Review: The Fife Arms, Braemar, Scotland

The more you explore the hotel, the more in awe you’ll be – there are hidden treasures around every corner

Location: High in Cairngorms National Park, The Fife Arms lies in the sweet, old-fashioned village of Braemar, famous for hosting the Royal Highland Games and for its proximity to the Queen’s estate in Balmoral (just nine miles away). The hotel is a 90-minute drive from Aberdeen or two hours from Edinburgh airport. I opted for the latter route and would thoroughly recommend it – the dramatic scenery of the Cairngorms is breathtakingly beautiful.

First impressions: A perfect mishmash of traditional and contemporary art and decor: tartan walls; dark‑wood fireplaces; a Richard Jackson neon and glass antler chandelier; original Picasso and Freud paintings; and an abundance of taxidermy. Such contrasts shouldn’t work, but they do. The more you explore the hotel, the more in awe you’ll be – there are hidden treasures around every corner, with more than 16,000 pieces of art and antiques on display, including drawings by Queen Victoria and Prince Charles.

The facts: Once a Victorian coaching inn, The Fife Arms burst on to the luxury hotel scene when it was opened by the Prince of Wales in January 2019. Its 46 rooms, 15 of which are suites, are all unique and bursting with character. The property boasts a spa, library, playroom and gardens alongside the flowing Clunie Water. The fun Flying Stag bar serves a delicious menu of pub favourites, while the Clunie Dining Room is the more refined, sophisticated option. One of my favourite spaces was Elsa’s Bar, an art deco‑themed cocktail venue named in honour of Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. The service is exceptional. The ghillie (concierge) team contacts guests prior to their arrival and they are constantly on hand to help arrange activities or provide recommendations.

Explore: Being in the heart of the Cairngorms means there’s plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Our ghillie arranged for us to have a picnic in the mountains before embarking on a foraging hike. We picked herbs and flowers which were used to create tailored cocktails back at the hotel. Other options include salmon fishing in the Dee, golf, walks and hikes, and skiing at nearby Glenshee.

Wow: The aforementioned art collection is what makes The Fife Arms so special. It’s the array of art, and the way each item is presented and made accessible to guests, that turns this property into much more than a hotel. A stay here is an experience that will get your creative juices flowing.

Book it: Rooms lead in at £250 with breakfast included.

Hollie-Rae Brader

Hollie is editor of Aspire’s print and online products. She is responsible for the running of the club and ensuring the content produced and the events organised are relevant to the Aspire audience. She was previously deputy news editor and cruise writer for sister title Travel Weekly. She loves exploring new destinations and is gradually ticking new countries off her list. She most enjoys writing about cruise, South America and Japan. Before working in the travel industry she held news reporting roles at the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.

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