I can think of worse ways to wake up on your birthday than a plush four star hotel, and yet somehow, I was lucky enough to find myself in that very position this summer, with a stay at the gorgeous Aberdeen Altens Hotel.
Located 3 kilometres from the city centre, the The Aberdeen Altens hotel has been around for a little while now, and is perhaps better known amongst locals for its conference centres, health suite and wedding-hosting capabilities. That was about as much as I knew when we set off on the two hour journey from Edinburgh. That, and the fact that it came highly rated amongst the guest reviews that I’d glanced over beforehand. Always a good start.
Pulling into the car park, just off the dual carriageway, I’ll admit that I had slight reservations about the location. Usually if I’m heading off for a city break, I like to stay right in the heart of things. Or, if I’m staying out of the city, I like to be right in the countryside. This was somewhere in between.
Stepping in to the plush foyer, with its grand piano and stained-glass dome, my worries quickly melted away. We stayed at The Altens for two nights, which was a perfect amount of time to explore Aberdeen and the surrounding area. The hotel turned out to be a great place to base ourselves, and is definitely somewhere I’d recommend if you’re in town on business, or just looking to stay somewhere that’s handy for access to the city, but far enough away that you can enjoy a bit of peace and quiet too.
Here’s a few of the reasons why The Aberdeen Altens Hotel might just surprise you…
Okay, so it might not be scenic as such, but the hotel’s location is practical. At just 3km from the city centre, it’s only a short journey in to town, and it’s very well served by public transport. A trip in to the cinema on our first night was made simple by the local bus which passed by (catch it from the Shell garage down by the roundabout, £2.50 each way), and after a few tipples, we made it home in a taxi with change from a tenner.
If you’re driving, the nearby dual carriageway gives easy access in to the city, but also to the gorgeous coastline, which is well worth exploring. The pretty town of Stonehaven is only 20 minutes’ drive away, and a perfect place to grab a coffee before heading on to nearby Dunnottar Castle.
The hotel has a lot to offer on top of its accommodation. With 12 meeting rooms accommodating groups of up to 400, it’s the perfect place to set up that all-important conference or event. The four suites (accommodating anything from 80 to 216 guests) make ideal spaces for large parties and weddings. If you’re planning that special day, the all inclusive wedding packages and coordinated wedding planners will have you well looked after.
Just looking for a bit of ‘me’ time? The Health & Leisure club is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing or a night on the dance floor. There’s even a beauty therapist on hand if only a massage will do the trick! Gym bunnies will love the well-equipped facilities and classes on offer, while the swimming pool (complete with steam room, sauna and spa pool) offers an oasis of calm, and is open late if you’re in the mood for an evening dip.
The Altens has 216 bedrooms, with both premium and standard options available. Whichever option you go for, you’ll have a luxurious Hypnos bed to sink into, a flatscreen telly with Freeview, super speedy wifi, ample storage and an ensuite bathroom.
We were lucky enough to be treated to a Premium Double on the ground floor. Despite how close we must have been to the busy road outside, and despite the fact that there was a wedding on during our stay, I was surprised by how quiet the room was. Not a single drunken peep was heard.
The room itself was gorgeous, with golden tones and silky brown textiles giving the place a warm and luxurious vibe. I loved the dark oak furnishings, and the vanity table with built-in hairdryer was super handy for getting spruced up for a night on the town – as was the en suite bathroom, which had a rather genius heated mirror system in place to prevent the glass from getting steamed up!
My top priority though is always the bed. It’s nigh on impossible to find a bed with the perfect balance between squishyness and firmness (yes, these are my official criteria), but The Altens came pretty darn close. Top this off with a king-sized space to spread out in and you’ve got all the makings of a perfect night’s sleep.
The Altens has two dining spaces; the Cairngorm Restaurant, which is more formal, and the Lounge Bar, which serves up lighter meals as late as 10pm.
Breakfast was served in the Cairngorm Restaurant, and it was nice to find that it was available all the way from 6.30am to 11. Ideal if you had an early flight or meeting, or if you’re feeling a little ‘tender’ after a night on the town before. The food was served buffet-style and had just about everything you could hope to find, from continental options like pastries and cured meats to the more hearty Full Scottish options, including the necessary tattie scones and haggis. The menu was maybe slightly limited on veggie alternatives, but what was on offer was well cooked, and the coffee was more than punchy enough to set me up for a busy day ahead.
On the second night, we sat down to a three-course dinner. It was the first day of their new summer menu so we had adopted somewhat of a guinea pig status, but the choices were ample. I opted for carrot and coriander soup, peppercorn steak and a bramble-infused bread and butter pudding; Fraser went for a tomato and mozzarella salad, seafood linguine and a fruit salad served with fresh sorbet. Everything was divine, with locally-sourced ingredients and impeccable presentation. My steak was particularly great; a marvel of medium-rare proportions.
With its location on the outskirts of town, it’s good to know that The Altens has such a lovely place for folk to dine in, whether they’re guests or just looking for something alternative to the city centre.
The value of good customer service should never be underestimated. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, the Altens team had us well looked after. The checking in/out process was quick and efficient. Our room was cleaned and made up with no fuss. There was no request too big or too strange for the reception crew, whether that was procuring a bottle opener or arranging an essential midnight cheese and pickle sandwich…true story. The team were super-friendly and went above and beyond to keep the little gestures coming, be it a smile, a few goodies left in the room or being sure to wish me a happy birthday. We felt very welcome and very well looked after, and that, ultimately, is what can make or break a hotel stay.
Despite my misgivings about its location, we really enjoyed our stay at The Aberdeen Altens Hotel. Previously, I might have written this off as a practical option, and in many ways, it is a practical place to stay; it has easy access to the city centre, it’s right off the main road out of town, it has plenty of space for functions etc etc…But does practical necessarily have to mean boring? Definitely not.
The Altens is beautifully decorated with comfortable rooms, excellent food and a team of staff who are happy to go above and beyond to make you feel right at home. If that doesn’t make a great hotel, I don’t know what does!
For more information on staying at The Aberdeen Altens Hotel, head to their website here or check out the great offer below:
Stay at The Aberdeen Altens Hotel for only £49!
Price is per room based on 2 people sharing.
Book Now: https://goo.gl/FyDNM9
Available 1st – 30th July 2018 Thursday – Sunday Nights Only
Disclaimer: My two night stay was kindly supported and arranged by Granite PR. As always, all opinions are my own.