It may be called a hotel, but I've never been 'phoned by a hotel three times in a row to be asked the exact time of arrival. A half hour window was not acceptable as the duty manager "lived 5 minutes away and didn't want to hang around waiting for our arrival". We had planned to eat in the hotel restaurant as a birthday treat, but "we are closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday". Ah well, a celebratory drink in the bar then? No, that was closed too. We were let into what appeared to be a closed hotel, lights off, everyone gone home. A weird experience.
The room was clean and comfortable; a nice touch was the bowl of fruit, bottled Deeside water and homemade shortbread. The breakfast was excellent with a choice of full Scottish, smoked haddock (with one egg, not the advertised two!) or omelette. However, the tariff is far too expensive - we could have had a welcoming on-site host at a local B&B for half the price. The Auld Kirk is more a concept than reality: once inside the room you would have no idea of the building's provenance.
We were determined to eat in the restaurant on our last evening (the only night it was open during our stay). The sample menu looked interesting, including the vegetarian option. However the day's veggie option "chickpeas in tomato sauce and rice" is the sort of mid-week quickly thrown-together meal I make. The chef retorted "that's all there is" and walked away! The "take it or leave it attitude" ensured we enjoyed a superb meal a few doors down at The Deeside Hotel!
On the morning of our departure, there were no staff available to return the key to. We had pre-paid so it didn't matter. I have never stayed in a place where the duty manager was also the waitress and cleaner. Perhaps there isn't an owner as such?! It would answer a lot of questions.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Very smart coffee lounge serving all home cooked produce, morning coffee, light lunches with salads and tasty pastries, seasonal soups. Afternoon teas are a speciality and are served from 2pm to 4pm with bookings essential. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Auld Kirk Hotel Ballater, Scotland