PICTURE this. Inside, a sumptuous, spacious, sunny bedroom beautifully forged from the rounded turret of a castle. Outside, lush and leafy grounds, with a pool, sauna and Jacuzzi cleverly tucked away for good measure.
Above, a roof terrace overlooking the craggy beauty of the Highlands as they ripple upwards from the Lowlands. And below, the tinkle of a grand piano, the fizz of champagne and a fusion of perfectly combined flavours on your plate as you dine under wood-panelled ceilings and chandeliers.
Perched on a hilltop in Crieff, Perthshire, Knock Castle Hotel and Spa can offer you all of that, and more.
The recently opened business brings together the vision, personality and chef skills of manager Jason Henderson.
The building formerly housed both a care home and a separate spa, which was open to the public, but Mr Henderson hopes to reinvent the venue as one of the top luxury hotels in the country.
He’s doing pretty well so far.
The first-floor room I shared with my partner was a delight, harmoniously combining modern and traditional styles to create an instantly relaxing haven for the night – and the enormous four-poster bed was as good a spot as any from which to enjoy lovely views over the gardens.
A quick trip to the glass-walled leisure centre shortly after arrival helped shake off any stresses. The building is nestled in a quiet corner of the grounds, so you can gaze at leafy loveliness as you settle back into the bubbling waters of the Jacuzzi after your workout at the gym.
It was, at once, a wonderfully energising and calming escape.
Before dinner, we were invited into the drawing room, where we settled back in the sofas and enjoyed a flawless performance by a teenage pianist from the town.
Then it was time to eat, and what a meal it was. Prepared by Mr Henderson, an accomplished chef, it was beautifully presented by local staff, who served it up with a perfect blend of friendly, yet formal, service.
Every course, carefully picked from the extensive menu, oozed flavour. Delicious. We then finished off a lovely evening with a trip to the roof terrace – to be converted to a restaurant in the future – for some fresh air and a long gaze out over the surrounding countryside.
Altogether a wonderful evening.
Next morning, after breakfast, we headed to the hotel’s spa for a sample of its extensive treatment list. Its full-body massage was a winner and, combined with the enjoyment of the previous evening’s offerings, we left the hotel feeling each of the five senses was wholly satisfied.
Mr Henderson has big ideas for the hotel, and if my trip was anything to go by, I would tip him for big successes, too.
Knock Castle Hotel and Spa, Drummond Terrace, Crieff. Lead-in price from £89 per room based on an executive double room on bed and full Scottish breakfast. Other room grades are also available, including deluxe castle rooms from £195 and suites from £245. All rates also include use of the spa facilities. Visit www.knock castle.com, or phone 01764 650088.