ESCAPE LONDON – Enjoy a taste of luxury at Meldrum House and Country Club in Scotland
Aberdeen lies on the east coast of Scotland. There is a plethora of reasons to visit Aberdeen. I was fascinated to find out that Aberdeen is the sunniest city in Scotland. It has fascinating architecture, remarkable marine life, you could experience dolphin sighting, go hiking and Aberdeen also offers a fabulous night life of live music, pubs and clubs. There are an outstanding number of fabulous eateries, and lots of them specialising in Scottish cuisines, especially local Aberdeen delicacies.
There are activities for the more adventurous types, like Surfing, however a wet suit is a necessity to brave the cold waters. Aberdeen offers opportunities for incredible golfing experiences, some of the best in the UK. Last but not the least, I must mention the whisky. I suppose no trip to Scotland is ever complete without a whisky tasting experience.
I had a desire to visit Aberdeen for quite some time. I had read and heard many nice things about the place and I needed an escape from the hustle and bustle of London. I eagerly needed to invigorate myself and literally recharge my depleted batteries. I wanted to perambulate whilst enjoying new vistas of nature, architecture, try a few culinary delights and wallow in that quintessential tourist feeling for a couple of days.
I opted for a train journey which departed from Kings Cross and embarked on a meandering tour of England, taking in Peterborough, York, Newcastle and then along the coast of Scotland passing through Edinburgh, Dundee and eventually Aberdeen. It was a very enthralling, picturesque trip, one which I would highly recommend, all seven and half hours of it. You can also fly to Aberdeen from most London airports
My chosen habitat for the two days in Aberdeen had been highly recommended. A hotel steeped in history, style and opulence, Meldrum House Country Hotel and Golf Course is a four-star establishment and newly crowned Britain’s Best Boutique Hotel.
A pickup chauffeur, arranged by the hotel, was already waiting for me as I exited the train station. He was professional and friendly and helped me with my luggage ready for the lovely drive through Aberdeen. Within minutes we were in beautiful Scottish countryside.
We journeyed by hills and farmland and I was enchanted by the sight of cows and sheep adorning the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire running around in absolute bliss. I was beginning to feel an essence of unadulterated Scottish air.
We arrived at our destination – a magnificent baronial house that is Meldrum House Country Hotel and what a splendid example of historical architecture it is.
I was greeted at the hotel’s reception by exquisitely dressed hotels staff with infectious smiles before being taken to my room by a concierge who gave me some history of the hotel as we walked through its splendid halls and corridors passing magnificent Drawing rooms to my room. I was greeted with a personalised welcome in my room in the form of some delightful cakes and biscuits and was made to really feel like a special guest.
Meldrum House dates back over 800 years. It is set in 240-acres of luscious, glorious greenery and boasts an 18-hole private golf course, ranked in the Top 100 courses in the UK. All this, in the most beautiful enticing sleepy village of Oldmeldrum.
I arrived in time for pre-arranged canapes and hors d’oeuvres in one of the many historic Drawing Rooms where perfectly attired waiters milled around the room with trays adorned with beautifully sculpted edible goodies. They looked more like delicate works of art and my oh my, they tasted even better than they looked – luscious, delicious, just divine. This was a definite indication of what was to come.
The chefs at Meldrum House have a reputation to uphold and they were more than doing so. The canapes all boasted local produce with references to the area that surrounds the hotel. The canapes and hor d’oeuvres were complemented with Prosecco and fantastic whisky cocktails and the evening was beginning to feel quite lush.
Meldrum House is very unique when it comes to the pursuits of culinary delights. On the evening I was a guest, I was invited to special talks by Peter Walker the General Manager and some of the local food suppliers to the hotel. A sort of question and answer exchange. I learnt about Highland Cows, from the owner of Aberdeen Highland Beef. These cows are on a comparison with the Japanese cows used for the famed speciality that is Wagu Beef. Fish supplier to Meldrum House, Sutherland’s of Portsoy were also represented. He talked about the different varieties of fish they offer and that two of Europe’s biggest fishing ports are only miles from the hotel. All this ahead of eating scallops as a starter and fillet of beef as our main course. What a privilege it was.
