Sometimes life has surprises. It was 1 May 2012, Scotland, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and I was at the top of Cairngorm Mountain skiing over piles of snow - it gets better, it was midweek and the slopes were quiet!
Such was the setting for my visit to the hotel for a couple of nights earlier this year. Cairngorm Mountain is about 17 miles/30 minutes from Carrbridge and with accommodation in nearby Aviemore proving expensive to arrange I had broadened my search on TA to come up with this option. Gareth, the owner, took the call and booked me in when I’d had a hitch on the internet link.
On arrival I parked at the rear of the property (down a lane by the side of the pub) and after speaking to the friendly Kiwi barmaid I was able to get my key, collect my gear from the car and get settled in. There is a hotel entrance so no need to go through the bar if you don’t want to although there is a link.
The hotel only has 7 rooms, some with and some without ensuite facilities. I think they are all named after rivers rather than numbers - I had a large double with ensuite - called “Livet”. The room faced over the street and as this was quiet during my stay I had no trouble sleeping - the skiing and the hospitality probably helped too. The room was very spacious with a large bay window and was clean and bright. The ensuite by comparison had been “accommodated” without compromising the bedroom space and was very small. However it served the purpose with an electric shower - not very powerful - w.c. and washbasin. The communal bathroom was across the hall from my room and I did hear other guests going in and out at various times but not to the stage of this being annoying. The bedroom had plenty of storage - wardrobe, chest of drawers and bedside cabinets. The double bed was comfortable enough and tea/coffee making facilities were provided. The small television, which had a digi-box of sorts, didn’t work but Gareth did remedy this after I had mentioned the issue. The key to the door was a bit temperamental too but at £38 B&B per night I was perfectly happy with the accommodation.
One of the attractions when booking the hotel was the food which had received good write-ups on TA and I was not disappointed. During my stay I had two evening meals in the bar and two breakfasts in the sun lounge on the ground floor of the hotel. The evening meals were of a very good standard, way beyond expectations in terms of presentation and taste that you would normally expect in a pub. The breakfasts were superb - all very tasty local produce and the only issue was that on one morning I tried to take on porridge and a full Scottish which stretched my salopettes to capacity! I didn’t chance it again on day two. The “inn” appears to be a really popular place with locals as well as visitors and with good food and atmosphere it is not surprising. When I was sitting in the sunshine having a pint at one of the tables outside some guests from a hotel up the road commented that they preferred the fact that the Cairn had a bit of life to it and we were joined by a couple who were fairly local to the area but also travelled here out of preference.
I would guess that the staff are selected to reflect the owner’s friendly approach as I found everyone working in the place to be very pleasant. It’s maybe in the water! As you probably gather I would not hesitate to book again - my grading is based on good food and hospitality rather than plush surroundings - yes, life sometimes has surprises.
p.s. the Artists Studio across the road is worth a visit.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- An authentic Highland inn, full of rustic charm and the perfect base for a tour of the Scottish Highlands and the Cairngorm National Park. Our award winning real ale & whisky bar is the centre of our community, providing a genuinely welcoming atmosphere and a great source of information on what to see and do in the area. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Cairn Hotel Carrbridge, Scotland