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“A rather nice resort, but it could be so much better!”

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Macdonald Highlands Hotel at Macdonald Aviemore Resort
Ranked #7 of 11 Hotels in Aviemore
West Wittering, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
24 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“A rather nice resort, but it could be so much better!”
Reviewed October 31, 2012

We stayed in the Highlands hotel at this resort for 3 nights on a dinner, bed and breakfast package - this appeared to be good value, since it was around the same price as bed and breakfast at some other hotels which we had previously stayed in, and included an expensive dinner.

When we arrived, we had to queue forever at reception - I felt that both of the reception desks should have been attended at this peak time.

When we arrived at the rooms, one of them was executive and the other one was standard. In the executive room, there was a free bottle of Penzolo red wine, a fruit basket, shortbread and a bottle of sparkling water, whereas the standard one only had a bottle of sparkling water and shortbread. Personally, I think that there should also be some still water in the rooms, since despite being nicer during the daytime and the evening, sparkling water is too acidic and bad for your teeth in the night. The sparkling water and shortbread were replaced each day in both rooms [although they forgot to replenish the sparkling water on the last day for some reason], but the wine and fruit turned out just to be welcome gifts. The executive room also had nicer furniture, although it was cold upon arrival, and when you leave the room the heating turns off since you have to insert your room key for power (although you can use any card!). There were bath robes, shortbread, tea, coffee and hot chocolate in both rooms, and ice and fresh milk were available on request from room service.

I found some of the staircases quite depressing, especially the one down to the leisure centre which had nasty plain floors and walls, and I found it irritating that the long corridors had so many doors all the way along them - I know that this seems a little over-sensitive, but the atmosphere of hotel life really is affected by the "environ" as you travel around the hotel.

We went to enquire about dinner - we were entitled to a free dinner each night at either the gourmet Aspect's restaurant or the Giovanni's Italian restaurant. We were told that the menu for Aspect's changed daily, whereas the menu for Giovanni's was fixed. However, it turned out that the Aspect's menu only fully changes weekly, and the daily changes (which depend on deliveries) are usually the soup, one starter and main course - this is especially irritating when you do not know what will change (e.g. I was torn between 2 dishes on the first night, and chose the one that didn't change out of the two!)

We dined at Aspect's for the first 2 nights, as we were under the impression that the menu would change properly each night. Most of the dishes were included, and for the ones that were not, there was a supplement of £4 for starters and deserts, and £6 for main courses [even though the difference in price would have been a lot less for paying customers, e.g. £1 for one of the starters!]. I found that the quality of the food was very good here on the whole - starters ranged from duck cakes to celeriac soup to ham hock terrine, main courses ranged from pork belly to salmon to pumpkin ravioli and deserts included white chocolate terrine, treacle tart and rice pudding. I was very disappointed that the puddings never changed, since the options were very limited. I found it very basic that their ice creams were only chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, and that they did not have any sorbets. I found the service in this restaurant to be very slow - they waited forever to take your order, and then you had to wait forever for every course, with the exception of the interval between starter and main course. However, they did offer bread around, and I particularly enjoyed their tomato bread, dipped in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The 8-year-old among us had a childrens' menu which included a drink, which was a bonus.

On the third night, we dined at Giovanni's, since despite it being a waste of value, we were bored of the menu at Aspect's. The menu includes a selection of breads (e.g. rosemary), various starters (e.g. bruschetta or minestrone soup), pizzas, pastas, meats and deserts (e.g. tiramisu, creme brûlée and Panna Cotta). We were quite disappointed that you had to choose between bread and a starter, given that dinner here would come to less than at Aspect's for paying customers, and Aspect's includes bread as well as starter. The supplements here for items not included seemed to be the opposite extreme from at Aspect's - they were £2 for a starter, £3 for a main course and £1.50 for a desert. I had a sirloin steak for main course, since this was worth around £10 more than the included items and only a £3. 2 members of my party ordered spicy sausage pasta, but were very disappointed as it seemed to be pasta with normal sausage in tomato sauce, unlike the Carluccio's one! They did not bother complaining. However, for desert I and someone else ordered the Panna Cotta, mainly because it states on the menu that it comes with rhubarb compote and ginger wafer. However, it came with a tiny bit of berry compote and shortbread, so we complained, and, let us choose another pudding and knocked £9.99 off the bill. I chose the Creme brûlée, chocolate brownie and cinnamon doughnuts - I imagined that this would be like a trilogy, where all 3 are equal. However, I was served a coffee cup with a tremendous amount of Creme brûlée, a couple of tiny pieces of chocolate brownie and a couple of tiny cinnamon doughnuts.

The drinks were very good on the whole. These included Prosecco, red and white wines, draught and bottled beers, a good selection of gins, and various soft drinks, such as Irn Bru, 5-alive and Coca-Cola (including Coke Zero!).

