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Easter Kintrae - Victorian family house near Elgin

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Weekly season prices: Low £950 Mid £1,100 High £1,200 Festive: £1,470
Short breaks (4 nights): Low £600 Mid £700    
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Vernon's review of Easter Kintrae
large holiday house Cairngorms


Easter Kintrae near Elgin, self catering Moray - sleeps 10

Large 19th century sandstone house near Elgin with beautiful views, close to stunning beaches

Fruit trees sporting pretty white and pink blossoms and spring flowers emerging in lovingly tended gardens greet us as we pull into the driveway of the lovely sandstone family home that will be ours for the week. Easter Kintrae sits on a hill and we stop to admire the view before going in to explore the house, taking in long views in all directions, over a plain of chequered fields to deep woods and high hills in the distance. 'Kintrae' means 'edge of the tide' – these plains were once a sea loch – so we are close to Moray's dramatic coastline and stunning sandy beaches.

First impressions count and the Victorians knew this; we step through a neat, bright porch into a lovely hallway where the stairway with its beautifully turned banisters leads up to the bedrooms while solid wooden doors open into the downstairs rooms. Upstairs first and I can't believe my luck when I find that our room has the bed that I've always wanted, just like my grandmother's - a beautiful mahogany sleigh bed. I love everything about the room, from the lovely antique furniture to the beautiful swagged curtains which frame the large window, through which we have a fantastic view of ruined Duffus castle, standing proud its own hill.

The slamming of car doors announces the arrival of the rest of our party and soon the house is filled with the sound of voices, doors opening and closing and footsteps on the stairs. Eight of us gather in the kitchen and exchange stories of our journeys as we enjoy cups of tea in the warmth of the Aga, the first of many such occasions to be repeated during our holiday along with lengthy, animated dinners in the posh dining room (rich, earthy tones and warm, dark wood, a fine Persian carpet) and laid back evenings lounging with a glass or two by a crackling fire in the large living room. We're here to laze about and enjoy the beaches, play golf, shop, drink whisky and catch up on news.

There are so many lovely bays and beaches here that it's hard to pick a favourite but I especially loved the walk along Lossiemouth beach to Covesea lighthouse, exploring the Hopeman caves and wandering around the picturesque 17th century harbour at Portsoy, with its ancient maritime buildings which were originally connected with the flourishing herring trade. The golfers amongst us reported excellent games at Lossiemouth and Elgin and the shoppers returned from Elgin with a wealth of bargains from the many craft and gift shops, the Polish deli (!) and in particular Johnstones, the only remaining mill in Scotland which processes cashmere from raw fibre right the way through to the finished article. I don't think we'll need to do any shopping for Christmas!

I'm the only member of the family who enjoys whisky, which has its up side. This week, though, I'm in the company of friends who share my passion, so our grail has been to visit some distilleries and find something special. My treasured booty was Glen Moray's distillery manager's choice – my own vintage – and the cosy snug has been the setting for enjoying its rich, complex flavours of Christmas cake, dark chocolate, honey and cloves as we sink into our comfy chairs and the sun sets over the distant hills.

Scottish mansion holiday

large self catering Scotland

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Further details about this accommodation

Living room
Dining room
Kitchen/breakfast room with Aga
Fitted kitchen with electric oven and hob, microwave, dishwasher, Smeg fridge, Kenwood mixer, high chair.
Laundry room with washing machine, tumble dryer and drying rack ,iron and board and chest freezer.
Shower room
There is a television in both sitting room and snug ,DVD and CD players, radio, books -fiction and non fiction, children's books and games, broadband internet access.

Upstairs :
5 bedrooms: 2 large doubles with views of Duffus castle, 2 standard doubles and 1 twin with bunks, all with countryside views.
Bathroom and second shower room.
High quality cotton bedlinen is provided as are towels and beach /swimming towels . Soaps and shampoo are provided from the Arran Aromatics range.
A travelling cot and child's roll up futon mattress are available on request and a double day bed is available in one large double room.
Electricity and oil central heating are included in the rental rates.
A decorated Christmas tree is provided over the festive season.

The gardens are divided into several areas: a small, partially walled garden west of the dining room planted in lavendar, spring bulbs and recently, a peach tree.To the front of the house is a gravelled parking area for several cars, surrounded by plantings of trees, shrubs, roses and perennials.
There is an outdoor pizza oven/ barbecue and additionally a kettle barbeque is available.
To the east lies a lawned garden with fruit trees: apple, plum, pear and wild cherry; the blossom is quite beautiful in the Spring. The grassy bank is carpeted by snowdrops early in the year closely followed by daffodils and wild garlic beneath the cherries. On the north west side is a second gravelled parking area which catches the evening sun.
A newly developed/developing garden to the south east is planted in trees and shrubs.
Herbs such as fennel, rosemary, mint and marjoram are scattered liberally around.

Up to 2 well-behaved dogs allowed.

Our top 5 things to see and do while staying at Easter Kintrae
hotel Moray has beautiful sandy beaches, including: Findhorn, Roseisle and Burghead on 11 miles long Burghead Bay; Cummingston, Hopeman and Hopeman West Beach; Lossiemouth East, a very long beach which will always have a quiet spot and West Beach or 'Silver Sands', leading to Covesea Lighthouse; Cullen Beach in the beautiful Cullen Bay.

More than half of Scotland's malt whisky distilleries are in Speyside and many of them offer tours and tastings, including the world's two best-selling single malts, Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet as well as The Macallan, Benromach, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Cardhu and Strathisla.


You can see the ruins of Duffus Castle from Easter Kintrae; climb up the hill near Dufftown to Auchindoon Castle - both are free. Buy a joint ticket for Spynie Palace and Elgin Cathedral, both of which have fantastic views. Brodie Castle (National Trust) has a great art collection and lovely gardens as well as a tearoom.

hotel The Keith and Dufftown Railway heritage railway runs vintage DMU trains on an eleven mile stretch between Dufftown, the world's malt whisky capital (climb Ben Rinnes, 840m, from here or visit strange rock formations, the Giant's Chair and the Giant's Table) and the market town of Keith (there are good walks from here too, visit the tourist information centre) at weekends from Easter to September.

The Loft Bistro at Kinloss is an Eat Scotland accredited restaurant with an excellent choice of fresh, seasonal, locally sourced dishes, homemade desserts and a wide range of wines, Scottish ales and whiskies. The Old Mill Inn, Brodie, offers everything from light bar lunches to fully blown delicious dinners in the restaurant, with an excellent choice to suit both carnivores and vegetarians.