Budget or boutique?
Despite the décor being very traditional – uninspiring but smart – it is comfortable, intimate and feels more like an independent hotel than part of a chain. Think Highland hunting lodge rather than modern corporate clone. With leather chesterfield sofas galore and Highland landscape prints on the walls it feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The on-site restaurant has two AA rosettes and is a fine dining experience. We’re not even in the Budget ballpark.
Our family room comprised a king-size bed with two singles, but there was still ample room for all our toys, suitcases, potty etc, and space for the children to play. We had a TV with Freeview and an en-suite bathroom with a luxuriously deep bath and separate walk-in power shower. The heavy curtains were truly blackout for the soundest of sleeps.
Despite a couple of niggles (including room service we hadn’t ordered being delivered at midnight, and being billed for it to boot) the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating.
Wining and dining
On my birthday night we decided to splash out and eat in the Grill Room. This is a formal restaurant, but Reuben, four, and Sarah, two, were made to feel very welcome. The waiting staff were brilliant at entertaining them while we perused the menus.
After we had demolished some imaginative entrées, for main course I had the heavenly beer-glazed duck with caramelised pear, parsnip, candied walnuts, pak choi and game jus. As usual my wife went for the sirloin steak, 28 days matured, with hand-cut chips, onions, tomatoes and red onion chutney.
A special treat was my sticky toffee pudding, with a birthday greeting written in chocolate – though my wife wouldn’t have swapped it for her dreamy rum parfait, caramelised white chocolate, dulce de leche and caramel sauce.
Our supremely fussy children both had the fish and chips from the kids menu, but with the addition of “off-menu” gravy, which the staff were happy to arrange. The food was presented as you would expect for an adult meal, which was refreshing.
Breakfast was of the high quality we have come to expect from Macdonald hotels. There was a good selection of continental options, plus a separate station for ‘free-from’ foods.
Worth getting out of bed for
On the journey north we stopped at Kincraig to see Hamish the polar bear cub and other animal friends at the wonderful Highland Wildlife Park. The Landmark Adventure Park in Carrbridge is also a stone’s throw away and we spent a day there, whooshing down water-slides, getting lost in the labyrinth and blowing our tiny minds in the Wonder Wood and Bamboozleum – a world of optical illusions and reality-altering exhibits.
A highlight of the trip was our two-hour Contemplation Cruise of Loch Ness with Jacobite Cruises, aboard the Jacobite Rebel departing from the charming Dochgarroch. The commentary was fabulously light-hearted and interesting, and as it was my birthday, the crew burst into song for me and I even got a shot at being captain.
I was delighted to read that 71 per cent of all profit made by the hotel chain is donated to their charity, The Macdonald Foundation, which helps young people to reach their potential and older people in need. Birthday chocolates and balloons were left in the room for me on our return from the cruise.
A quiet and comfortable retreat with friendly staff to make your stay extra special.
Prices are from £160 B&B based on double occupancy. To book a legendary Loch Ness cruise, from £14, visit www.jacobite.co.uk or call 01463 233 999. Macdonald Drumossie Hotel, Old Perth Rd, Inverness IV2 5BE (0344 879 9017, www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-drumossie-hotel)