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What an undiscovered gem… somehow this part of the country (Moray Speyside is tucked right up in the North East) escaped my radar until recently but, with a wealth of stunning beaches, incredible independent shops, whisky galore and some truly fine dining, consider it firmly on my list – underlined, in bold.
After five months living with family while the renovation takes place at home, this trip was a very welcome couples weekend for the husband and, I have to say, it was pretty perfect as a romantic break away with so much on offer. Is this my longest blog post ever? Yes, it might well be but let that be testament to how wonderful it was.
Scroll down to discover my tips for how to get there, where to stay, where to eat and what to do…
HOW TO GET THERE
The drive from Glasgow clocks about four hours but, as with most Scottish drives, you can expect gorgeous views along the way. Sans kids for a change, we chose to do the bulk of the journey in a oner making it to Logie Steading for lunch, a spot of shopping and a stretch of the legs round Randolph’s Leap, which really has to be seen to be believed, pictured below. Whilst there are train stations dotted around (perhaps the most conveniently located is Elgin) and the closest airport is Inverness, I would highly recommend taking a car to explore.
Images above of Randolph’s Leap
WHERE TO STAY
THE STATION HOTEL, ROTHES
We spent two nights at The Station Hotel in Rothes and it was out of this world – completely unassuming from the outside, the interior is an absolute treat with beautiful rooms and, the jewel in the crown, The Spirit Safe. Whilst we did not get the chance to dine in the restaurant, the food looks next level. There may not be spa facilities but ask for the Caperdonich Suite and your breath will be well and truly taken away (I shared a video here if you fancy taking a quick tour to see what I mean). Rothes itself is a pretty but quiet village save The Glen Grant Distillery but is an excellent base for exploring the area – ideally situated close to Elgin and within easy striking distance of my favourite beach.
UNDER THE STARS
There is something so romantic about a cabin under the stars… throw in a hot tub or private fairy pools and I am sold. This one in Duffus looks great and this one is more remote but look so fun.
MANSION HOUSE HOTEL, ELGIN
I wanted to include an Elgin option because we spent so much of our time in this gorgeous and vibrant town and Mansion House looks like a great spot.
THE SEAFIELD ARMS, CULLEN
If you are looking for a rather lovely bed by the coast then this hotel could very well be the one…
Of course there are hundreds of listings to search through but my advice would be to narrow down by area and look for something to fit your needs in Elgin (for the shopping and dining) or Lossiemouth and Findhorn (for the beaches). I have these Eco Wedges bookmarked for another time and am on the hunt for somewhere that can fit the whole family.
Images above of The Station Hotel
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
What a surprise to find an absolute WEALTH of excellent eateries in Moray Speyside. We checked out as many as we could in the weekend (what a chore) and I have added in some reader recommendations ‘RR’ I received on Instagram too…
The Drouthy Cobbler, Elgin – top of my list – this place is cosy, atmospheric and the food is just wonderful
Copper Dog, Craigellachie – RR – looks great for a drink too – full of old Scottish charm
The Bonnie Beastie, Forres – reader recommendation and sister of The Drouthy Cobbler so it is bound to be good
Bar 19, Cullen – RR – gutted we ran out of time for Cullen – next time
FOR MY SHELLFISH LOVERS
Harbour Lights, Lossiemouth – perfect for a warming cullen skink after a stint on the out of this world beach
Bootleggers Bar & Grill, Hopeman – RR – unpretentious excellent food – this looks right up my street (keep an eye on their instagram for the Bootlegger Bothy reopening in season too)
The Kimberley Inn, Findhorn – a roaring fire and a bowl of fresh mussels so generous I could not finish them – we loved it
Catch 79 – RR – just checked out the menu and it is on the list for next time
FAST FOOD BUT BETTER
Planta, Elgin – RR – perfectly situated on Batchen St for a mid shop lunch break
The Humble Burger, Elgin – RR – on my list for next time – a great burger is not easy to come by but these look epic
FOR COFFEE, CAKE, BRUNCH & LUNCH
Batchen Street Coffee, Elgin – the perfect wee coffee shopping spot
Torta, Findhorn – had SO many reader recommendations for this one we had to make a special stop and I am glad (looks great for brunch or lunch too)
The Cocktail Joint, Elgin – a hidden speakeasy bar with excellent cocktails
Images above of The Drouthy Cobbler
Images above of Batchen Street Coffee
Images above of Orrin
WHERE TO SHOP
Honestly, this was probably the biggest surprise to me – the quality and variety of independents in Moray Speyside is nothing short of spectacular. I love me a farm shop and whilst I hoped there might be one or two of those (and there were), it was the boutique fashion and homewares that really took me by surprise.
