The Atholl Palace Museum, set in the old servant's wing of the Atholl Palace Hotel, charts the history of the hotel from when it first opened as a Hydropathic establishment in 1878 through to its re-opening after World War II and beyond. There are tales of bankruptcy, colourful entrepreneurs, Victorian servant's, unusual and torturous spa treatments, renovations, and war time evacuees turning hotel to school. Room settings and tactile exhibits are packed full of historical insights and anecdotes, perfect for minds both old and young to enjoy. Start your journey in their rail carriage, look inside the doctor's cupboards, light up the wine cellar and dress up as a hotel servant in what was an original bedroom sleeping six servants. Within the museum, children can explore a Minecraft version of the hotel and grounds, opening doors to all parts of the hotel to discover their history.
For over 135 years the Atholl Palace Hotel has welcomed guests. The hotel’s unique and fascinating history began in the middle of the 19th Century when popularity of both Scotland as a holiday and health destination grew amongst Victorians. The talented Perthshire architect,Andrew Heiton Junior was commissioned in 1874 to design a spectacular Scotch Baronial Hydropathic establishment complete with luxurious accommodation,Turkish baths and treatment rooms for Victorian patients, their companions and relatives. Work began in August of that year, and took 150 men, four years to build. Opening its doors in 1878, the Athole Hydropathic, as it was then known, offered the ‘water cure’. Temperance values meant the ‘whisky cure’ was not available to guests. In 1886, the building and the lands were sold to Perth entrepreneur, Mr William MacDonald. From then until 1909, here-positioned the business as a ‘fashionable resort’, following the hotel model. Spa treatments were still available but so too were motor rallies,fancy dress balls and tennis.
Scotland’s second oldest tennis tournament, the Tennis Championships of the Highlands was first held at the Atholl Palace Hotel in 1896. In 1913, The Lunn brothers, and their company,The Public Schools Alpine Sports Club Ltd, purchased and modernised the hotel.Electric lighting, powered by generators arrives and the new interior design reflected the styles and glamour of a new century. The Lunns gave the hotel its new name: The Atholl Palace Hotel. During World War I, Scarborough in Yorkshire was blitzed by a German cruiser leaving Queen Margaret’s School severely damaged. The school girls were evacuated to the hotel in 1915 for the duration of the war. The Atholl Palace hotel continued to trade during the summer months offering war rates. Between 1940 and 1945 the Leys School, Cambridge evacuated to the Atholl Palace Hotel. Their school was requisitioned as a hospital for the war effort. Around 168 boys made Pitlochry their new home during the school term, with the school retaining the hotel caretaker. After 98 years of trading, the Atholl Palace Hotel opened for business all year round and opened the Atholl Suite, a large wedding, conference and events venue. In 2001, the hotel was purchased by the Castle Collection and the most extensive refurbishment of the hotel began.Over the course of a decade, locked away rooms and buildings were uncovered and restored including the historic Victorian spa and Turkish baths in the lower ground floor and the art deco building ‘Highways’ . New and old gardens were carefully cultivated to award winning standards.
The Atholl Palace museum also celebrates the work of Andrew Heiton Jr.,a prolific Perthshire architect, who not only designed the Atholl Palace hotel but also shaped the character and style of Scottish Baronial architecture across Perthshire. This self guided museum is open daily, seven days a week. Don't forget to pick up your complimentary copy of the 'Hydropathic Herald' and your tickets at reception. Atholl Palace Museum visitors are welcome to enjoy and explore the award winning gardens (Kitchen Herb Garden and Japanese Garden), playground, Black Spout Waterfall or even to stay for afternoon tea in their hotel lounge. The Atholl Palace Museum is the only museum of it's kind to celebrate the social history of a hotel. In 2005, when it first opened it was the first hotel museum in the UK. The Atholl Palace is the first hotel in the world to have its building recreated in Minecraft blocks as an educational tool for a museum.
Present your museum ticket at their Verandah Restaurant / Stag's Head bar to redeem £3 off your food/beverage purchase. One ticket per person only. They will give you directions at reception to the museum entrance, located within the hotel on the lower ground floor beside the Lavender Spa. The Film running time is 23 minutes. There is full wheelchair acces to the museum. Disabled toilets are available. There are tactile exhibits for the visually impaired. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Perth Rd, Pitlochry PH16 5LX
Transport: Pitlochry (National Rail) then bus 27, 82, 83, 87) or 20 minutes. Bus Routes : 24, 27, 82, 83 and 87 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily, 09:00 to 18:00
Tickets : Adults £3.00; Children under 16 Free
Tel. : 01796 472400