Over Hill and Under Hill: My Return to Trochelhill

by Keith Savage · 7 comments


Trochelhill Country House B&B in the Heart of Moray

The drive north from Pitlochry was long and beautiful. Through the northern stretches of the Perthshire forests, along the western edge of the snow-capped Cairngorm Mountains, and into the rolling hills at the heart of Speyside, my dad and I finally found ourselves near the Moray coast at Trochelhill Country House B&B. I pulled through the stone gate and heaved a great sigh: I had returned, a year later, to one of the enduring favorites from all my trips to Scotland, and I would be spending the next five nights here as my base for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

If you’ve been a long-time reader of Traveling Savage, perhaps you recall my post last year about B&B gold in the hills of Moray/Speyside in which I highlighted a brief night at Trochelhill as part of the Best Holiday in the World extravaganza that I won (!!). That brief night made a great impression on me and compelled me to seek another opportunity to spend more time at Ian and Dian’s most excellent establishment. Take a sec and read my previous post about Trochelhill to get the backstory on the property and Ian and Dian’s history as well as my first impressions.

Pulling into the drive at Trochelhill is a powerful experience. The grounds are immaculately maintained and the stately house presents an air of classic sophistication. The truth is I felt a bit jumped up staying here, just as I did at Brodie Castle, but any fears of batting above my station, so to speak, were quashed by Ian and Dian’s earnest warmth – more on this in a bit.  The interior of the country house fits a modern veneer over that unique Scottish je ne sais quoi – the rooms and common areas are loaded with sturdy wood furniture, warm tones, plush carpeting, and wrought metal accent pieces. The rooms are bright with an airy feeling of space while the bathrooms have been spared no expense. Slate tiles, porcelain sinks and whirlpool and clawfoot tubs, and walk-in showers with rain shower heads make cleaning up a pleasurable, even spa-like experience.

Aigen's Bathroom

I’m kind of picky when it comes to accommodations. I like my digs to be luxurious without being ostentatious, and there needs to be a dash of homeyness for it all to sing. Trochelhill nails this (admittedly specific) aesthetic profile, but, as is more true with B&Bs than any other style of accommodation, the overall enjoyment of the place hinges on the proprietors. I’ve borne witness to surly or dour proprietors undoing beautiful properties. It’s not pretty, and it makes me wonder how those people got into the business and why they continue to do it. Ian and Dian do not fall into this category.

In fact, Ian and Dian might be the most welcoming and warm people I’ve ever met, nevermind proprietors. As is their custom, they greeted us at the door and immediately took us into the large and bright dining room for tea and excellent baked goods to go with our chat. There’s no better way to arrive at your new accommodation. It was a fortifying repast as a visit to Glenfiddich was in our near future. There were many similar experiences over the next four days. My dad had come down with a poorly-timed cold and spent more time resting than he usually would, and Dian kindly prepared him soup and bread on more than one occasion while I was out at Glenlivet, Glenglassaugh, and various tastings. When we returned to Trochelhill at night, we found piping hot water bottles beneath the beds’ covers. Details, details, details!

Each morning’s breakfast was something of an epic affair. The Scottish breakfast they prepare is a heaping plate of all Scotland’s most delicious breakfast bits that’s enough to keep you going until the next breakfast. I particularly enjoyed the salmon and eggs and my dad was delighted to see kippers on the menu. With the sun shining into the room and a view out to the distant hills, it’s a start to the day that hits all the senses.

When I booked Trochelhill as the base for our foray around Speyside, it wasn’t without a little anxiety: Trochelhill is actually closer to the Moray coast than to the heart of Speyside. I was pleasantly surprised to find the location was a non-issue. Driving down to Rothes and then on to Aberlour or Dufftown was a beautiful 30-minute drive, and once you’re down there all of Speyside’s treasures are fairly close to one another. In fact, Trochelhill’s location proved better than I thought, as it made travel over to Elgin, Forres, and Portsoy very easy. Trochelhill is an excellent choice for exploring all of Moray and Speyside.

Running a B&B is not an easy business. You need to be grounds crew, cleaning crew, cook, baker, greeter, tech support, and marketer. Many outsource some or even most of these duties, but the best wear all the hats at once, pouring their heart and soul into the work. As a guest, I don’t often think too hard about the work that goes into making my stay enjoyable, but when you feel the love in the work, you can’t help but marvel at the people who make it all possible. After five nights with Ian and Dian at Trochelhill, our goodbyes were a little teary. It was like saying goodbye to parents you don’t know when you’ll see again.

Wherever the road may take me, I know I’ll find my way back to Trochelhill once again.

Disclosure: Ian and Dian provided me with a discounted stay. All thoughts and opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.


Randy PlunkettNo Gravatar December 24, 2012 at 3:47 PM

The proprietors can make all the difference. We stayed for a couple of nights at the Torchattan in Abelour, and the proprietors were so warm and welcoming you never forget it.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 25, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Agreed, super important. When reading reviews of B&Bs, people should take to heart comments about the proprietors. It’s usually the difference between a good and bad stay, or a good and marvelous one.

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Andy TopeNo Gravatar December 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Good to see there are splendid people making others feel warm in fine corners of the world.

The breakfasts sound great. And kippers for breaky! I’ll have to do that.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 19, 2012 at 4:42 PM

It’s worth planning a trip to Scotland just you can stay at Trochelhill. And visit Speyside’s treasure trove of whisky distilleries. And enjoy kippers for breakfast. 🙂

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KenNo Gravatar December 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM

The breakfasts ARE amazing and Ian and Dian are the most gracious and warm people one can imagine. Trochelhill is the place to stay if you are visiting the area. Staying there was like staying with friends or family. Those hot water bottles were an unexpected treat on a couple of snowy, sleety, rainy nights.

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HoggaNo Gravatar December 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM

That breakfast looks amazing!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 18, 2012 at 3:44 PM

It was fantastic. The hell of Scottish breakfasts is that you HAVE to drink whisky afterwards to help digest the damn things. 🙂

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