Viv Blair, marketing consultant, friend of TLE and perfect pouring tea-pot connoisseur recently paid a visit to Craigellachie Hotel and was so impressed with it thought it only proper to share with her favourite luxury travel site.
Read on to find out whether Craigellachie Hotel should be added to your Scottish must-stays.
In 2014 the Craigellachie Hotel underwent a major refurbishment taking the 1893 building from a forgettable three-star to a very memorable four-star hotel. The £3 million investment has well and truly put this 28 bedroom hotel on the map. Although it is owned by Piers Adam who runs glitzy London celeb-hangouts Mahiki and Whisky Mist, it retains all its charm and character of a grandiose Victorian mansion.
Located in Speyside, the heart of the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by some of the country’s finest whisky distilleries. As I drove over the Forth Road Bridge, up past Perth, and hit the Highlands, somehow all my cares were left behind. A pit stop at the Ralia Cafe gave us a moment to breathe in the freshest of air and to pause to enjoy the stunning scenes of rolling hills that make Scotland so beautiful.
Pulling into the little village of Craigellachie, I parked outside and was greeted by Sonia, a delightful receptionist, who was quick to tell us that I’d arrived slap bang in the middle of whisky cocktail hour. So it was a case of dumping the bags and heading down to the traditional whisky bar, The Quaich.
The Bar and Lounge
I’m not a huge whisky connoisseur, but I am very much a cocktail connoisseur and when in Rome… With an impressive array of over 750 whiskies on offer, this cocktail which I was told by the barman Mark, didn’t have a name, but will now be referred to as a MacMuddle, slipped down very nicely. A muddle of local Scottish strawberries, Macallan whisky and egg white amongst the ingredients, and it was an absolute winner. To confirm my initial suspicions, I had a second, and yes, I’d been converted.
For a change of scene I’d relocated to the sitting room for round two. The Quaich has a very traditional feel, loads of wood and leather, very apt for the setting. However, it was the sitting room, that I had real house-envy. The attention to detail that had gone into the refurb, the quality of fabrics – this was no ‘lick of paint’. This was a massive overhaul. The array of inviting sofas and arm chairs, with well upholstered footstools, interspersed with some classic Georgian antique furniture created a living area I’d happily transport south.
The pub under the hotel, The Copper Dog, is known for its live music from Scottish bands, its cosy setting and hearty pub menu, with all ingredients sourced locally. The diners seemed particularly keen on fish dishes, which made up half of the ‘classic’ section on the menu – but then it was (Fishy) Friday. The Lossiemouth lobster looked like a challenge for my next visit, while the 18oz T-Bone steak will always be a step too far! Drawing in locals and Highland holiday makers, The Copper Dog would be a hit in any UK city.
The creative interior designers didn’t shy away from breaking some cardinal rules when they set upon The Craigellachie Hotel. Traditional, antique furniture, painted in a range of Annie Sloan-style colours, would certainly get Pinterest users excited. And it worked. My four poster, retained the beautiful traditional carving but a willowy green covered what I can only assume would have been a mahogany frame in its former life. Mixed in with these updated pieces were great hunks of antique wardrobes and tables, which retained their charming creaky sounds, as I delved in to find my robe. The website says it “combines low key luxury with home comforts”. Sadly a cashmere topped mattress is not a home comfort in my house but for one night, that combined with the fresh Highland air, left the batteries fully charged.
The breakfast room was my favourite. The pastel blue tub chairs gave the room a relaxed feel, while the menu was a delicious blend of the naughty and nice. I went over the top on the continental table, but also squeezed in a freshly blended Tropical Cleansing Juice to counteract the calories. Their promise of locally sourced ingredients extends to their breakfast menu as well with smoked salmon from Sutherland, Achiltibuie kippers and sausages from Elgin also featuring.
True to their word, you will also find locally produced tablet, accessories, like a woolen rug by Johnston’s of Elgin and a decanter of Speyside whisky in the luxe rooms. Four-legged friends are also provided with beds on request – I didn’t ascertain whether they too received cashmere mattress toppers… However it’s the truly Scottish hospitality, led by the friendly face of managing director, Kevin Smith with his two canine sidekicks Ella and Alfie, that really makes you feel so welcome.
According to a certain newspaper, which I embarrassingly admit to having purused from time to time for celeb goss, Kate Moss, Noel Gallagher, Nick Grimshaw and Sadie Frost, have all made the trip up to a star-studded party or two.
I stayed in a Snug room where prices start from £160 per room per night.
Their website says, “When you arrive we want you to feel at home, when you leave we want you to feel like you can’t wait to return.” I’m already looking at dates for a winter escape to see all those peat-burning fireplaces in action.
Find Out More
Address: Craigellachie Hotel, Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Speyside, AB38 9SR
Tel: +44 (0) 1340 881 204