Review: Karma Lake of Menteith

Megan Amato enjoys a stay at Karma Lake of Menteith.

As the sun begins to shine in Scotland, those of use keen to escape from dreich weather may start looking for breaks a little closer to home. 

Located in Stirlingshire on Scotland’s only lake – and from what I’ve been told, great for fishing – is Karma Lake of Menteith, a small, picturesque resort hotel that was converted from an old manse (the stone kirk and cemetery is located right next door) in the 19th century. 

The drive to the hotel from Edinburgh is quite easy but more importantly, beautiful. We passed the Kelpies on the way and stopped off in Callander for a forested stroll to Bracklinn Falls. 

We arrived at a busy car park but with ample parking, it was easy to find a spot. The very ‘Scottish country’ lobby had views into the bar, lounge and dining room, and out into the sunny lake. Checking in was an easy process with excellent service as we were shown to our room and given all the information we needed for our stay.

Our en-suite Heritage Room was fairly spacious, with a large white bed, Victorian-inspired floral wallpaper with framed photographs and personal touches that made it feel a little like your grandmother’s receiving room – in the best of ways. Like visiting your grandmother’s house, we were welcomed with a bottle of Malbec and two miniatures of Deanston 12-year-old with Tunnock’s as a snack, so we felt right at home.

After we settled in, we took a stroll past green fields and wooded areas with the hills in the backdrop. We soon realised there weren’t many walking paths along the side of the road, so we went back for the car instead and took a drive around the lake and stopped at a beach with stunning views out to the lake and the island that holds the ruins of Inchmahome Priory.

For dinner we were seated right next to the window that looked out onto the lake and mountains. As we went through our courses, we had the pleasure of watching the water transform in the setting sun.

The food itself was fabulous, with options for those wanting pub classics, restaurant favourites, local plates or cuisines inspired by Karma locations around the world. If there is a seafood option on the menu, I will almost always try it. 

The Crab Wedge Salad was the perfect starter. The creaminess of the dressed crab and remoulade were well balanced with the acidity of the tomato salsa and aubergine. 

I was most excited for the Lake of Mentieth Rainbow Tour trout entrée. I have fond memories of fishing for rainbow trout with my father as a child and while some of these trips may have ended in arguments – a canon event for anyone fishing with their parents – many more ended with a delicious catch.

When the server set down the fish beautifully arranged over a citrus salad, my stomach jumped with glee. The crispy skin, soft, delicate and succulent fish paired so nicely with the fresh, tart and sweet orange and grapefruit pieces. We all know that citrus goes well with fish, but the chef turned his nose up at the traditional lemon slice and decided to be more creative by adding a creamy lemon labneh that decorated the pretty dish. The pickled cucumber and mixed greens tucked underneath finished the dish off, adding a nice mixture of textures throughout the dish.

My husband also decided to try the rainbow trout but in starter form with the Lake of Menteith Hot Smoked Trout Fish Cake. Satisfyingly crunchy on the outside with a smooth and slightly smoky centre, it sat atop a bed of citrusy salad that rounded out this excellently crafted starter.

He also continued the seafood theme with the Traditional Fish & Chips. Is it in the genes of every person from this part of the world to assume the role of fish and chips connoisseur? I’m not sure, but my husband certainly does. And it was with this proclaimed authority that he declared both the fish with its dark, crunchy batter and the crispy golden chips were excellent. The mint in the mushy peas added a nice, refreshing twist.

Despite not having any room for dessert, we couldn’t resist the selection offered. I’ve been a fan of rhubarb ever since my mother sprinkled sugar on a cane when I was wee and can never say no to a rhubarb and strawberry crumble. It was just what I wanted it to be with the sweetness of the strawberry balanced by the tartness of the stewed rhubarb. I’m big on mixed textures, so the combination of the crunchy oat topping with the soft vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries pleased me to no ends. 

My husband had the palate cleansing lemon Posset. The creamy lemon curd-like dessert was topped with raspberry coulis and served with two mini shortbreads. This dessert did not last long and not a drop was left behind.

After we waddled back to our room, I showered off the day in the large bathroom and crawled into bed where I wasn’t heard from until morning. My husband had to leave early for work, so I had to make my own way back but with a semi-frequent bus service to Stirling, it was easy to get the train back to Edinburgh.

Karma Lake of Menteith truly is a peaceful haven tucked away at the edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with a delicious and creative menu and homey, comfortable rooms – both common and private. Though I didn’t have time to nip into it, their whisky selection in the Malt Vault was truly impressive for those keen on a dram lakeside. Well worth a visit for those wanting a trip not too far away from home (but also worth a visit if you are coming from afar!).

Read more on our travel pages

Plus, don’t miss the July issue of Scottish Field magazine.