26 Feb Craigellachie Hotel boasts the second largest collection of single malts in the world
The Scots know how to party, often celebrating with a dram or two. And if you’re looking to devour the world’s best whiskies, look no further than the charming Craigellachie Hotel on the banks of the Spey.
Indeed, notorious party animal Kate Moss rounded up members of the Primrose Hill set for a raucous Burns Night weekend shortly after the hotel reopened after a multi-million-pound refurbishment.
Built in 1893, this former hunting lodge, in an area famed for its fishing and shooting, was a favourite of Queen Victoria’s, and Balmoral is only 45 minutes away.
Understated elegance: The Craigellachie Hotel sits on the banks of the Spey
Celebrated nightclub supremo Piers Adam, the man behind London haunt Mahiki, acquired the formerly run-down 28-room hotel in 2013.
It has since been transformed to create a perfect blend of understated elegance with a warming, relaxed atmosphere, and some jolly good grub.
This is the place to stay for a tour of the region’s famous whisky distilleries, with both Glenfiddich and William Grant nearby.
The hotel’s magnificent Quaich bar boasts 1,000 bottles of single malt – the second largest whisky collection in the world.
The hotel’s magnificent Quaich bar boasts 1,000 bottles of single malt – the second largest whisky collection in the world
What’s more, Piers has his very own blend of Speyside single malts, called Copper Dog.
Despite its A-list clientele, Craigellachie does not feel like a swanky celebrity haunt, but more like a cosy pub with rooms – albeit rooms designed to the highest spec by Piers’s wife, Sophie, with leather furniture from Soane mixed with antiques and lashings of cashmere.
Party host: Model Kate Moss
‘The Italians have a wonderful saying that some buildings have warm ghosts, and I felt that when I first walked in here,’ Piers tells me over a plate of scrumptious Spey smoked salmon.
The food – Aberdeen steak is also a must – is all locally sourced, with input on the menu from Piers’s chum, Mail on Sunday food columnist Tom Parker Bowles.
Many of Scotland’s famous exports are on the doorstep, including Johnstons of Elgin, the cashmere purveyors which supplies Vivienne Westwood and Burberry.
A glorious 45-minute yomp along the Spey (the hotel will lend you wellies) brings you to the village of Abelour and the original Walkers bakery, where you can stock up on the famed red tartan boxes of shortbread.
Piers’s love of the Highlands stems from his late father, David. ‘He was evacuated here during the war,’ he tells me.
‘Before he died, I took him to revisit all the places where he stayed. I fell in love with Craigellachie, so it felt fitting to buy it.’