You can never have to many staycations, especially when you live in Scotland! Every weekend people drive around the countryside, escaping the big cities, all desperately seeking for a countryside fix.
When life gets hectic, driving far away seems like too much of a fuss so I am always keen on trying new places near Aberdeen that give me the feeling that I am somewhere else. This time I think I’ve found a real corker!
How about you follow me on a weekend staycation to Ardoe House? Let me lead the way…
Now that I’ve got your attention, say hello to my new favourite place in Aberdeenshire, the Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, a hotel, spa, restaurant, cafe, bar on the Deeside, just minutes away from the granite city.
It’s not a new one. I’ve known about it since I moved in Aberdeen and a few years back I was really close to celebrate my birthday there but something else came along the way so it never really happened until this weekend. If anywhere in Aberdeen deserves a blog post, it’s definitely this place!
Upon your entry in the 19th century manor you are greeted by the most magnificent golden sofa and mosaic floor, difficult to be unnoticed and impossible not to be documented on Instagram. Once you walk in the reception there is a fireplace to keep you warm while waiting and a bar to have a pint and a nibble. Anyone is welcome on this floor and there were many visitors who were there just to enjoy themselves on this rainy weekend.
Our room had a view in the gardens, a big comfy bed, fluffy pillows and it was just a minute away from the spa. Brilliant!
We got changed, got our trainers on and run through the rain in the spa. We went to the gym for a while before immersing into the world of sauna, swimming pool, jacuzzi and steam room. As you can imagine I got into conversations with people, curious to learn where they are from and why they were visiting Aberdeen. It turns out Ardoe House is popular among the Scots. I met two ladies from Dundee, a couple from Inverness and some lads from Fife, celebrating a stag do. Always happy to make some new friends we discussed about Ardoe House and how it was my first time visiting despite living in Aberdeen. We promised to all make an effort and be good to ourselves and treat us to more weekend retreats like this.
Revitalised and hungry we headed back to the room quickly got ready and walked to the main restaurant for dinner. We sat in a table by the fireplace-just what I needed to get warmer. The music was soft and even though the tables were arranged the one next to the other, you could hardly listen to the conversation in the next table.
Our waiter was well spoken and happy to explain the entire menu to us, making his suggestion along the way. We started our gastronomical journey with a few nibbles, green olives served on ice and slices of 4 different kinds of bread. The cranberry bread was a winner!
For starters we tried the goats cheese with beetroot and mackerel with pink grapefruit and purple potatoes. It was the first time I tried purple potatoes ever in my life and it was a pleasant surprise. It felt more like something in between the traditional potatoes and a tiny beet of aubergine, combined with the smoked mackerel and grapefruit it was a beautiful marriage of flavours, quite refreshing and very different than your usual starter.
Then it was into the mains, sirloin steak with garlic butter sauce for Steven and sea bass fillet on risotto for me. The steak came medium rare, just as Steven likes it, the meat was juicy and delicious, and the garlic butter sauce was something he had never tried before. It really tasted like real garlic and butter and not something out of a bottle and it was smooth and tangy! The sea bass fillet I had was perfectly cooked and the fennel sauce had such an unexpected taste. Normally sea bass is served with a lemon sauce but the fennel sauce was exquisite and something that you definitely have to try if you visit Ardoe House anytime soon.
But what followed was the real beast, a creme brulee that would leave any French chef astonished. Unbelievably moreish and so, so good we were really close to order a second one. We also got the passion fruit cheesecake that was delightful and rich in flavour.
Give it a go if you are in the Aberdeen hood, I promise you will leave satisfied and with a smile on your face.
And don’t forget to tell a friend!