Travel Review: Crieff Hydro, Crieff, Perthshire

EXPERIENCED traveller Ruaridh Hay was not impressed when told he would have to miss dressing up as a Peter Pan character and instead accompany mum and sister Flora on a trip to Crieff in Perthshire.

Roll on 48 hours and all was forgotten as he excitedly told his father, who had stayed at home, what fun he had.

And fun for little ones (and big ones too) is the order of the day at Crieff Hydro, at this former Victorian spa.

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But it is ordered fun and classy too. The hotel has come a long way since it was opened 140 years ago by physician Thomas H. Meikle.

For a start the owners (fifth generation descendants of Dr Meikle) have invested £40 million transforming this attractive building into a smoothly run hotel which also boasts self-catering units too, in the heart of some of Scotland’s most attractive countryside.

The hotel caters for every type of traveller, but its parents who love it best as six hours of free child-care is thrown in with the room rate. And that gives the grown ups time to eat, sleep or play in peace, happy in the knowledge their little ones are in good hands.

I am not one for putting my two into “kids clubs’’ when they are on holiday as I think it is a bit like a busman’s holiday for the poor things.

But I have certainly been converted, with Ruaridh and Flora loving The Big Country club, which boasts all the best things a nursery has to offer, with a big soft play area too.

The hotel offers a programme of events daily, which includes free things for the children or adults to do, from painting to watching films in the hotel cinema.

The rooms are spacious and well-appointed and offer good sized bathrooms and for a change these days, smellies which are not bolted to the wall!

There are two main restaurants, a formal one named Meikle after the originator and a Brassierie which is a little less so. Both served a high standard of dining in luxury surroundings and staff are well trained and polite.

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The hotel offers so much to do, from a swimming pool to an adults only Victorian spa, where you relax on your own, to a host of attractions from mountain biking and watersports to snooker and crazy golf and all charged at a reasonable rate.

The town of Crieff is a busy one. It’s a lovely wee windy place, with lots of individual shops, but its perhaps a victim of its own success, as it is perhaps now attracting too many visitors to make it easy to visit.

But don’t let that put you off a visit to the hydro, like the town it oozes charm, efficiency and class and of course fun!

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