Meldrum House Country Hotel and Golf Course, Inverurie
Meldrum House Country Hotel and Golf Course is one of those places in the North-East that is so universally loved that people come over all warm when they talk about it. To go there is a source of pride. To say anything bad about it would be like admitting you didn’t like your granny, chocolate or Christmas.
It was time to put popular opinion to the test, and on a freezing dark night in deepest Shire, we soaked up the drama of the long approach to this historic country house, before being greeted at reception, auspiciously, with hot chocolate, as our freezing faces adjusted to the glow of the log fire raging against the night.
Parts of this hotel are around 800 years old but it also has a modern wing, built for the wedding market. With its fine country backdrop, including a wee loch and swans, it’s a photogenic spot.
Our room in the annexe – The Turrets – was accessed by time-smoothed stone stairs leading up from the cobbles. We could almost hear the clatter of hooves and the
scuff of old boots as we ascended.
One of the most desired rooms in the hotel thanks to its age and character, for me it was a bit too stuck in the past. The fixed stares of the many portraits – mainly army officers and ladies with bosoms and ringlets – became unnerving after a while. The large room also featured antique furniture and bookcase paper on one wall with a glorious, Princess and the Pea proportioned bed covered in quality white linens.
Off either side were two tiny turret rooms, probably used for dressing in the past, but on this night they were cold inlets where you wouldn’t want to strip to your smalls. A heavy curtain over the door would have been welcome on a sub-zero night, but a small decanter of Glen Garioch whisky provided a tiny nip for warmth and the woman on the wall gave us a wee smile as we left for dinner.
Budget or boutique?
Meldrum House is grand, traditional and imposing in parts, modern, neutral and full of light in others. Old money meets new, like much of Aberdeenshire. Professionally run, friendly staff strive to make your stay a good one.
Wining and dining
The big news is the revamped restaurant. Pineapple harks back to the days when a gift of the exotic fruit from distant shores signalled friendship and respect.
A deep palette with gilt accents creates a shimmer of affluence and it’s a desirable place to settle for a couple of hours. The gem of a restaurant manager talked us through the menu which was an encyclopedia of local producers.
Classic starters included pumpkin velouté with toasted seeds and truffle crème fraîche. Among the mains were beauties such as grouse, Strathdon Blue and game chips and Peterhead lemon sole with watercress purée.
We were recommended the Donside to Deeside tasting board of steak (£90) which brought together fillet, sirloin and a piece of rump from an Aberdeenshire Highland cow. My friend, who is a total meat head and tore through it with gusto, still thinks about that course, especially the smokey bourbon butter, one of four sauces on the side.
The Cave Bar 1293, where you can relax till late, is an atmospheric space in a 13th-century store room with remarkably good bar staff. One was a cocktail magician, such was his sleight of hand with an egg and a lemon.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is known for its well-regarded golf course and walks around the 20-acre estate, with Glen Garioch Distillery around a mile away, Haddo House, a William Adam mansion with an impressive art collection, five miles, and Fyvie Castle seven miles away. Aberdeen is about 30 minutes down the road.
Truffles and personalised notes in the room, gowns and slippers, and the rainfall shower was a joy.
Guest book comments
A fine stay in an atmospheric house. Great food and staff but some of the décor, furniture and paintings could do with a little refashioning.
Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course, prices start from £165 per double room and full Scottish breakfast.
Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire AB51 0AE (01651 872294, www.meldrumhouse.com)