On the banks of beautiful Loch Fyne on Scotland’s remote Cowal Peninsula sits Portavadie, a marina resort with a quite unbelievable view. Wind your way along the west coast sea lochs to Argyll’s ‘Secret Coast’ and check into Tigh na Mara, for a weekend of indulgent relaxation at Portavadie’s little ‘house by the sea’.
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Welcome to Portavadie Hotel and Spa, Loch Fyne
On Scotland’s west coast, the spectacular Loch Fyne stretches from the pretty town of Inveraray to the stunning Ostel Bay – and right out to sea. Whilst the western bank of the loch is much visited by those travelling to the popular Kintyre Peninsula and Islay and the southern Hebrides, the eastern bank of the loch is still mostly untouched by tourism.
Want to really get away from it all? Then head to the very edge of Loch Fyne and the Portavadie Marina and Spa
Opened in 2010, Portavadie offers up a hotel and apartment complex all set around a 260-berth yachting marina. Choose from luxury townhouses complete with saunas, lodge-style hotel rooms, cute family cottages or two couples retreats.
With two restaurants and a cafe on site and a £10m spa and leisure complex with utterly incredible views, you could arrive at Portavadie and never want to leave.
Our home for the weekend was ‘Tigh Na Mara’, a one-bedroom couple’s retreat hidden around in the next bay from the marina, but just a 10-minute walk away from the resort.
Sitting right on a wee beach and overlooking the loch from its huge wrap around windows, we just had the view and a few local red deer for company – coming home to the outside security light on in the remote highlands of Scotland usually means you have had some friendly wildlife come to visit!
Inside, the cottage had everything we needed to escape for the weekend – complete with a wood burning stove and plenty of cosy fluffy throws to keep the Argyll winter breezes away. With no phone signal in the cottage (although there is wifi if you really need it) you can just switch off and watch the light change across the throughout the day…
Staying at Portavadie, Loch Fyne
Portavadie has 34 rooms across five types. If you are visiting as a family, here is how to choose your Portavadie accommodation:
Portavadie lodge – hotel style rooms in the lodge building close to the ferry to Tarbert. No kitchens, but tea and coffee provides. Best suited to families and those wanting a stop over before catching the ferry to Tarbert. The lodge has its own family-friendly restaurant. The lodge is at the entrance to the Marina, a few minutes walk to the main complex.
Portavadie luxury apartments – two and three bedroom apartments and townhouses overlooking the marina, with saunas. The apartments are next to the spa and Marina Restaurant.
Portavadie cottages – two bedroom cottages a five-minute walk from the main complex looking down the marina.
Portavadie Couples Retreats – Portavadie has two, one-bed cottages – Tigh Na Mara is an eco-retreat in the next bay from the marina, a 10-minute walk to the spa. The new Hideaway over-looks the marina and is a 5 minute walk. The Hideaway has its own outdoor hot-tub
Need space for your dog? Dogs are welcome in the couple’s retreats, family cottages and the studio apartments.
Incoming by sea? The Portavadie Marina is award-winning (with five gold anchors!) and has 230 fully serviced berths in a man-made lagoon.
Book the Portavadie Marina and Spa*
Dining at Portavadie Marina & Spa
Whilst our cottage Tigh Na Mara had its own fully fitted kitchen (the Hideaway, the apartments and the cottages also have self-catering facilities) we ate out at both nights – trying the Portavadie Marina restaurant & bar and the Lodge Kitchen – and across our whole weekend, the Portavadie kitchens didn’t put a foot wrong – and we tried as much as we possibly could!
To start your day, breakfast at Portavadie is served in the Marina Restaurant and is served buffet style. Now on the west coast of Scotland, you can’t say no to a Lorne sausage and tattie scone roll – although there was also a lot on offer for morning veggies like me.
On our second morning, we managed to squeeze in some porridge with honey and raspberry jam although I was sorely tempted by peat smoked haddock from Tarbert served with a poached egg.
For dinner, families will love the cosy Lodge Kitchen serving up comfort food perfect after a day of exploring. We were tempted by a platter of Argyll Smokery seafood but plumped for breaded fish & chips and a McIntyre of Bute hand pressed burger – followed by a huge portion of sticky toffee pudding, served with butterscotch sauce. The portions were huge and great value.
Looking for fine dining? Overlooking the Marina, the modern and stylish Portavadie Marina Restaurant serves a changing menu of locally caught fish & game – try hand-dived scallops from Tarbert with Bute black pudding, decadent twice baked Mull cheddar souffle, Isle of Gigha Halibut, Winston Churchill venison from Dunoon and famous Loch Fyne Oysters…. Phew!
Then sit back and watch the sunset over the marina with a cocktail in Portavadie’s bar…
The Portavadie Spa
With the winter weather howling around you and battering off the rock, it’s rather surreal to be floating in a toasty warm illuminated pool watching the sunset and darkness descend over the loch.
With Scotland’s largest outdoor heated infinity pool and hot tubs with a simply incredible view over Loch Fyne, a visit to the Portavadie Spa is worth the long drive.
If the weather is truly Scottish, indoors there is also a 16m pool if you fancy working off dinner, along with a splash pool for kids. Upstairs is the spa relaxation lounge and a terrace, a large hydro pool, a steam room, and probably Scotland’s best sauna.
With your own changing rooms and fluffy robes and slippers, it is well worth upgrading to the Portavadie spa experience, even if you don’t book in for a Decleor spa treatment. Relaxing over those views are worth the extra treat alone…
Getting to Portavadie and the Cowal Peninsula
By Road – The drive to Portavadie is rather beautiful. To get to Portavadie drive along the banks of Loch Lomond to Arrochar before tackling one of Scotland’s most famous roads, the Rest and be Thankful. At the hamlet of Cairndow head down the Cowal Peninsula via Tighnabruaich and the Kyles of Bute.
If you can handle a single track road, the road to Portavadie via Otter Ferry follows the length of Loch Fyne passing Lachlan Castle. Drive time – Glasgow to Portavadie – 2 hours, Edinburgh to Portavadie – 3 hours.
By Public Transport – It is easy to get to Cowal via public transport.
Catch the train from Glasgow Central to Gourock and then catch an Argyll Ferry from McInroy’s Point to Hunters Quay at Dunoon. Book your train tickets with trainline.com*. The no. 478 West Coast Motors bus will take you to Portavadie.
Love, from Scotland x
#ad-gifted. My stay at Portavadie was complimentary
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.