I was very disappointed by the orange juice at breakfast - the breakfast in bed order form in the room stated "freshly squeezed orange juice", and I assumed that the orange juice in the restaurant would be the same. However, it was cheap concentrated rubbish. Luckily though, they put out oranges, so I was able to freshly squeeze orange juice myself. They had a very good selection of pastries, muffins, cereals and hot food, and the coffee was ok. Unfortunately the toast was burnt half of the time. I was slightly disappointed that there was a supplement for the smoked salmon, as other hotels which I had recently stayed in in Scotland included this.

The resort had a very big leisure centre. It had a soft childrens' tumbling play area, where the 8- and 14-year olds amongst us spent a lot of time. This cost £4 per child per day, and they used it on 2 of the days. This play area was in a café, where we purchased items such as cakes and Slushee Puppies. I found it to be very good value, at only £1.35 for a piece of cake. The swimming pool was quite big, and included a helter-skelter water slide, which for some reason is only open for half of the time (between the hour and half past the hour), and only one person is allowed on it at a time, which creates big queues, debatably making it more trouble than it is worth. There was a steam room and a sauna. The changing rooms were amazing because rather than a big changing room, it was made up of several cubicles. There were lockers, which were available for a refundable deposit of £1. The leisure centre also contained a gym, which was quite large and included lots of modern equipment, and there was a games room with lots of arcade-style attractions, but unfortunately none of these were free.

The resort had a tremendous shop, which sold all sorts of things. Near to the shop was a huge café where we considered having lunch, but at £6 for a small baguette, £10 for a slice of beef and a yorkshire pudding and £2.70 for a canned drink, we decided to give it a miss, as for a party of 5, this would have been very expensive for a snacky lunch! The resort also had a 3D cinema, which was showing Madagascar 3 and Taken II when we stayed. We considered using it, but then decided that Taken II would probably be unsuitable for the 8-year-old amongst us, and that, given the unbelievably low standard of Madagascar 2, Madagascar 3 would probably not even be worth sitting through if you were paid!

There was a large playground, which had lots of funny attractions which most playgrounds do not have [I will let these surprise you if/when you stay here], there were trampolines with tyres on ropes and a climbing wall, although these were out of action when we stayed, and there was a dry skiing slope.

We were originally going to stay for 2 nights, and added an extra night a short notice - we ended up regretting this, due to feeling "evicted" from Aspect's restaurant due to the limited menu, coupled with the fact that a fire alarm went off at 7:40am, shocking us out of our much needed sleep. It turned out that this was due to steam from someone's shower - the hotel did have warnings about this in some of the rooms, but they should try to design the room so that this does not happen. What annoyed us was the fact that no staff came and informed us of the situation for a very long time - I was standing outside in my pyjamas, barefoot on very cold ground, as I had rushed outside in a panic, and the door to my bedroom was open with valuables available in the room!

I had some work to do whilst I was staying here, but this was hindered by the fact that the housekeepers played music really loudly as they were cleaning other rooms - I think that they should use headphones!

Overall, this hotel is very good value, but as stated in my review, there are several simply changes which they could make in order to make the stay so much more enjoyable.

Room Tip: If you are considering upgrading to executive, the overall value of the upgrade is little more than...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
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2 Thank Gourmet_and_gourmand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2012

-Stayed 24th and 25th October 2012- After booking this very last minute, midweek 2 night break I had seen some horrible pictures and read bad reviews of the hotel and had my finger crossed that I wasn't going to experience the same.
On arrival, quick and easy check -in with polite mannered recetionist who pointed out breakfast and pool times and gave us a map of the grounds.
Im a total clean freak and I couldnt find anything to complain about. It was well dusted and hoovered. Bathroom was bright and tiles were not mouldy. Overall room was fresh and clean, with nice tray of tea, coffee, hot choc and shortbread.
The Italian restaurant was nothing special though but would highly recommend The Cairngorm Hotel Restaurant. Great atmosphere and friendly staff. After having a nice dinner we went into the bar for a few drinks and enjoyed the Thursday night entertainment of a live band playing the fiddle, accordion and drums.
We did the Mountain Funicular and River Tubing. (River tubing was fantastic)
Would return again and recommend to others. But dont book on their home website I booked with superbreak.com using NHS discount too. £142 for 2 nights inc breakfast.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank Jennifer L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scunthorpe, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
140 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2012

We arrived as a themed travel group of 22 with Inside Track after an early start and a very long day to be met by one of the most unfriendly receptions I have ever had and I have been travelling on business since 1974. "Name?" "Terry" I replied, after a moment,she said "No", well I can tell you I have checked both my Passport and Birth Certificate and it definitely says Terry, and others of the group had checked in. She found us and stated only "book your dinner reservations as soon as you can. I asked if they had rooms with walk in showers, and was told that the hotel has no facilities of that type and we were sent on our way. They had put is in a twin bedded room, which as a married couple we found strange, and were given no directions on how to find the room. Our tour guide found us at dinner and delivered a second hand apology as they did have a room with better access!

