[AD: We stayed at Eagle Brae free of charge, in exchange for blog and social media coverage.]
A Highland fling…
Last Sunday was my birthday (It’s OK, you don’t have to congratulate me or anything: I mean, I’m the kind of person who deliberately doesn’t put her date of birth on Facebook, just so people don’t feel like they have to make a fuss about it, so I won’t be offended if you just ignore that little fact, seriously…), so I decided to celebrate in the same way any sane person would, really: by driving for four hours in the snow, with a screaming toddler in the back seat. Well, I mean, how do YOU celebrate birthdays?
While the snow might not have been the most welcome surprise of the morning, however, that drive was worth every single second spent scrabbling around for dummies, and singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ on repeat, because just look at what was waiting for us at the end of it:
This is the ‘Certhia’ cabin at the beautiful Eagle Brae resort, in the Scottish Highlands, and it was to be our home for the next three nights. I KNOW. I seriously had to keep pinching myself the entire time we were there.
(Oh yeah: this post will include a LOT of gushing, by the way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…)
Tucked away in the hillside near Struy (About 40 minutes from Inverness), Eagle Brae is a unique, log cabin community, consisting of 7 different hand-crafted cabins, all built from beautiful Canadian cedars. The carbon-neutral resort has its own micro-hyrdro scheme, wood pellet burners to powder the underfloor heating, and a carbon payback scheme whereby guests can pay to plant a tree near the village to offset the impact of their journey there. If you’re thinking this all sounds very worthy, but maybe just a little bit too rustic for your tastes, though, let me just quickly remind you that this is me you’re talking to here: I don’t really DO rustic. Luckily for me, though, Eagle Brae is a five star resort, and our cabin was so luxurious it was like a little slice of heaven, basically. Want to take a look inside?
Underfloor heating. A wood-burning stove. Your own private sauna, inside a bathroom bigger than my office. A kitchen stocked with everything you could possibly need – and quite a few things you haven’t even thought of yet. It. Was. Amazing. Seriously, Eagle Brae owners, Mike and Pawana have thought of absolutely everything, which means the cabin wasn’t so much a home-from-home for us – it was WAY better than that. Seriously, you get your own puppy and everything!
(OK, OK, she’s Eagle Brae’s puppy, and no, she doesn’t come with the cabin, unfortunately, although she did pop over to visit us on our first morning, much to my excitement.)
(And yes, that’s a puppy – just 10 months old!)
But where was I? Oh yeah: the cabin…
Downstairs, we had a huge entrance/mud room (This room has its own heating system, so if you’ve been out in the cold and rain all day – and this is the Highlands, so there WILL be cold and rain – you can just crank up the heat in there, and dry off, without having to bring your wet coats and boots into the main), a double bedroom, huge bathroom and sauna, plus an open-plan living area, with the most amazing views. Pawana is Indian, so the cabins all have a wonderful mix of Scottish and Indian decor: I felt like every time I turned around I’d notice yet another interesting little detail, while for Max it was just an endless voyage of discovery, basically.
Speaking of Max, Eagle Brae is definitely the best-equipped place we’ve stayed in terms of baby/toddler care: in addition to the travel cot – which most hotels will supply if asked – we also had a high chair, changing pad and nappy pail, so we really wanted for nothing. The cabins are self-catering, but we used Eagle Brae’s concierge service to order some groceries before we left home, which meant we arrived to find the fridge fully stocked with everything we needed, including one of the resort’s delicious home-made vegetarian lasagnes, which we just had to pop into the oven when we were ready to eat. There are various different meal options available on site, which made our stay so much easier: bear in mind here that these cabins are fairly secluded, so it’s not like you can just pop out to the all-night supermarket when you need something – the nearest shop is at least 15 minutes drive away, and it closes at 5pm, so we really appreciated being able to order groceries in advance, rather than having to either bring everything with us, or go shopping as soon as we arrived.
(Everything else you’ll need for your stay, however, is provided for you, so you’ll find everything from dishwasher tabs and laundry powder to a full selection of bath products, and even wild bird feed, waiting for you in your cabin.)
Upstairs, meanwhile, there’s another living area, complete with TV and comfy sofas, a small office space with a desk and computer, and these two little log beds:
I felt like I should be a grown-up, and sleep in the “main” bedroom downstairs, but I’m not going to lie: part of me reeallly wanted to sleep in one of these instead. I mean, can you imagine how exciting these would be for kids? Or, er, really big kids, even? Ultimately, though, I was happy with my decision to stay downstairs, because the double doors at the foot of the bed opened up to THIS:
Which is not too shabby at all, right?
The Great Outdoors
As amazing as the cabin itself is, however, it’s the surrounding area that makes a stay at Eagle Brae so special. Most people who come to the Highlands, after all, come to experience the great outdoors, and, well, the resort has plenty of that: there are tons of activities on offer, from pony trekking and dog-sledding to kayaking and fishing. (See the full list here.) If, like me, however, you’re either too lazy for all of that – or you’re simply accompanied by a toddler – you can also choose to let the great outdoors come to you: and I mean that literally, because, one day we came back to the cabin after a day’s sightseeing, to find these guys (and gals) waiting to meet us…
I mean, they were literally standing at our front door, guys – and, judging by the entries in the guest book, that’s not remotely unusual: in fact, we got quite used to glancing out of the window just in time to see a stag casually wandering past, and they were incredibly tame, too. This bunch were more than happy to politely stand there waiting for us to take their photo, and not even Max’s excited squeals were enough to scare them off. It was absolutely amazing, and honestly made it quite difficult to tear ourselves away from the cabin every day, when there was so much to see right outside our door. Like goats, for instance:
OK, maybe not so many of the last one, unless you bring your own, obviously. And the goats and chickens weren’t actually at the cabin itself, but just up the hill, at the pretty little reception, which also had a stock of toys for Max, and coffee for us:
Of course, there are at least 67,876 more photos I could show you here (In addition to the 34,987 I’ve already posted, I mean…), but, instead, I’m going to leave you with just this one, which sums up how we all felt about our stay at Eagle Brae:
(When I posted this on Instagram Stories, someone commented that he looks like a US talk show host walking out on stage, and I laughed for at least five minutes. I’m laughing now, actually…)
Honestly, though, not even this really does the place justice, so I’ve also created an Eagle Brae highlight on my Instagram profile, so you can see the various videos and other photos I posted while we were there. Finally, should you wish to see all of this for yourself, you’ll find the Eagle Brae website here – and if you do go, don’t forget to give Shanti the puppy a hug from me!