The imposing white painted Craigellachie Hotel stands in the heart of Speyside at the west end of the village of Craigellachie, not far from the confluence of the River Spey and the River Fiddich. It offers excellent views to the west over the valley of the River Spey which include the famous Craigellachie Bridge, built over the river by Thomas Telford in 1814. You can read our dining review for the Craigellachie Hotel here.
The Craigellachie Hotel was built in 1893 as "The Craigellachie Railway Hotel" to take advantage of the increasing popularity of Speyside as a destination following the building of the Speyside Railway. The Speyside Railway is long gone, though its course is today largely followed by the Speyside Way Long Distance Footpath.
The hotel's public rooms are both impressive and comfortable. The main entrance is near one end on the middle floor. nearby is what for many is like a holy grail: the hotel's Quaich Bar is not large, but has walls lined with shelves that are home to over 700 bottles of whisky representing every Scottish distillery you'll have heard of and many you won't have heard of. Welcome to one of the world's largest (drinkable) collections of malt whisky. Other fine public rooms include the comfortable library and the splendid drawing room, a large room complete with comfortable chairs and sofas, a fire, and a Bechstein grand piano that is even older than the hotel itself. Steps from the main floor lead down to the Ben Aigen Restaurant, divided into a number of smaller rooms and featuring exposed stone walls in places.
There are a total of 26 guest rooms at the Craigellachie Hotel. Five of these are on the garden floor (the lower of the three floors), and a further seven are on the ground floor (the middle of the three floors). The remainder are on the upper floor and accessed by a long corridor which runs the length of the hotel. A number of the larger guest rooms on the upper floor facing the River Spey are classified as master rooms or mini suites. One guest room on the main floor has been made fully wheelchair accessible.
The Craigellachie Hotel has a range of function and event facilities. The hotel is licensed to hold weddings and is proving very popular as a venue, while the links with Speyside's distillers make this a popular location for business events. The hotel offers guests the use of a mini-gym, while for the more active it stands right next to the line of the Speyside Way and has three cycles which can be loaned to guests. But for many visitors to Speyside, leisure activity is inextricably linked to the large number of distilleries with visitor centres in the area. And at the end of a long day's touring distilleries you can retire to sample one of the world's best collections of drinkable whiskies in the Quaich Bar.
Disabled access to most of the hotel is said to be good. What was once a billiard room on the main floor has been converted into a fully wheelchair accessible guest bedroom, and all the public rooms on the same floor including the drawing room and Quaich Bar are easily reached. Access between the main floor and restaurant on the lower ground floor is via stairs or via a detour that takes you outside the hotel.
The Craigellachie Hotel is one of those places you really want to be excellent. The Quaich Bar is a unique experience and is simply outstanding, and some of the other public rooms are also very pleasing. On the whole, however, we came away from our visit with the unsettling feeling that aspects of the hotel and the service within it fell slightly short of expectations, and did not really do full justice to the excellence of other parts of what was on offer: hopefully this was a blip and a re-review will dissipate this feeling. You can read our dining review for the Craigellachie Hotel here.