Scotland on Sunday’s Do Not Disturb
A sleepy Highland village is not the first place you’d expect to see the famous faces of Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, but guests at the re-opening of the 19th century Craigellachie Hotel did just that.
The models may have left, but the style and charm have remained. With just 26 rooms, the mustard-coloured building will become a familiar site for those touring the popular malt whisky trail.
Owned by London-based businessman Piers Adams and re-opened in 2015 after a reported £3 million revamp, the hotel is also home to the lively Copper Dog bar (a namesake whisky has been developed by the hotel) and the fabled Quaich Bar, which boasts over 900 single malt whiskies and, style-wise, wouldn’t look out of place in a Wes Anderson film.
Budget or boutique?
Despite the famous clientele and boutique style, this four-star abode won’t break the bank with rooms starting at £155 a night.
The upstairs rooms and public areas are a study in country chic, with furnishings from nearby Johnstons of Elgin. The spacious sitting room has a pastel colour palette with cashmere throws, and while there are still antlers on the walls and hints of tartan, there’s nothing twee here.
Our bedroom has a beautifully painted four-poster bed complete with Egyptian cotton sheets, throws and tweed cushions. The artwork here and between rooms are drawings of dogs by British artist Hugo Guinness – a nod to the hotel’s canine-friendly policy (four-legged friends are allowed everywhere apart from at breakfast). The traditional-style en-suite has a spacious tub with rain shower.
Wining and dining
We arrived on a Friday night to a warm welcome and a busy bar. Booking is essential if you want a meal in Copper Dog, but it’s well worth it. Serving pub grub favourites using Scottish ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong no matter what you choose. We opted for starters of Copper Dog smoked salmon and Scottish oysters served with a whisky and apple vinaigrette, followed by a flat iron steak and the Copper Dog burger. A shared dessert of heather honey cranachan served with whisky mousse, oat praline and Scottish raspberries was a sweet ending to a comforting meal.
If you don’t fancy staying in Copper Dog to enjoy the live music, guests can retreat to the Quaich bar for a late night dram or two.
Boasting a wonderful art deco meets Hollywood look, the walls are all but hidden by bottle upon bottle of whisky. Deep red velvet curtains, matching red leather chairs and soft table lighting add to the luxurious look and feel. There’s also an open fire. If you’re not a whisky buff, the bar staff were helpful and happy to offer suggestions as well as well as make up cocktails.
Breakfast is served in the Copper Dog and offers hearty Scottish fare such as a full Scottish breakfast or porridge, or a light buffet of fruits, cereal and juices.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you love whisky this place is heaven as Speyside is home to more than half of Scottish malt whisky (look out for the pagoda-style chimneys that punctuate the skyline). Nearby you’ll find big name distilleries such as Aberlour, Glenfiddich and the newly opened and revamped Macallan.
The Speyside cooperage is also only about a 15-minute walk away, for those looking to find out more about this age-old craft.
But if you’d rather see sights that aren’t whisky related, there’s salmon fishing and plenty of historic sites – including Brodie Castle – or why not visit Knockando Woolmill and Johnstons of Elgin to bring home some of the hotel’s style?
The Noble Isle toiletries are divine (look out for their whisky and water collection, which uses Scotch from the nearby Balvenie distillery) and the small carafe of Copper Dog whisky and Walkers shortbread (which is baked just over a mile away) is a lovely touch. There’s also a Nespresso machine and Roberts radio.
Ideally located for exploring the malt whisky trail, the Craigellachie has a charm which suits its location.
Rooms start from £155 a night. Craigellachie Hotel, Victoria St, Craigellachie, Speyside AB38 9SR (01340 881 204, www.craigellachiehotel.co.uk)