Ardoe House Hotel gives Courtney Cameron a taste of the high life on Royal Deeside
The Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel sits gracefully at the top of a hill, surrounded by acres of majestic grounds, watching over the River Dee.
Situated just three miles from the city of Aberdeen, this grand Victorian edifice allows one to imagine what a life of luxury may have been like, once upon a time.
Hidden from the main road, its lofty spire, crenelated tower and grand turrets encourage visitors to imagine they have become royal, or certainly VIPs, as they cross the threshold.
Indeed, on entering the reception area, it becomes clear that the hotel’s interiors are based upon those of nearby Balmoral Castle. Yet despite the elegant staircase, dignified halls and expensive paintings, Ardoe House has a warmth that makes you feel at home almost immediately.
After exploring the hotel, finding a ballroom which can be used as a function suite and a conservatory, often used for weddings, offering stunning views of the countryside, it’s time to discover the hotel’s culinary choices.
The Laird’s Bar, also known as Soapie’s, is perfect for those who want an informal bite. Situated at the front of the property, with a large bay window and crackling fire, this space is perfect for relaxing and catching up with friends and family.
Its menu offers a range of choices – including sandwiches, cheeseburgers, steaks and a selection of upmarket dishes.
I opted for the venison sausages with Arran mustard and sloe gin, which was tasty and served beautifully. I followed it with a dessert of sticky toffee pudding and clotted ice cream – which was delicious.
For a more formal evening, or a romantic meal, the Blairs Restaurant is the second option.
With first-class service from the waiters and a high-class menu, the food available in this dining space explores a mix of modern European combined with Asian fusion.
I was served a juicy lamb shank accompanied by sweet potato mash, while my partner enjoyed a mouth-watering sirloin steak, with chunky chips. Afterwards, we sampled exclusive Ardoe Hotel desserts as we chatted in the dimmed lights of the elegant space.
By morning the Blairs Restaurant had been transformed into a bright breakfast area, offering multiple plates of hot food choices, including Stornoway black pudding, succulent pork sausages, smoked back bacon and fried eggs. If nothing from the breakfast buffet tickled your tastebuds, alternative options were also available from a menu – including fresh omelettes, smoked kippers and porridge.
After spending a morning exploring Ardoe’s 30-acre estate, full of lush greenery and breathtaking views, it was time to grab our robes and slippers and make our way to the spa.
Located in a separate building, just yards from the hotel, Spa Naturel Fitness offers guests the choice of a variety of indulgent treatments – including massages, facials and beauty appointments. As well a steam room, sauna, and a large Jacuzzi, guests can take a dip in the 18m heated swimming pool and take time to unwind.
With comfortable loungers pool-side we took the opportunity to kick back and relax. Leaf through a magazine or simply lie there, and let your batteries recharge. (If you’d rather work out than lie about there’s also a fully equipped gym.)
A drink in the hotel’s whisky lounge is the perfect way to end the day before retreating to your luxurious bedroom. This is when the sense of regal entitlement kicks in once more – surely I must always have carpets that I can sink my toes into, and if I can’t have George Clooney himself, I’ll settle for a Nespresso machine so I can brew my own cup of coffee. I love that the television is so large it’s almost like a cinema screen. The ten privilege rooms really live up to their name – it’s a privilege to spend the night here in a bed fit for the Queen.
It’s hard to believe the Ardoe House Hotel is just short drive from Aberdeen. The country house location and atmosphere really makes you feel you’re in the middle of nowhere. Ardoe House offers first-class service, luxurious accommodation and beautiful food in a serene setting, all year round.
• Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel, South Deeside Road, Blairs, Aberdeen, tel: 01224 398801, www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-6626mercure-aberdeen-ardoe-houseindex.shtml A night in a classic room with dinner and B&B starts from £169 per night. Privilege rooms including dinner and B&B start from £194 per night.