Time stops at Stuckgowan House.

Not a moment passes in the nine boutique bedrooms. Or the cinema room. Or the gym. Or the bar. Or the dining room. Or the sitting room. The lounge. The drawing room. The other drawing room. Or even the karaoke room, where singers can bellow Hey Jude’s nah-nah-nah-nahs until the sun expands and incinerates the solar system.

Only at night as guests luxuriate in the garden’s supersized hot tub might they remember that time and space actually exist, contemplating their exposure to billions of ancient protons emitted from the long-dead stars that now illuminate Loch Lomond’s pollution-free skies. 

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So why is the fourth dimension of no consequence to those privileged enough to stay at Stuckgowan? Simply because you won’t find a clock anywhere in this very big house in the country – not even in the kitchen, where the digestibility of dinner is gauged by sniffing the air around the gargantuan Aga cooker.

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Guests could, of course, simply look at the time on their phones. But that would be cheating – this is a destination house which exists solely for the temporary dismissal of exhaustive interconnectedness, allowing for a brief liberation from our electromagnetic prisons. That is, if you haven’t connected to the high-speed broadband wi-fi that is freely available throughout the property. But, again, that would be cheating.

Certainly, the deliberate rubber ear to any acknowledgement of time passing invokes a pleasantly fuzzy temporary amnesia. Like clubs or casinos, all worries and cares are magically shed upon entry at Stuckgowan. Guests are only reacquainted with their fears, anxieties and despair at the meaningless of it all upon departure.

The Herald: Stuckgowan HouseStuckgowan House (Image: free)

Stuckgowan may abstain from clocks, but what the property does boast in abundance is mirrors. Everywhere you look – small ones, big ones and even bigger ones.

Mirrors that take up entire walls, framed by ornate carvings and fanciful bespoke metalwork. And these are serious walls. Walls that have stood steadfast for centuries. Walls that could have kept Poland safe from German aggression. Walls that would have held the whitewalkers at bay in Westeros.

And parading down the grand foyer of this magnificent country house, it seemed each one of these gleaming walls reflected an alternate reality through the looking glass, as we watched ourselves experience life from an entirely new rung on the property ladder.

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Catching constant sight of one’s decaying flesh may not be everyone’s idea of a relaxing break from reality, but take my word for it – there exists a phenomenon akin to natural Photoshop at Stuckgowan. 

It may sound fanciful, and perhaps it’s simply the light skimming across the skin of the loch filtering through the house’s grand windows, but every nook and cranny seems illuminated in a delicate soft haze.

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Certainly, this odd housebound will o’ the wisp bestows a natural filter upon the mature faces populating all these mirrors. Whether dawn’s creeping light or twilight’s Irn-Bru hues, the interplay of natural and artificial light presents every guest in their most radiant form. 

And with a history spanning more than three centuries, this grand residence’s many walls and mirrors have reflected – and perhaps absorbed – centuries of secretive and salacious comings and goings of the three families that have called it home. 

The house as we know it today was constructed by the well-heeled McMurricks between 1798 and 1820 as their country residence. At that time, the estate covered 5000 acres of land and included most of the village of Tarbet stretching over the hills to Arrochar. 

Since then, Stuckgowan has stood as a silent sentinel as all around it changed, but its many winding, twisting corridors and hallways still echo with the whispers of generations past.

“Looking after the house is an absolutely wonderful job,” smiles ebullient house manager Chris Shaw, who also oversees Stuckgowan sister properties Stuckdarach (located on the same grounds, a slightly smaller retreat comfortably hosting 12 people) and the spectacular Stucktaymore (sleeping 29 on the banks of Loch Tay in Perthshire) for owner Brian Aitken.

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“When we acquired the estate we became only the third owners,” Brian says. “We spent two years in renovation and repairs inside and out, totally restoring and upgrading with bespoke furnishing to provide an exceptional residence in which to get away from it all.”

Chris echoes that sentiment. “There’s a real magic here,” he enthuses. “We host guests from all over the world, from Americans looking to golf to hen parties and family gatherings on special occasions. 

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“And although this is a self-catering property, we understand you don’t always want to cook so we also recommend chefs and caterers to come and create for you. This is in addition to organising waiting staff, butler services, daily housekeeping, transfers and activities if requested.

“The house is rarely vacant and you only need to look at the guestbook to see how much of an impression Stuckgowan leaves on everyone who stays here.”

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From the grounds’ origins as a fortified tower house for local clans in the 15th century to its transformation into a grand country estate in the Georgian era, Stuckgowan retains its elegant lancet windows and arched doorways as Gothic and Norman references abound with ornate chandeliers, polished and patterned marble floors – all complemented by exquisite antique furnishings.

In its early days, the property often hosted Scottish aristocracy and was a prime location for lavish gatherings, extravagant parties and sumptuous banquets. Its not a stretch of the imagination to hear ancient echoes of conversation and laughter still reverberating off these grand walls. 

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In the 19th century, the property entered a new chapter in its storied history with the Victorian era. Under the stewardship of visionary new owners, the house underwent a series of renovations inspired by the prevailing architectural trends of the time.

Gothic Revival elements were incorporated into its design, adding a sense of romanticism and mystery to its façade. Inside, the interiors were adorned with rich fabrics, ornate furnishings and intricate woodwork, creating a sense of warmth and intimacy that abides to this day.

The Herald: Stuckgowan HouseStuckgowan House (Image: free)

Throughout the Victorian era, Stuckgowan continued to be a beacon of refinement and elegance, attracting artists, writers and intellectuals from far and wide. Its idyllic setting on the shores of Loch Lomond provided inspiration to countless creatives, who sought solace and inspiration amidst its tranquil surroundings.

In the 20th century, the property weathered the challenges of two world wars and the changing fortunes of the Scottish economy. Yet despite periods of decline and neglect, it remained a symbol of resilience and endurance, standing today as a revitalised and stately reminder of Scotland's rich cultural heritage.

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With its 34 acres of grounds meticulously landscaped by gifted Estate Manager David Aitken, Stuckgowan is surrounded by pristine parks, woodland and gardens, providing ample opportunity for exploration and relaxation. Guests could easily spend hours wandering the winding walkways, admiring the colourful blooms and soaking in the serenity of nature. 

And from tranquil lakeside picnics to invigorating hikes, there’s certainly no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy locally with boat cruises and watersports to whisky tastings and scenic drives all available in abundance along Loch Lomond’s shores.

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Biding farewell to Stuckgowan, I signed the guestbook in complete acquiescence with all who had scribbled superlatives before me – before catching one last sight of myself in the hallway mirrors, a final discombobulating glimpse through the looking glass at an alternate reality.

This magnificent, historic property may have lacked clocks, but Stuckgowan certainly gifts its guests the time to reflect and see the world anew ... and also as it once was.

Stuckgowan House Tarbet, Arrochar, G83 7DH  (0)131 556 4020 or +44 (0)77 66 88 5270


Stuckgowan offers large luxury group self-catering accommodation for up to 19 people across nine boutique bedrooms Weekly Price: From £6630. 2 Night Weekend: From £4350. 3 Night Weekend: From £4875.

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