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Trying to decide which town to stay

South Lyon, MI
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Trying to decide which town to stay

Seeking some input from experienced travelers...

We will be driving up after picking up our rental car in either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport vicinity when we come to Scotland for our first vacation (an overnight flight from US). We are planning to drive straight to a B & B (or guest house, small hotel) in either Aviemore, Grantown-on-spey, Carrbridge, Nethy Bridge, we can't decide. So I am asking for some guidance. We know we want to go to Braemar for the annual games/gathering the first Saturday in Sept. of 2014. And we also want to take a couple of day trips exploring the Whisky Trail and the Castle Trail before heading over to Isle of Skye for our next accomodation. So we want to stay 4 nights and plan to book two rooms. It would be terrific to stay in a place that is located near enough to restaurants and pubs to easily walk in the evening, or have other services like a petrol station or shopping nearby, yet are "pretty" towns with a long history. Which of the towns listed might be best to focus our research? We are one couple with a grown son and daughter who might want to go off walking in town to get away from us. Hopefully with pubs that might have music on Friday night. But I would like a place that is quintessential Scotland when you look along the road out into the viewable area near the B & B, whatever that means... Comments, advice, suggestions?

Fife, United Kingdom
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for St. Andrews
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11. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Well.....even though I live in the much more picturesque (than Aviemore) Grantown on Spey, if your son and daughter want to go and have a pub crawl they would be struggling in Grantown!

I certainly would second NOT driving up the A9 to Grantown after a trans Atlantic flight so the suggestion of staying somewhere closer to your arrrival point the first night is a much safer option. Dunkeld is a lovely town and Pitlochry slightly further north would also be a reasonable choice.

Staying in Boat of Garten is even more restricting than Grantown for a pub crawl as there is only The Boat Hotel, nice though it is. Aviemore is your best bet and looking at it through a tourists eyes for the first time you would probably think it has a bit of charm and lovely views of the mountains(Cairngorms) There are loads of places to stay from hotels to self catering to B & Bs and most of them will be within walking distance of the centre of the "village" as locals like to call it!

If you got the train from Edinburgh and rented a car in Aviemore you would have to return it to Aviemore but if you got the train all the way to Inverness then chances are you could return the car to Edinburgh giving you some time to snooze on the train - however I agree that our trains are not geared up for large suitcases, so perhaps that's not the best option either!

Sorry I'm not being much help but I am sure if you DO pick Grantown then you would enjoy its history, beautiful surrounding walks and countryside. Its a small town with two or three hotels and lots of B & Bs as well as self catering options, a few which friends and relatives have used when they have stayed with us and we haven't had enough room to put them up. However there is little or no night life that would suit your son and daughter although when we used to holiday here we were happy to drink in the Claymore pub in the main street.

The Grant Arms Hotel is a very comfortable hotel which does good food as is The Garth, the Seafield Lodge is more cosy and shabby and the Craiglynne is more for bus tours etc.

You are certainly in a good area for visiting some of the things you mention if you stay in Speyside, whether its Grantown or Aviemore.

Cheers

Woody x

South Lyon, MI
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12. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Hi again,

I had a bit of a brain storm about how to avoid the long drive on our first day... What if we flew direct to Inverness, picked up our rental car (where though?) and then drive to Grantown for our 4 night stay--we will get there so quickly! We would unfortunately miss the drive north on A9 from Edinburgh, and a possible stop at Blair Castle. But it might be worth the sacrifice. Then we would make our way to Portree, Isle of Skye for 3 nights (by car) and then we would have time to spend 2 nights in Oban before heading to Edinburgh, drop the rental car and stay in Edinburgh near the Castle for 3 or 4 nights. The airfares seem to be the same on KLM even when you have an open-jaw flight schedule. I haven't checked to see if Aberdeen/Edinburgh gives us the same type of flight cost from/to Detroit. In the US this is unheard of--flight costs the same with open-jaw as round trip from same airport.

I like the idea of renting a car from a smaller airport/city, but I would need to check to see if they could get us a large car with automatic transmission.

If we did not have the Braemar Gathering set date to hit then we would have alot more flexibility, but we are really trying to get to that event. I've heard that Grantown will have an antique car gathering on the first Sunday in Sept. Woody: is that a really big deal there and if so, does it seem to impact the restaurants and accomodations?

