Tots2Travel is based in Aberdeen and there’s loads to do for a family weekend in the city and shire. I’ve pulled together guides on the best places to visit in the city and the best places to eat, but I rarely review accommodation in the Granite City as it’s my home. We were invited to profile Aberdeen Altens Hotel. I thought I ‘knew’ this hotel, as I live here, but actually my head was full of preconceptions and I knew very little. This is what we discovered.
Altens is a professional, industrial part of Aberdeen, on the outskirts of the city rather than a picturesque old street or a buzzing part of the city centre so I wasn’t sure what to expect but once we stepped inside we felt like we were on holiday. There were lots of other families buzzing about the hotel making the most of a weekend in the Granite City.
CHECK IN – The lobby makes a striking first impression if you look up to admire the stained glass ceiling and huge lamp fitting (where do hotels obtain such impressive pieces?), and check in itself was friendly and swift.
FACILITIES – What clinches it for Aberdeen Altens is the pool. People could stay in chic boutique central hotels, or branded cheap hotels in the middle of town, but head slightly out of the city centre and you get a pool, and every family knows their kids love swimming, splashing and jumping.
We dumped our bags in the room and headed straight for the water. Just after collecting our towels from the gym reception my potty trained two year, who’s been dry for weeks, decided to go wee-wee in the gym foyer. Excellent. I immediately got on my knees to clean it up, and the Altens staff member was straight there helping me without a blink of an eye. I was hugely apologetic but my apologies were brushed off politely in a ‘these things happen, don’t worry’ fashion which was a huge relief. It was a particularly understanding, mortifying and family friendly start to our stay.
The pool itself was small but of epic, gigantically fulfilling size for our two tots who thought they were in heaven. A collection of noodles, armbands, and floats were available to borrow. We’d also been lent a pair of goggles from the pool reception for Mr Tots Snr (before his younger brother decided to publicly go wee-wee). The pool also had a small baby pool (the size and shape of a jacuzzi) plus an actual jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, none of which I used as I was busy catching tots as they hurled themselves into the water with wild abandon. Other families were swimming before dinner, as well as more civilised couples chilling out.
THE ROOM – Hotel rooms aren’t always ideal for families but Altens do offer some special, rather clever extras. Our spacious family room, with a complimentary travel cot erected upon arrival, had its own kitchenette.
This meant we had a fridge, microwave and espresso machine and crockery at our disposal. For anyone weaning, storing milk, or storing wine this is a great addition. You can’t quite ‘cook’ but to save money or time guests can heat/chill food and drink as required. A kitchenette is a great optional extra to request upon booking. I made two simple YouTube videos about Aberdeen Altens Hotel so take a peak here and here to discover more. I truly appreciated getting a decent coffee in the morning, without having to wait till I was dressed and downstairs for breakfast.
DINING – We’d booked a table for 6pm in the restaurant (under a dinner, bed and breakfast rate) and we were the first to arrive. Hotel restaurants can be pretty quiet as folk head into town to dine but Altens was an exception. Whilst it’s relatively easy to drive into the centre of Aberdeen or call a cab I noticed that the restaurant and the bar were soon busy with guests making the most of the hotel. Often when families arrive at a hotel they don’t want to traipse somewhere else, they want to be, they want to relax. As a local I had a preconception that the Aberdeen Altens Hotel catered to business travellers mid week (which it does) but I didn’t appreciate how occupied it was at weekends welcoming leisure clientele. Next to us was a family reunion of about 8-10 guests enjoying a special occasion, other families and numerous couples were also wining and dining.
Our Dinner, Bed and Breakfast rate meant the adults could choose from a four course menu of starter, main, dessert and coffee. I skipped the starter, opting for a Sirloin Steak and Sticky Toffee Pudding, and Mr Husband had the Grilled Gammon Steak, with Fruit Salad as dessert. The boys had two courses too: Mr Toddler dined on Tomato Pasta Bake and Mr Tot Snr had Fresh Fish Goujons and chips, both bursting on Ice Cream for pudding. The Altens staff asked sensible questions, suggesting we serve the children their mains as soon as they were ready, so the kids received their meals slightly before we did. The staff were clearly used to serving young families swiftly, with friendliness and an element of understanding. We then retired to our room to make vain attempts to get our overexcited, sugar laden tots to sleep at a reasonable time. By 9pm we could announce victory 🙂
Breakfast was a buffet affair but a chef was on duty cooking fresh fried eggs as required.
LOCATION – There are pros and cons to the location of the Aberdeen Altens. Being out of town it has ample parking which is handy when transporting a car load of child nonsense. It also meant that many guests committed to the hotel, making the most of its facilities, bar and restaurant which brought atmosphere to the venue. There is nowhere to explore on foot nearby so you have to get in the car to go sight-seeing, if I had a magic wand I would add a playpark on their grounds. It would have been a quick drive to see the sights in the city but we felt that Aberdeenshire was our oyster so we headed north to Mintlaw to visit Aden Country Park (which is fantastic, why had nobody told me about it before? Post coming up soon).
To sum up, if you’re looking for accommodation with a pool, and perhaps the practicality of the kitchenette option is tempting, then Aberdeen Altens could be a handy base for a weekend away exploring Aberdeen.
THE LOWDOWN – We drove for about 10 minutes to reach Aberdeen Altens Hotel. Aberdeen is served by an airport, railway station and bus networks and from there it’s probably easiest to grab a cab out to Altens. For offers please click here.
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