Andy Mossack stays riverside at Maryculter House, one of Scotland’s oldest hotels and revels in picture-postcard luxury.
Maryculter House in Aberdeenshire is a luxury haven tucked away on the banks of the River Dee, so close you can almost touch it as it rolls by. I’m standing gazing at it almost trancelike, until a local walks past and offers “Aye laddie, there’s plenty of salmon in there” and continues his way along the river path.
Perhaps, it was the rushing river, the glorious birdsong, or the fact that I was standing in a place steeped in history, but right then I felt utter tranquillity. It was a glorious moment.
Maryculter is steeped in history. It’s been a place of hospitality and rest since the crusading Knights Templar made it their home in 1227 and lasted for 200 years. There are many Templar traces all around the original parts of the house and gardens; the ancient stone walls and fireplaces ooze authenticity and in the gloriously vaulted medieval Great Hall the distinctive red cross-emblazoned Templar flag has pride of place. The house also played a role in the Jacobite rebellion to put the exiled Stuarts onto the English throne as it was once the home of William Menzies, a prominent Stuart supporter and six of his sons fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden. Archaeology is still ongoing here and there are rumours of ancient tunnels remaining under the house, but it’s all very hush-hush.
What isn’t a secret is the newly refurbished guest rooms which, in direct contrast to the house, are sleek and contemporary with deep pile carpeting, subtle touches of blue tartan, gorgeous linens and, in my case, glorious first-floor river views.
Back downstairs, the Poacher’s Brasserie turned out to be a memorable culinary treat. The first welcome surprise was the COVID friendly nibbles, attached to my glass with mini clothes pegs, clever that. The heritage tomato starter with sun-blushed tomato pesto and fried goats curd (£8) was a palate fresh treat, but the star of my show was the main. A breast of chicken with Stonehaven haggis bonbons, neeps & tatties and a whisky sauce (£16).
The showstopping part was I had to inject whisky directly into my bonbons via a small syringe. Genius! In a fitting finale, my Vanilla panna cotta with Ghillies dram jelly, honeycomb, and shortbread (£8) totally passed my wobble test. Any panna cotta that doesn’t sufficiently wobble is a culinary travesty. I finished off my evening cuddled up to the roaring fire in the Great Hall with a dram of local whisky and my second surprise of the night; some dark chocolate twizzle sticks to accompany it. “Dunk the stick first then taste it with a sip” were the instructions, which I followed to the letter of course. Fabulous.
For me, the unique selling point of Maryculter is the utter charm of the public areas. It simply oozes character from every one of its nooks and crannies. Add to that the outstanding location, the outstanding food and the welcoming embrace of the entire team, it really is a jewel of a place. I’m sure those ancient knights approve of the way their old home has turned out.
All Images (c) Andy Mossack except the hotel and rooms.
Tell me more about Maryculter House Hotel
Maryculter House Hotel, South Deeside Road, Maryculter, Aberdeen AB12 5GB
T: +44 (0)1224 732124 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rooms from £80 including breakfast.
For more information on what to do and where to go in Aberdeenshire, Visit Aberdeenshire has all the details for you.