Is there a really "pretty" B & B with nice views in or outside Grantown-on-spey? We know we might have to drive to find a pub. The experience and views and possible bird and squirrel peeping would be fun from the yard of the B & B.

Thank you all for giving me excellent advice. Hope I'm not being too big of a pest.

London, United...
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13. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

In my original posting I suggested staying in Inverness for the 4 nights because if your children want to escape and do their own thing then Inverness gives then many more options in terms of pubs, restaurants, theatre, cinemas, etc.

Anyhow if you now decide to fly to Inverness then there is a choice of car rental companies at the airport. Europcar, Hertz, Avis and probably more. Their desks are facing you as you exit with your luggage and the car will be about 100 yards away because it is a small compact airport. I flew from London recently with Easyjet and picked up my car that I had booked with Europcar and it could not have been easier. Normally I book my car separately but the easyjet booking form invited me to book through them and I did so for the first time ever and it was very easy and I saved quite a bit compared with doing it independently. Easyjet is an economy airline with very reasonable prices but they do charge for every extra, including cases and luggage to go in the hold. I wanted a compact automatic car but have a look at the Europcar website and they do a wide range of vehicles including large automatics.

South Lyon, MI
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14. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Thank you hardy geranium! I am continuing to explore towns to stay. Grantown or even Carrbridge will likely satisfy us on our first 4 nights. I'd like to have our accommodation experience be a place within a reasonable drive to Braemer and not too far a drive for castle and Whisky trails plus near the Cairngorm park. Any advice about B and B vs a hotel? Hotels are pretty expensive.

Edinburgh
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15. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

A B&B is like staying as a guest in someones home - a nice one will have very friendly and helpful proprietors and a good breakfast cooked to order. They may also have their own little touches like their own free range chickens with eggs for breakfast, bird/squirrel table to watch the local wildlife, etc.

A hotel is...well a hotel - likely to be less personal and have less character (especially a chain hotel) and you are likely to be dealing with staff rather than proprietors/owners in the bigger hotels anyway. A hotel is usually more expensive and I see no reason to choose one over a B&B unless you are one of those people who need to have a trouser press in your room or an on site gym or whatever other reason it is people choose hotels over a b&b or guesthouse?

You could also look at self-catering, for example the Duck Keepers Cottage at Lazy Duck (Nethy Bridge) http://lazyduck.co.uk/duck-keepers-cottage/ which is surrounded by forest and has ducks, red squirrels, sheep and great views of the Cairngorms.

Fife, United Kingdom
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for St. Andrews
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16. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Loads of pretty B & Bs in Grantown. I would suggest in Grantown itself the following

http://www.thedulaig.com/

Its within easy walking distance of the town and from the back probably has wonderful views of the Cairngorm Mountains although I have never stayed in it, it seems to get good reports

tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g190790-d1237…

Dunallan is coming up as the number one but its on a main street, although its not a busy road (in fact most would call it a side street! and I am not sure of views - I imagine its not great for views.

http://www.highlands-escape.co.uk/

The above would have great views - its in a small village about 3 miles out of Grantown.

Carrbridge has a nice little hotel called The Cairn which I can recommend for food. Its a scenic little village but don't know about any B & Bs there.

undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/carrbridge/…

Of those two I would choose Grantown over Carrbridge - they are about 10 miles apart. I only recommended Aviemore over Grantown because you were looking for nightlife and pub scene - Grantown is a lovely town with all you will need for a 4 night stay.Lovely woodland and riverside walks, an interesting museum with an audio visual presentation about the history of Grantown, small shops, a supermarket, butcher, a couple of bakers, ironmonger, sport shop, gift shops, bicycle hire, post office, tourist information office. history, lovely buildings etc.

undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/grantownonspey/gr…

Drive to Braemar from Grantown is about 1 hour plus and through very beautiful scenery. Blair Castle is about 1 hour 20 minutes south so you could drive down there if you had time.

http://www.greaterspeyside.com/

regards again

Woody x

undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/grantownonspey/gr…

Edited: 9:59 am, April 15, 2013
Fife, United Kingdom
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for St. Andrews
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17. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Grantown also has a fuel station as does Carrbridge and Dulnain Bridge and Aviemore. No fuel in Nethy Bridge though

18. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

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