With its mountainous landscapes, tumbling rivers and dense woodland all ripe for exploring, it’s no wonder that Scotland’s Glencoe attracts outdoors enthusiasts. The opportunities for adrenaline-inducing activity are endless; from hill-climbing and canyoning to white water rafting, archery and quad-biking.
It’s a beautiful place, but one which could quite easily exhaust the senses. With all that fresh air and aching limbs, you’d be wise to book yourself somewhere tranquil to unwind at the end of the day. Thankfully, I know just the place.
Riverbeds Luxury Wee Lodges offer glamping pods on the edge of the Dragontooth Golf Course, which is just by the pretty hamlet of Ballachulish. Glamping? On a golf course? Are you mad?! I hear you ask. The answer to the latter, I’m afraid, I cannot confirm. What I can assure is that this is no ordinary glamping experience. Far from it. This is a luxury glamping at its best. Not convinced? Let’s delve a little deeper into what makes this place so special…
Ballachulish is a great spot to base yourself when exploring the area. The wee village has an interesting landscape, centered upon former slate quarries, and overlooking bonny Loch Leven. It’s only about ten minutes’ drive to Glencoe village and a further five to the heart of the mountains, but also has everything you’d need including the lovely Ballachulish Hotel if you’re in need of a cosy place to grab a bite to eat.
We actually ventured over the bridge to the Loch Leven Hotel (about a 20 minute walk from the lodges), where we were treated to a stunning three course meal overlooking the loch. Views don’t come much better than that, so I’d definitely recommend making the trip over if you can. It’s also handy if you’re looking to burn off some calories from the homemade icecream. Mmmm…
The lodges are located in an area of woodland, just off the golf course. This is super handy, because you’ve got somewhere secure to leave your car, a clubhouse near by if you need any assistance and also there’s an onsite cafe if the espresso levels are dipping low. It’s only a short walk to the lodges, and each one has its own fairy-light lit path leading to a clearing in the woods. Although the lodges aren’t far apart, the paths have been cleverly designed so that they face away from one another, keeping those all-important privacy levels at bay. There’s also a babbling brook running past each cabin. Combine the relaxing river sounds with a glass of bubbly on the decking, and you can rest assured that the state of ‘pure bliss’ can be firmly initiated.
Each lodge has been built in Scotland and designed with customer’s comfort completely in mind. Forget all notions of pokey wee shacks; the lodges may only be 12 square metres in size, but every aspect of their design has been carefully crafted to optimize the space and make sure that there’s enough storage room. As the company explains, “The aim is to create a castle in a cabin, and approach the art of hospitality in an innovative, new way.”
While they might be a bit dinkier than your average castle (give or take), each lodge manages to house a bedroom (complete with luxury egyptian cotton bedding and a bed so deep you could quite easily sink into it and never want to come back out again), kitchenette, ensuite shower room and lounge, which is no mean feat! There’s also a large decking space with a table and chairs, so you can have your breakfast outside – if the midges abate!! The shower-room is undeniably wee (you actually have to shower over the toilet), but with plenty of warm water and fluffy towels to look forward to, it’s hardly something to grumble about.
Gone also are the notions that glamping has to mean cutting yourself off from the digital world. Each wee lodge is packed with electrics, from the kitchenette which comes equipped with a microwave, fridge, toaster and coffee machine, to the TV, integrated sound system and even the mood lighting, which can change colour at your desire – a perk which quickly led to our lodge becoming known as the Disco Pod! The Wifi (not that you’re necessarily going to need it in this neck of the woods!) was speedy and far-reaching.
The Hot Tub
I’m not going to lie. For us, staying at Riverbeds was all about the hot tub. I’d like to say that we stuck to the health and safety recommendations and stayed in it for less than 30 minutes at a time…and that we didn’t sit drinking prosecco in it till the wee hours…but that would feel somewhat untrue.
Late night shenanigans aside, it was an absolute dream to have our own tub, and being able to gaze up at the stars from the warmth of the spa really rounded off the luxury experience. Better still, the hot tubs are already heated before you arive, so all you have to worry about is taking off the cover and slipping in before the chilly Scottish air gets the better of you. The layout of the lodges, with their own seperate pathway and cleverly constructed fencing, means that you don’t feel overlooked in the slightest. Perfect if you’re looking for a bit of privacy or don’t fancy having others subjected to your questionable taste in music.
As well as having a golf course right on your doorstep, there’s also an onsite cafe serving light meals, cakes and drinks from morning until late. This comes with the added bonus of some rather plush bathrooms, should you be looking for something a little more ‘spacious’ than the ensuite provided in the lodge…
If you fancy venturing a little further afield, it’s only a five minute walk into Ballachulish, where you’ll find several lovely bars and restaurants, as well as a Co-op, if you need to stock up on supplies. The nearest petrol station is the Claymore Station, a short drive away at Glencoe.
The wee touches
From the moment we collected our key from the clubhouse (left for us in a handwritten envelope), to the moment we accepted that squattor’s rights probably didn’t apply, we felt incredibly welcome and looked after by the Riverbeds team.
What set this apart from a traditional glamping experience were the personal touches which had been thrown in, and of course, the goodies! On arrival, we were treated to a bottle of prosecco on ice. The fridge had been stocked with milk, orange juice, jams, and fresh pastries. Luxury toileterries sat alongside a welcome pack, explaining everything from how to use the hot tub to the underfloor heating. The coffee machine was stocked with complimentary Costa coffee pods. If we’d needed it, the manager’s number was available at all times. Other than that, we were just left to enjoy the experience.
So what else do you need to know?
Riverbeds is a family-run business, led by Morag and Laurence Young. The manager’s contact details were available at all times, or you can simply pop along to the clubhouse if you need any help through the day.
You can find the lodges by heading to:
Dragon’s Tooth Golf Course
Once you park up at the golf course, simply look towards the little wooded area and you’ll see the wee pods waiting for you. Your key will be waiting for you on a hook just inside the clubhouse, if there’s not already someone there.
For further information you can contact Riverbeds directly:
Call: 01855 413 006 (9am-5pm)
Prices vary according to season. For a weekday stay in September, such as ours, you’d be looking at:
£225 for a lodge without a hot tub
£295 for a lodge with a hot tub
Both options include breakfast and are based on two people sharing for one night. Admittedly, it’s not going to be the cheapest night of your life, but for a special occasion it’s hard to imagine somewhere more unique and luxurious to stay when exploring this gorgeous part of the county.
For further information, or to book, you can head directly to the Riverbeds website here.