At a Glance
It took renowned Swiss gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth four years to transform this 19th-century Highlands hunting lodge-turned-inn into a destination hotel, but the wait was worth it. The 46-room property is chockablock with rich colors and textures, plus a 16,000-piece collection of antiques as well as contemporary and traditional art, including a Picasso and Richter (and site-specific commissions).
Just over a two-hour drive north of Edinburgh, The Fife Arms is one of the crown jewels of the Scottish Highlands (and was named Hotel of the Year by The London Times in 2019). The first hotel from Hauser & Wirth founders Iwan and Manuela Wirth, every single corner has been curated, and it’s a veritable explosion of eccentricity and juxtapositions: old and new, light and dark, oddities and art, humble and grandiose, organic and artificial. The gallerists commissioned a handful of artists from all over the world (Zhang Enli, Guillermo Kuitca, Subodh Gupta, Richard Jackson and Bharti Kher) to create large-scale, site-specific artwork for The Fife Arms with a blank canvas. Moreover, the hotel sponsors an artists-in-residence program; Alec Finlay, for example, designed each of the headboards of the Scottish Culture and Nature + Poetry rooms using Gaellic poems.
Each of the 46 bedrooms possesses its own distinct identity (and name), which falls into various themes, such as “Zoology,” “Highland Music + Dance” and “Jacobite Risings.” While there are five room categories, the Royal Suites or Victoriana Suites offer the most unique spaces and best views of Braemar and the surrounding mountains. Also of note: all suites come stocked with a bottomless whisky decanter. Based on your preferences, Indagare will work with The Fife Arms team to match you perfectly into the room best suited to your interests.
The Fife Arms also offers a wide range of dining options: traditional pub fare, local craft beers and an extensive whisky collection at The Flying Stag; traditional afternoon tea in The Drawing Room; wood-fired cooking at The Clunie Dining Room (which is also where breakfast is served); and local herb-infused cocktails at Elsa’s Bar (honoring designer Elsa Schiaparelli, a regular visitor to Braemar). Plus, guests should miss a visit to Bertie’s Bar for whisky. Bertie’s makes whisky approachable with whisky “librarians” present to help find the perfect drink for you. Due to its popularity, even guests are recommended to make reservations here. (Bespoke whisky tastings are also available on request.) Guests can also unwind with a treatment at Albamhor Spa or simply enjoy the steam room or sauna and shop beautiful cashmere and handmade Scottish souvenirs in the boutique. Babysitters are available upon request, and there is a whimsical Family Room on-property.
Lastly, The Fife Arms offers a great number of activities in Aberdeenshire, through its network and tight-knit community. Plant and nature lovers should make sure to join foraging walks and workshops with the hotel’s in-house medicinal herbalist. The Fife Arms can also cater a private lunch in Braemar Castle, plus excursions and “safari” treks throughout the Highlands. Guests can arrange these through the Fife's Ghillie Team. Those who love the outdoors and adventure can also enjoy fly-fishing and various hikes in the area.
Who Should Stay
Art lovers and collectors (who are not afraid of taxidermy) and history buffs (the hotel lobby includes an antique fireplace that once belonged to Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns, as well as a watercolor by King Charles III) looking for a home base in the Highlands
Written by Diana Li