I USUALLY wolf down my meals, ignoring my late grandad's advice to chew each mouthful 30 times.

This can cause pieces of food to get stuck in my gullet and has led to an uncomfortable endoscopy procedure at the Queen Margaret Hospital (don't worry, I'm fine).

I had no such trouble at the amazing restaurant at Airds Hotel, in Port Appin (near Oban), where each mouthful was slowly savoured.

Little wonder, when the food there has been awarded three AA rosettes.

My starter of seared hand-dived Luing scallops included drops of pea custard, hazelnuts and a succulent black pudding.

I chose roasted monkfish for my main. It came on a bed of Loch Linnhe brown crab and leek rice, mussels and saffron essence.

Finally, my lemon souffle had risen in picture-book fashion and was the warm conclusion to the best meal I've had.

The service was irreproachable; it felt like the waitress and restaurant manager could read my thoughts before I made requests.

The restaurant itself has stunning views of Loch Linnhe to the mountains beyond.

The next morning, as I tucked into homemade muesli followed by salmon with scrambled eggs, a thick cloud lifted from the loch to leave a light wisp of smoke on the water.

It was like a scene from a Peter Jackson movie (with Deep Purple as the soundtrack).

The four red star Airds Hotel, originally an 18th century ferry inn, is part of Connoiseurs Scotland, which promotes the best hotels and restaurants Scotland has to offer.

There's lots of wee touches that makes this hotel so special. For instance, a complementary 'whisky mac' awaited me in my room. It's a blend of whisky and ginger wine and traditionally taken by fishermen out at sea.

The Airds has a friendly, family feel - it's more or less a large cottage. Approaching midnight a member of staff turned off the hall lights and I was half expecting them to come and tuck me in...

The bedroom itself was perfect; spacious yet retaining a cosy feel.

The bathroom included a bath with television and a very large walk-in shower.

Just off the bedroom there was a small living room with a large widescreen TV.

The Airds is clearly a place to relax. There were two lounges downstairs where I was served afternoon tea in front of a log fire.

Though the weather was horrid, sunnier days can see croquet played on the front lawn of the hotel.

Being in the West Highlands means there are plenty of places to tour, from deep sea lochs and secluded beaches.

I contented myself with a 30-minute walk around the coast of Port Appin.

A stay at The Airds is going to be a memorable one because the food, the service and the scenery are sublime.

The Airds Hotel and Restaurant, Port Appin, Appin, Argyll. 01631 730236. www.airds-hotel.com Find out more about the best places to stay in Scotland at www.luxuryscotland.co.uk *** WINTER SPECIAL OFFER 30TH OCTOBER 2012 -4TH APRIL 2013 This offer is for two or three nights to include dinner and full Scottish breakfast. Rates for the three-night offer start at �99 per person per night (pppn) and for the two-night offer is from �105 pppn, based on double occupancy.

These rates are inclusive of dinner and full Scottish breakfast each day. If you pay in full at the time of booking, 30 days or more before arrival date you will receive an extra eight per cent discount.