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Issue 23 - Hogmanay hotels

Scotland Magazine Issue 23
October 2005


This article is 13 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Hogmanay hotels


Ceilidh Place
Ullapool, Wester Ross
Tel: +44 (0)1854 612 103

An hour west of Inverness, the single word ‘hotel’ just isn’t enough to describe what you’ll find – for this is a unique place, one we admire hugely.

Anticipate a Highland inn, coffee shop, restaurant, bar, parlour, bookshop, bunkhouse, with exhibitions, music, books, art, ceilidhs and more. At Christmas and Hogmanay the hotel organises ‘alternative’ celebrations, days of enjoyment we have tried and appreciated. Live music, dancing, good food and shared informality or craic shape events which creatively turn a back on festive clichés.

The Ceilidh Place sits back from the scenically situated, whitewashed village’s harbour front and offers from its lounge balcony a panorama of Scottish village architecture, forest, loch and mountain. The design is rugged and strong with echoes of the years over which the place grew organically. Floral wallpaper you will not see; open beams and barn doors, you will.

The parlour bar is cheery, offering a good range of drams and drinks by the open fire. The openplan residents’ lounge is sophisticated without being stuffy, and despite being pretty-well tartan free it is undeniably Scottish. Guests love this space.

An honesty bar is a boon. There are games and books and magazines and alcoves and soft Celtic music playing in the background.

Life-affirming, the Ceilidh Place won the Good for the Soul Award 2005… so is an ideal base for a true Oidhche Challain, or Hogmanay: New Year’s eve itself.

Kincraig House
by Invergordon, Easter Ross
Tel: +44 (0)1349 852 587

For a traditional Highland festive break, swing over to Easter Ross where wide skies, sweeping coastlines and rich farmlands set the scene for pristine, newly-restored Kincraig House.

Nearby Cromarty and Chanonry Point provide some of the best dolphin watching in Europe.

Explore and enjoy golf courses, picturesque fishing villages, whisky distilleries (including neighbouring Dalmore), beaches and castles including Dunrobin with its garden by Sir Charles Barry, who designed Westminster Abbey.

Hogmanay here involves afternoon tea on arrival and a six course dinner with live entertainment – so you’ll not go hungry. For some spiritual uplift you could visit the local kirk on Sunday, January 1 – known as latha na Bliadh’ur in Gaelic, or Ne’rday in Scots.

The white-washed gothic-style mansion was built around 200 years ago. With its turrets and crow-stepped gables this old Scottish house has a real sense of history about it. It had a major refurbishment in the past year and many of the original features have been left intact, such as rich oak panelled walls and huge stone hearths. Its sister hotel is the successful Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye, both managed by tireless Murray McPhee.

Kincraig is surrounded by attractive lawns, woodland and gardens; charming old stone tables and benches sit awaiting on a patio outside where rabbits scamper as red kites soar above. What about a four-poster bed in a room in the turret?

Would that be romantic enough, ma’am?

One Devonshire Gardens
West End, Glasgow
Tel: +44 (0)141 339 2001

Glasgow is a vibrant place at New Year and this atmospheric hotel – reigning Glasgow Hotel of the Year 2005 – not only provides a beautiful West End base, it’s on the northwest side of the city so has a ‘quick escape’ into the hills. Loch Lomond is barely half an hour’s drive away and (especially if it has snowed) the views in the Trossachs with its lochs and glens can be a Christmas card scene brought to life.

This hotel is a true townhouse, indeed a series of them all now connected. Madonna, Bernstein, Tina Turner, royalty – they’ve all stayed over.

One Devonshire Gardens provides five star quality and has just been named one of the ‘Top 50 Hotels in Europe’ in Travel & Leisure magazine’s Word’s Best Awards. The wood panelling and plush décor is simply made for Christmas decoration and at Hogmanay the atmosphere is bursting with life and excitement.

Glasgow is a friendly city and here you will enjoy warmth and cheer.

Bedrooms and sumptuous suites excel and manager Stephen McCorkell has overseen the gradual enhancement of the hotel. Expect high-tech (Bose CD players, superfast wireless broadband) and high style fabrics and finishes.

There’s a small gym where the stars have worked out and the intimate Number 5 Restaurant where festive dining will delight.

As with all our suggestions – book as early as possible! Consult for last-minute availability, too.

Where to stay for less of your pay. This month’s top three tips

Kinloch Rannoch
From just over £100pp/pn for a fully inclusive programme of festivities incl. dinners, whisky tastings, music, events and more
Tel: +44 (0)1882 632 218

Dinnet, Royal Deeside
Just under £100pp/pn for a three day Hogmanay break including dinners, fiddle music by open fire, piper at midnight. Great fun
Tel: +44 (0)1339 885 229

In Scotland’s national booktown, Hillcrest gives a warm welcome and a real taste of Galloway. Festive breaks top value
Tel: +44 (0)1988 402 018

HOGMANAY HEROES : Here are three more ideas for you

Edinburgh Tel: +44 (0)131 556 2414
Winner of The Edinburgh Hotel of the Year 2005, the five star Balmoral has an unrivalled setting at number 1 Princes Street, right at the heart of the city’s fabulous week-long New Year programme of events. Be at the heart of the hubbub and happiness of Hogmanay in the Heart of Scotland’s capital

Tel: +44 (0)1540 661 166
Newly-announced winner of the AA’s Wine Award 2005, the delightful Cross at Kingussie offers a Highland Hogmanay in the magnificent Cairngorms National Park. David Young, pictured above, heads a truly experienced and hospitable team at this restaurant-with-rooms. Pop some fine New Year wines

by Loch Tay
Tel: +44 (0)1567 820 400
The Hogmanay deal here sounds deeply inviting. Chilled South African wine in your room on arrival; dinners founded on superb local produce; picnic hampers if you’d like to go off exploring; a piper for ‘the bells’ and a Champagne breakfast on New Year’s day. A joyful place run by Pete and Sara Gottgens

Hotels featured in the ‘Best of Scotland’ section are by definition recommended by this magazine. The SilverPlate™ food honour and MoMA™ Mark of Merit quality award are presented on merit by the Guide. Hotels featured on this page have been inspected by independent –minded, experienced HRS reviewers.

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