No.1’s Features Editor, Sophie Lambert, heads north for a weekend of luxe relaxation…
While a trip to sunnier climes may be the ultimate way to banish winter blues, my visit to Royal Deeside’s gateway proved that a Scottish staycation boasts just as many healing properties.
From the collection of brightly coloured Hunter wellies at the front door to the merrily crackling fire and friendly welcome at reception, as soon as I entered Banchory Lodge I knew it would be the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some quality time away from the city.
The Georgian hotel is charmingly sprawling with a warren of corridors and steps leading into the nooks and crannies of the historic building. For our trip, we were staying in one the hotel’s Top Notch rooms located at the front of the lodge.
The room itself was almost circular with huge triple windows providing a panoramic view over the hotel grounds and rushing River Dee. The interiors managed to strike the delicate balance between cosy traditional charm and contemporary luxury. Our room was decorated in a tasteful palette of grey and oyster with a bold flower print wallpaper making a stylish statement. Rich silky curtains and an oversized quilted headboard added to the feeling of opulence while a comfortable seating area provided a peaceful spot to sit and soak in that spellbinding view.
The bathroom was also something of a showstopper. Brand spanking new and immaculately clean, the en suite was complete with a free-standing bath, rainfall shower and even a heated mirror to prevent condensation.
The details really are everything and at Banchory Lodge it feels that nothing has been overlooked when it comes to ensuring the rooms are as comfortable as possible. From the wall mounted television that could be angled to ensure the best possible view from bed (does it get any better?) to the cafetiere complete with freshly ground coffee and Tunnock’s caramel logs – this really is Scottish hospitality at its very best.
As unwinding was number one on our weekend break agenda, we were very happy to spend our Saturday afternoon wandering around Banchory centre, which is around a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and enjoying the views from our room. However, for those who prefer a more active break, outdoor pursuits are available a stone’s throw from the front door. The River Dee is considered one of the world’s greatest salmon fishing spots while horse riding and hill walking are perfect ways to make the most of the surroundings.
With a menu that celebrates local produce, I was excited about our evening meal at Banchory Lodge. The friendly and knowledgeable team took us through to the restaurant, which has a relaxed and informal feel despite the grandeur of the space.
To start, my partner and I shared an Ocean Platter which was a generous serving of smoked salmon, mackerel and prawn cocktail. I was then tempted by the Sausage of the Week which was served with creamy mashed potato, greens and a rich gravy. Although full, I decided it would be rude not to sample the set custard dessert which was served with a crisp sugar top and some of the most delightful buttery shortbread.
Waking the following morning in the decadently comfortable bed to the sun peeking through the curtains and the sound of the river rushing beyond really was the definition of bliss.
Breakfast was a mix of traditional offerings as well as more unusual dishes. I chose pancakes which were served with a delicious berry compote while my husband opted for Eggs Hebridean. A twist on the classic Benedict, this was poached eggs on crispy brioche with Hollandaise sauce, Stornoway black pudding and shards of grilled Parma ham which induced a certain level of food envy. Oh well, I know what I will go for on my next visit…