Travel: TorNaCoille Country House Hotel, Banchory

TorNaCoille Country House Hotel, Banchory, Royal Deeside
TorNaCoille Country House Hotel, Banchory, Royal Deeside
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Do Not Disturb, Scotland on Sunday

The TorNaCoille is a wonderful place to unwind

The journey from Edinburgh did not go well. Although it was late summer, the monsoons had arrived and we managed to miss the turning off the A90 for Banchory and ended up on the outskirts of Aberdeen. Although Alexis was responsible for directions, as I was driving and we don’t do satnav, I got the blame, which is normal. Minor marital disagreement over, though, we eventually arrived at the hotel, and once found it’s fair to say that the TorNaCoille is not easily forgotten.

One of the newly refurbished bedrooms at TorNaCoille Country House Hotel, Banchory

One of the newly refurbished bedrooms at TorNaCoille Country House Hotel, Banchory

Budget or boutique?

Definitely boutique, but in a country house setting.

Room service

On its website, the TorNaCoille calls itself the premier hotel on Royal Deeside, and certainly the hotel’s 25 luxury rooms, all now refurbished, live up to the billing. Stylishly decorated in light blue, we could not help but be impressed by ours. With beautiful wood panelling, an ornate open fire that we were tempted to light given the weather, and the largest bed we’ve ever slept in, the room managed the difficult task of combining a sense of awe at your surroundings with an even greater sense of calm and relaxation. As a place to lay your head, it took some beating.

Wining and dining

We had hoped to eat al fresco in the beautiful gardens that surround the hotel – the TorNaCoille, rather optimistically, offers this facility “on those rare warm, sunny days and nights” – but the weather made that impossible. We had dinner in the restaurant instead, and what a pleasant experience it proved.

The restaurant is light and airy and has views of the gardens and the countryside beyond. The food, all beautifully presented, was lovely too. The highlight for me was my main course, Beef “Two Ways”, a combination of seared loin and slow-cooked featherblade, which was prepared to perfection.

There was plenty of choice for Alexis, a vegetarian, and she was similarly effusive about her main course, a risotto cake of black olives, basil and pine nuts. The wine list was comprehensive but reasonably priced, and the puddings – a chocolate nut brownie for me and lemon posset for Alexis – went down a treat.

Add to that service both friendly and attentive without being overbearing and you had an evening that left both of us ready to flop into the comfy armchairs in the hotel lounge for post-dinner coffees.

Worth getting out of bed for

The following morning, after a splendid full Scottish breakfast, we set out on the 50-minute journey, through some breathtaking countryside, to Balmoral, the royals’ residence, and spent a day exploring the grounds and gardens of this spectacular palace.

If you didn’t want to travel so far, though, there are plenty of things to do much closer to Banchory, including a visit to the River Dee’s Falls of Feugh, a short walk from the town centre, and Crathes Castle, a stunning 16th-century tower house. There is also a farmers’ market in Banchory every third Saturday of the month.

Guestbook comments

The TorNaCoille is a wonderful place to unwind and has a bright future under management that took over the hotel just a year ago – which is, perhaps, more than we can say about Brexit.

Little extras

For someone with a sweet tooth like me, a small box of chocolates in the room on arrival was a welcoming gesture much appreciated.

Paul Greaves

Bed and breakfast starts from £85 per night, but see the Facebook page for special offers at en-gb.facebook.com/Tornacoille. TorNaCoille Country House Hotel, Inchmarlo Road, Banchory AB31 4AB (01330 822242, www.tornacoille.com)