THE first observation you make when approach Knock Castle is just how understated the location is.

It is tucked away in the hills near Crieff and sits perched over the town and surrounding countryside.

And while its exterior and the grounds are joy in itself, the splendour of the lobby is something to behold.

Who wouldn't want to be greeted by such an immaculate sight? The leading corridor and reception are adorned with high-class furnishings, boasting an eloquent feature staircase and a grand piano – which adds just that little bit more class.

And then there's the rooms. Then plural definitely applies when booking a suite which includes a well-proportioned bedroom and lounge area.

In the writer's instance, the latter came with a bathtub under the window, presenting a unique opportunity to sip Prosecco in the tub while watching football. A rare, but well-received hour of peace.

And while the hotel maintains its rustic and authentic country feel, there are, of course, modern features – air con, flat screens and Wi-Fi. So, not to worry.

Just outside the main building is the spa, complete with swimming pool, jacuzzi, gym, sauna and steam room. The main pool area is all windows – keeping out the wind, but letting in all the sunshine.

Dinner is likely to be the highlight for most guests; it simply does not fail to impress.

When arriving, you are told about the three-menu choice. But guests are helpfully informed that there is flexibility in what you can order. Should you wish a starter from the pub main, and a main from the degustation menu, the staff are keen to accommodate.

The quality of the food is superb; hardly a slice out of place. Steak with bubble and squeak could have no equal.

Of course, no hotel can thrive without a vibrant and welcoming staff. For the writer, this is where Knock Castle truly excels.

Whether it is a simple warm greeting at reception to remembering your name at the bar – the little differences go a long way. Nothing is too much trouble and there seems to be a real enjoyment from the staff to improve the guests' stay.

Overall, an experience worth savouring. And as a final parting piece of advice: people watchers must sample the bay window in the bar area. Easily lost for hours.