The local whisky distillery is ‘Royal Lochnagar’ at Crathie by Balmoral Castle. Further afield you will find Speyside and Highland distilleries, both boutique and established.
Originally a Victorian coaching inn, The Fife Arms is a Braemar landmark and a Category B listed building, nestled within the Cairngorms National Park just nine miles from Balmoral Castle. As settings go, they don’t get more authentically Scottish than this, and the magnificent landscape is a veritable playground for everything from hill walking to foraging to salmon fishing in the world-famous River Dee. But it’s the inside of The Fife Arms that has earned the hotel its widespread and well-deserved critical acclaim.
Acquired in 2014 by Manuela and Iwan Wirth – two of the world’s most influential art dealers – the historic property underwent a four-year renovation and reopened its doors in 2018 brimming with over 16,000 antiques, artworks and curios, including several site-specific commissions. This juxtaposition of 19th-century architecture and contemporary art, interwoven with Russell Sage’s opulent and imaginative interior design scheme, infuses the space with an eclectic vibe that is at once dramatic and playful. From the reception area, with its watercolour stag’s head painted by Queen Victoria herself, to each of the individually themed 46 bedrooms, this place is a mesmerising feast for the senses.
Indeed, just being at this museum-esque hotel is an experience in itself, but for guests seeking activities outside of its unforgettable walls, the in-house ghillies make it their mission to deliver bespoke, bucket-list-worthy excursions. Fancy a helicopter ride over the Cairngorms? A special tasting at a boutique whisky distillery? Private dining in the middle of the grouse moors? No brief is too out-there for this dedicated and visionary team.
View The Fife Arms entry in the Good Hotel Guide
Need to Know
Number of rooms
Check-in at 3pm
Check-out at midday
The Fife Arms showcases the finest seasonal produce for which Scotland is world-famous. From fresh seafood and game to local whiskies and spirits, many of the ingredients used in the kitchens and bars is sourced from local suppliers, gamekeepers and farmers.
The Flying Stag
Traditionally the heart of the village, The Flying Stag is the hotel’s public bar. Frequented by residents and visitors alike, the public bar offers classic Scottish dishes, real ales, live entertainment and a selection of over 180 whiskies.
The Clunie Dining Room
Taking its name from the River Clunie, which runs past the hotel, The Clunie Dining Room showcases wood-fire cooking and seasonal Scottish produce in a striking room painted by artist, Guillermo Kuitca.
This beautiful art deco cocktail bar has been created in honour of the iconic fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, who was a regular visitor to Braemar. With an interior inspired by her love of shocking pink, Elsa’s is the perfect place for a pre-dinner aperitif or a post-dinner nightcap.
The Fife Arms’ spa, Albamhor, is the ideal place to unwind and to restore, revive and relax body, mind and spirit. The bespoke sauna and power showers are complimentary, preferably to be enjoyed before one of the thoughtfully designed treatments.
The products used have been selected because they embody The Fife Arms, which is to provide a unique Scottish Highland experience whilst respecting your health and wellbeing along with the precious environment. The team will assist you in creating your unique personal Albamhor spa experience from any combination of treatments.
The Fife Arms contains over 16,000 antiques, artworks and curios including several site-specific works by world-renowned contemporary artists. The hotel offers special art tours for guests, which allow you to experience the world class art which can be found throughout the hotel, from Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Gerhard Richter and Bruegel to site specific commissions from contemporary art stars and water colours by Queen Victoria and Prince Charles.
The Ghillie team is passionate about creating exceptional, unforgettable memories and experiences for guests. If you have a particular occasion you wish to celebrate, they can create a once in a lifetime event to meet your brief. It could be a thrilling helicopter ride to see the Cairngorms in their full glory or a private chef lunch in the hotel’s remote lunch hut, in the middle of the grouse moors. Special tastings can be arranged, whether at local boutique whisky distilleries or with the sommelier in the cellar. Bespoke menus celebrating the best ingredients Scotland has to offer can also be created to meet specific requirements.
Surrounding the hotel and the village of Braemar is the extraordinary Cairngorms National Park. Visitors can walk out of the hotel and within 5 minutes be on a walking trail which will lead you through historic forests of heather and Scot’s Pine before you emerge at the top to experience a panoramic view of the village and the Deeside valley below. Each season brings something new to see; autumn is the rutting season for stags where you can hear their roars across the hills; winter sees the native Ptarmigan change into their white camouflage while the Atlantic Salmon swim upstream along the River Dee; Spring brings promise of red squirrel dashing around the forest and with Summer comes the vibrant heather and its mix of pink and purple hues. There are many self-led trails requiring different degrees of stamina. Alternatively, the hotel can arrange for a guide to lead you on various walks or hikes.
The River Dee is one of the most famous salmon rivers in the world and it runs just past the hotel. The hotel works with its Wild Resources team headed up by Ben Carter to offer guests the chance to fish in this exceptional location. The salmon season starts early February and runs until the end of September. Sea trout is available during the summer months, but rainbow trout is available all year. The hotel has its own rod room for guests to store their equipment.
The Fife Arms has an in-house forager Natasha Lloyd, who is passionate about sharing her expert knowledge of the local plants and vegetation. Natasha leads tours of the surrounding areas, identifying, explaining and sharing the taste of plants that can be transformed into teas, tinctures, condiments or cosmetics. Both adults and children will love these guided walks.
