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History of Cameron House

Original Owner:
Sir James Smollett – Born about 1648 and Died in 1731 in Scotland

Additional Owners:
Tobias Smollett – Born in Renton, UK in 1721 and Died in Livorno, Italy in 1771
Alexander Telfer-Smollett – Born in 1884 and Died in 1954
William Spence – (Property Architect) – Born in 1806 and Died in 1883

The Story of Cameron House

Set amongst Scotland’s most renowned and awe-inspiring landscapes, Cameron House sits proudly on the banks of Loch Lomond. Although the main structure of the stunning Baronial mansion dates back to the early 19th century, the building also incorporates a 14th century castle that was remodelled in the 17th century. Cameron House is now run as a leading hotel that invites guests to enjoy the historic surroundings and take in the epic Scottish landscapes. 

The original castle built on the site of Cameron House was first owned by the Earls of Lennox, before passing to a number of other noble Scottish families, including the Dennistouns of Colgrain and the Charteris of Amisfield. In 1763, it was bought by the Smolletts, whose family generations lived in Cameron House for three centuries. Perhaps the most eminent of the Smolletts was Tobias – an 18th century novelist who was once described by George Orwell as “Scotland’s best novelist”. The author spent much of his life travelling around Europe, although his heart remained in Scotland; in fact, he was quoted as saying: “I have seen Lake Garda, Albana, de Visco, Bolsetta and Geneva. Upon my honour I prefer Loch Lomond to them all.” 

It seems as though the Smollets were a well connected family as, over the centuries, they hosted a number of distinguished figures from political, literary, and royal circles, including – to name but a few – Samuel Johnson, the Empress Eugenie of France, Princess Margaret, Lord Louis Mountbatten, and Winston Churchill. However, in the late 20th century, the owners decided to open the doors of Cameron House to a wholly different kind of visitor – an entirely different species, in fact. In 1972, a group of grizzly bears – Himalayan, Black and European – as well as some American Bison, Tibetan Yak and Highland Cattle, were transported to Scotland and were on display at the Cameron Bear Park.

When the family eventually sold the property in 1986, the Bear Park was closed down and Cameron House was renovated into a luxurious hotel. Despite suffering a tragic fire in 2017, the hotel continues to welcome guests from all over the globe to experience their extraordinary service, facilities, and – of course – the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.