Hotel Review: The Craigellachie, Speyside
In the heart of whisky and shortbread country with its beautiful bens and glens, there's a haven with warm fires and a warm welcome.
The Craigellachie, Speyside
The Craigellachie hotel just outside Aberlour is set in the middle of Scotland’s treasures – from the glories of the Spey and Fiddich rivers to the products that give those names immediate international recognition. There are bens and glens, beaches and forests for those who want to get out and about in nature – and there are warm fires and cosy armchairs for those who prefer their creature comforts.
Covid precautionsAs you would expect, all the staff are masked and hand sanitisers are dotted liberally around the 26-bedroom hotel. Rather than room keys being handed over on arrival, they are all sealed in envelopes and popped in their own doocot by reception.
Inside the room, the kettle and tea tray – as well as the hairdryer and iron – are all cleaned (and labelled as such) for each guest’s arrival.To prevent staff going into spaces unnecessarily – unless you specifically request it – your room won’t be cleaned daily, although they’ll cheerfully supply additional coffee pods and shortbread if you run out.
The breakfast buffet is much smaller than you would have encountered previously – with just cereals and fruit juices available. However, you can order hot dishes – bacon rolls alongside poached eggs and a particularly fabulous mushrooms on toast. Other breakfast dishes are available, but they would be in addition to your bed and breakfast rate.
Budget or boutique?The hotel’s stated intention is to make you feel at home, and it’s certainly comfortable enough. While they do use the tartans and plaids of your traditional Scottish country house hotel, these are all in light, modern shades so no part of the building feels dark or oppressive.
Room serviceOur room had breathtaking views out over the over Elchies Woods and stunning Scottish countryside and the wonderfully comfortable painted four poster bed allowed us a perfect place to luxuriate as we soaked it all in. Egyptian cotton bed linen and local Johnstons of Elgin accessories feature in the rooms. There is complimentary tea and coffee and toiletries by Noble Isle (-araben and cruelty-free, with bathrobes provided. We also had large chaise-style armchairs designed for curling up with a good book, a good dram – or both. There is complimentary wifi throughout hotel for entertainment and those who need to catch up on their work emails.
Wining and diningGiven the hotel’s location, it is unsurprising that there is a whisky bar – what is surprising is the sheer number of whiskies on offer in The Quaich. Selling itself – not unreasonably – as the world’s best whisky bar, they have over 900 single malts available. A very pleasant hour or two can be whiled away sipping a dram in front of the fire.
Covid has meant that the once bustling Copper Dog restaurant is much quieter – but there is still a steady stream of locals and hotel guests coming in to sample the delights on offer, with a staunch commitment to using local produce, which is easy when you are in the heart of Scotland’s larder with fresh game, fish, fruit and vegetables in plentiful supply. Courses range from £8 for a beautiful West Coast prawn cocktail to £38 for a delicious Speyside fillet steak.
Worth getting out of bed forThe lovely village of Aberlour is a short walk from the hotel along a well lit, well maintained path, mainly alongside the river Spey.
The town is world famous for two things, and only one of them is whisky. The other is Walkers shortbread – the firm produces more than half of all the shortbread exported from Scotland. There is a large gift shop on the High Street to give you your chance to snap up the rest.
If you fancy something more outdoorsy and athletic – you’ve got to do something to offset that whisky and shorbread - there are many golf courses and fishing beats aplenty in these parts. Just ask at the hotel reception for more information on these or a wealth of other activities. In more normal times there would be a choice of famous distilleries to tour – Macallan and Aberlour are the closest to the hotel – but most are currently unavailable, although the gift shops are in the main still open for you to pick up samples and souvenirs so don’t worry about missing your malt.
Little extrasAll the rooms have digital radios as well as TV and that fabulous Walkers shortbread is in plentiful supply on the tea trays in the rooms. But it is the staff that are the main draw of this hotel. They are unfailingly polite and helpful and always amenable to guiding you through all the current covid constraints and helping out with those pesky items you forgot to pack. Several of the rooms also have access to dog beds for the four-legged guests who will enjoy the many hiking and walking routes that surround the hotel.
Guestbook commentsThis is exactly how I would want my home away from home to be. Luxurious yet relaxed and exceptionally welcoming.
Prices Rooms start £105 for a single, £120 for a double, including breakfast. The Craigellachie, Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Speyside AB38 9SR, 01340 881 204, www.craigellachiehotel.co.uk