The Fife Arms, Braemar

When Hauser & Wirth announced they would be opening a hotel, everyone knew it would be momentous, exciting and imaginative, but The Fife Arms has exceeded all of our expectations. The illustrious Swiss art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth have had a house in the Scottish Highlands since 2011, after falling for the region’s beauty and local culture.

The area of Braemar, right in the middle of the Cairngorms National Park, has a long and rich history, and is just a few miles from the Royal Family’s Balmoral residence. Four years ago the powerhouse Wirth couple bought a mid 19th-century coaching inn with a vision of transforming it into a bold and beautiful luxury hotel paying tribute to the motifs and crafts of the area.

After a three year multi-million pound renovation the hotel has opened as a tremendous addition to the area for locals and reason alone for tourists to visit the Scottish Highlands.

Fife Arms

It was my first time in Aberdeenshire, but after spending a few days in Edinburgh it was an easy and quick journey to make by car. The landscape I witnessed from my car window was magnificent; rolling rugged hills, herds of Highland sheep and a bright rainbow in the distance. After a few hours of countryside, we reached the quaint town of Braemar, and its new focal point, The Fife Arms.

Though Scottish heritage is very much the theme of the hotel, art takes centre stage as you would expect. Many of the most prestigious Hauser and Wirth artists feature – you’ll find a Louise Bourgeois spider in a courtyard and a striking Richard Jackson chandelier.

Fogo Island Inn

The interior designer of The Fife Arms, Russell Sage, has give the rooms an outrageous Victorian opulence… think lavish decorative wallpapers and antique furniture, four poster beds and unusual taxidermy. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I loved it, perhaps because I grew up in a Victorian House in London with eccentric artist parents who’s style is not dissimilar to the Fife fabulousness.

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I instantly fell in love with my ‘Zoology’ room, a charming and spacious bedroom on the third floor. I was wholly impressed to learn of the variety of rooms on offer, starting from the (extremely) reasonable £130 Croft Rooms, going up to the top ‘Royal’ suites which will set you back around £800.

My room was dedicated to birds with charming little artworks on the walls paying homage to this lovely creature. The giant bed was very comfortable and obviously kitted out to the highest spec, topped with a wonderful (specifically designed) Araminta Campbell tartan, which is also available to purchase in the hotel’s boutique.

The bathroom was less flamboyant, prioritising an efficiently working bath and shower over styling. Toiletries are by 100 Acres, a natural beauty range of products made in the English countryside using natural botanicals and essential oils.

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After settling into my room, I had a few hours to explore the rest of the hotel. Each space I stumbled across had a new theme or artwork to marvel at, and I can see why so many events and celebrations are already being booked in at The Fife Arms.

Fife ArmsFife Arms

The Flying Stag pub is part of the hotel and is sure to be a hit with locals and guests. The well-priced menu features comforting classics like Fish and Chips and Aberdeen Angus Beef Burger. And despite the Flying Stag being the cheaper dining option it is certainly not an afterthought – care and attention has gone into making every dish a hit, and I was really impressed by the flavours and refinement that the pub kitchen had already established here.

Fife Arms

Breakfast was an indulgent affair served in The Clunie Dining Room, where I also enjoyed dinner the night before. This elaborate dining room has a stunning mural by artist Guillermo Kuitca on the walls and deep green marble tables. In the evening the short menu showcases fine local produce and Scottish delicacies, I loved the slow cooked deer and almost-savoury almond cake for dessert.

Next door to the Clunie Dining Room is Elsa’s, the hotel’s cocktail bar inspired by fashionista Elsa Schiaparelli, who has a connection to the history of the area. The thoughtfully created menu has some brilliant concoctions, I highly recommend trying the ‘Buried Gold’ or the Scottish whisky based ‘The Fairy and the Fiann’.

Fife Arms

During my 24 hour stay at The Fife Arms I had just enough time to quickly explore the local area. It is well worth making a visit to nearby Braemar Castle to understand a bit about the local history and also stop by the newly opened Braemar Highland Games Centre, which documents the details of the Highland Games and exhibits many of the precious old outfits, medals and photographs from the past.

Everyone seems to the be talking about The Fife Arms, and for good reason; this hotel is unforgettable both in style and substance.

More information and book a stay at The Fife Arms here.

Light & Free By Artists

A few weeks ago I spent a colourful afternoon with Light & Free yoghurts learning the art of graffiti, inspired by their new special edition yogurt packs designed by artists.

Light and Free

A group of us arrived at a Shoreditch studio, and were greeted by a local graffiti artist and red overalls to put on. Once we were kitted out in the appropriate protective clothing, gloves and masks we went through to the bright white room where vibrantly coloured yoghurt pots lined every wall and blank canvases awaited our creativity!

Light and FreeLight and Free

We quickly learnt the skill of using a spray paint can… applying different pressure to different parts of the nozzle and holding the can at different angles to get varying sized lines. Shading and drip technique was next up and definitely harder to master! Eventually we were let loose on our own blank yoghurt pot stencils on the wall to design our own. My once-brilliant idea (clouds of light & Free yoghurt dripping into a spoon) immediately became an insurmountable task! Luckily there was help on hand to help me to create my challenging design!

