Banchory Lodge Hotel, Banchory, Aberdeenshire

If my advance communications with Banchory Lodge was, in any way, representative of what to expect from a stay at this, Grade-II listed Georgian building, I knew that I would not be disappointed.

Helpful, accommodating and obliging, nothing was too much effort for this close team of hospitality professionals. Not least of all, their ability to create a relaxed and very informal atmosphere within this, very beautiful riverside hotel and restaurant.

As is typical of many of the more beautifully remote properties scattered around Scotland, Banchory Lodge sits at the top of a long, tree-lined driveway, at the point where the River Dee is joined by its tributary, The Feugh; and this forms the beautiful backdrop for the equally impressive hotel and its 12 acres of grounds.

Having recently undergone an extensive refurbishment, Banchory now presents as a uniquely dapper and effortlessly stylish establishment, where locals and visitors gather to enjoy the many delights produced in the award-winning kitchen and possibly, one of the 28 newly refurbished rooms.

Retaining many original features, Banchory Lodge displays a unique blend of old and new, putting an unconventional spin on country chic with an array of decorative illustrations and at the helm; a characterful fox, who typifies the hotel; colourful, fun and rather dashing….

Impactful colour is evident throughout the hotel, where guests are welcomed by an assortment of brightly hued wellington boots; practical yet hugely fun and there to be utilised by those who wish to venture down to the river when the ground underfoot is rather damp!

A brave use of unconventional wallpaper also adds to the off-the-wall nature of the hotel and restaurant; both clever and stylish; it effortlessly blends the modern with the traditional in this centuries old, historic property.

And Banchory Lodge is aptly set, as historic places and properties are prolific in the surrounding countryside; ancient castles, traditional Scottish architecture and royal connections, sitting in the heart of Royal Deeside.

A great pride in their rare and special place is obvious from the Banchory team, who display great professionalism and a genuine joy, dressed in a relaxed and informal, yet stylish uniform. Warm service within the restaurant is exceptional and very attentive; between the main restaurant with garden and river views to the more informal bar area with neat booths, a great wine list and practiced sommelier – the perfect mix for a great evening and no surprise that Banchory Lodge has won ‘Best Restaurant Experience of the Year” for several years in a row.

In addition to hotel guests, diners travel for miles to sample Head Chef, Fraser Rodman’s seasonal menu. Taking great care to source local ingredients, his menu reflects the locality with fabulous picks from land and sea.

Dishes include a Fruits of the Sea sharing platter as well as a seafood section with lobster, mussels and oysters. A special chargrilled meat section boasts only the finest Aberdeen Angus steaks, burgers and a Tomahawk of pork. The speciality is a stunning Cote de Boeuf for two, served with a choice of sauces, salad and fries. To finish, choose from Eton Mess, chocolate cake or share a rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream and proper custard.

The Dee can only add to the inspiration from the surrounding countryside and is also a prime destination for keen fishermen visiting the hotel. One of the world’s greatest salmon rivers, fishing days can be arranged, on the Banchory Fishing Beat.

Most outdoor pastimes are actively encouraged from the hotel, due to the easily accessible sports of fishing and hunting and the stunning scenery, which forms the perfect location for family walks.

The fresh Deeside air would provide a cure for any insomniac; that, doubled with a roaring log fire on return to the hotel and a well-chosen bedtime whisky proved to be the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep. Not to mention the fact that my four-poster was probably one of the most comfortable beds….ever, allowed me to wake, refreshed and unfortunately ready to leave after a short, nonetheless, blissful stay.

Not before a proper Scottish breakfast and another opportunity to gaze at the river views and visiting wildlife. Bidding farewell and setting off down the long driveway; thoughts of returning were forefront as Banchory Lodge and all its quirkiness, disappeared from view.