There are 40 Munros accessible from Braemar, from Ben MacDui to Beinn Bhareac, offering a wealth of hill walking. The network of local paths and tracks are suitable for all abilities, including Morrone Birkwood and Creag Choinnich. This is also the perfect opportunity to experience the wonderful native flora and fauna of Upper Deeside, including red squirrels, ptarmigan, osprey and red deer. Ask the Ghillie team for recommended walks or maps.
From whisky distilleries to winter sports and the annual Royal Highland Games, Braemar has plenty of local attractions to keep you busy during your stay.
The Family Room at The Fife Arms is a treasure trove of fun for children of all ages. With board games, books and table football plus a play kitchen, this is the perfect hangout for your little ones. Don’t miss the red squirrels hidden throughout the room, all knitted by the ‘Deeside Knitwits’. Also available from reception is a treasure hunt around the hotel. Each young guest will receive a set of instructions which ask them to find certain treasures located throughout the hotel. Once completed the hotel will share a prize with each successful treasure hunter.
Double bedroom starting price: £325 per night including VAT including breakfast.
What the Experts Say
“Most Highland hotels do not have a Picasso in the drawing room. But the Fife Arms is not most Highland hotels.”
Offers & Packages
Highland Escape – 3 nights
Stay for 3 nights or more at The Fife Arms, and they would be delighted to give you your third night for free, allowing you to escape in the Scottish Highlands for longer. Offer is available for all rooms Sunday to Thursday, and available for Scottish Culture Rooms and Suites from Friday to Saturday.
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Early Bird in the Highlands
Book your escape to the Highlands 60 days in advance and receive a special rate. Offer is available for all rooms and suites
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Highland Escape – seven nights for the price of five
Whether you are reuniting with family or reconnecting with the Scottish landscape, stay in the comfort of one of The Fife Arms’ well-appointed suites for seven nights and pay for the price of five. Offer is available for Royal, Victoriana and Family Suites.
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Your Fife Arms experience starts long before you arrive in the historic village of Braemar. Whether you are coming from the direction of Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Dundee the scenery you pass through offers some of the most dramatic landscape in Scotland.
From Edinburgh the journey takes you across the Firth of Forth bridge into the rolling hills of Perthshire and historic towns such as Scone and Perth before you ascend into the highlands on the approach to Glenshee. The last 40 minutes of this approximately 2-hour drive takes you through majestic mountains swathed in heather and populated by stags. There are very few homes and it can feel as if you have this vast landscape all to yourself.
The drive from Dundee follows a similar route while the journey from Aberdeen is equally panoramic. Despite being only 90 minutes from Braemar, the route from Aberdeen takes you through picturesque farmland into the Cairngorms National Park where your view is dominated by the winding, majestic River Dee, beautiful forests of Scots pine and Birch and unexpected castles emerging above treetops. The journey to the hotel is as unique as the Fife Arms itself.
From Aberdeen, Braemar tends to be signposted. Aiming for the A93, you will be heading East via Peterculter, Banchory and Ballater. Journey time: approx. 1 hour, 40 minutes
From Edinburgh follow signs to Perth where you will then pick up signs for Braemar, heading via Blairgowrie and the wonderful Glenshee. Journey time: approx. 2 hours, 15 minutes.
From Dundee follow signs to Blairgowrie via Birkhill and Coupar Angus. From Blairgowrie you will pick up signs to Braemar. Journey time: approx. 1 hour, 25 minutes
From Inverness follow the A9 southbound to Tomintoul via Grantown-on-Spey, where you will find signs to Braemar. Journey time: approx. 1 hour 50 minutes
From Glasgow follow the signs to Stirling via M80 and M9 then join the A9 heading towards Perth and on to Blairgowrie. Journey time: approx. 2 hours, 25 minutes
The Caledonian Sleeper is the overnight train service running between Scotland and London, departing from Euston. For families, they have interconnecting rooms available and children under 12 receive a complimentary meal. They also allow dogs onboard which means your four-legged friends can visit us too. For cycling enthusiasts, they allow bikes on board meaning you don’t have to hire when you get to us.
Alight at either Aberdeen or Dundee and you are no more than a 2-hour drive away.
The nearest airports are Aberdeen (1 hour 15 minutes), Dundee (1 hour 25 minutes), Edinburgh (2 hours) and Inverness (1 hour 55 minutes).
Attractions Near The Fife Arms
For novice or beginners, Glenshee is 3,504 ft of mountain winter adventure that beckons skiers and snowboarders alike.
The Braemar Gathering takes place annually on the first weekend in September and welcomes thousands of visitors. It’s the only Highland Games with a Royal Patron, HM Queen Elizabeth II, who attends every year to see the best of the best toss the caber, battle it out in tug o’ war or perform the traditional Highland fling.
Weddings at The Fife Arms
Whether you’re having a celebratory banquet with a traditional ceilidh or a simple drinks reception, The Fife Arms is a unique location to host such a special occasion. The Fife Arms’ Events Team work with a number of local experts, from florists to photographers, who can collaborate with the hotel’s team to ensure the most memorable occasion. Exclusive use is available between October – March with prices available on request.
Meetings at The Fife Arms
For inspirational away days or a unique client entertaining experience, The Fife Arms is fully equipped to cater for your requirements. The Brae Room is equipped with AV equipment, a screen and projector making it perfect for presentations, talks or screenings for up to 30 people. The Fog House, which looks out onto the internal courtyard and an incredible Louise Bourgeois sculpture, can seat between 28 – 50 guests.