Active Scotland

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The Boat is a true Old World, luxury hotel with superb service and a great restaurant.

“We have only 34 rooms (rates run from approximately $185 per night for a classic double room, breakfast included, to about $300 for an estate guestroom with all meals and services), but our occupancy rate is constant, at around 75 percent,” says Emmanuel Moine, a Parisian who came here three years ago to manage the property after stints in China, New Zealand and the French Caribbean Islands. “The new wing of the hotel opened two years ago, but it’s the old wing that attracts most clients.”

Indeed, staying at The Boat offers the rare opportunity to enjoy Scotland’s bucolic rural atmosphere.

Moine says that when the hotel was built it was called “The Station” due to its proximity to a rail line that served as a terminus for tank cars carrying whisky to Edinburgh.

“Although our clients come mostly from mainland Europe, we have a lot of British and North Americans,” he says. “We cater mostly to golfers, birdwatchers and outdoors people. The national park of the area is a big draw. In the winter, skiers take up most of the rooms, alongside those who enjoy winter hiking and other activities.

“The village has only a few hundred people, Moine explains. Everybody knows one another and, typically, the hotel pub serves as something of a gathering place for friendship and local gossip. The air is clear and crisp.”

One of the most thrilling—and exhausting—activities is off-road bicycling on the trails of the forests that ring Boat of Garten.

Here one experiences what mountain biking is all about, as cyclers are forced to ford streams and climb backbreaking hills in eye-popping settings. There’s nothing like a good, mid-ride lunch while sitting on the banks of a pleasant lake—or loch, as they’re known in the area.

With the wind rustling the leaves of ancient trees, the sky peppered with silver clouds and the serenity of rural Scotland all around, a visitor will feel refreshed and exhilarated.