Aviemore is the gateway to the Cairngorms, the UK’s snow and alpine playground. A short 5 minute stroll from the train station, in the centre of town, sits a complex that includes three of the Macdonald chain of hotels, one of them being the Morlich Hotel.
The most direct route the the Morlich involves a walk through the Spey Valley Shopping centre which provides various foodstuffs, knick knacks, swimwear and suits. You know, in case you forgot yours…
Popping out the other side of the shopping centre we found ourselves looking at the back entrance to the hotel, with the Italian restaurant to our right.
Inside we were greeted with the reception area, a TV screen showing a loop of advertisements for the MacDonald Hotel chains, their offerings in the sun, somewhat incongruous considering the snow on the ground outside.
The room wasn’t available yet, so we dropped off our luggage and headed into town for a bite to eat and some sledding on a small makeshift slope on the lawn in front of the hotel next door.
When we came back we checked in and headed upstairs. The receptionist had told us that the lift wasn’t working and so we walked up the one flight of stairs and along the corridor to the room.
Inside was a tastefully appointed room with a desk and a couple of armchairs flanking the window with a view across the road to the indoor sports centre. Obscured behind the sports centre was the A9 and beyond that the snow capped hills of the Craigellachie National Nature Reserve.
Inside the room were the usual utilities of iron, hair dryer and safe, along with tea making facilities and a pair of shortbread biscuits.
I love a good rainforest shower head and the Morlich certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard: a ceiling mounted rainforest head competing for attention with the different settings on the hand held shower nozzle.
The toiletries, like the MacDonald Houstoun House, were Elemis and the Speyside Shopping Centre had such an array of Elemis products that I almost thought it a shrine.
I’m still getting to grips with the MacDonald chain’s offering of Breakfast, Dinner and Room for a single room rate. The Dinner is really just a per person credit towards the dinner bill and it locks you in to eating at the hotel rather than at one of the other places in town.
And I think you get good value. The credit can’t be used for your drinks, so you can’t elect to have a liquid dinner and drink your way through the credit, but there’s enough there for a good three courses each.
We both started with the Verdure Fritte – lightly fried vegetables covered in parmesan shavings and accompanied with a dipping sauce. The delicate batter was like a tempura and texture of the vegetables reminded me of mussels so it was like a less fishy mussel fritter.
I decided to be boring and got the spaghetti bolognese for my main, while Ange elected to try the ravioli, cynically opining that she’d probably only get six little meat parcels. She was off by a factor of 100%, pleasantly surprised by the serving size.
We’d maxed out the ordering to make sure none of our credit was wasted which lead to some swollen bellies after the sides of salad and garlic bread were added to the mains and starter. Of course there was just enough room for dessert!! Ange succumbed to the lemon cheesecake while I only just managed to finish my chocolate brownie.
After our walk through the Craigellachie National Nature Reserve our legs were complaining as much as our bellies from eating too much at dinner as we headed back up the stairs to our room, the lift still being broken.
When we got there we were a little concerned as the TV from next door could be heard pretty plainly from our room. I was worried that we would be kept up to all hours by whatever our neighbours elected to watch, but we were lucky and at the stroke of 10:00pm they turned it off and we enjoyed a relaxing night’s sleep.
We headed down the next morning, looking forward to what would be on offer for breakfast. A small selection of cereals joined the pastries on one table while a nice selection of fruits sat on the table beside.
But the queues weren’t forming in front of the healthy stuff, oh no! The morning crowds had their eyes on the cooked offerings. And a very good selection there was: in addition to the usual sausage, bacon, scrambled egg, fried tomato, baked beans and mushrooms were very Scottish additions of tattie scones and black pudding.
The staff were very responsive, refreshing the plates as soon as they looked like getting close to empty with a well practiced air.
We noticed that the lifts were working on our way back and squashed ourselves in (there was only enough room for four people really) to save our legs.
Would I Return?
I’d be worried about the sound proofing in the room to tell the truth – if our neighbours hadn’t decided to turn their TV off at 10pm we’d be at the mercy of whatever they were watching until they did turn it off, but apart from that if I found myself in Aviemore, the Morlich would be a perfect place to stay.