It has played host to royalty, British prime ministers and stars of the stage and screen.

At one time there were even over 30 bears roaming the estate’s 400 acres.

One fact that might surprise people is that there was never a Cameron family living in the Baronial mansion which looks directly onto Loch Lomond's bonnie banks.

Around the 14th century there was a fortified stone keep with curved ceilings on the site now occupied by Cameron House. 

By the mid-16th century, the old keep had become a small square house that would be bought and sold by various families for the next 100 years.

It was in 1823, however, under the ownership of the Smolletts, a local family of shipbuilders and artists, when plans were finalised for extensive renovations to take place, that would transform the home into a grand baronial mansion, known today as Cameron House Hotel.

Sir James Smollett was involved in drawing up the 1707 Acts of Union and eventually the mansion would become home to Tobias Smollett, once described by George Orwell as “Scotland’s best novelist”. 

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He spent much of his later life travelling through France and Italy, yet, the vision of his Scottish home was never lost as he was once quoted;

"I have seen Lake Garda, Albana, De Visco, Bolsetta and Geneva. Upon my honour, I prefer Loch Lomond to them all.”

In the 1970s, the Smollett family turned part of the resort into a safari park featuring bears, yaks, bison and other exotic animals.

It was converted into a luxury hotel and resort in 1986 after it was sold by the Smollett family, who held the property for three centuries.

The resort is known for its championship standard golf course, award-winning spa, private luxury motor yacht Celtic Warrior and its Michelin-starred restaurant run by chef Martin Wishart.

Guests have included prime ministers Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Anthony Eden, Princess Margaret and celebrities including  Robbie Williams, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law.


Now, 200 years after the Smollett family made it their home, Cameron House will mark the milestone year with a series of events including guest competitions and 'Learn & Lunch' events hosted by master chefs Paul Tamburrini and Martin Wishart.

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"It's quite a milestone," said Debbie Stevenson, assistant manager of the hotel.

"It definitely adds something to the experience to have that history.


"The view is definitely what brings people here," she added. "It's a big selling point for us.

"It's a bit dreich today (Sunday) but it's still beautiful."

She says many staff are local and take an enormous amount of pride in the hotel and the spectacular location, which is just 25 miles from Glasgow.

"Even the staff on a daily basis take photos and say 'this is my workplace' and post photos on social media," she said.

"A lot are local. I'm from Helensburgh and a lot of our staff are Helensburgh-onians.

"We've got people from Balloch and Alexandria and places like that.

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"It's not that we only employ local but it does make it easier to get here because we are a bit out of the way.

"I've found that people are very proud to work here because it's on their doorstep."

She said the hotel also prided itself on customer service and creating a "warm and friendly" experience for visitors.

Jo, 18, who goes out most days on the Celtic Warrior, the hotel's luxury yacht which takes guests round Inchmurrin Island, says staff are treated well.

"Managers will stop you and say you are doing a really good job," she says.

The 200th anniversary marks the culmination of a difficult few years for the business, following a fire in 2017, which claimed the lives of two guests, Simon Midgley, 32, and his partner Richard Dyson, 38.

A fatal accident inquiry made six recommendations and said the Scottish Government should consider introducing a requirement for sprinkler systems to be installed when historic buildings are converted to hotels.

Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd was ordered to pay £500,000 after admitting to breaches of fire safety rules.

As well as repairs to the main building, the hotel completed the final phase of its four-year restoration project last year with the opening of a new multi-million-pound extension.

The Lomond Wing adds 68 new bedrooms and suites, a 700-square metre ballroom, and a new loch-facing terrace to the hotel.


The assistant manager says Cameron House attracts a wide mix of guests, not just famous faces and has enhanced the swimming pool area to improve the experience for children.

"It's quite family orientated and we do try to cater for the families.

"We also get a lot of international visitors.

"Occupancy is good but we are looking forward to being a lot busier in the Summer."

The assistant manager started at Cameron House, a year-and-a-half ago but said she had "always been drawn" to the hotel, which planted a tree to mark the 200-year anniversary.

Ms Stevenson added:  "When we were planting the tree, I was thinking that I will feel proud telling my grandchildren that I worked here."