Art of Living | 9th October 2023
Amanda Lamb's PoB Break: Ingenious Interiors
Words by Karyn Noble
As the fairy-tale grandeur of Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire looms into view, Amanda Lamb is palpably excited.
She may have seen her share of castles when hosting Channel 4’s TV show A Place in the Sun, but this is her first chance in a while to relax and enjoy sumptuous interiors without the pressure of filming. “For me interior design is so important in a hotel, “says Amanda. “Particularly if I’m staying for a break, as opposed to work. I get huge inspiration from visiting hotels for [designing] my own home and am forever taking photographs and writing notes.”
Glenapp Castle’s period furnishing and interiors reflect the Scottish Baronial style created by Edinburgh architect David Brice in 1870, and the five-star hotel certainly makes an immediate impression. “It’s one of the most striking buildings I’ve ever seen,” says Amanda. “To stand here and breathe in the history and imagine who else has stood and looked at it like I am is mesmerising.” As Amanda tours the grand rooms, she reflects on how she’s far more comfortable in hotels with a history but which still have all the amenities one expects from a luxurious break. Glenapp Castle’s roll-top baths and walk-in showers get her tick of approval. “I don’t often have long deep baths at home (too busy), so I always request one when staying in a hotel.”
The next day, Amanda heads from Ayrshire up to Sterlingshire, to the 34 acres of Scottish countryside near Dunblane where Sir Andy and Kim Murray own a country-house hotel called Cromlix. After taking over management of the hotel in December 2022, the couple worked with Fergus Purdie Architects as well as Belfast designer Suzanne Garuda to enhance its features. “Imagine how much fun it was to design this hotel,” says Amanda, as she settles in with a whisky in the billiard room. “I love the styling of the rooms and the dark and brooding colour palettes in some of the spaces, particularly. The mixture of textures and patterns look effortless, but I know how much went into it.”
As Amanda goes on to lose every game of billiards she plays (“I blame the whisky!”), she remarks on the abundance of artwork in the hotel, which includes some of Andy Murray’s personal collection alongside pieces by local Scottish artists and even a piece by Damien Hirst. “I love how eclectic it is,” she says. “I think a hotel with art pieces can create an atmosphere of contemplation and great talking points, as everyone has a different take on it.”
After a quick game of tennis (of course there’s a tennis court at Cromlix!), Amanda’s next stop is The Fife Arms in Braemar, right in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Following an extensive four-year renovation, the former Victorian coaching inn reopened in December 2018 (though officially opened in 2019 by the then Prince Charles). Thanks to new owners Iwan and Manuela Worth, co-presidents of Hauser & Wirth, it should be no surprise that some 12,000 works of art and antiques have now been integrated into all 46 bedrooms and interiors.
Of all the meticulous restoration work, Amanda (while admitting that “the art of a good restoration is if the guests don’t notice”) is drawn to the beautiful timber sash windows. “If restored properly, they can really enhance a space,” she says, remarking on how The Fife Arms has married together the old and the new seamlessly. After a tour of the individually themed bedrooms, Amanda is hard pressed to pick a favourite. “The Royal Suites are beautiful and so steeped in history, and the deep colours are perfect for the Scottish scenery. But I think my favourite is The Artist’s Studio; it’s so beautifully curated and my love of the Bloomsbury set is really coming to life here.”
After an extremely comfortable night’s sleep, Amanda’s next stop is the five-star Ness Walk hotel in Inverness, right on the banks of the River Ness. Following a £7-million restoration of the 19th-century Grade-B-listed building, it reopened on 1 July 2019. Amanda is immediately impressed by the 47 luxurious rooms and suites, which have been named after the trees on the grounds. “Themed rooms add a touch of novelty to a stay,” she says. “And I think it makes the whole experience seem more personal. My daughter is called Willow, so the tree theme works perfectly for me.”
While she’s not staying in the Willow room, Amanda is certainly happy with Ness Walk’s Wellingtonia Suite, one of two suites at the hotel and named after its 200-year-old Wellingtonia tree. “These views across the grounds and to Inverness Castle are hard to beat,” she says. “It’s a perfect place to explore Inverness,” she says, readying for a stroll by the river. “The hotel is light and modern and full of wonderful little touches and extras.”
But it’s when Amanda reaches The Torridon, the UK’s most northerly five-star hotel on the shores of Loch Torridon, that she’s a little lost for words. “The views of the Scottish Highlands are literally taking my breath away,” she eventually says, looking out towards the mountains, roaming Highland cattle and the occasional soaring eagle.
The Torridon offers a boutique hotel experience like no other, with hotel staircases dating back to the original lodge in 1887. “This place oozes class and sophistication,” says Amanda. “The rooms are all so individual, but so well thought out and put together. Scotland has always been one of my most favourite places on earth, so to get the chance to experience it with a tailor-made PoB Break is heaven.”
Before she reluctantly packs for home, Amanda gets a special tour of The Torridon’s Boathouse, an exclusive venue that is already fully booked until the end of 2024. “It’s quirky, secluded and utterly magical,” she says. “I have my name down already for 2025!”