Dinner duly followed and what a treat. Meldrum House’s award-winning Dining Room is renowned by food connoisseurs, picking up numerous accolades. They have an amazing mesmerising menu, all with locally sourced ingredients and secretly guarded recipes. It’s no exaggeration to say I had one of my most exhilarating culinary experiences ever. I was taken on a really delightful experience of exquisite Fine Dining.
I was also introduced to Fiona Sanderson, one of the two Fiona’s that runs ‘’The Legends of the Garioch Tour.’’ The distillery is only half a mile from the hotel and dates back to 1797. Fiona is the Glen Garioch Visitor Centre Manager and is the brains behind the Legends tour which only launched last year at the distillery.
Whisky tasting was extended by way of an invitation to Meldrum’s House Whisky Club which is in a private room within their 800-year old Cave Bar. I was briefed on the history of the Club and offered to sample rare and precious bottles of whiskies, some of them over forty years old. I was educated on peated and unpeated whiskies.
As it was approaching midnight I retired to my room. However, as it was June and we were in Scotland there was still daylight and I believe a few golfers were taking advantage of the fact and still teeing off.
My Club Room was enormous and opulent and would have easily commanded three times more for the equivalent level of comfort and luxury in most hotels I’ve stayed in anywhere in the world. Meldrum House has a wide variety of rooms which can be categorised in sections of the hotel. More traditional rooms feature in the Manor House. You’ll find more contemporary rooms in a wing that only opened in 2016 and The Stables is more a mixture of the two.
It was breakfast time and I was treated to a scrumptious breakfast from Meldrum House. I was now ready for the ‘Legends of the Garioch Tour’. This new tour from Glen Garioch is a unique idea and includes a minibus and walking tour around the rolling hills of the area with vistas of beautiful Aberdeenshire that stretch for miles.
It is here we met the other Fiona – Fiona Marshall – and together with Fiona Sanderson, what a fabulous duo they are. The offered the tour group a selection of a local delicacy called a Scottish buttery with tea or coffee and everyone was allocated a little Whisky glass. We trekked the fields of barley that are used in the production of Glen Garioch Whisky stopping for a dram or two – morning bliss I called it.
The Two Fiona’s were the most warm and fascinating guides. They had amazing passions for the tour, their job, culture and country and enlightened us with history of Glen Garioch Whisky and the local area of Oldmeldrum. We visited the birth place of the founders of Glen Garioch – the Manson Brothers, as well as visiting their burial place.
The tour eventually made its way to the world famous Glen Garioch distillery. Fiona Marshall talked us through as we visited the works of the distillery and got to experience whisky making first hand. I also had the privilege of opening a brand-new barrel of Whisky and tasting its contents for the first time. BIG thanks Fiona and Fiona, it was amazing, and I was also presented with some souvenirs from the Distillery.
From the Distillery we headed back to Meldrum House. This tour means that the hotel and Distillery are working in harmony together as it culminates in an amazing culinary treat in the form of a lunch in the hotel’s 800-year old Cave Bar. The food, beautifully presented, was a tasting menu that complemented the story of Glen Garioch. I’m sworn to secrecy but it was a clever journey of food and whisky pairings that was a fantastic end to the Legends Experience. You’ll have to go on the tour yourself to find out more.
Meldrum House Hotel is an amazing place, a unique experience, a taste of luxury, hospitality and without hesitation one of the best small hotels in the UK. It offers fabulous location for a life’s celebrations, the perfect weekend away, weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, business conferences and last but not the least, the most glorious golf course. The Hotel offers an array of individual bespoke experiences coupled with the most amazing and helpful staff. I promise you, you will have the time of your life.
If you do find yourself in Aberdeen a stay at Meldrum House is a real treat, sometimes one has to pamper one’s self.
There are several tours at Glen Garioch. The ‘Legends of the Garioch Experience’ tour is £150pp. For more information call 44 (0) 1651 873450 www.glengarioch.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org +44
Nosa, Heart London Magazine