“ Address: Kingussie Rd / Newtonmore / Inverness-Shire PH20 1AY / United Kingdom „
Having decided to finally go to the Highland Wildlife Park to see the Moose who I've adopted for years, my task was to find somewhere to stay the night before our zoo visit. There were quite a few nice looking places to choose from, but in the end went for Ard-Na-Coille Guesthouse (I still have no idea how it's pronounced!), mainly due to the 5 Gold Star rating by the AA.
I booked online through Late Rooms where I paid £90 for a night's bed and breakfast for the two of us (I went through Quidco and got £10.80 cashback which I actually received before we'd had our stay). This seemed to me like a good price for a 5-star guesthouse.
Shortly after booking I received a nice email from the owners of the guesthouse asking approximately what time we'd be arriving, and advising us of place to eat locally in case we wanted to book a restaurant.
---Arrival and Checking In---
We spent Friday night in Paisley (hotel already reviewed!), and had a leisurely drive up to Newtonmore on the Saturday having visited some relatives of my boyfriend, and Glasgow Ikea (to return some things bought in Gateshead Ikea and inevitably buying more things), and stopping at various places of interest en route. It was easy to find where we were staying, although we did have to turn around in the museum directly across the road as had missed the entrance. We were lucky arriving exactly at 3:30pm since that is when Check-In begins.
We were shown around the house by Jacquie (breakfast room, snooker room, which stairs to use and avoid etc) and then to our room (shown the extra heater), and given the code to the front door which luckily my boyfriend was paying attention to.
There are 4 bedrooms in the guesthouse.
The room was nicely decorated and I was impressed with the little touches in it such as chocolates on the bedside table, boxes of tissues, and bathrobes in the bathroom (along with nice big towels), and soaps/shampoos to use. There is information in the room about the hotel, and local facilities.
There were tea and coffee making facilities (with fresh milk in a jug in the fridge, which would also be useful for chilling wine in if you wanted to drink in your room!) and a good selection of biscuits which we made use of. The TV was a good sized flat screen which was nice after the tiny one the night before.
The bed was comfortable and we both had as good a night's sleep as we could (my toothache kept waking me up).
The bathroom did look the part, although on closer inspection was perhaps a slight letdown. The taps on the sink were loose, and there was a bit of a crack in it. Worse though was in the morning when my boyfriend came to have a shower and could only get hot water. In the end he got the owner to come up who did a bit of fiddling and sorted it out. When I then had my shower again the water was only hot so my boyfriend did the same fiddling with it, and my shower was fine. I'd say that this was the only downside of the accommodation, and the owners were apologetic about it. I'm glad we asked though rather than not being able to shower!
In my previous hotel review at this point I listed some minor niggles. However, I am happy to say that there are no further niggles to mention here.
After arrival we relaxed in the room for a bit, then my boyfriend suggested that we go and play snooker. It seemed like a good idea to make use of the facilities. Having been years since I played snooker on a full-sized table, and recalling that in previous games I had only ever managed to pot the white ball I was very impressed that I didn't play too badly. Although my boyfriend did win both games, I did pot some balls (red and coloured), and in the second game I only lost by 12 points which for me quite frankly is amazing!
The snooker area was lovely, with a selection of drinks available to purchase if you wished, and also a lovely big lounge area with comfy sofas. Another nice touch was a little bowl of Cadbury chocolate éclairs. Yum!
---The Local Area---
Having finished playing snooker we decided to walk into the local village of Kingussie to find some food. My boyfriend put it into his phone's sat nav and found it was a 2 mile walk. Since it was such a lovely day (for once!) and mostly flat (aside from the slight hill the guesthouse is up) we decided to walk. We saw lots of birds, rabbits and cows along the way. It did seem like a bit of a trek, although less so on the way back (we did actually look at bus times for the way back, but they were 4 hours apart!), and we were thirsty by the time we reached the village. We went into a random hotel for a drink, and it was like being taken back to the 1970s (I felt like I was in a scene from 'Life on Mars') with the decor etc. After this we continued walking through the village, and despite the pub recommendation from the guesthouse owners we decided to have fish and chips (the place was called 'The Happy Haggis' and also did accommodation) and we ate inside. The fish and chips were absolutely lovely, toilets were clean, and we would highly recommend for those wanting that sort of thing. They also served deep fried pizza, but that certainly didn't appeal!
When we got back to the guesthouse we did spend some time outside hoping to spot some red squirrels (my boyfriend had seen one at a distance in a tree when we first got to our room), but no luck. I think it's just one of those things that I'm destined never to see in the wild in the UK (mind you we didn't see any in the zoo either the next day in the red squirrel area), having been in Cumbria for nearly 9 years now I have still only ever seen a dead one.
More further afield, this guesthouse is located 20 minutes from Aviemore, and 1 hour from Inverness.
On arrival we were asked to pick a slot of breakfast and we went for 9am as we wanted a slightly later start than the day before - we were in a slight rush in the end after the shower incident. Other guests were already in the dining area eating.
We could help ourselves to fresh croissants, pastries, yoghurt, fruit salad, and cereal, and were served coffee. We were asked what we wanted for our cooked option - there were various choices including kippers, and Eggs Benedict which did sound tempting, but as with the previous day we both chose the full Scottish breakfast. This was very nicely presented and cooked well, consisting of bacon, sausage, fried egg, a little pot of baked beans, grilled tomato, a lovely juice fried mushroom, and some fried bread. We were also brought toast. Breakfast was very good, although as with the place we'd stayed in the night before, there was no haggis (there was also no black budding, but that doesn't bother me either way really), and I do like to have a bit of haggis when up in Scotland! But otherwise, breakfast was perfect and set us up well for the day - in fact we only needed a piece of cake around lunchtime.
Since we'd already paid, checking out just involved handing back the room key. The owners at this point wanted to show us their dog, and while I'm not a dog lover (in fact I pretty much hate them), I was willing to concede that the Dulux-type dog was cute. My boyfriend had been slightly irritated at times by the dog's yapping, but personally I didn't think it was that bad. Check out is by 11am.
We really enjoyed our stay at Ard-Na-Coille, and I think I chose well when finding somewhere to stay. Jacquie and Mike were extremely friendly (and took an interest in my love of moose), and it was pretty close to perfect. It was also really well positioned for our visit to the zoo (only about 6 miles away), an attraction which I would HIGHLY recommend (a review might follow), especially for moose-lovers - you will not get closer elsewhere in the UK! Shop around for best deals for the guesthouse on the Internet, and remember to use cashback sites to get extra value for money.
5 out of 5 stars from my boyfriend and I.
Ard-na-Coille Guest House
Newtonmore, Highlands PH20 1AY
Tel: 01540 673214