The Five Arms, Braemar: a hotel for the Highlands
Since the 19th century The Fife Arms has been at the heart of Braemar, the Aberdeenshire town famous for the annual Braemar Gathering, the most famous highland games in Scotland. Deep in the Cairngorms National Park, within the valley of Royal Deeside, this Victorian coaching inn has been rewoven for the 21st century by its new owners, Iwan and Manuela Wirth.
The Fife Arms, Braemar - Hotel Exterior © Sim Canetty-Clarke
With 46 bedrooms and suites infused with stories, a restaurant overlooking the rushing River Clunie, a jewel box of a cocktail bar, wonderfully original public spaces, a Library, playroom, spa, garden and a much-loved village bar.
Sleeping at The Fife Arms
The Fife Arms, Braemar - John Brown Bedroom, Victoriana Suite © Sim Canetty-Clarke
Each bedroom and suite offers its own one-of-a-kind furnishings and décor, each one a homage to a place, person, event or activity integral to the life and legacy of Braemar. All of these stories have been meticulously researched with the help of consulting historians from Aberdeen University – and translated into design elements, to tell these local stories. The celebrated figures include Robert Louis Stevenson, who began to write Treasure Island whilst on holiday in Braemar, staying in a house a stone’s throw from the hotel; the poet Lord Byron who as a child, lived for a while at a farm just east of Ballater with his Scottish mother; and Mrs Frances Farquharson, stylish editor of American Vogue, who married Captain Alwyn Farquharson of the local Invercauld estate – she had a penchant for wearing the haute couture clothes of her favourite designer Elsa Schiaparelli, even in Braemar. Other rooms celebrate local characters such as The Highlander, The Stalker, The Farmer and The Mountaineer.
Art at The Fife Arms
The Fife Arms, Braemar - The Clunie Dining Room 02 with walls painted by Guillermo Kuitca 'Untitled' (2018) © Sim Canetty-Clark
The Fife Arms, Braemar - The Flying Stag, Public Bar © Sim Canetty-Clarke
In keeping with Iwan and Manuela Wirth’s passionate, decades-long dedication to modern and contemporary art as co-founders of the acclaimed global gallery Hauser & Wirth, art is central to The Fife Arms experience and an integral part of the design story. More than 14,000 works of art, antiques, and objets have been thoughtfully integrated into its every room, corridor and corner. Among these works are large-scale site-specific commissions by internationally-renowned artists – Zhang Enli, Guillermo Kuitca, Subodh Gupta, and Bharti Kher. American artist, writer and naturalist James Prosek has designed the hotel’s striking coat of arms and the logo for the public bar, now named The Flying Stag.
The hotel will host regular cultural events centred around heritage, tradition, local craftsmanship and contemporary art.
Enjoying The Fife Arms'garden
The Fife Arms garden
The garden has been designed by Jinny Blom, Chelsea Flower Show medallist for, amongst others, HRH The Prince of Wales, Laurent Perrier and a garden commissioned by Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale, which supports children in the African nation of Lesotho (Chelsea Flower Show 2013). Overlooking the River Clunie, her graceful garden for The Fife Arms links the main hotel to the spa, which will offer treatments inspired by the flora of Scotland.
Visiting BraemarSurrounded by the majestic Grampian Mountains and ancient woodlands, Braemar is a year round destination. The striking countryside, nearby castles and whisky distilleries makes it an ideal base for exploring the Cairngorms National Park. On Royal Deeside, the village offers an abundance of activities for visitors, it is a paradise for walkers, climbers or wanderers. The local estates offer excellent stalking, shooting and fishing for sportsmen and, in the winter months, nearby Glenshee provides the best skiing in Scotland.
By Katya PELLEGRINO