Braemar, Scotland

Braemar, Scotland

The Why

For Highland Games enthusiasts, and Greater and Lesser Royal spotters, September is the time to come. For the rest of us, the tranquility and wonderful hill walking, are the antidote to a busy work schedule during the rest of the year. Truth be told, there are countless other places to walk, which are just as nice, but this is only one, with the Fife Arms Hotel!

The Fife Arms Hotel

A no expense spared, designer led renovation and extension of this former 19c coaching inn in the Cairngorms National Park, has created a very good reason to come back time and again to this beautiful part of Scotland.

To refer to The Fife Arms a ‘hotel’ is doing it less than justice.  But before the Picasso in the sitting room, the Lucien Freud in reception, and other artwork on display, the important bits. The staff are attired in immaculate Scottish tartan, designed by Edinburgh based Scottish textile artist, Araminta Campbell (and also see the designs on the walls - also in Araminta’s tartan). Apart from looking the part, they are welcoming, efficient, well drilled and knowledgeable. The beds are super comfortable, and the pillows finest goose down.  We stayed in a room at the lower end of the price spectrum, room 5, ‘Geography’, which was quiet and perfectly adequate for two. The bathroom is a reasonable size with a (very) high pressure shower over the bath.

The spacious village pub on the ground floor, is priced to retain local custom. The bar food comprises ingredients sourced locally, as does the restaurant menu. A modern range has been installed in the open kitchen off the dining room, with Magnus the chef brought in from a Swedish restaurant to train the team on wood fired cooking. The lightly smoked oyster as an amuse bouche, was outstanding, as were the fresh langoustines, also cooked over wood.  Breakfast is included in the price, with porridge - obviously, home made jams, eggs cooked to order, Stornaway black pudding from Charles Macleod - simply the best, and excellent quality artisan breads.  Just off the restaurant is the cocktail bar, and somewhere unseen, the laboratory where they process the locally foraged herbs and plants, to create their own bitters and cocktail menu. Bravo and encore!  There is a boot room, a small gym, massage and yoga, magnificent private dining facilities, a party room which will readily accommodates a Highland Fling for 30. I could happily have stayed for a week, and the ultimate test and compliment, I cannot wait to go back. I will let the photos do the rest of the talking!

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