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The History of

DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane

Explore the fascinating story of one of Scotland’s most iconic and well-loved hotels. Delve into over a century of history at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro.


In 1878 the Dunblane Hydropathic Establishment (as we were once known) was opened. Designed by renowned Scottish architects Peddie and Kinnear, the building cost £60,000 – with over 200 guests attending a grand ball to celebrate.

Originally a Victorian health spa resort, the Hydro welcomed guests who came to drink the local spring water and enjoy a range of hydropathic treatments, overseen by Dr. Clark, our very own resident doctor. ‘Taking the waters’ became a fashionable trend, which was then believed to cure a variety of illnesses including rheumatism, alcoholic related diseases and depression.


At the turn of the 20th century, popularity for Dunblane Hydro continued but for different reasons. Guests came to experience the beautiful countryside, fresh air and outdoor activities.

We also began to attract some of Scotland’s finest entertainers and musicians and held various full dress and fancy dress balls. A newspaper issued in December 1875 reported ‘the house is once again well patronised, all sleeping accommodation being well filled’.


Dunblane Hydro was requisitioned by the War Office during the First World War for use as a military hospital with The Stuart Lounge being its largest ward.

During the Second World War, the hotel housed an evacuated girls’ boarding school and was later a base for convalescing soldiers on leave from the trenches.

In May 1946, our grand re-opening as a hotel was dealt a blow as fire broke out causing extensive damage to the hotel’s north wing. Local firefighters and a group of Polish soldiers, who were stationed nearby, came to save the day. The hotel was re-opened a week later but the north wing was out of commission for some time.


Going down the stairs from reception, glance upwards to two large stained-glass windows, which depict ‘Jessie the Flow’r o’ Dunblane’. Our beautiful countryside setting inspired this Scottish love song by Robert Tannahill.

Jessie the Flow’r o’ Dunblane

‘The sun has gane down o'er the lofty Ben Lomond, 
And left the red clouds to preside o'er the scene; 
While lanely I stray in the calm simmer gloamin', 
To muse on sweet Jessie, the flow'r o' Dunblane.

How sweet is the brier wi' its saft fauldin' blossom, 
And sweet is the birk wi' its mantle o' green; 
Yet sweeter and fairer, and dear to this bosom, 
Is lovely young Jessie, the flow'r o' Dunblane.

She's modest as onie and blythe as she's bonnie, 
For guileless simplicity marks her its ain; 
And far be the villain divested o' feeling, 
Wha'd blight in its bloom the sweet flow'r o' Dunblane.


In 1962, Sir Reo Stakis struck a deal to buy Dunblane Hydro – not in the boardroom but on a lay-by of the Glasgow-Ayr road. Within six weeks of purchasing the hotel, he had turned a loss into profit. Stakis invested over £70,000 on refurbishments and began a relationship with singer Jim MacLeod that would be pivotal in the success of the Hydro over the next 40 years.

With his Scottish Dance Band, Jim MacLeod acquired celebrity status, entertaining several hundred guests every week before being appointed by Sir Reo Stakis as Musical Director. In his new role, Jim brought many well-known personalities and for several years ‘Hogmanay Live’ was broadcast directly from the Hydro. With Jim’s career flourishing in the 1970s, including winning Grampian TV Personality of the Year, Dunblane Hydro had firmly established itself as a jewel in the crown of Scottish hospitality.


In 2008, following a period of several owners – including the Hilton Group – the hotel was purchased by the Ability Group and in 2009 officially launched as a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.

Our Perthshire hotel was transformed with a stunning £12 million refurbishment in which all rooms, bars, restaurant, lounges and meeting rooms were stylishly revamped. Michelin star-winning celebrity chef, Nick Nairn was invited to head up the new Kailyard Restaurant with his inspirational Scottish menu.

In 2012, the Olympic Torch arrived at the hotel as part of a relay around the UK prior to the London Summer Olympics.

DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro is a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide®, which is dedicated to promoting heritage and cultural travel to prestigious historic treasures.

Make your own memories

This is our history. Now, you can become part of our future at DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro.