British Isles Slow Travel

The best places to stay in the Cairngorms, Aberdeenshire and Moray

Your comprehensive guide to the best places to stay in the Cairngorms, Aberdeen, and Moray from the author of the Bradt guide.

I’m Rebecca Gibson, an outdoor writer and photographer based on the Moray Coast. While researching my Slow Travel Guide to North East Scotland, I was keen to share accommodation options that offered lots of character, handy facilities for walkers and dog owners, a central location, interesting food, or a mix of all of these. Instead of impersonal chain hotels, I looked for quirky and cosy places with individuality that would add to the overall Slow experience. The following is my recommended selection of the best places to stay in the Cairngorms, Aberdeen, and Moray – including B&Bs, self-catering lets, hotels and camping options.

The best places to stay in Cairngorms, Aberdeen, and Moray

I’ve chosen each one based on its location, character, friendliness or how Slow it is in terms of facilities and ethos. It’s refreshingly easy to find dog-friendly places around here, so I’ve included a diverse range. Rates vary seasonally, but you can expect to pay £70–90 per night for a B&B. Obviously there are plenty of other options to choose from; for further recommendations, check the online listings at Visit Moray Speyside, Visit Aberdeenshire, and Visit Cairngorms.

Buy the book

For a complete guide to the area, pick up Rebecca’s Slow Travel Guide to North East Scotland.

Whether you are keen to visit castles or indulge in whisky-tastings amid Britain’s highest concentration of distilleries, to hike among Cairngorm’s remote mountains or to stride boldly along miles upon miles of coastline, discover North East Scotland with Bradt’s unique Slow guide.

Cairngorms National Park: West

A popular area with hikers, mountain climbers and skiers, this half of the Cairngorms National Park offers a diverse range of accommodation, from traditional Victorian hotels to practical, no-frills hostels. Whatever you’re looking for, the following locations are all surrounded by Cairngorms wildness and lie close to lochs, forests and rivers. Special mention must be made to Glentruim Lodge, near Newtonmore – an excellent Slow Cairngorms hideaway.


The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant

Boat of Garten, PH24 3BH • 01479 831258 •

The dog-friendly rooms in this fine Victorian building have plenty of tartan furniture, stag-themed décor and warm lighting, providing a cosy place to rest after a long day exploring. Views from the rooms include mountains, the village and the hotel garden. Well-placed for walks in Scots pine woodland, with Loch Garten less than three miles away. You can also catch the Strathspey Steam Railway from right outside the hotel.

The Grant Arms Hotel

Grantown-on-Spey, PH26 3HF • 01479 872526 •

Queen Victoria stayed here in 1860, and since then modern comforts have been added while keeping the building’s traditional character. It’s now known as the ‘UK’s Wildlife Hotel’ and is a particular favourite of mine, with wildlife photography on most walls and even birdsong playing in the toilets. Events include regular evening talks, hosted by the Bird Watching and Wildlife Club, and guided wildlife holidays with celebrities such as Iolo Williams and Nick Baker.


Nethy House Café & Rooms

Nethy Bridge, PH25 3EB • 07963 217793 •

Five spacious and individually designed en-suite bedrooms – one is on the ground floor and is both wheelchair accessible and dog-friendly. During my stay I was pleasantly surprised to find a recycling bin in the room. Guests have access to a communal kitchen area and can eat breakfast in the café before it opens to the public at 10am. Located in the very centre of the village, with Abernethy Forest just a stroll away.

Ravenscraig Guest House

Aviemore, PH22 1RP • 01479 810278 •

Run by the kind and welcoming Scott and Helena, who are on hand to provide walking tips and hikers’ essentials such as a drying room for wet gear. Recently refurbished and with several rooms overlooking the Cairngorm Mountains, as well as dog-friendly cabins and small wooden chalets in an annex at the back, this place is a combination of modern amenities and stylish décor in a traditional Victorian building.


Aviemmore Youth Hostel

Aviemore, PH22 1PR • 01479 810345 •

Popular among outdoor enthusiasts, this is a good-value option with both shared dorms and private rooms and access to a communal lounge, laundry facilities and bike storage. As well as a self-catering kitchen, there’s the option of Continental breakfast served in the dining room (pre-booking essential). Distinctive to this particular hostel is an on-site visitor centre linked to adjacent Craigellachie NNR, offering peregrine nest cams and information about this woodland reserve. 

Glentrium Lodge

Newtonmore, PH20 1BE • 07712 589042 •

Close to the River Spey and well-situated for walking and bike trails, including National Cycle Route 7 and Laggan Wolftrax, this beautiful property has three B&B bedrooms available to rent, as well as the whole house for groups of up to 12. However, the Slow highlight is the self-catering ecopod. This barrel-shaped cabin has everything you need for cosy glamping, with the added luxuries of electricity and a modern shower.

I stayed here in December and cooked outside in a small snow drift, warming up inside the cosy ecopod afterwards while watching garden birds foraging beyond the double doors. I woke each morning to deer footprints on the steps, and I watched red squirrels negotiating frosty branches while waiting for water to boil. Glentruim requires some searching to find, but hosts Robert and Maria provide detailed instructions and live right next door.


Dalraddy Holiday Park

Alvie, PH22 1QB • 01479 810330 •

Open all year round, making it ideal for holidays out of season. The dog-friendly campsite offers pitches for tents, touring caravans and static caravans, and there are also wooden chalets available. Dalraddy is the start point for the spectacular walk along Torr of Alvie and provides easy access to the Speyside Way.

Cairngorms National Park: East

With public transport tricky in this half of the National Park, I’ve chosen the following accommodation options because they make it easier to explore the region’s sites on foot.


Loch Kinord Hotel

Dinnet, AB34 5LW • 01339 885229 •

Close to Muir of Dinnet, Glen Tanar and Tarland, this small, family-run hotel provides the kind of warm welcome you’d expect in a B&B. It’s regularly praised for the high quality of its Scottish produce, including locally sourced meat and seasonal vegetables served as light bar lunches or evening meals. Guests can also stay in a self-catered woodland lodge in the hotel grounds. Dogs welcome in the bar and selected rooms.


Argyle House

Tomintoul, AB37 9EX • 01807 580766 •

Small, dog-friendly guesthouse just 100 yards from Tomintoul’s central square. The impressive breakfast features a cereal buffet, Continental tray, homemade bread and cooked dishes including vegetarian and vegan options.

Cranford Guest House

Braemar, AB35 5YQ • 01339 741675 •

A five-minute stroll from the centre of Braemar and well-placed for access to Balmoral Estate, this dog-friendly B&B is run by knowledgeable hosts happy to advise on local hikes and sights. Catered to outdoor enthusiasts, there’s secure storage space for bikes and skis, as well as a drying room. 


Ballater Hostel

Ballater, AB35 5QJ • 01339 753752 •

Friendly, spacious hostel where owners Daniel and Dominique drop in for a blether while you cook or relax in the open-plan communal kitchen, dining and living area. Choose from shared dorms or private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Recycling is heartily encouraged. The short but demanding Craig Coillich Hill Run starts from the hostel – if you fancy earning your place on the league table, let Daniel or Dominique know and they can set the stopwatch.

Camping & Glamping

Howe of Torbeg

Ballater, AB35 5XL • 01339 756262 •

On this contained, one-acre site bordered by farmland and birch woodland are several glamping pods and an off-grid shepherd’s hut. With environmentally conscious facilities including a low-flush toilet and gas-powered showers, you can unwind surrounded by simple home comforts and the wilderness of Royal Deeside, with Ballater just five miles away.

Central Moray

The best thing about staying in Moray Speyside is you can sample delicious drams straight away without needing to wait until you’ve driven home. Dufftown offers the most in terms of activities, with whisky distilleries, woodland trails and a heritage railway link to Keith all nearby.


Dunvegan B&B

Dufftown, AB55 4AA • 01340 821124 •

Three stylish rooms equipped with all the essentials and even a complimentary dram of whisky. It’s situated 200yds from the clock tower in the centre of Dufftown and within walking distance of several distilleries, making it ideally placed for whisky enthusiasts. Very reasonable room discounts are offered for solo travellers.


Duke Cottage

Fochabers, IV32 7DN •

Just a handful of steps from the village square, this dog-friendly cottage is cosy, peaceful and sleeps up to four people. Explore Fochabers or stay in and enjoy a barbecue in the fenced garden.

The Milking Sheds

Dufftown, AB55 4AR • 07801 350723 •

Two semi-detached stone cottages for two in the centre of Dufftown, offering a fully equipped kitchen, an enclosed garden and patio area. For families and groups, there are two larger properties next door: a Victorian villa and Scotland’s first luxury self-catering Smart Home. Its swish interior is kitted out with automated light features, including Night Mode to guide you when it’s dark, and the freedom to control music and also the colours and intensity of the light from most rooms. All four properties welcome dogs.

Camping & Glamping

Ace Adventures

Forres, IV36 2QL • 01309 611729 •

Within the Findhorn Valley, this site has woodland camping pitches, bell tents with wood-burning stoves and luxury shepherd’s huts. As well as staying here, there’s the option to go white-water rafting and join other outdoor activities. Some pitches are summer only.

Hideaway Under the Stars

Aberlour, AB38 9NL • 07786 225639 •

Combining touches of luxury with bespoke natural elements, this rustic, dog-friendly holiday home blends into its surroundings. The highlight is its domed roof with a circular window for cosy stargazing. Have a refreshing dip in one of the private fairy pools and pick your own organic food from the garden during your stay.

The Moray Coast

From urban B&Bs to woodland cabins, the Moray Coast has varied accommodation options for a Slow traveller. Elgin is the main town in the region, but for a quieter stay you could try the peaceful coastal village of Portknockie or the even more secluded lightkeeper cottages beside Covesea Lighthouse.


The Victoria Hotel

Portknockie, AB56 4LQ • 07834 589868 •

Centrally located and dog-friendly hotel half a mile from the famous Bow Fiddle Rock in the small fishing village of Portknockie. Within the traditional stone building, guests will find a vibrant pub atmosphere and just seven peaceful rooms, some with sea views and all with modern en-suite bathrooms. Paul offers a warm welcome and cooks a fabulous breakfast. Events, advertised on their Facebook page, include quiz nights, bingo and live music.


Moraybank B&B

Elgin, IV30 1QT • 01343 547618 •

Located within a handsome 19th-century house set back from the road behind a stretching lawn, this refurbished B&B has maintained many period features, including a striking Gothic bathroom in one of its three rooms. Situated just a five-minute walk from the centre of Elgin, with rate reductions for single occupancy.

Stravaig B&B

Cullen, AB56 4SW • 07985 412387 •

‘Stravaig’ is a Scottish word meaning to wander aimlessly – a truly Slow name! This small, family-run B&B is in an old stone building right on Cullen’s high street, beside the viaduct bridge. It has excellent rates considering its location, which couldn’t be more central. Inside, a cosy guest lounge and two king-size bedrooms (one dog-friendly), with en-suite bathrooms, houseplants and lots of cupboard space, all provide a homely feel.


Covesea Lighthouse Keeper Cottages

Lossiemouth, IV31 6SP • 01343 810664 •

Available throughout the year for a long weekend or on a weekly basis, these dog-friendly cottages were once home to Covesea’s lightkeepers and their families. Now modernised, they offer visitors a unique holiday beside Covesea Lighthouse, right next to a sprawling sandy beach just over a mile from Lossiemouth.

Mossyards Holiday Cottages

Roseisle, IV30 5YD • 01343 830250 •

Unusually for cottages, these two are available for single-night stays as well as week-long lets. Surrounded by farmland and just a couple of miles from Duffus Castle, guests can enjoy quiet countryside but still have plenty of the Moray Coast’s sights and experiences nearby. The cottages allow dogs and have modern bathrooms and kitchens, sunlit patio areas for taking in the views, and floor-to-ceiling windows for when you’d rather curl up inside in a high-backed armchair. Guests can enjoy complimentary organic produce from the garden when it’s available too.

Camping & Glamping

The Loft

Forres, IV36 2UD • 01343 850111 •

A rustic farmland glamping experience, close to several beaches and historical sites on the Moray Coast. Bring your tents and campervans, or for that extra bit of luxury try a cosy wigwam or dog-friendly sheiling cabin, complete with a wood-fired hot tub. A separate barbecue hut is also available to hire, perfect for escaping technology on both warm summer evenings and chilly winter ones.

Aberdeenshire: The Northeast Coast & Buchan

This stretch of coastline offers plenty of cosy, often sea-themed, places to stay after days on the beach. Warm welcomes and hearty food come as standard, with a particularly excellent visitor experience at The Garden Arms Hotel, where you can fall asleep to the sounds of creaking floors and murmurs from the bar below.


The Garden Arms Hotel

Gardenstown, AB45 3YP • 01261 851260 •

More like a home than a hotel, this low-ceilinged, wonky-floored 18th-century building is famous for welcoming Bram Stoker on one of his visits to the North East. Derek and Lorraine provide a whole-hearted welcome and offer delicious food, including imaginative vegetarian options and hefty Continental breakfasts for staying guests. The two rooms (called Wonky and Squinty) share the Crooked Corridor.


Aden House B&B

Old Deer, AB42 5LN • 01771 623195 •

Dog-friendly and a short walk from Aden Country Park, Deer Abbey and Aikey Brae Stone Circle, this B&B has helpful hosts and irresistible Scottish breakfasts. A clincher for me were the rooms – cosy, good value and each named after a different bird.

Cruden Bay B&B

Cruden Bay, AB42 0NJ • 01779 812215 •

Overlooking Cruden Bay Golf Club and ideally situated for exploring Slains Castle, Bullers of Buchan and Collieston NNR, this family-run B&B offers a relaxed atmosphere and warm hospitality. Choose from three rooms, one with ground floor accessibility, another with a large bay window over the golf course, and all with spacious en-suite bathrooms.  


Driftwood Cottage

Portsoy, AB45 2QR • 01261 843386 •

This is one of the coastal-themed cottages that makes Portsoy’s Church Street so picturesque. The dog-friendly property has a king-size double bedroom, kitchen and lounge downstairs and a low-ceilinged twin room upstairs, but its star feature is a jumbled back garden with three terraces, a summer house, pond and lots of driftwood decoration. Very reasonably priced for a whole cottage, with winter rates equal to a hotel room price. Minimum stay three nights.

Mill of Nethermill Holidays

Pennan, AB43 6JA • 01346 561482 •

Located in a sheltered dip between two headlands, right beside Cullykhan Bay. Owners Bill and Lynn Pitt have four luxurious self-catering properties that all welcome dogs and overlook a small, secluded beach. I stayed in The Neuk, an elegant one-bedroom apartment with a four-poster bed, exposed stone walls and the most magnificent shower I’ve ever seen. Also onsite is Millshore Pottery (, showcasing local crafts and Lynn’s hand-thrown stoneware pottery.

Wildflower Eco Lodges

Fraserburgh, AB43 8XT • 07717 376194 •

Two open-plan dog-friendly lodges providing home comforts in Aberdeenshire countryside. Cosy up in front of a wood-burning stove and watch the world go by through floor-to-ceiling windows. Minimum stay two nights.

Camping & Glamping

Down on the Farm

Rosehearty, AB43 6JY • 07954 989737 •

Several types of coastal glamping accommodation on a working farm that also offers stargazing goodie boxes for guests, plus lambing tours and afternoon tea for all. The pod-like Hideaways have the luxuries of a microwave, kettle and mini fridge as well as a rustic fire pit. For a completely off-grid experience, try the Coastal Carriage or Harvest Hut, cooking on a wood-burning stove and reading by candlelight. Upcycling is important to owners Carole and Matthew and they give old items new purposes – for example, the Hideaway toilet is housed within an old whisky barrel.

Aberdeenshire: Formartine & the Garioch

This region is mostly dominated by hotels, but a little digging reveals more characterful accommodation including some quirky glamping options.


Banks of Ury

Inverurie, AB51 3XQ • 01467 620409 • [email protected]

Family-run bar and hotel – not the most personalised but perfectly located in the centre of Inverurie, a five-minute walk from the train station. Its spacious rooms include a microwave and mini fridge.


Edgehill B&B

Insch, AB52 6YB • 07796 448158 •

With good-value rates, this small B&B is four miles from Insch’s train station and lies on the border between the Garioch and Marr, making it well-placed for exploring sites of interest in either direction. The four rooms are simply furnished with spacious, modern bathrooms and under-floor heating.



Methlick, AB41 7HP •

Luxury dog-friendly shepherd’s huts well-placed for access to Fyvie Castle, Pitmedden Garden and the wooded Gight Valley. Not cheap, but the price does include a cold breakfast. Each hut is solar-powered and provides hot water, a shower, eco-toilet, sheep’s-wool insulation and wood-burning stove, so you can be assured of a sustainable, Slow experience without compromising on comfort. E-bikes are also available to hire.

Camping & Glamping

Ythan Valley Campsite

Ellon, AB41 7TH • 01358 761400 • [email protected]

Limited number of non-electric grass pitches for tents only, offering a stripped-back countryside retreat (two-night minimum) for those needing some peace and quiet. Campers can order homemade bread, delivered warm to their tent in the morning. Open April to September.

Aberdeenshire: Marr

Those visiting the western half of Aberdeenshire have a diverse range of accommodation types to choose from. This is one of the pricier areas in the region, with plenty of ‘luxurious’ properties ramping their prices up. To make up for these higher rates, I’ve searched for locations that offer something quirky and are well-placed for Marr’s sites of interest.


The Commercial Hotel

Tarland, AB34 4TX • 01339 881922 •

Hotel in name, but with only nine rooms and warm hospitality offered to both staying guests and visiting diners, this family-run village inn offers the personal touch Slow explorers look for. All rooms are dog-friendly and include cooked breakfasts.


The Boat Inn

Aboyne, AB34 5EL • 01339 886137 •

‘Dogs, kids and muddy boots welcome!’ is the website’s tagline, providing an insight into the relaxed and friendly experience you’ll have at this inn that has overlooked the River Dee since 1720. Sip a local ale in the landscaped beer garden or tuck into locally sourced dishes beside an open log fire.


Glen Dye Cabins & Cottages

Banchory, AB31 6LT • 01330 850689 •

Seclusion at its finest. This mini village of characterful, dog-friendly properties is tucked away within a quiet glen just half a mile from the start of the walking trail up an excellent hill called Clachnaben. On the banks of the River Dye, groups of up to six can stay in the North Lodge, a semi-detached Georgian house with an accompanying River Cabin a short way down the path. For an even more rustic retreat, sleep in a refurbished Airstream Safari caravan from 1955. Guests have access to a wood-fired sauna and the BYOB Glen Dye Arms pub.

Camping & Glamping

Feughside Caravan Park

Banchory, AB31 6NT • 01330 85066 •

Located in a quiet corner beside the Water of Feugh on its way to Banchory, this small and dog-friendly campsite is just a few miles from Clachnaben and all the tasty treats on offer at Finzean Farm Shop. Pitches available for campervans, tents, motorhomes and more.

Tap o’Noth Forest Garden Farm

Rhynie, AB54 4HH •[email protected]

On a working permaculture smallholding next to Tap o’Noth Hillfort, this off-grid shepherd’s hut stands beside a pond in a wooded corner of the farm. Cook campfire-style on a log-burning stove and soak in a luxurious wood-fired hot tub while listening to the birds or watching bats skim overhead.

Aberdeen City & Stonehaven

There’s far too much to do in Aberdeen for a day trip. Slow explorers could fill a week exploring the city’s old and new, and many sites of interest are within strolling distance of each other. Choose from modern apartments in the city centre, more peaceful hotels in the outskirts, or venture further south for coastal seclusion in the town of Stonehaven.


Cove Bay Hotel

Cove Bay, AB12 3NA • 01224 897211 •

If you’d like to be close to Aberdeen’s attractions but still enjoy seaside solitude, this hotel in the small suburb of Cove Bay is worth considering. The bathrooms in particular are fresh and contemporary, and some of the rooms have excellent sea views. Located four miles south of Aberdeen City Centre, with the Aberdeenshire Coastal Path also nearby.


Alba Guest House

Aberdeen, AB24 3BS • 01224 625444 •

Simply decorated with block colours and striking artwork on the walls, this dog-friendly guesthouse provides an excellent cooked breakfast and access to a quiet back garden. Situated at the northern end of Aberdeen City, it’s well-positioned for exploring Old Aberdeen – Seaton Park is just a 20-minute walk away along cobbled side streets.


Skene Terrace Apartments

Aberdeen, AB10 1RN • 01334 470711 •

In a fantastic central location half a mile from Aberdeen’s train station, these two self-catering apartments are on a quiet street in a striking Georgian building, providing an ideal base for exploring the city. Both flats are available to book for short stays (two-night minimum) and have an open-plan living and dining area with a fully equipped kitchen, and bright bedrooms offering lots of wardrobe and cupboard space.

Camping & Glamping

Deeside Holiday Park

Aberdeen, AB12 5FX • 01250 878123 •

A variety of dog-friendly accommodation types for different-sized groups including en-suite glamping pods for couples, luxury caravans with hot tubs, and deluxe lodges suitable for larger families. You can also bring your own caravans, motorhomes and tents and pitch up for a short break or the whole season. Located close to the River Dee, eight miles outside Aberdeen City Centre.

More information

For a complete guide to the area, pick up Rebecca’s Slow Travel Guide to North East Scotland.

Whether you are keen to visit castles or indulge in whisky-tastings amid Britain’s highest concentration of distilleries, to hike among Cairngorm’s remote mountains or to stride boldly along miles upon miles of coastline, discover North East Scotland with Bradt’s unique Slow guide.