Review of Mackay’s Hotel, Strathpeffer

The Square, Strathpeffer, IV14 9DL

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Being part of a good value tour of the Scottish Highlands package, we didn’t expect much from Mackay’s Hotel and were really quite surprised when it exceeded expectations in a number of areas.  Strathpeffer is an attractive and friendly little village full of surprises which makes the location of Mackay’s Hotel a selling point alone. The hotel itself, although not without flaws, delivers a lot more than the price you pay to stay there. We didn’t expect to like it much and yet we had a brilliant time at the hotel. Mackay’s represents excellent value and is a great base for exploring an area of stunning Scottish scenery.

Strathpeffer, nestling in a ridiculously picturesque part of the Scottish Highlands, is a Victorian spa village and Mackay’s Hotel is a fine example of the sort of architecture found in Scottish towns and villages that boomed during the era of the Victorians. There are newer annexes, but these are discreetly ‘hidden’ away behind the main hotel.

The interior has been described as being tired by some but to us it felt quite homely, if a wee bit old fashioned. However, common areas like the dining room were bright and airy. There’s a good sized car park in front of the hotel and you’re only a hop, skip and a jump from Strathpeffer’s many attractions. There are some great walks from the village along old railway lines as well as one through an enchanting wood. There is no wi-fi at the hotel but the café at the spa pavilion a few metres along from the hotel does have wi-fi access. When we were there the café was shut for a wedding, but the bike shop in the village allowed us to hook into theirs – that’s how friendly the place is.

Rooms are quite small, but cosily so. They have televisions and tea-making facilities which is a real bonus. The beds are comfortable and we slept very, very well. I was quite taken with our attic room as it overlooked the pretty village square where a pipe band performs at the weekend in summer months. The bathroom is claustrophobic and the source of our main complaint about Mackay’s Hotel’s facilities; it was almost impossible to get the water temperature to body friendly whilst maintaining a decent pressure.

The dining room is bright and meals are lively. A system that involved choosing what you want for dinner at breakfast might seem odd, but it meant that the mainly Eastern European waitresses (very friendly and efficient – our nephews will vouch for their friendliness) were able to serve quite large numbers quickly and without any fuss. The food isn’t going to win any awards but it was perfectly acceptable and the menu changed on a daily basis. There was always a vegetarian option which is a massive plus point in our book.

There is a large bar attached to the hotel where all drinks are priced at £1.50. There is live entertainment of varying quality which is aimed at not so much a mature audience but an extinct one given that some of the songs sung were way, way past their sell by date. The acts can be so bad that they’re fun and most people seemed to be enjoying themselves, so if it ain’t broke…

One of the hotel’s pleasant surprises is that it has a good little spa and gym. The age group of many of the guests means that it’s never going to get packed and we thoroughly enjoyed a workout in the decently equipped gym, followed by a swim and a sauna.

All in all we felt Mackay’s Hotel offered excellent value for money and we wouldn’t hesitate in checking in again.

Prices are from £48.50 per night B&B. Check offers here.

About Jack 799 Articles
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a Slow Travel consultant and a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Facebook for more travel photos and snippets.

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