Some hotels are a slice of Scotland. There are no trends or gimmicks, what you find is good quality, personal service from local staff (many of whom have worked there for ten or fifteen years) and you often meet the owner who is hard at work simultaneously ensuring his establishment has the personal touch.
In the restaurant the food is locally sourced from nearby farmers and fishmongers, many of whom frequent the hotel as it’s part of the community rather than just another chain. The restaurant is used by locals as much as hotel guests as its reputation in the town is solid, and at dinner you’ll often see three or even four generations sitting down for a family gathering or celebration.
This sums up the Strathburn Hotel in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, opened by the Barrack family in 1985. But whilst its calibre as a traditional hotel is unquestionable what’s it like for families? Intrepid Mr Toddler and Mr Baby got in the car to find out.
There is one family room but if you book it you’ll find its layout is exactly what you need. We had use of two bedrooms linked by a little hallway so we could unceremoniously leave the children in one room asleep whilst we enjoyed our room all to ourselves. Each bedroom has its own bathroom so technically our children had their own washing facilities, unbelievable. They are so precocious now. The rooms were spacious, clean and homely with traditional furnishings.
THE RESTAURANT – DINNER
We dined as soon as the restaurant opened at 5.00pm but we weren’t alone and the room soon filled up with couples, friends and several large family gatherings. Mr Toddler made his selection from the children’s menu partaking of the cheesy pasta and the ice-cream, all of which was reluctantly shared with Mr Baby.
The adult offering is traditional Scottish cooking: Duo of Sea Bass and Salmon Fillet glazed with Lemon Butter and Capers; Breaded Goujons of North Sea Haddock with Tartare Sauce; and Grilled Prime Rib-Eye Steak with Mushrooms and Onions. The beef and steaks are supplied by Marshall’s Farm Shop near Blackburn and Kintore so you actually know where your dinner has originated. Despite the restaurant clearly being busy the service was swift and relaxed so you can tell the Strathburn is used to dealing with a full house with relative ease.
Mr Toddler was utterly captivated by the balloons in the function room and kept claiming that it was in fact his party, I tried to convince him that the balloons clearly stated otherwise and he’d have to wait 68 years for that kind of celebration. His response was ‘Pop!’ so I guess I burst his bubble.
THE RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST
Breakfast was a relaxed and quiet affair, we were definitely the loudest people in the room (and by ‘we’ I mean Mr Toddler who thinks randomly shouting ‘Paw Patrol’ is appropriate behaviour for a Sunday morning). After chomping through some of the continental offering the boys helped us with our full Scottish breakfast with bacon, sausage and black pudding sourced from Presly & Co, Oldmeldrum, and eggs from Deveron Valley Eggs at Duncan Farm, Turriff.
The hotel also has a new spa, Room Twentyone – guess which room it’s in? I had a pedicure in peace in the modern grey and yellow surroundings. My children were somewhere else with their father, it doesn’t matter where.
This is the bonus ball – the hotel is literally across the road from a park so you can run the legs off your cherubs as often as you wish. It’s also just two minutes away from a very sweet cafe called the Fly Cup which has a play room full of toys – cake and distracted children, what a wonderful combination.
Inverurie is a great gateway town for anyone exploring Scotland. Within a short drive you’ve got various National Trust for Scotland castles and gardens to visit, such as Haddo House and Pitmedden Gardens. Bennachie is just there waiting to be climbed, the dunes of Balmedie are ready for your little sandman and the city of Aberdeen with its wonderful parks, gardens and beach is 15 miles away.
The nearest airport to the Strathburn is Aberdeen. The hotel has ample parking and wheelchair/buggy access. The family room is on the first floor and there are no lifts so best to leave your buggy in the car. A travel cot was provided for free for Mr Baby. The longest serving member of the Strathburn staff has worked there for over 30 years.
[Mr Toddler and family were guests of the Strathburn. Mr Toddler says ‘Taaaaaa’.]
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