Review: The Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha, Loch Lomond, Scotland

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Introduction

Time of year: We arrived mid afternoon on March 31st, 2016.

Purpose of trip: We wanted to combine relaxation with hill-walking and sampling some great, locally-produced food.

Why we chose this place: We chose The Oak Tree Inn because neither of us had visited Loch Lomond before, but had heard it was a beautiful area. We were travelling by train from London to Glasgow, and wouldn’t have a car with us, so needed somewhere offering a variety of food, drink, walking activities and lovely views on the doorstep or close by. Also, The Oak Tree Inn was offering a reduced room-rate until the end of March, so one of our nights was 50% lower in price than the other. It looked comfortable, reasonably priced and offered lake views.

How long we stayed: Two nights.

Our accommodation

We stayed in a ‘deluxe’ room – one of four within a lodge beside the Inn’s main site. It had a very comfortable, super king-sized bed in a tastefully decorated bedroom. The en-suite shower room had good quality, contemporary fittings and complimentary toiletries. Double glazed doors led from the bedroom to a sitting room with a comfortable leather sofa and coffee table, a kettle with tea, coffee and UHT milk, a good sized television and also a huge picture window overlooking a large grassed area. Beyond that was a beautiful view of Loch Lomond. While comfy, the sitting room (adjoining the bathroom in a neighbouring guest room) would benefit from additional sound-proofing. This was not an issue in any other part of our accommodation.

Service

All the staff we met: from reception to waiting/bar staff and the admin team were polite, professional and efficient. The restaurant area on our first evening was very busy; but the team kept pace with demand and our food arrived within a reasonable time.

Food

The Oak Tree Inn offers a breakfast buffet in its main restaurant area,serving  bacon, eggs, sausages, beans, mushrooms (and haggis !) and lighter options, such as fruit, yoghurt and cereals in the main restaurant area. Guests at breakfast and later in the day can choose whether to eat here or in the adjoining conservatory or bar area (hunting lodge style decor….and a roaring log fire on the days we stayed.) The main menu for lunch and dinner offers snacks (from filled baked potatoes to ciabattas ) to several options, including a specials board, if you choose a three course meal. Much of the food is locally sourced and produced (there’s a sharing fish platter, for example, with a selection of home smoked fish, and a main course option of prime Buccleuch Scotch sirloin steak and Balmaha beer battered haddock). There are some vegetarian options. The bar offers a wide selection of whiskies, alongside beers from its onsite micro-brewery, the Balmaha Brewing Co. The Inn also has its own coffee shop and ice cream parlour, serving  its own brand, artisan-roasted coffee, and the Inn’s own Bal-Moo-Ha ice creams. There are also savoury snacks and a delicious range of cakes at the coffee shop. Guests and passing walkers can also find ready made sandwiches, snacks and drinks, as well as other provisions, at the Inn’s own Village Shop.

What we paid

We paid £172 for two nights’ bed and breakfast in a deluxe room (ours had a bedroom, en-suite shower room and conservatory-style sitting room with beautiful views). The seasonal room rate changed during our two night, March/April stay, so that our first night was 50% lower than the second . A range of accommodation is on offer here, from bunkhouse to larger rooms.

Location

This area is extremely popular with hill-walkers, fell runners and cyclists: a whole network of paths and steeper challenges for all abilities starts just over the road from the Inn, where you can also find an information centre open at weekends. There are gentler strolls up smaller hills close to the Inn, too, many offering breathtaking views of Loch Lomond. You can explore the waterside area from a small jetty close to the Inn, and venture on to its little sandy beaches via slightly more rocky terrain. While a bit of climbing is essential to appreciate the views, the Inn would also be a great location just to sit and relax, stroll a little, and eat and drink from a good menu. With a car and a map, there are many more beautiful lochs and sights to see.

To view the location on a map, click here.

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What empty nesters might really like about this place

There are plenty of opportunities to relax and feel a little spoilt with great food, or join the banter at the bar (quite busy on some nights, we were told). And the walking and climbing can be as gentle or challenging as you wish. It’s lovely to be able to visit a separate coffee shop for lighter bites and sweet treats, within the same Oak Tree site.

What empty nesters might not be so keen on

While there is pretty much everything you need on site in terms of food options, the shop, the walking and so on, there is limited scope for visiting other villages and locations without walking quite a distance. So; great if you’re a dedicated hiker or cyclist. If not, a car is essential really.

 

 

 

 

 

 


3 thoughts on “Review: The Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha, Loch Lomond, Scotland

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