ONLY 30 minutes from Aberdeen and set in glorious Aberdeenshire countryside, the four-star Meldrum House is a world away from the bustling granite city.
Driving east from Inverness through beautiful scenery and traditional villages, the sight of the gates to this spectacular estate got our hearts pumping with anticipation. Following the driveway, we meandered past the golf course before catching our first glimpse of the grand country house, parts of which date back to the 13th century. We were just in time to see a newlywed bride and groom emerge from the house and disappear into the picture-perfect grounds for some snaps. Then after fighting our way through the throng of well-heeled wedding guests in the reception lobby, we checked in for our two-night stay.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
We were led across the courtyard by a friendly member of staff to the converted stables and into a stunning room with modern Scottish designer decor. It was generously proportioned, with a floor-to-ceiling view across the courtyard to the main house. Not your run-of-the-mill hotel, Meldrum House is definitely a boutique destination.
WINING AND DINING
The hotel has a fine dining restaurant which serves local produce and boasts two AA rosettes. As we were with our four-month old baby Reuben, we opted to have a quick aperitif in the wonderfully snug Cave Bar followed by an early dinner. With a wide selection of wines and spirits on offer we decided a swift G&T was in order before heading to the restaurant.
An impressive dinner menu left us spoilt for choice – our taste buds were well and truly tantalised. I opted for the asparagus and leek parcel with Parmesan foam and orange essence to start, while my partner had the salt roasted duck breast with pickled greens and smoked onion jam. For my main course I went for the fillet steak while my partner chose Aberdeenshire lamb with spinach, basil purée and sweet carrots.
We were halfway through this delicious food when our son started wailing. But the attentive waiter rushed over and offered help while my partner took Reuben into the tranquil lounge next door. While she was away, the restaurant kindly kept her meal warm, replacing the accompaniments when she was ready to eat again. Eventually we retired, happy, to our room with full bellies, a drink from the bar and a sleeping baby.
With an enormous comfy bed draped in luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets, stylish armchairs and table, a large TV, iPod dock, tasty room service menu and opulent bathroom with Arran Aromatics toiletries, there is no need to leave the room. It’s true, we were able to hear the distant sound of a lively wedding in full swing in a marquee behind the main house, but we weren’t disturbed by the noise. In fact, we quite enjoyed the cheesy disco sounds drifting in the evening air.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Hotel residents benefit from access to the exclusive, championship golf course, one of the finest in Aberdeenshire. With stunning scenery and wildlife, it is one of the few luxury, private courses in Scotland longer than 7,000 yards, and with a selection of tee positions it is ideal for golfers of all abilities.
The quaint and historic town of Oldmeldrum (with the motto “mean, speak and do well”) is only a 15-minute walk away. Here you will find the most easterly, and one of the oldest, working whisky distilleries in Scotland, Glen Garioch (pronounced geery in the local Doric dialect), which dates back to 1797. The distillery has a visitor centre and a total staff of just six produces this beautiful whisky.
Aberdeen is only 17 miles away and well worth a visit. For shopping we checked out Union Square’s new upmarket retail and leisure complex. In the glorious sunshine, we took the little one for a walk in Aberdeen’s iconic green space, Duthie Park. First opened in 1883, it is currently under discreet restoration to return it to its former glory.
GUEST BOOK COMMENTS
Meldrum House is a splendidly relaxing retreat with friendly and attentive staff always at hand to make your stay as smooth as possible.
Superior double with bed and breakfast is £195 per night. Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire AB51 0AE, Tel: 01651 872294