Blervie House, Scotland - A Historically Beautiful Place to Stay
Should you be planning a trip to Scotland and are thinking of heading to the Speyside area with the intent of wandering through some of the country's best whisky distilleries, make your trip even more special with a stay at the beautiful Blervie House located smack in the middle of the world-famous Malt Whisky Trail. The third-sunniest region of the UK (named for the River Spey that runs through it), the Speyside region is home to over half of Scotland's distilleries - 50 in total! This breathtaking area sits in a fertile valley of crystal clear rivers and pastoral, secluded glens - ideally sandwiched between the rugged Highlands to the west, the lush farmlands of Aberdeenshire to the east and north of Cairngorms National Park, the largest of the UK's National Parks.
Located approximately about 40 minutes from Inverness Airport down a very long driveway (!) three miles south of Forres, Blervie House is a Historic Scotland listed Country House Estate set in 272 acres which includes plenty of woodland walking and riding trails and extensive views over the Moray Firth - the largest firth (inlet) in Scotland.
Once part of the Delgatie Castle estate until it was passed down through a family member, the property was sold in 1906 to Captain Harold Bessemer Galloway who had an Edwardian mansion built on the property. Designed by the prominent Scottish architect John More Dick Peddie, stone from the nearby ruin of Blervie Castle was used to build the house which was completed in 1911.
On September 25, 1915, then-Major HB Galloway of the Seaforth Highlanders was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Loos in France which - for the history buffs out there - was, at the time, the largest British offensive of the First World War and the Army's first use of poison gas. The battle lasted from September 25th to October 8th and resulted in close to 60,000 British casualties. Along with the names of 20,609 other British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave who were killed in the area during and after the Battle of Loos, Major Galloway is memorialized on the Loos Memorial which forms the sides and rear of Dud Corner Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France.
Following a succession of owners over the years, in 1985 Blervie House was bought by Allan Shiach, a top Hollywood screenwriter (who writes under the name Allan Scott) and his actress wife, Kathleen Breck. At that time, the house was gutted and restored by Scottish architect Michael Laird. As an aside, Mr. Shiach, who was born in nearby Elgin, Moray and trained in the Scotch whisky industry, served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Macallan-Glenlivet from the late 1970s to 1996, turning its malt whisky into a highly successful international brand.
Put on the market in May of 2012 when the Shiach family decided to buy a house in the south of France, Blervie House once again changed hands when it was bought by Graham and Sheena Thompson in 2014. The couple spent the next several years renovating the house during which time, they discovered significant memorabilia which indicated that the estate had been used as a training facility by the Army during World War II.
Once the house was fully renovated, the Thompsons decided to share it with the public by opening it as an elegant bed & breakfast accommodation. Shortly afterward, in March of 2018, Blervie House went through its very first grading under VisitScotland's Quality Assurance scheme and came away with national five-star status - the highest rating awarded. Said Mr. Thompson at the time of the award, "We purchased Blervie House just over three years ago and fell in love with it but soon realised that such a beautiful house needed to be lived in and shared with our guests.”
Combining the best of period charm and 21st century modern conveniences in an elegant and stately country home, Blervie House offers travelers a luxurious and relaxing experience in comfortable surroundings at very affordable rates. For those of us who love history, it's a wonderful place to stay!
Accommodations include 9 bedrooms including a two-bedroom suite, four lounges for use by guests, a billiard room, outdoor terrace and 45 acres of private gardens. Breakfast is included in all rates and evening meals can be arranged with prior notice. There's a small cellar where guests are invited to help themselves then record their purchase in an honesty book, the charge will appear on the bill at the end of the stay. Guests are also invited to bring their own beverage to enjoy - no corkage fee is charged and glasses are happily provided! After all, Blervie House is surrounded by awesome distilleries!
Though it's a historic house, guests don't worry about having to lug their cases up the staircase as there's a 6-person lift for guests' use that stops at each floor. Graham will be happy to give a quick lesson on how it works!
During my stay, our room was located on the second floor which is the top floor of the house and which would actually be the third floor for those of us in the States! Munro is a double-standard room with a super king size bed that had the biggest headboard I think I have ever seen!
The room - which is air-conditioned should it be a rare warm day in Scotland! - had several chairs as well as a large dresser and in-room Pod-style coffee maker should one wish to have a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. The bed was very comfortable with luxuriant high-thread count linens, duck down pillows and Hungarian Goose down duvets. As an alternative to the duvet, guests can request Merino wool blankets instead.
There was an absolutely gorgeous view across the estate from our window and though it wasn't quite clear, we could still make out some of the Moray Firth and the Black Isle which is located about 25 miles away.
Another look at the big beautiful bed that was insanely comfortable and below - just for size comparison - a bit of my head to show how incredibly massive the headboard was!
Munro - like Cameron and Fraser which are the other two rooms on the second floor - doesn't have an a bathroom en suite but instead, it was located a little way down the corridor. Equipped with heated towel racks, soft and fluffy towels and twin bathrobes, there's also a hairdryer and a selection of Scottish soaps and shampoo. Best part is that it was huge! Generally when you're staying someplace historic, there's a good chance that you're going to have a bathroom that's about the size of a phone booth but that's definitely not the case at Blervie House! I poked my head into another bathroom down the hall and though it wasn't quite as big, it was definitely roomy and had a very nice shower!
Also down the hall from our room was a small lounge area that's for the exclusive use of guests staying on this floor. There was also a small kitchenette containing a sink and fridge with glasses, mugs, china, and cutlery. All the comforts of home but in a much fancier home - at least for me!
Back downstairs, visitors can see many original features around the property including a dumb waiter, the original safe which is the same make that set sail on the Titanic, the house's original ovens and the servant’s bells which every good country house should have!
Breakfast - either Continental or a full Scottish - is served in the beautiful dining room which has lovely views across the estate.
Should you choose the full Scottish breakfast, don't forget to ask for some haggis and make it a true Scottish breakfast!
A stay at Blervie House is designed to be relaxing and comfortable so be sure to make yourself at home and if there's anything that you need, don't hesitate to ask either Graham or Sheena. They want you to arrive as guests and leave as friends - definitely not something that a regular old hotel strives for!
By the way, there are two resident peacocks at the estate along with a good number of red squirrels and roe deer. I was lucky enough to get Charlie to stand still for a photo though he wasn't up for showing off his beautiful plumage! I can't say that I blame him though, it was raining a bit but then again, it was Scotland!
For more information on Blervie House, be sure to visit their website where you'll find a lot of great information on the estate and the area. If you'd like you can also shoot them an email and ask any questions you may have. A stay at this wonderfully historic yet modern country house will definitely be one of the highlights of your Scottish vacation!