In this day and age, I feel like we all just need a bit of a break. A break from work, from home, from the internet. A good old fashioned break from our own reality. Last week, we spent our weekend on the Isle Of Arran, and let me tell you, it was just the break we needed. It’s an odd one, Arran is around two hours away from Glasgow – a short drive followed by a ferry – yet it felt like another world. It goes without saying the island is a bit of an attraction – stand by the ferry port and you’ll be able to pick out twenty tourists with camera’s around their neck and a guidebook in hand i.e me – but the island couldn’t feel any further from your typical tourist spot. There are no garish lights, no fairground rides by the beach and no street sellers in sight. You won’t find a Primark on the island, Premier Inn is yet to take over and the accommodation options are limited to traditional bed and breakfasts, campsites, a holiday home or two or the beautiful Auchrannie Resort and Spa. We were invited to stay at Auchrannie for a few days, and it’s safe to say we’ve found our new go-to staycation in the beautiful grounds and breath of fresh air from a typical Haven weekend break.
Getting to Arran is a mini-adventure in itself. We caught a ferry from Androssan, FYI book tickets a day or so in advance, they only run at specific times and can sell out quickly. We were blessed with typical Scottish weather (rain, and a lot of it) but it was a quick journey and one made comfortable by the on board café and playroom for littles. The Auchrannie Resort itself is only a few minutes drive from the port, it’s certainly walkable, but Auchrannie offer a complimentary pick-up, so there isn’t much need. It’s hard not to be surprised when you first drive into the resort, I’m not sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t palm trees and a building that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Spain. When I think of Arran, I think of very traditional – perhaps dated – buildings, and that’s certainly not what we were faced with. The check in process was simple enough after we landed at the right hotel – Auchrannie have both the House Hotel, and the Spa Resort, and sods law states that we would choose the wrong one to try first.
Forgive me, but pictures of our hotel room before the tot ransacked it are few and far between. Let’s just preface by saying the rooms are exactly as pictured on the website (which is a rarity, and a pleasant surprise!). We stayed in one of the newly refurbished Superior Room‘s within the Spa Resort and it was the perfect base to explore. I’ll set the scene: a double bed that feels more like a king, flat screen TV (with Netflix), a bunk-bed that folds into the wall and some fancy Arran Aromatic toiletries in a beautiful bathroom, that were quickly stuffed in the suitcase… If I could have, I would have spent the entire three days binge-watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race whilst abusing the room service from the comfort of the bed BUT we were on the Isle of Arran to switch off and embrace the outdoors, so unfortunately I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in the room as I would have liked.
Auchrannie is an all-singing all-dancing answer to a weekend break. With a spa, three restaurants, two swimming pools, a soft play and outdoor play area it would be easy to spend your entire weekend within the resort itself. We tried two of the three restaurants it offers; Cruize Bar and Brasserie, and Brambles Seafood and Grill. Brambles is set within an idyllic conservatory complete with log fire and more cushions than cutlery at each table. Relaxation isn’t even the word. It was a quiet evening for the restaurant, which meant plenty of attention from the servers for Harrison’, and possibly the quickest service I’ve ever had. Cruize, was a completely different atmosphere. It’s on the top floor with an enviable view, and an outdoor balcony off your willing to brave the unpredictable weather. We found this one perfect for the entire family – it was much busier, the food was still fantastic but the soft play area it boasted meant I was able to actually finish a glass of wine. A full glass. Revolutionary. The servers again were wonderful with Harrison’ and I would have happily eaten from the kids menu myself.
I think the A-Grade kids menu’s should have been a clue as to what we could expect for the rest of our weekend. The Auchrannie resort is perfect for younger children, which was completely unexpected. I often find that holiday resorts tend to cater well to the over 5’s, and toddlers’ tend to be left by the wayside. Part of me thought it would only be good for the older age range, and when I say older, I mean pensioners older? I think I jumped to conclusions. Auchrannie has covered all bases. On site, there was a hefty soft play and an adventure play-ground, both of which were perfect for grabbing a good coffee while the littles go wild. Speaking of which, Harrison did a lot of running wild. We spent more time wandering the grounds than doing anything else. There are flowers galore, a bridge fit for a fairytale and a whole lot of wide open space to run free in. Don’t get me wrong, we made the ten minute journey to a few of the local beaches, we visited Brodick Castle and we sampled the local ice-cream but really, we just made the most of just not having to do anything.
I think I have one negative for the entire weekend, and that was the sausages at breakfast (I was convinced I’d somehow managed to pick up a vegan option, but alas it was not), not a fan. But if dodgy sausages were the only downfall, I think we’re doing pretty well. It may also be worth noting that the swimming pools are basic. Perfect for young children as the baby pool had great light up water features, but don’t expect flumes or wave pools. Not that you need it, Arran Adventure offers plenty to do for the older kids (or big-kid-adults, Segways – yes please!) This is a perfect getaway for a family break, but it’s not a Haven sort of break. For one, it’s not crowded. My pet peeve on holiday is overcrowding. I hate feeling like I have to weave through people, or wait for seats. This weekend I don’t think we had to wait for anything. It’s an odd one, the restaurants could be full, you’ll always find people coming or going, but it never felt too busy. It’s not a Haven sorta holiday. There are no karaoke bars or slot machines, but I suppose, no one is travelling to Arran for a good penny bingo. It’s the ultimate break from reality and we’ve already looked at booking up with my own parents and brother. We spied the luxury family lodges on one of our many wanders, and they looked like a home away from home. We didn’t get the chance to try the spa, or the bike trail as we had a tot in tow, so it would be good to have a few extra pair of hands to really try out what Auchrannie has to offer. My brother is twelve, and should we be able to drag him away from an X-Box for long enough, the archery, gorge walking or mountain biking could be right up his alley. p>
There is something about Arran that just makes you want to switch off. Maybe the air is just different, or more likely it’s just the lack of phone signal, but it’s hard not to come away feeling refreshed. I don’t think I knew what to expect from Auchrannie, or even Arran for that matter. It was still Scotland after all, just slightly more out of the way. It was a different world though, or rather, a different time. Me and Jordan spent the entire time joking that it felt like we had stepped back in time. Auchrannie was a perfect escape from reality: it has everything you could need – WIFI included, don’t worry , but with the benefit of leaving the rest behind on the mainland. If your looking to explore the island, Auchrannie is the perfect base. If your not looking to explore the island, Auchrannie is the perfect location for a decent spa, a soft-play and three restaurants all on the same site… Win win?
Disclaimer: We were invited to the Auchrannie Resort And Spa as guests, our stay was complimentary and we did receive a voucher towards our meals. As always though, all opinions are entirely my own. The sausages at breakfast were questionable, but yet I would still hand on heart would recommend it to anyone looking for a family holiday.