The Fife Arms, which opened in 2018 and is owned by art dealers and gallerists, Iwan and Manuela Wirth, was the only independent Scottish business to win at these awards. They’re held by hospitality magazine, The Caterer, and designed to “recognise the most talented individuals, resilient brands and strongest performers”. The other hotels on the shortlist alongside The Fife Arms were London’s The Athenaeum, Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire and Swinton Park, North Yorkshire.
As part of the award ceremony, which took place at Grosvenor House in London on September 7, top gongs included a Special Award for chef Angela Hartnett, and Knightsbridge hotel, The Berkeley, took home the Group Hotel of the Year Award.
“We are honoured to have been awarded the Independent Hotel of the Year Award at this year’s Cateys,” says The Fife Arms’ general manager, Marc Denton. “The last year has been extremely challenging for our industry, however, to win this prestigious award is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our team. The team is what makes The Fife Arms what it is today – they bring the magic and generous warmth for which the hotel is renowned – and this award gives us great enthusiasm to grow and develop our team even further.”
The judges at The Cateys came to their conclusion after assessing the hotels’ achievements in the past year, which include staffing policies, marketing and creative positioning, environmental and corporate social responsibility, as well as performance during the relatively short time that hotels have been able to operate.
The 46-room dog friendly Fife Arms managed to reopen in May this year. Back in April, the property also won the Ian Shepherd Award at the Aberdeenshire Architectural and Landscape Design Awards, which were announced by HRH Duke of Rothesay.
Its facilities include their restaurants, which are also open to non-residents. There’s The Clunie Dining Room, as well as The Flying Stag, which features a taxidermy stag with white wings attached, and The Drawing Room. There’s also Elsa’s Bar, named after Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who regularly holidayed in the village of Braemar.
This year also saw the opening of a new bar called Bertie’s, in reference to historical figure and bon viveur, King Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s eldest son. It offers a library of 365 whiskies - one for each day of the year - and is designed so that the bottles, which are divided by flavour profile, are presented like books on shelves. The bartenders are presented as ‘librarians’.
The themed bedrooms include Nature & Poetry rooms, Victoriana Suites and Scottish Culture bedrooms with decor inspired by figures of philosophy, including doctor Elsie Inglis.
In 2019, a reviewer visited for Scotland on Sunday’s travel pages, describing The Fife Arms as somewhere “where celebrities and hill-walkers can happily coincide”.