It takes an exceptionally unique product to reach a pinnacle within the luxury hospitality industry; standing out within a competitive market requires foresight, enthusiasm, experience and a product, which is second to none.
The bar has been set high amongst Scotland’s ever-growing list of country house hotels, in terms of product, service and that elusive extra dimension of quality, for which, each strives.
A veritable jewel in the crown has reached those heights however, with a unique hospitality combo encapsulated within the 13th century stone walls of Meldrum House.
Meldrum sits within the rural countryside of Aberdeenshire, an absolutely charming 13th century baronial mansion house, within a 240 acre estate of manicured gardens, mature trees and water features.
Leaving the granite city behind and travelling the short but scenic route to Old Meldrum; the contrast is palpable, where Meldrum adorns this already beautiful area of north-east Scotland.
A mild but damp Spring day, the unseasonal log fire warming reception was still very apt; that typical country house aroma of burning wood, offering a genuine highland welcome.
History, whisky & a Highland welcome…
Lisa, on reception, greeted all guests with an individual flair and a genuine enthusiasm for Meldrum, which can only come from a strong belief in the product. This was typical of all staff throughout the hotel, from reception to housekeeping, grounds to bar and restaurant; each seemed to be proud of their position and happy to be in such beautiful surroundings.
The team at Meldrum House is expertly managed by General Manager, Peter Walker, who, I would imagine, is responsible for the warm, hospitable feeling which, is reflected not only within the staff but permeates the very walls of this ancient building.
Peter’s innate ability to recognise and address each guest by name is not just quite incredible but a unique attribute reflecting traditional etiquette in the 21st century. His time in this position has already seen the hotel benefit from major refurbishment and upgrades, whilst retaining the period character, which is so appealing at Meldrum.
A brief and fascinating history lesson as we toured the hotel revealed stories of discovering secret rooms and staircases and how full advantage was taken of these discoveries with the creation of the Cave Bar and associated Whisky Club.
I felt very privileged to be given access to the locked Whisky Club room – a stone cave to all intents and purposes, totally charming with grill fronted lockers lining one wall – home to the members’ whisky supplies; temptingly on display. Cheers to Peter who allowed me to sample from his bottle collection, whilst we learned more about the story of Meldrum – fascinating.
My room in the main house was packed with original features, not least of all, a giant wooden door, an antique wardrobe and wonderfully comfortable four-poster. Some extra treats from the kitchen were thoughtfully laid out for arrival, which was thankfully earlier than usual, so I could enjoy the last sun, over the lawn, outside my window, glass of champagne in hand – bliss.
Coincidentally, my stay fell on Firepit Friday – a weekly celebration on the patio area, outside the Cave Bar, where drinks can be enjoyed, around the fire with the benefit of fabulous views over the manicured grounds and golf course.
It was here that conversation developed with two German guests; loving Firepit Friday at Meldrum House; they had been touring Scotland and had decided to extend their stay at Meldrum, to fully take advantage of the location and easy access to Aberdeen, Inverness and Speyside.
Somewhat reluctant to leave the late evening sun, dinner beckoned, with the welcoming formalities of our choice of a late dinner service.
Although dinner in the restaurant was traditional in style, it lacked the stuffiness, found, particularly in some hotel restaurants; this was a relaxed affair, with a backdrop of subtle music and guest chatter.
The restaurant team, as with all members of staff at Meldrum, carried out their duties with enthusiasm, expertise and flair; testimony to management and credit to each and every one of them for being in a place they so obviously love.
Meldrum’s chef sent out each plate with utter attention to detail, displaying an obvious and apparent pride in his carefully crafted menu. Courses were presented at the table with perfect timing; allowing a comfortable lull in proceedings between each dish and amazing petits fours and coffee, served with a hint of whisky, rounded off dinner perfectly.
Following a peaceful night’s sleep and sympathizing completely with the feelings of the German guests, I had an absolute reluctance to leave. My wish to spend more time in the beautiful grounds and explore further the clubhouse and golf course, which, even to a non-golfer, looked very inviting; would have to wait until the next visit.
A tight schedule left me no choice other than check-out, which, as with every aspect of Meldrum, was efficient and so gracious – I even departed with some thoughtful chilled water, for the journey ahead – an extra nice touch.
Hard to pinpoint but Meldrum has it. Perhaps it’s the extreme warmth and relaxed manner of the hotel’s various personalities, possibly the unique nature of the hotel and the high standard of product, maybe even the beautiful setting…who knows…but Meldrum House has captured ‘it’ and is a true treasure in Scotland’s crown.