If you are looking for a one stop shop, with a cafe for lunch, then Brodie Countryfare is a wonderful highland department store whilst Logie Steading is home to a range of brilliant independents in a beautiful setting.
I have listed all my favourites below but please do let me know if there are more I should add to the list.
Alluring Boutique, Elgin – small but mighty, this place packs a serious fashion punch and is full to the brim with gems from British and Scandinavian brands (I picked up a couple of bits for myself here)
Johnstons of Elgin, Elgin – most likely needs no introduction but this place is a destination with the most beautiful and HUGE cashmere store with a highly recommended cafe restaurant on site too
My, Lossiemouth – a selection ranging from casual to formal – I still regret leaving that checkedboard knit, pictured below, behind
Brodie Countryfare, by Forres – a one stop shop for stylish country ladies
Timeless, Logie Steading – this tiny paradise run by a local stylist and featuring her hand picked brands is just lovely
South Lissens Pottery, Buckie – RR – definitely on my list for next time
Johnstons of Elgin, Elgin – I think I could hibernate most happily under a cashmere throw
The Farm & Garden Shop, Logie Steading – a smorgasbord of local food, gifts and that wonderful twine (pictured below)
The Boardroom, Logie Steading – tucked away at the back of the farm shop you will find this carpentry workshop with the most beautiful raw edge timber shelves and boards for extremely reasonable prices
The Re:Store, Lossiemouth – a sustainable, plastic-free refill store – I only wish one of these would open near me
Brodie Countryfare, by Forres – a really nicely curated and large selection of Scottish homewares
Gordon and MacPhail, Elgin – the oldest whisky in the world – suffice to say the husband was devastated that the newly refurbished store was not quite open for our visit (reason enough to go back to Moray Speyside)
Logie Whisky & Spirits Shop, Logie Steading – a great place to pick up a tipple
Pencil Me In, Elgin – a stationery shop that definitely sparks joy – what a delight to browse around
Sirology, Elgin – a small but perfectly curated shop for the gents in your life
Brodie Countryfare, by Forres – the kids section was epic and we brought home half the food department along with gifts of local gin, jams, salt and pepper grinders and chocolates for the obliging grandparent babysitters
If you happen to be looking for a gift for someone visiting the area, the Moray gift card would be perfect with over two hundred local businesses including hotels, restaurant, shops and experiences…
Images above of Logie Steading
Images above of Johnstons of Elgin
Images above of My.
Images above of Brodie Countryfare
WHAT TO DO
We crammed a lot into our weekend but, truly, it just whetted my appetite. The beaches in particular were just incredible; search for a photo of any Moray Speyside beach and you will see just what I mean – I would LOVE to go back in the summer and really explore the different beaches with the tinies and the dog. The husband meanwhile would like to add a distillery or two to the list…
Lossiemouth – this peninsula of soft, wide white with her backdrop of dunes really took my breath away and situated right in the centre of Lossie and accessible by a new footbridge it is perfect for a day trip with plentiful ice cream options within arm’s reach
Findhorn – the morning we visited East Sands in Findhorn was wet and blustery but the postcard perfect dunes with their weathered timber step descending onto the sands was enough to sell it to me – I will be back
Cullen – RR – sadly our itinerary did not allow for a stop in Cullen but from the beach to the village it looks just gorgeous and so many of you recommended it
Home to an absolute wealth of distilleries, I am open to your recommendations but so far The Macallan is on the list for its breathtaking architecture alone.
Images above of The Spirit Safe at The Station Hotel
Images above of Lossiemouth Beach
With special thanks to Moray Speyside for hosting the most wonderful weekend. Before we visited I heard some people say this is the undiscovered Fife… and now I see why; perfect little villages hugged by sands that surely do not belong in Scotland but with the addition of Elgin which blew my socks off with all her wonderful independents – a shopping and dining DELIGHT.
I can see why this is a much loved spot by those in the know for family holidays but I also highly recommend as a destination for couples. I have said it before and I will say it again – we will be back.
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