Just outside Grantown on Spey in Dulnain Bridge you will find Muckrach Lodge. A grand old building situated on a slight hillock with Castle Grant as its neighbour. The Lodge came highly recommended to us so we decided to visit for a luxurious weekend break.
Muckrach was built in 1860 as a shooting lodge for visitors to the area and has been welcoming travellers to Speyside ever since. Over 14 months ago Muckrach began a new era of grandeur when it was stripped back to the bare walls, completely refurbished and given a new lease of life.
From the minute you walk in it’s obvious that the new owners haven’t skimped or cut corners and it looks and feels like money has been no object in the renovation.
On arrival we were greeted by Aidan who had very kindly helped us through the booking process both online and by email, where nothing was too much trouble. Check in was fast and simple and we were soon unpacking and planning a relaxing G&T or perhaps a cocktail!
The hotel has 11 individually named and designed bedrooms each with a large luxurious en suite bathroom. We were in “Abernethy” for the weekend with a view towards local farmland beyond the car park.
Our initial impression was that the room was smaller than we were anticipating, but on reflection it really wasn’t that small, it just had 2 rather large pieces of furniture – a tall boy and a wardrobe which made it feel smaller.
Overall the quality of the furnishings, bedding and accessories were absolutely first class and the bed was extremely comfy. It is obvious that great thought has gone into the design of the bedrooms, right down to the little shelf above the electrical socket – perfect for charging your phone.
The bathroom was luxurious and has to be one of the nicest bathrooms we have experienced on our travels. Towels were extremely large, soft and fluffy and the full sized toiletries were from Highland Soap Company in Spean Bridge. It’s great to see small businesses supporting other local small businesses and promoting their products and produce.
|Full Size Highland Soap Company Toiletries|
The rain shower complete with LED light was wonderful – lots of space, great flow and extremely relaxing. We also found the ledge running right around the wall from the sink to the WC very handy as it provided perfect storage space for all our bits and pieces.
After relaxing for a while we made our way downstairs to dinner. The restaurant was fully booked that night and the only available table was at 6.30pm. We decided to have a pre-dinner drink in the hotel bar before going through to dinner. Sadly, the cocktail menu wasn’t up and running when we visited (but it is now) so we decided on a Gin and Tonic instead. Drinks were served in the lounge area overlooking the new outside terrace that on a nicer evening would have been a lovely spot to sit and enjoy the fresh Highland air.
The dinner menu is sensibly succinct for this new venture but nevertheless it was packed with lots of local and artisan Scottish produce. I’m sure with a fully booked restaurant the chef doesn’t want to be under too much stress with a long and complicated menu so this menu works well whilst providing something to tempt most folks taste buds.
I had heard rave reviews of the Grants of Speyside Haggis Bon Bons with cauliflower puree and crispy pancetta (£5.50) so opted for this, whilst Raymond had Blue Murder Cheese, conference pear, walnuts and rocket salad with Summer Harvest Dressing (£6.50).
The Haggis bon bons were lovely and crisp and packed with Haggis. This is the first time I had tasted Grants of Speyside Haggis and whilst it has a lovely texture it would have been even nicer with a bit more spice.
|Haggis Bon Bons|
Raymond’s Blue Murder cheese starter was a nice combination of creamy, robust blue cheese from Tain complimented by the sweetness of the pear – we’re great fans of Summer Harvest dressings but on this occasion chef was a bit too sparing as it didn’t make much of an impression on the dish.
|Blue Murder Cheese|
For main course I decided on Fish and Chips served with buttered garden peas and chunky tartar sauce (£15.95) and Raymond went for the ultimate Muckrach steak burger with Connage Dairy Smoked Dunlop cheddar cheese, The Hollies treacle cured bacon, fries and Tracklements red pepper and tomato relish. (£14.95)
The fish and chips were well presented with a generous portion size that you would expect for the price charged. The fish was very tasty but the batter could have been crispier for my liking – it was verging on being spongy rather than crispy but nevertheless an enjoyable main.
|Fish and Chips|
Raymond thoroughly enjoyed his perfectly cooked homemade burger on a delicious seeded bun with the added treacly sweetness of the cured bacon and smoked cheese a winning combination.
In the interests of research and since it was a special weekend away we both decided to have dessert. I picked Black Isle Ice Cream with meringue and a selection of Scottish berries (£3.95) whilst Raymond chose dark chocolate brownie with Scottish berries and served with Black Isle fudge brownie Ice Cream (£5.95).
My dessert was pretty much as described and you can’t go wrong for £3.95. Two good sized scoops of lovely ice cream, meringue and berries – it wouldn’t win any prices for originality but it was dashed tasty.
|Ice Cream, Meringue and Berries|
Raymond as you know is Mr Dessert and he was so looking forward to his chocolate brownie but he was disappointed when it arrived. He was imagining a warm chocolate brownie full of sticky chocolate-iness but instead it was a dried out chilled square without a hint of gooeyness.
All in all we had an enjoyable meal. The restaurant had not long opened when we visited so I’m sure the menu and some dishes are slightly work in progress. The restaurant was packed with local diners as well as hotel guests so we are confident that the restaurant will become a very popular haunt.
After a good nights sleep it was time for breakfast and more feasting. We certainly found the breakfasts to be excellent and a highlight of our stay. On the first morning we opted for a full cooked breakfast which was freshly prepared to order and absolutely delicious.
Lots of the produce used at the hotel including the treacle cured bacon comes from the owners’ farm shop down south, The Hollies.
|Porridge with Whisky and Berries|
We couldn’t manage a full cooked breakfast on the second day so we opted for porridge, berries and a dram and a bacon and egg doubler roll. As you will see the porridge comes with a full dram which even for a seasoned whisky drinker like me is a bit much for both the porridge and for first thing in the morning. We would recommend that the hotel saves a bit of cash and serves a small nip of whisky in a wee jug to add to the porridge to taste. The porridge was very good – excellent consistency, nice and warm and the berries and Speyside malt really added to this traditional Scottish breakfast.
The bacon and egg doubler came on a ciabatta style oval roll and was packed with more of the treacle bacon and a fried egg. There was a lot of eating in the roll and it really set us up for our wanders in Speyside.
|Bacon and Egg Doubler|
We had a thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable weekend break at The Muckrach and will definitely go back for another visit. Check out their website for full details of the rooms and dining options available. We went on a special two night B&B break deal of £199 and felt that this was good value for money.
Grantown on Spey
Tel 01479 851 227
Recommended places to visit close by:
Loch and Eilein for a lovely walk around the lochside
Boat of Garten Ospreys to see the Ospreys
Strathspey Railway – to ride the steam railway whilst enjoying lunch or tea
Cairngorm Mountain – check out their website- so much to see and do
Sweets for the car:
We dined on mint creams, raspberry ruffles, old fashioned cherry chews and sweet peanuts from Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe in Aviemore
Recommended detour is heading south
Heaven Scent in Milnathort for lunch or afternoon tea. Check out our blog here