophouse, so I’m always on the lookout for new, exciting, quality places to stay. As part of my visit to Perthshire last fall organized by the wonderful Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust, I had the opportunity to experience The Old Mill Inn in Pitlochry after a day out foraging mushrooms and wild edibles and a visit to Edradour Distillery.
Tucked away just off Pitlochry’s high street in the heart of town, The Old Mill Inn, contrary to its name, is a beautifully modern, vibrant place. Exposed stone walls and sturdy wooden tables give the reception, bar, and restaurant the feel of a traditional Scottish pub without the drafts or smoke of yesteryear. I soon learned The Old Mill Inn is a place many locals and tourists come for drinks, meals, and frequent live music, and if I didn’t know any better I’d have been surprised to hear there are rooms here, secreted away as they are.
Check-in was a breeze, and I was soon led through a door behind reception by the very friendly hostess and up a couple flights of stairs to my deluxe room. The spaciousness and quality of everything from the fabrics to the furnishings stunned me. I was still fighting a bit of jet lag at this point, and it took all my willpower not to dive into that plush king-size bed and disappear into dreamland. The room was thoughtfully arranged. I think I sat on every chair, bench, and sofa at some point during my short stay, and I appreciated all the details: The charging station in the headboard, the free wifi, the under-floor heating, and the speakers built into the bathroom. Being in the very heart of Perthshire over a convivial pub (that shared no sound with my room) was simply icing on the cake.
The bathroom was also incredibly spacious with a tub and walk-in shower and plenty of room for toiletries. The porcelain and stainless steel gleamed above the muted stone tiling — it’s just the kind of clean, modern style I prefer when I’m traveling. The rainfall shower head was especially welcome after a chilly, tiring day out exploring, and this is a detail that shouldn’t be discounted too quickly. Even among the best accommodations I’ve stayed in throughout Scotland, sometimes my sole nitpick is that the water pressure/heat is wanting. I have short hair so it’s not too big of a deal for me, but for anyone with longer hair it’s more of a problem. Not so at The Old Mill Inn.
After a relaxing couple hours in my room I headed down to the bar for a delicious dram of Edradour Barolo finish and met up with my familiarization trip compatriots. Dinner at The Old Mill Inn is on the upper scale of pub food. There’s art here, a touch of the chef’s ingenuity, and the menu was robust without being too large. I went with the salmon, green beans, pesto crushed potatoes, and sauce vierge, though I eyed the roast belly of Ayrshire pork and black pudding for a long time. The portions were huge and the fish was delicious. Without Sarah by my side I’m not usually a dessert guy, but when the table orders dessert I don’t stand in the way. I chose the classic sticky toffee pudding and was not disappointed. It was rich, delicious, and just the right size.
I slept like a log on the plush king-size bed and woke up refreshed the next morning ready to tackle the familiarization trip. First thing’s first: Breakfast. The Old Mill Inn doesn’t disappoint in this respect, either. A huge cold breakfast spread filled several tables by the window including yogurt, berries, toast, parfaits, continental style meats and cheeses, and a host of cereals. There was more than enough here for breakfast, but how can I turn down a hot breakfast? The smoked haddock and poached egg arrived piping hot with a sprig of parsley and a smear of butter. I realize now that I ordered fish twice in a row but there were no regrets, even though smoked haddock is quite a salty way to start the morning and this was no exception.
Perthshire, and particularly Pitlochry, is loaded with great places to base yourself. This competitive scene breeds accommodations of exceeding class and sophistication, places that know how to welcome visitors and treat them to a wonderful Scottish experience. The Old Mill Inn stands comfortably among these great places. The 4-Star Gold rating from Visit Scotland is no accident. The gold rating is the crucial signifier of a quality establishment.
The Old Mill Inn is an ideal base in the heart of Perthshire. Good rooms, good food, and good craic — what’s not to like?
Disclosure: Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust organized my visit to Perthshire last fall. The Old Mill Inn provided me with a complimentary night’s stay. All thoughts and opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.