Last week I indulged in a total treat day in the Cairngorms all under business as North Hop Highland Brand Ambassador. Our day started off as planned with a catch up with North Hop festival director Michelle over brunch at the ever excellent Mountain Cafe, but then our visit to Caorunn Distillery was cancelled due to the #beastfromtheeast. However, after a North Hop photo shoot and dogwalk down at Cairngorm favourite Loch Morlich, we headed over to Muckrach Country House Hotel for a relaxing afternoon tea!
Once out of the minus temperatures, we received a very warm welcome from Lucy, who indicated us to the different areas of the ground floor and gave us a little history of Muckrach. It’s undergone an extensive refurb over the last few years to create a luxury 4 star hotel, ideal for short breaks and weekend stays. We were left to our own devices while the last minute touches to our afternoon tea were prepared, so naturally Michelle and I went for a good nosy around!
The whole lodge has been curated with items produced by high quality makers and crafters, many of them local to the area and to Scotland. In fact, you can even buy some of the items straight off the shelf, or be referred to the maker to place an order – a great idea if you wanted a reminder of your stay at the lodge. The whole place really has been refurbished to reflect that classic Highland lodge feel, without it feeling twee or dated.
Importantly though, despite having lots of high end items on display, it didn’t feel like a museum or somewhere where you couldn’t pick things up. Items were cleverly placed – for example, most breakables were out of the reach of small children, so I imagine that parents could rest easy while spending time in the public areas, especially when I spied a whole stack of board games, a piano, and even a scalextric racing set to entertain children…or those who are kids at heart!
We were told that our afternoon tea was ready, so of course we raced through leisurely made our way to the library in order to get those all important photos before we tucked in!
We started with freshly made finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off, of course! My favourite was the classic salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, but there wasn’t too much to choose between them, because the egg mayonnaise was creamily delicious, and the mustard kick with the ham sandwiches was nicely judged.
Progressing upwards, the next tier housed warm fruit scones and shallow dishes with the best ever vanilla creme brulees. Not just left with the usual berry jam to top our scones, Muckrach provide dishes with lemon curd and marmalade too, as well as butter. Michelle rated lemon curd topped with a slice of strawberry and a spoonul of cream from our top tier of goodies as her top scone combo. And the creme brulee was perfect, having tons of vanilla seeds, it tasted wonderfully natural instead of the nasty artificial flavouring that can overpower sweet treats.
To finish up, the top tier contained a sugar crusted round of shortbread, mini pavlova topped with a plump raspberry, and a cheeky bite of rich chocolate brownie. Washed down with a choice of tea or coffee – the pots were huge so multiple cups were consumed!
We also indulged in the cocktail of the month from the well stocked Muckrach bar. Michelle ordered us these and I have no idea what was in them apart from Pinkster gin and pineapple juice, but it was very tasty! There are options for gins and cocktails to be added to your afternoon tea package for an extra charge. I especially like that Muckrach source many Scottish gins along with their perfect serves, and there’s no Bombay Sapphire or Gordon’s in sight!
After thoroughly enjoying afternoon tea, we took our time to relax in the library. I felt like I was in a real-life game of Cluedo, such was the luxury and comfort of the place.
This is also the designated dog-friendly room, so well behaved pups can also enjoy the Muckrach luxury (and there are two dog friendly suites for residents).
We moved through briefly to the drawing room where we enjoyed lounging by the wood burner, although this was possibly a bad move because after half an hour of being toasty warm, we really did not want to move from our seats to drive back to Inverness! We were almost tempted to consider a late-minute check-in, such was the feeling of feeling so chilled out and comfortable. I had that post-spa day relaxed feeling despite not having any treatments – which was purely down to the tranquil atmosphere that Muckrach has.
We ended our visit by greeting the new resident Highland cows – who are hits with tourists and locals alike. Archie, the previous resident, was well-loved but I think this pair are going to be equally popular!
Muckrach has all-day dining options, and 13 rooms for overnight stays. Based on our afternoon there and the afternoon tea we enjoyed, we can imagine that an overnight stay with dinner and breakfast here would be very hard to beat!
Thanks to Muckrach who gifted us complimentary afternoon tea. I was under no obligation to write a positive post.