Hannah Drake

Balinakill Country House

TravelHannah DrakeComment

Last month, we drove up to Scotland for a weekend with Luke's family. Luke's aunt had planned a week in the Scottish countryside for all the Drakes who were able to make it and booked the most gorgeous country house for everyone to stay. Unfortunately, with our wedding and three major trips this year, we weren't able to go for the whole time, but we're both just glad we were able to drive up for the weekend.

It was a long drive and the weekend didn't get off to the best start. We had been gifted a £50 gift card to John Lewis after a number of issues with our wedding registry and the day before we left, we decided to use it to buy a new lens I wanted for our camera, paying £10 in next morning delivery. Long story short, despite it being guaranteed delivery by 10:30 and us even sticking around until about 12:45 just in case, it never came. Luckily, we had a good weekend ahead and a gorgeous drive to get there.

If I can only teach you one thing here in this space, it's that you have to drive through the UK (and I've heard Ireland, though never done it myself) at some point in your life. The views will seriously take your breath away.

The Balinakill Country House is located near Clachan, on the west side of the Kintyre Peninsula in Argyll. That meant we drove up to Scotland and then did a hairpin turn around the Atlantic Ocean to drive back down the peninsula. (Did I mention how gorgeous the drive was?)

The current house is on land purchased by Sir William McKinnon, 1st Baronet of Strathaird and Loup and founder of the British India Steam Navigation Company in 1867. He built the house 20 years later, completing it in 1893, the same year Sir William died. It was visited by King Leopold of Belgium and Queen Victoria of England and functioned as a school from 1941 for the duration of the war after the bombing attacks in the Glasgow area.

The house is Victorian style and continues to house a wealth of period feature. It is surrounded by gardens and neighbouring fields of sheep. The house has twelve en-suite bedrooms, a children's playroom, two sitting rooms, a conservatory, two kitchens, a dining room that seats up to 24 people, and a gunroom bar.

When we were there, I seriously felt like I could have been at a murder mystery weekend. It would be the perfect house for it! All you need is some period costumes and a perfectly timed thunderstorm! Maybe an inspector with a bushy moustache and plaid cape too.

It was super easy to get lost in the house, which apparently made for a fantastic game of hide and seek before we got there. They have wifi at the house, but due to it's size, it's not great in half the house since it's too far from the router. Not necessarily a bad thing when you're on a relaxing weekend away, though, is it?

While we were there, I read a whole book, cosying up in the sitting room or in our room that had a beautiful view of the garden below. We sat outside and enjoyed Pimms, we played games in the conservatory, and I walked around the grounds by myself one afternoon, exploring, and even coming face-to-face with a sheep who didn't seem too pleased to see me.

It's available for exclusive rent, meaning you rent the entire place. While the kitchens are ready for you to use, you'll of course need to bring your own food. (The Drakes handled this by assigning different couples/families one night each to buy and prepare dinner.) It's also available for events, including weddings.

Maybe you're thinking why would you ever leave? But the house is also in a great location for exploring everything around. No matter which way you turn out of the private driveway, you're going to find an adventure. And even though we were only there for about 36 hours, we had a great time exploring Gigha, an island south of the house, and had a delicious lunch in Skipness. But more on that next week.