Review of The Dulaig, Highlands, Scotland
Simon Wilson visits The Dulaig, a luxurious but friendly B&B in Grantown-on-Spey, near Cairngorm.
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There are only three rooms so the Dulaig is never too crowded. I stayed in a lovely, large, light-filled room called Shapland, with windows on two sides, some splendid antique furniture, very comfortable furnishings, and all the facilities you would expect – including an en suite shower room. The large shower was great, with body-jets to soothe away hikers’ aches and pains. But if you particularly like a soak in a bath tub, go for one of the other rooms – Taylor or Benson. I had a quick peek at them, and they were just as nice. Guests also have use of a beautiful lounge, which opens onto extensive gardens, complete with terraces, views of the Cairngorms, summer house, and pond.
The Dulaig’s website claims that their guests often reckon the beds are the most comfortable they’ve ever slept in. I approached this claim with healthy scepticism – right up until the moment I lay down on one of them. Maybe I was exhausted from a brisk eight-mile stroll along the Spey, or maybe the cut-glass decanter of complimentary sherry on the sideboard had taken its course. Either way, the bed really was rather special and I slept uncommonly soundly. The peaceful surroundings – on the edge of town, down a longish drive with no road nearby – no doubt helped.
For breakfast, I kept things local – and sampled smoked trout from the Strathspey Spey with scrambled eggs from the Dulaig’s resident chickens. Both trout and eggs were first-rate, and I devoutly wished I could have stayed another night to sample the full cooked-breakfast option. There was also a very full range of fruits, cereals, cheeses, and breads – including a home-made soda bread baked by the owner, Carol, with a little Speyside whisky for a deliciously distinctive taste.
The Dulaig is situated between Aviemore and Inverness, and close to Cairngorm. So it’s a good bet as a base or a stop-off for exploring the Highlands, whether your main interest is hiking, biking, fishing on the Spey, doing the local whisky trail, or even skiing. The Dulaig’s owners, Gordon and Carol, are experienced hikers and climbers and sailors who know the north of Scotland well. I found them extremely knowledgeable about local options for climbs, hikes and other activities. They were also full of suggestions for options further afield throughout the Highlands and islands, and all the tips of theirs that I followed up all worked out very well.
Why is staying at The Dulaig a greener holiday?
The Dulaig has been awarded a Gold rating for its all-round Environmental Management by awarded bythe Green Tourism Business Schemeand since receiving the award photovoltaic solar panels have also been installed. and several other energy saving features. What makes it special is that the owners have clearly worked hard to turn the extensive garden into a wildlife haven. I spent fifteen minutes sitting out of the terrace, and enjoyed watching ducks, pheasants, woodpeckers and red squirrels, as well as the large number of resident hens who supply the breakfast table.
Grantown-on-Spey is about 14 miles from Aviemore railway station (on the main line from central Scotland to Inverness and the north); the bus (number 34) takes a little over half an hour. The Dulaig itself is on the edge of town, about five minutes walk from where the bus stops.
Grantown has a good range of excellent-looking restaurants, but I was in the mood for something hearty and filling and lively. Carol and Gordon pointed me in the direction of The Craig, a bar five minutes’ walk away in the centre of Grantown for which the word “cosy” was invented. If you like friendly customers, banter with a genuinely welcoming landlord and an enormous range of tasty pies (and Speyside single malts) then The Craig is the place for you.
This is a luxury B&B with a lovely garden in a stunning, peaceful location. The owners clearly care passionately about what they are doing, and evidence of attention to detail is everywhere – from complimentary scones and jam on arrival (homemade scones, homecooked jam) to the carefully selected arts and crafts furniture in each room. Very friendly, very restful.
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