Mill of Nethermill, by Pennan
Wake to the sound of waves crashing on the shore, enjoy a leisurely breakfast overlooking the bay where dolphins and seals play, or head off to explore caves once used by boot-leggers. Mill of Nethermill – close to the historic village of Pennan, the setting for the classic 1983 film Local Hero – has all this to offer. The mill house and mill, built in 1841 with a stream running by, are the only dwellings in this secluded bay. It has four luxury self-catering cottages, each one renovated in traditional Scots-style with antique furniture and sumptuous tartans. And this five-star holiday destination doesn’t have to be a budget buster. Prices start from £65 per night with a two-night minimum stay (not high season).
Where: Mill of Nethermill, By Pennan, AB43 6JA
Tel: 01346 561 482
Laich Moray Hotel, Elgin
The Laich Moray Hotel is midway between Aberdeen and Inverness and is just a short walk from the railway station making it a handy stop-over point for tourists. Built in 1853, it was once the Great Northern Station Hotel and has a history of hosting travellers with a passion for this beautiful corner of the north east. Prices start from £90 per room with breakfast.
Where: Maisondieu Road, Elgin, IV30 1QR
Tel: 01343 540045
The Crown & Anchor Inn, Findhorn
The Crown & Anchor is a friendly hostelry overlooking Findhorn Bay with seven en-suite rooms. Family-friendly, it offers good food at affordable prices and has been awarded Cask Marque accreditation for serving the perfect pint of cask-conditioned ale. And it lays claim to being the only pub in the village where you can watch top sports on a 42” screen. B&B rates start at £70.
Where: The Crown & Anchor Inn, Findhorn, IV36 3YF
Tel: 01309 690243
Ballater Caravan Park
Queen Victoria referred to this part of the north east as “Dear Paradise”. But you don’t have to have a monarch’s millions to enjoy your own little slice of heaven. Ballater Caravan Park, in the pretty conservation village of the same name, provides home-from-home facilities for those holidaying on a budget. Close to the Royal holiday home of Balmoral Castle, the park has good facilities on-site including a children’s playground. But it is only a five-minute walk from bustling Ballater and its shops, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions.
Where: Anderson Road, Ballater, AB35 5QW
Tel: 01339 755727
Argyle Guest House, Tomintoul
Argyle Guest House is in the heart of Tomintoul, which is part of the Cairngorm National Park. The national park is a mecca for outdoor pursuits enthusiasts and those who just come to take in the spectacular views. The Argyle has six comfortable rooms suitable for single travellers to families. Prices start from £32 pppn.
Where: 7 Main Street, Tomintoul, AB37 9EX
Tel: 01807 580766
Silver Sands Holiday Park, Lossiemouth
If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, you’ll love this gem of a holiday location. The Silver Sands Holiday Park, just outside Lossiemouth, has direct access on to a vast, shimmering beach which rarely feels crowded. The water shelves gently into the Moray Firth and all that can be heard is the call of seabirds and the squeals of happy children. But, if the thought of a cool dip in the sea is not your cup of tea, head over to the park’s heated indoor swimming pool with sauna and steam room. This retreat also has a gym, a kids’ club and adventure playground with pirate ship, and a games room. After a day on the beach you can enjoy dinner in the restaurant before heading to the entertainment venue, which features live bands. A short break in a static caravan starts from £199 while charges for touring caravans, motor homes and tents start at £16 per night.
Where: Covesea West Beach, Lossiemouth, IV31 6SP
Tel: 01343 813262
The Barley Bothy, Drumblade
The Barley Bothy is an amazing space – and that’s official! Set amid the rolling fields, it was featured on Channel 4 TV’s Amazing Spaces. This gorgeous holiday shack has a cosy wood burner and costs from £78pn.
Where: Newton of Begshill, Drumblade, AB54 6BJ
Tel: 07973 264003
Meldrum House, Oldmeldrum
Crowned AA Hotel of the Year for Scotland 2014/15, Meldrum House is arguably one of the most luxurious bases from which to explore the north east. The 13th Century baronial building last year saw the addition of an uber-chic and cutting-edge extension affording panoramic views of its 18-hole US Golf Association-constructed course.
Where: Meldrum House & Golf Course, Oldmeldrum, AB51 0AE
Tel: 01651 872294
When you cross the threshold of The Craigellachie you’ll be walking in the footsteps of celebrities like Kate Moss, Noel Gallagher and Sadie Frost who were there for a birthday bash in 2015. The hotel, in the heart of Speyside and smack bang on its Malt Whisky Trail, is just a short walk to wild salmon fishing on the Spey where a local ghillie can be present.
Where: Victoria Street, Craigellachie, AB38 9SR
Tel: 01340 881 204
Milestone House, Rosehearty
How would you use a “Loo of the Year”? Well you can try out the “Home Throne” with a glamping holiday Down On The Farm. Choose a High Seas Hobbit for your stay and you’ll get to use the novel loo built inside a giant whisky barrel from a nearby distillery. The hobbits – tubular pods – can sleep two or four people and have all the comfort of home – a soft cosy bed, power points for hair dryers and bathroom facilities. And if you are torn between a coastal or rural location, look no further. This wonderful holiday spot offers a combination of both and is just a short drive from the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Peterhead Prison Museum, and the Macduff Marine Aquarium. Check out the farm’s Coastal Carriage and Harvest Hut too. Prices from £55.
Where: Milestone House, Rosehearty, AB43 6JY
Tel: 07954 989737
Haughton House Holiday Park, Alford
Haughton House Holiday Park is set within woodland on the banks of the River Don. It is part of Haughton Country Park which has two children’s play areas and the Alford Valley Railway’s narrow gauge train which takes passengers to the popular Alford Transport Museum. Nearby Alford also has a heritage centre and historic battlefield and dry ski slope.
Where: Montgarrie Road, Alford, AB33 8NA
Tel: 01975 562107