A Seasonal Guide to the Scottish Highlands’ Most Stylish Stay

January 18, 2023 by Perrie Hartz


Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

Originally a Victorian coaching inn and hunting lodge, The Fife Arms has been lovingly reimagined by internationally-renowned art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth and is now a wildly romantic, blissfully remote, and sublimely comfortable boutique hotel situated in a tiny peaceful village in the midst of Scotland’s rugged highlands. The village of Braemar, like the lodge itself, is a solid, stony little haven where traditional Scottish culture thrives and every season of the year offers a unique type of natural beauty. Though rather off-grid and a good 2-hour drive from Edinburgh, The Fife Arms is truly a destination unto itself, offering countless experiences and activities throughout the year that will have guests yearning to return to this stunning spot in Northern Scotland.

Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

Summer: 

The summer months at The Fife Arms tend to be the busiest, with guests arriving from all over the world to attend the famous Highland games set right in the village of Braemar at the season’s end in September. This season sees The Flying Stag—The Fife Arms’ lively, elevated pub—turn into somewhat of a hub for all social gatherings in the area. The long communal wood tables and crisp local beers on tap, along with live music played by local fiddlers, makes The Flying Stag an ideal place to gather year-round, though by far it is most popular in the balmy summer months. With regulars and locals rubbing shoulders with visitors, the bar has a vibrant atmosphere filled with animated conversation and live entertainment, and offers local beers, Scottish whiskies, and other spirits accompanied by an elevated menu of bar snacks and traditional Scottish dishes with a contemporary flair. With the beauty of the rugged highlands waiting just outside the door, The Fife Arms’ exceptional Ghillie guides will take guests on countless outdoor adventures, from hikes in the Cairngorms national park, to wild swimming in the river Dee, wildlife drawing and painting, historic castle tours, and bespoke catered picnics set up in gorgeously remote huts overlooking the rolling hills of Royal Deeside.

Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

As the days get chillier and the heather starts to change colors into deep red, orange, and gold hues, the Scottish Highlands are a magical place to be during the harvest season. The Fife Arms’ many large fireplaces are lit, the fur blankets laid out, and the hotel becomes a cozy, luxurious retreat from the cold autumn air. Guests visiting during the fall months will love dining at the property’s signature restaurant The Clunie, where the menu— created by Head Chef Adam Maddock—offers creative dishes made with all local produce. Taking its name from the river Clunie which runs just below the hotel, The Clunie Dining Room showcases wood-fire cooking and seasonal Scottish produce in a striking room painted by renowned Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca, who was inspired by the wild, untouched beauty of the Cairngorms.

Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

Fall:

As the days get chillier and the heather starts to change colors into deep red, orange, and gold hues, the Scottish Highlands are a magical place to be during the harvest season. The Fife Arms’ many large fireplaces are lit, the fur blankets laid out, and the hotel becomes a cozy, luxurious retreat from the cold autumn air. Guests visiting during the fall months will love dining at the property’s signature restaurant The Clunie, where the menu— created by Head Chef Adam Maddock—offers creative dishes made with all local produce. Taking its name from the river Clunie which runs just below the hotel, The Clunie Dining Room showcases wood-fire cooking and seasonal Scottish produce in a striking room painted by renowned Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca, who was inspired by the wild, untouched beauty of the Cairngorms.

While first and foremost a hotel, The Fife Arms is filled with so much exceptional Scottish and international artwork that it functions also as a gallery or museum—albeit an especially luxurious one. Owners Iwan and Manuela Wirth are also co-founders of acclaimed global gallery Hauser and Wirth, and their combined passion for art is reflected around the Fife Arms’ every turn. The hotel is home to more than 14,000 pieces, including both antique and specially-commissioned artworks that are present in every guest room, corridor, and cozy corner. Many contemporary works are complemented by an array of mainly Scottish artworks collected for the hotel, which offers private or group art tours through the entire property, allowing guests to see every incredible piece on display. Highlights include a delicate watercolor of a stag’s head painted by HM Queen Victoria, a monumental 19th century mahogany and pine chimneypiece carved with scenes from the work of Scottish poet Robert Burns, and paintings by Archibald Thornburn, one of Scotland’s finest wildlife painters, and the legendary Pablo Picasso.

Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

The arrival of the Winter season in the Highlands sees the surrounding mountains and quaint villages of Royal Deeside covered in a stark white blanket of snow. While the area is quiet and peaceful, this is when The Fife Arms truly comes to life—glowing with sparkling Christmas lights, roaring fireplaces, and twinkling candles. The perfect place to spend a cozy weekend or celebrate Christmas or Hogmanay, The Fife Arms offers a festive getaway during which guests can choose to explore the wintry, snow-and-ice-covered highland wonderland outside or simply curl up with a good book and a ‘wee dram’ of local Scottish whiskey by the Drawing Room fire. In November 2022, The Fife Arms took its gorgeous ‘Fog House’ —a room with wood paneling, a cozy fireplace, soaring floor-to-ceiling windows and views over the magical courtyard and roaring fire pit—and reimagined it into a traditional Swiss fondue hut complete with red and white linens on each of the tables. Guests will sip on mulled wine or festive cocktails and enjoy either a traditional Swiss fondue or a combination of local Scottish cheeses.

Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

The Fife Arms also recently revealed its newest spot to enjoy a tipple, Bertie’s Whiskey Bar, a sumptuously elegant and glamorous “speakeasy style” bar named in honor of Queen Victoria’s eldest son King Edward VII, also known as ‘Bertie’. Guests will lose themselves in a labyrinth of whisky bottles arranged like books on a shelf, backlit in a lustrous amber glow. A true whiskey library where patrons are actively encouraged to discover, wander, and browse, Bertie’s has 365 whiskeys—one for each day of the year—that are arranged by flavor profile: Fragrant, Fruity, Rich and Smoky. The Fife Arms offers bespoke whisky tastings guided by their incredibly knowledgeable Whisky Ambassador Katy Fennema, who takes guests on an exploration of 4 wonderfully characteristic drams that convey what Bertie’s is all about. The Ghillie team also offers specialized experiences such as whiskey and food pairing workshops or a tour of Royal Lochnagar Distillery, which sits in a scenic spot by the crystal-clear waters of Scarnock springs at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains.

Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

Spring:

With slightly warmer weather comes even more outdoor adventure options with the Fife Arms’ Ghillie guides, and Spring is the perfect time to venture into the Highlands for some fresh air. The Ghillie team will arrange tailor-made experiences and tours, including golf outings, sporting classes, landscape photography, and even art classes and tartan designing. Those guests eager to enjoy a relaxing weekend inside can head to Elsa’s, an exquisite jewel box of a bar that brings a touch of Art Deco glamour to the Scottish Highlands. Inspired by fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and her love of the color fuchsia, this bijou bar offers champagne and hand-crafted, picture-perfect cocktails.

Photography Courtesy of The Fife Arms

At the heart of the Fife Arms hotel sits the fabulous Gift Shop, brimming with rare, beautiful, and thoughtful objects that have been exceptionally curated by owner Manuela Wirth. In partnering with local artisans and other craftsmen from around Scotland, The Fife Arms proudly champions Scottish products while also highlighting the aspects that make the area so unforgettable. From soft cashmere throws and scarves with The Fife Arms’ own tartan print to luxury bath products made from local Scottish heather, guests will find countless special mementos at this gorgeous hotel and get to take a “wee bit” of the Highlands home with them.

Contact:

The Fife Arms

The Fife Arms
Mar Rd, Braemar
Aberdeenshire, AB35 5YN

Scotland
Telephone: +44(0)7876 327603

Email: reservations@thefifearms.com

Website: https://www.thefifearms.com


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