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Grandad Haggis Reviews: Portavadie Marina, Loch Fyne

Grandad Haggis Reviews: Portavadie Marina, Loch Fyne


In his first column, Grandad Haggis reviews his stay at the Portavadie Marina, an idyllic spa retreat situated on the eastern shores of Loch Fyne. Just a scenic 2-hour drive away from Glasgow, this acclaimed modern spa resort is centred around a charming marina. Offering a variety of lodge and studio apartment accommodations, along with cosy dog-friendly cottages, romantic couple’s retreats, and an award-winning restaurant and spa, there’s something to appease anyone looking for a relaxing break.

How would you like to have a relaxing swim in an infinity pool as warm as your bath*, blue skies overhead and the prospect of top quality fresh seafood awaiting you once you’re finished floating in the warm water?  Sound good?  Top tip then. Put your clothes on before you go to eat. 

Nobody wants to see you in the restaurant wearing your speedos ordering scallops. Or any seafood apparently. Learn from my mistakes.

It’s possibly not what you would associate with a break in Scotland is it? The fresh seafood is a given, particularly in the coastal resorts of the West of Scotland, but splashing about in an outdoor pool … not so much. Particularly in April, which is when we visited.

*I don’t know how warm your bath is. I’m just guessing.  Nothing sinister.

But you can enjoy this and more at Portavadie Marina on the shore of Loch Fyne. 

infinity pool at portavadie marina

North of the Isle of Arran, the marina is situated at the southern end of the loch, the opposite end from the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, coincidentally another top-notch eatery if you want to sample some of the finest seafood Scotland provides.

Getting to Portavadie is an adventure in itself. Assuming your starting point is somewhere in the central belt of Scotland, you head West along the M8 motorway connecting Edinburgh to Glasgow.

Past Port Glasgow, and Ferguson’s Yard where work started on building a new ferry about the same time that Noah was building his Ark and yet is still not finished.

argyll and bute scotland

That was bad luck for the two Unicorns who had reserved places.

On to Greenock, which used to be a bustling port but suffered after the decline of heavy industry in the 1970’s. It’s also the home of Greenock Morton Nil one of the oldest if not most successful professional football clubs in Scotland.

If you haven’t heard of the team you may have heard of one of its ex-players, Martin Compston the actor. Maybe better known as D.I. Steve Arnott in “Line of Duty”. If you haven’t seen the series – make it a ‘must see’ on your tellybox.

Past Greenock, you will come to Gourock where you will board the ferry to Dunoon. The ferry across the water  cuts out a very very long drive round the loch to your destination.

Ferries are regular and plentiful and no booking is required, although booking ahead will get you a cheaper rate than paying on board. Half an hour or so later and you’re rolling off in Dunoon. 

calmac ferry to portavadie

From there to Portavadie is about an hour’s drive, but it could take much longer. That depends on whether you want to stop and marvel at some amazing views, and you also have to negotiate the plentiful ‘passing places’ on the road, much of which is single track. A  friendly wee wave to the oncoming motorist, no matter which of you has given way is obligatory. If the wave is not returned, a different hand gesture is optional.

On arrival and having checked in you can have a wander round. There’s a range of accommodation types to suit size and budget, so you should have found something just right for you.

What is there to see? Apart from the amazing views……… not much really. It’s a place for chilling, not clubbing.

And anyway, there’s no seals.

portavadie marina argyll and bute

There’s the marina obviously, with lots of fancy boats to admire.

There is a main building where you will find the restaurant and bar, a shop where you can purchase souvenirs, odds and ends, and basic necessities ( beer and wine)  and of course the top attraction… the spa.

You can also hire bikes should you wish to do so, and cycle the local roads. 

Plenty of walks nearby too, and an amazing beach that looks like an advert for foreign climes. Reception will give you directions!

But back to the spa. We were fortunate in choosing a time that meant we had the whole place to ourselves for about an hour. (I’m not going to tell you what time, because you will all go then and it will make me out a liar) 

The outdoor heated infinity pool is just amazing. A real ‘one off’ experience that is simply mind blowing. The views, the blue sky without a cloud present – can’t guarantee the sky bit, but you could ask at reception – made it a magical experience of wallowing in the sunshine, albeit with a nippy wind. A couple of jacuzzi pools adjacent also available for a comfortable relaxing time.

And now my personal favourite.

The restaurant.

The food here is simply phenomenal. 

The seafood is excellent, as you’d expect, and I ate possibly the tastiest sirloin steak I’ve ever had. It’s a fairly small menu, but perfectly adequate for a short stay with a delicious option for every taste. I didn’t manage the sweet course, but I can certainly vouch for the starters and mains. The pinot noir and Sauvignon Blanc are decent too!

Breakfasts were spot on, and the staff are absolutely brilliant. All very friendly and efficient.

It really is award-winning dining, and just a great place to relax for a few days.

If you have a few days to spare then this should be on your list.

Check it out here.


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