Last Friday Gordon and I packed up a suitcase and disappeared for the weekend, spending 2 nights in the Granite City's gorgeous Ardoe House Hotel*. They say moving home is one of the most stressful things you will do in your lifetime, and after the last couple of months, a relaxing spa break was exactly what we needed.
Ardoe House is a 19th century manor house surrounded by 30 acres of land in Aberdeen's Royal Deeside. It's only a short drive from the city centre but it's like a whole other world. We didn't leave once the entire weekend. The building houses 120 traditional rooms upgraded with modern amenities (hello WiFi and Nespresso machine!), a restaurant, brasserie, 2 bars, function suites, a fitness centre, indoor pool and spa. The high, ornate ceilings and period features add character and we felt like King & Queen of the castle!
Our room had a huge, comfy bed with perfectly plump pillows and super soft lambs wool blankets! The bathroom was well stocked with Arran Aromatic goodies and the walk in shower was ace. My only criticism is my pet hate in hotels - no mirrors anywhere near the sockets! Good hair is hard to achieve when you can't see what you're doing! Usually we don't spend much time in the hotel room when we go away but this was just too comfy... On our final night we were back in the room by 9pm, watching Taken 2 and ordering room service. They had a wedding on that day and seemed really busy in the other restaurants so our pizza and sweet potato fries took almost an hour to arrive - however, they did advise us of this when we ordered and it was worth the wait!
Breakfast was served buffet style in the hotel's Blair's restaurant. You can choose from fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereal or create your own full Scottish from the selection of hot food - sausages, bacon, black pudding, hash browns, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms... Everything seemed to be topped up and refreshed regularly. Toast will be brought to the table and other dishes can be ordered from the menu at no extra cost; think smoked kippers, eggs benedict and omelettes! I fuelled up for Sunday's gym sesh with porridge, banana, honey, cinnamon and mixed seeds - yum!
Dinner at Soapie's Brasserie
For Friday night's dinner we shunned the fine dining experience at Blair's and decided on a more relaxed, informal (affordable!) evening at Soapie's Brasserie. The menu was more up our street with its offerings of steak, Jacob's Ladder ribs and Peterhead fish and chips. We shared haggis bon bons in a whiskey sauce to start, followed by sirloin steak for Gordon and the Wagyu steak burger for me. I'm not a fan of buns being bigger than the patty but the gooey melted cheese and crispy bacon made up for it! The sweet potato fries were perfectly crispy and so good we ordered them from room service the next night^! Dessert was a chocolate and praline cheesecake, which was just the right size and not creamy enough to hurt my belly! I'm not usually struck on sticky toffee pudding - I just don't get the hype! It's a staple on any dessert menu so if you're going to do it, you have to do it right. Soapie's did it exceptionally well!
Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room
Saturday afternoon was spent in the drawing room stuffing ourselves full of cake! Afternoon tea is the ultimate indulgence, even more so when you're enjoying it from opulent sofas next to a grand fireplace, and surrounded by rich wooden paneling, fancy artwork and chandeliers. The drawing room is a relaxing space to enjoy some quiet time or a little lunch. We ordered the regular afternoon tea as well as the chocolate version and (after a little service confusion and fairly lengthy wait!) shared sandwiches filled with smoked salmon and roast beef, followed by a scone and chocolate tea cake, and more cakes than I thought I could handle. Between us we finished the lot, bar half a carrot cake! Unlimited teas and coffees were included in the price (which worked out at £40 for two) and a glass of champagne can be added for £9.50 per person. The whiskey scone, fudgey chocolate brownies and white chocolate traybake were the highlights.
Both Gordon and I fell in love with the hotel's whiskey bar. Unfortunately it was closed throughout the weekend as they were so busy but the friendly bar staff were happy to switch the lights on for us to have a nose at the famous Scottish portraits which line the wall. I admired the fancy decanter shaped drop lights and stainless steel bar, while Gordon eye'd up the whiskey offerings. Although the bar was unmanned they did offer to seat us there if that was what we wanted, and were just as happy to bring bottles through to serve to us in the Laird's bar. He enjoyed a nip or 2 of Balvenie while I made my way through the cocktail list at Laird's. Their strawberry basil grande was my favourite!
After breakfast on Saturday morning we had a wonder around the hotel grounds and then made our way to Ardoe's "Spa Naturel Fitness". We spent our entire day here, starting with a workout in the gym. Most hotel gyms are tiny rooms with a smattering of dumbells, a weight bench and a treadmill if you're lucky. This gym however was packed full of cardio machines, various weight machines, a couple of benches, barbells, dumbells, swiss balls, bosu balls and kettlebells. Classes are offered in the opposite fitness room and I love the motivational quotes and healthy recipes at the entrance! I managed to get in a decent workout two mornings in a row and felt good for it! After Saturday's chest and bicep sesh we headed down to the poolside.
We had a little swim and made the most of the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. The pool is a bit dated compared to the rest of the hotel, but it was perfectly clean and the ideal place to chill before our spa treatments. Gordon was
tortured treated to a deep tissue back and shoulder massage. He said it was hell, but spoke about booking another so it can't of been all bad! My hot stone massage was just what I needed. Ros was my therapist for the day and explained the whole process and benefits of the stones, putting me at ease before going ahead and working the knots out of my back and shoulder muscles. She also spent time on my lower back after I told her I suffered from pain there regularly. Although slightly uncomfortable at some points, the pressure was needed and I've felt better for it since! I really enjoyed the massage and would highly recommend it.
Overall our experience at Ardoe House lived up to the 4 star reputation. All staff were friendly, did their best to help in any situation and made us feel welcome at all times. The food, drink and spa were up to a high standard and we'd go back in a heartbeat. They offer various overnight packages starting from £145 per night. Ideal for a girly weekend, mini-moon or spontaneous romantic break!
Have you ever indulged in a spa break?
*We were invited to stay at Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel in exchange for an honest review. As always, all views are my own and 100% genuine.