This was our first stay at the Craiglynne Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey though we have passed the hotel many, many times and always noted we were keen to stay there in the wonderful area it is situated in.
Circumstances meant it was a truly last-minute booking – the night before we went for a two night stay. I booked through easy-breaks, a company we very happily use regularly for weekends away. On this occasion I telephoned rather than making an online booking, as after reading some reviews about poky rooms at the back of the Craiglynne with no views at all, I wanted to ensure we had a front facing room, if possible. That was possible with the supplement of £10 per night, and as the deal was a great value one, I was happy to add the £20 when booking.
We arrived at Craiglynne around 6pm, and immediately noted how parked up the hotel was – nose to tail vehicles right along both side of the driveway in front, but we did manage to find the last space at the rear of the hotel, by the kitchen.
Our welcome at reception was friendly and we were checked in and heading to Room 138 very quickly. It was located on the first floor, (there is thankfully a lift), but it is then a very long walk away along endless corridors with various twists and turns, steps and doors, so not everyone would welcome that hike to their room.
Room 138 was certainly at the front of the hotel, but oh how disappointingly tiny the room was, plus the terrible damp smell in the bathroom was most unpleasant....and the view from the bedroom was drastically spoilt by the double glazing being steamed up between the glass. I’m not sure which was most disappointing – the dreadful lack of space, the smell or the very blurred view. The floor boards were desperately creaky too. As some others had mentioned in relation to rooms they’ve stayed in, the window frame was also a terribly poor fit and there was a tremendous draught coming in all around it – maybe okay in April, less so in December or January, I’d guess.
However, having booked late and having been accommodated at the front as requested, we decided to stay put, and not ask for a change of room, but I very seriously objected to the £10 a night for a view we couldn’t see at all well.
When we had arrived we had spotted the car belonging to friends’ and sure enough, unbeknown to us, they were indeed there, and had stayed many times previously. On this occasion they had a super front facing room with large bay window, but they did confirm they’ve been accommodated in other less well-appointed rooms in the past than the one they’d been given on this visit.
We booked our dinner for 8pm, and came down around 7.35pm to have a pre-dinner drink. There was quite a queue at the bar, and only one barman servings so I think it was about 7.55pm before we obtained our drinks, so we had to take them in to dinner with us, as 8pm is the last seating time.
We then promptly spent around 12 MINUTES standing at the lectern to check-in to the restaurant after that - drinking as we waited, and waving to our friends who had already booked to dine at 7pm that night. I cannot stand for long periods and the barman offered me a chair to wait on! Eventually my husband deemed we should just pick a table and sit down, but of course we were moved when a waiter did finally see us. Almost everyone was suffering the same slow restaurant welcome that night, and the service was also rather erratic.
We thought the menu was excellent for the great value cost of the D, B & B rate. The food was all very good – just a pity very large dollops of mashed potatoes seems to be the order of the day with EVERY main course.
The lounge area is very comfortable and along with the bar area seems to accommodate everyone who wants to sit on a while with a drink or a coffee after dinner, as the hotel was quite full, but many had clearly gone to bed in anticipation of an early start the following day.
At breakfast time next morning we once again encountered the lengthy wait to be checked in again – an improvement to just about 9/10 minutes on that occasion. Worth it though perhaps, as the breakfast is wonderful – all the normal choices plus things like Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine and Finnan Haddie. Unfortunately my husband’s request to swap black pudding and haggis for a second egg instead failed to be met on the first morning, but was met on the second morning, when he emphasised he wasn’t wanting extra, just to swap two offered items for one! I had the divine Eggs Benedict both days – perfectly done.
We had less trouble initially at the bar on the second evening, but that was short-lived as an attempt to obtain a second drink took two visits to the bar as a very lengthy queue formed, but eventually it had to be joined. As the only barman appears to double as the restaurant’s wine waiter, what a difference a second pair of hands would undoubtedly make from 7pm-9pm. It seems that like many other establishments, the Craiglynne is operating with minimum staff.
After no wait at all at the lectern to be seated for dinner the second night, it was spoiled by the four of us not managing to order wine until we had eaten our starters and our main courses had arrived. We then ordered a red wine and the barman brought us a white wine, so we were half way through our mains before the correct wine came. Once again we all enjoyed our meals, but for the salmon main course not being terribly hot and the inevitable mash accompanying all main courses. Our after dinner drinks were a challenge too, as the barman he didn’t seem at all familiar with the whiskies – almost pouring Laphroaig when I asked for Lagavulin.
The second morning we had only a slight wait as there was a bit of confusion when we came down for breakfast because our two rooms had chosen to share a table for 4, and once again all four of us had fantastic breakfasts. The service was better, as it had slightly been the night before. Either more staff or fewer guests, or both.
All in all I would recommend the Craiglynne, and would certainly consider staying there again, primarily as there are some extremely good value deals around for the hotel, and it is positioned in a super area of the Scotland. I have indeed catalogued the numerous niggles we had, but I really would hope that if we returned there again, there might well be some improvements on these disappointing issues we encountered this time around.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Old world charm at the newly restored The Craiglynne Hotel. Our Victorian granite hotel, situated under the majestic Cairngorms, has just been restored and refurbished to the highest standards. With 82 stylish rooms and superb grounds, relaxing here during your stay is irresistible; however we also highly recommend visiting the beautiful villages, mountains, rivers and forests nearby. After a day exploring, there's nothing better than sinking into an armchair by one of our roaring log fires to share stories of Lochness, Inverness and the hugely popular whisky trail. When you are looking for hotels in Grantown-on-Spey, near Aviemore, stay with us and be one of the first to enjoy our restored hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Crerar Craiglynne
- The Craiglynne Hotel Grantown-On-Spey, Scotland