Crieff Hydro stands on the northern edge of the town of Crieff. It occupies a superb raised location on the slopes of the hill known as the Knock of Crieff, and enjoys wide views south over Crieff itself and Strathearn, the broad valley of the River Earn, towards the Ochil Hills. It enjoys a great deal more as well. As you approach Crieff Hydro you get the impression you are arriving in a small town rather than a hotel. Yet despite offering 213 guest rooms and 54 self catering units and capable of accommodating many hundreds of guests, it would be hard to find anywhere offering better standards of personal service.
The staff are superb: professional, friendly and attentive, and never appearing to lose sight of the fact that each guest is an individual with individual needs and preferences. This shows through in many aspects of the operation of the hotel, from the reception to the exceptional standards of housekeeping, and especially in their excellent management of large numbers of guests for dinner. You can read our dining review for Crieff Hydro here.
Crieff Hydro excels at many different levels. It promotes itself as Scotland's leading leisure resort and offers a mind boggling range of some 60 indoor or outdoor leisure activities. Some of these are found within the hotel itself, many in the Leisure Club which includes a 20m swimming pool as well as the original Victorian 16m swimming pool and the full range of other activities and facilities you would expect from a highly equipped spa and fitness suite. Many more are located on the 900 acre estate which extends out to the north of the hotel itself. Here you find two 18 hole golf courses and a number of other golfing activities; an equestrian centre; mountain biking; croquet; football; tennis courts; and a range of less expected activities ranging from Segway riding to laser quest and from 4x4 driving to archery. There is also a watersports centre on nearby Loch Earn. Its leisure activities really are central to any stay at Crieff Hydro.
The hotel also set great store by being family friendly: and where it really succeeds is in the way it sets out to provide families with everything they could possibly need for a great holiday while at the same time ensuring that other guests have areas available to them which offer a more grown up experience. Many guest rooms can accommodate families, and there are dining arrangements set up to meet the needs of families. Meanwhile, many of the activities are available to, and suitable for, families. But at the heart of Crieff Hydro's commitment to families is BIG Country. All guests staying in the hotel itself or in its self catering accommodation will find their children aged from 2 to 12 are entitled to two 3 hour sessions each day in what is Scotland's largest childcare facility, offering a huge range of activities. There is also a creche available for younger children.
Crieff Hydro's concern for its guests' individual needs extends to disabled guests, who will find that there is access to all the hotel's restaurants and other public areas; and to hair and beauty and the leisure club, and to certain other activities; and that disabled facilities are provided in public areas of the hotel. Meanwhile a number of guest rooms suitable for those with mobility impairment are available, and one self catering unit has been fully adapted for disabled guests.
Crieff Hydro opened its doors in 1868 as the Strathearn Hydropathic Institute for guests wishing to "take the waters". It was founded by Thomas H. Meikle, and today the hotel remains in the ownership of the fifth generation of his family. It is refreshing to find somewhere so well established that is also so forward looking: and the sense you get is of a hotel always striving to do better and give guests an even more enjoyable experience. Time doesn't stand still, and in recent years the hotel has benefitted from an investment of some £40m. As a result of this long term commitment to improvement it is possible to talk to people in the restaurants and bars who have been coming for years, or whose own parents brought them when they were children.
The level of investment shows through in the quality (and quantity) of accommodation. There are seven accommodation options available to guests: from highly specified and very comfortable standard, executive and family rooms in the hotel, to a range of different styles of self catering. Meanwhile there are five places to eat (see our dining review for Crieff Hydro here,) and no fewer than 13 functions rooms, the largest capable of accommodating up to 600 people. Everything at the Crieff Hydro really is on a large scale: except, as we have said, the welcome and the service, which feel very individual indeed.