Apart from that we used the hotel for dinner and breakfast and you have to remember to book your table for the next night or you get sent away and told to come back at 8.30pm or later.

The restaurant staff are wonderful, with a particular mention for Richard from Hungary, who always had a smile and a cheerful word. The food was excellent at every meal. Shame about the welcome.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Magickpyggie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Peterhead , Scotland
Level 6 Contributor
118 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 248 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2012

My family and I had the pleasure of staying at this hotel again on the 22nd-23rd October. As usual we had a very nice room with all mod cons which was just along from the leisure centre and very handy for an early morning swim.
Service is something that this hotel excells in and having stayed here quite a few times now it is re-assuring to see familiar faces and to be able to have a chat with them. Gina and Gordon at the front desk have the' can do' attitude in abundance and can sometimes be seen helping out in other areas of the hotel. This typifies the staff they have at Aviemore as it shows the management have got it in them to dig deep and help out when required and this rubs off on the rest of them.
Food now , breakfast was top notch with all of us enjoying porridge and then a 'fry up' ( healthy ehh) which kept us going till later in the day. A special mention has to go to Alan the breakfast chef who is a pleasure to speak to and always has a good word to say when serving up breakfast.
Leisure facilities now which include a well kitted out gym which i used a couple of times on this visit and a very good family friendly swimming area where we could all relax . Only gripe was that the top level of the sauna was not in operation but to be fair the steam room was in excellent working order and more than made up for it.
I would like to think that we will be back to stay before Christmas , work and boys club football permitting to enjoy all that is Aviemore Highlands Hotel. Thanx again guys.

Room Tip: Ask Gina or Gordon when checking in . They are really nice people.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank skiboy_robertson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aberfeldy, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed October 22, 2012

This was probably our 5th visit to the Mcdonald resort. We always book the Highlands as the other accommodation on the resort is older & further away from the Leisure complex.
Book B&B as the breakfast is superb and there are some great restaurants/pubs in the town to try (not La Taverna, though!!).
If you have children, like us, you will be spolied for choice by the entertainment etc on offer. The pool is awesome (although a wee bit chilly!), but the kids love the wave machine & slide.
The Funhouse is great for the wee ones & only £4 a session (nightmare getting them to leave though!)
Try the Smarty art pottery decorating (next to leisure). The Guy there is brilliant, really patient and it isn't expensive. The cinema shows 2 movies a day. Handy if it's pouring outside!
The rooms are spotless & really comfortable. We had a family room & there was plenty of space.
The only thing the room lacked was a minibar/fridge, but I guess they don't want to encourage us to bring our own booze :(
We ate out (Old Bridge Inn) as the Italian on the resort is nothing special. Aspects looks lovely but is quite pricey.
We will definitely be back as it's a great base and pretty good value for money!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank aberfeldy1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scotland
Level 5 Contributor
84 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed October 22, 2012

Stayed here a few times & would definately return again.

Highland Hotel is the best of the bunch here and has swimming pool/gym attached. Also a spa - and swimming pool has sauna & jacuzzi too.

The rooms are clean & tidy and it's a good base to explore Aviemore & the surroundings.

Breakfast is always busy so try & be early.

Good parking facilities and friendly staff.

Room Tip: Be careful if booking online - there are 3 or 4 hotels within the "MacDonald Highland Resort&qu...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank bc_webster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
184 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
Reviewed October 22, 2012

I stayed here with my running partner for the aviemore half marathon weekend. Facilities are good and the hotel is clean, fresh and welcoming. All was going well until after the race. We had paid extra for the late check out ( up to 2pm to allow us to get a shower after the race). When we checked in the hotel member of staff didn't recognise our booking on the system, so unfortunately when we stumbled back to our room the key didn't work. We managed to find a cleaner to let us in, and headed for the shower only to find it disappointingly Luke warm. The hotel were good about refunding us the money we had paid, but to be honest we'd rather had had the service we paid for.

Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
Helpful?
Thank Emma G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Macdonald Highlands Hotel at Macdonald Aviemore Resort

Property: Macdonald Highlands Hotel at Macdonald Aviemore Resort
Address: Aviemore Highlands, Aviemore PH22 1PN, Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > Scottish Highlands > Aviemore and the Cairngorms > Aviemore
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 11 Hotels in Aviemore
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Macdonald Highlands Hotel at Macdonald Aviemore Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 151
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Relax in style and complete comfort at the 4-star Macdonald Highlands Hotel. With 151 luxury rooms-with-a-view and its own signature restaurant, Aspects, boasting spectacular views of the Cairngorm Mountains, the Highlands Hotel is ideal for discerning business and leisure travellers. For relaxation there's direct access to Aviemore Activity Centre, a TV lounge with comfy sofas and a DVD player, and the cozy Laggan whisky bar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Macdonald Highlands Aviemore
Macdonald Highlands Hotel At Macdonald Aviemore Resort Scotland
Hotel Macdonald Highlands

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