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All aboard for a weekend of luxury on Speyside

The Station Hotel in Rothes has a lot to offer its guests.
The Station Hotel in Rothes has a lot to offer its guests.

From the food and drink to the rooms and decor, the Station Hotel is a prime example of everything that is endearing about Speyside.

Nestled in the heart of the picturesque village of Rothes in Moray, the hotel draws inspiration on its surrounding area in myriad ways.

As you would expect from a hotel that has no fewer than 60 distilleries within a 50-mile radius, the bottles of malt that adorn the walls – as well as those now acting as water jugs – are plentiful.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The Station Hotel is a haven for whisky enthusiasts. 

The Station Hotel leans on its surroundings in a way that only somewhere as uniquely charming as Speyside allows.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Steve Crossland, front of house manager, who showed us to our room, the stunning Caperdonich Suite – the name a nod to a former distillery.

Hamish certainly felt like an emperor in his luxurious suite.

Kitted out with an emperor-size four-poster bed, a mezzanine with a freestanding bath, high ceilings and a television that rose from the foot of the bed, it wouldn’t be silly to say it probably rivalled my flat for size. It certainly beat it on luxury.

Looking out, the suite offered stunning views of the Ben Aigan hill, a reminder of quite what striking scenery was on offer a short way off.

Having settled in and become accustomed with the numerous mod-cons – the mood lighting was a particular highlight – it was time to make the short stroll downstairs for dinner.

As someone who enjoys trying local beer, I opted for Toot’s Scottish Ale; a malty, smooth pint, personally designed by Steve as an ideal pairing for whisky, and affectionately named after the hotel owner’s father, Ernest Forsyth, more commonly known as Toot.

The restaurant itself is very tastefully designed, with one entire wall dedicated to holding some of the more than 500 whiskies that the Station Hotel offers.

Rather fittingly, the Sprit Safe was constructed just next door at Forsyths, and acts as the perfect centrepiece for the experience.

The impressive whisky wall.

To start, we opted for a vegetarian sharer. The board included root vegetable humus, warm flatbreads, oatcakes and pickle, among other things. The highlight though had to be the sunflower and peasmeal fritters.

Perhaps most impressive is that all the ingredients had been sourced from within a 60-mile radius from “producers who promise ethical and sustainable practices”.

The freshness of the produce is there for all to taste and, given the menu is designed to reflect the seasons, there’s a real personal touch to each dish.

For the main course, we opted for the Auchinroath Carrot Tagliatelle – if you’re a fan of mustard, this is one for you. The deliciously soft homemade pasta was accompanied with honey-glazed carrots, a rich mustard sauce and Auld Reekie smoked cheddar.

The food was beautifully presented. 

When desserts were suggested, I couldn’t help but notice the Kinloss Gooseberry and Rothes Rhubarb – a lovely mix of meringue, gooseberry and yoghurt sorbet and delicate rhubarb tuile. What stood out most was the impeccable presentation, the dish wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Louvre.

As recommended, I paired it with a dram of Tamdhu 15, a sweet accompaniment for a sweet dish.

Before heading upstairs to catch Match of the Day, there was time for a nip of the Station Hotel’s signature whisky in the Toot’s Bar next door – a lovely example of the characterful pubs that dot Speyside.

Hailed as the “most treasured” in the hotel’s monolithic collection, the rich, fruity Station Hotel 24 Year Old was a lovely way to round off the evening.

Waking up feeling more than suitably refreshed – probably something to do with the bed fit for an emperor – we headed for breakfast.

As we waited for the cooked option to arrive, Phoebe and I saw off a few rounds of toast – made using the chefs tasty home-baked bread – washed down with coffee. The eggs Florentine filled us up perfectly for the day and we decided to take a drive around the sprawling hills and lakes.

We headed south past the Craigellachie bridge, a postcard staple, and through the twee village of Aberlour, ticking off the distilleries as we went.

Craigellachie bridge.

Eventually, we stopped at Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens for a stroll. Steeped in history, the site has been the home of Clan Grant for hundreds of years. More impressive yet were the expansive gardens, which featured an old-school labyrinth, an ideal way to work off a hearty breakfast.

Ballindalloch Castle.

Yet more for the history buffs, a short distance from Ballindalloch are the Inveravon Pictish Stones. Dating back more than 100 years, their meaning is unknown, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive.

Back towards Aberlour, we stopped again for a walk, this time in search of the Lynn Falls. After eventually finding the starting point, we walked about a mile along a river and up a hill before finding the tranquil waterfall.

It’s testament to Speyside that we only scratched the surface of things to see and do in the area – another night at the Station Hotel to explore further might well be on the cards.

The Station Hotel, 51 New St, Rothes, Aberlour AB38 7BJ
Call: 01340 832200