Light and FreeLight and Free

There are 8 Light & Free flavours to choose from… simple classics like ‘Vanilla Vibe’ and exotic offerings like ‘Coconut Craze’ and ‘Lavish Lemon’. For this beautiful limited-edition collection Light & Free chose 4 innovative and unique artists to each design 2 packs. The group of artists includes illustrator and graphic artist Neil Stevens, graffiti and street artist Nerone, Morag Myerscough who is known for her neon patterns and impressive structures and South African artist Justin Poulter, an illustrator and lettering expert. Each has interpreted the yoghurts uniquely with designs ranging from abstract patterns to charming cartoons. One thing they all have in common is an expressive use of colour, which was evident when all the designs came together at the launch party!

Light and FreeLight and Free

The artists collection of Light and Free perfectly represents the vibrant and rich flavours of the yoghurts and it was so much fun to be part of the launch of this brilliant range.

More information about the collection here: http://www.lightandfree.com/products/four-pack/0

Sponsored post with Light and Free.

Fogo Island Inn

Fogo Island Inn is a startling and exceptional feat of architecture, perched of the sea’s edge on Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland. But after spending just a few days at this magical hotel, I now understand it is the story behind – and around – the building which makes this place so special.

Fogo Island Inn

Fogo Island Inn is the realisation of native Newfoundlander Zita Cobb’s dream to regenerate and revitalise the business and traditions of Fogo Island. When the cod fishing industry crashed, the population of the island began to dwindle and Zita stepped in to save the island’s future, building this Inn and helping save one of Canada’s oldest rural communities. The Inn is part of a larger social enterprise, Shorefast, which aims to support the people of Fogo Island, and any profits from Fogo Island Inn are reinvested into the island.

Local architect Todd Saunders designed the structure with the history of Fogo Island in mind. The stilts mirror the construction of Newfoundland’s waterfront fishing sheds, while the stark white colour blends in with the snow in winter and reflects the abundant light in summer.

Fogo Island InnFogo Island Inn

We checked in and were welcomed immediately into the warm and friendly Fogo Island Inn family. Greeted with giant smile, we were handed a brass key – a metal cast of a rope – one of many Fogo Island motif’s. All the keys are different items found on the the island and cast in metal. Decorative and functional, they hang in order downstairs, almost an artwork in their own right.

Fogo Island InnFogo Island Inn

The bedrooms (all suites) have a light and nostalgic feel. All of the 29 rooms face the ocean and boast floor to ceiling views of the endless waves… in warmer weather guests may spot whales or seals as they migrate through the Newfoundland waters.

Every detail in the room evokes memories from the island. Handicrafts from the local community are found throughout, from the beautifully made multi-coloured quilts and specially illustrated wallpaper, to the quirky furniture that is made and sold in a nearby studio on the island. Though there is a Scandinavian slant to the design, the overall character of the rooms is quite unique and unlike anything I have seen before.

Fogo Island Inn

The impressive glass-walled restaurant resembles the front of a ship and points out towards the Atlantic Sea. Meals at the Inn are wholesome and showcase the best local ingredients. The Inn’s Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue brings international experience to the Inn offering creative dishes inspired by the seasonal flavours. When we visited in March, seafood and partridgeberries featured on the menu as well as a variety of root vegetables and game.

In the mornings guests are treated to a pre-breakfast snack, the “daybreak box” includes a thermos of tea or coffee and freshly baked treats from the onsite bakery. It was such a pleasure to enjoy these snacks each morning from bed while watching the sunrise.

Fogo Island InnFogo Island Inn

The common spaces at the Inn are calming and encourage guests to unwind and reflect. In the tea room you can settle with a hot drink and a book by the fire, while upstairs there are open air hot tubs and a sauna for spa relaxation.

Fogo Island InnFogo Island InnFogo Island Inn

On the second day of our stay we visited the Chef’s hut (next door to the Inn) for a special crab feast. An array of stunning cured and fermented ingredients were used to create colourful and tasty salads, which accompanied local Atlantic snow crab and homemade bread and butters. For dessert we were given delightful partridgeberry tarts, a baked treat I’m told is a Fogo Island favourite.

Fogo Island InnFogo Island Inn

Fogo Island has just over 2000 inhabitants, which is less than in previous years, though it seems to be beginning to rise again as Shorefast continues to create opportunities encouraging the younger generations to return home. Each of the towns on Fogo Island has its own history and heritage, different regions of this small island have varying accents dependant on where their ancestors hail from.

Fogo Island InnFogo Island Inn

A few hours of Island orientation are included in each stay and given by a knowledgable community host. It was wonderful to explore the island a bit on our tour – we visited a couple of the Shorefast Artist’s studios, beautiful contemporary studio spaces which are given to artists each summer. Built amongst the rugged landscape, I can’t imagine a more inspiring space for a creative to work.

Fogo Island Inn

Fogo Island may be remote and challenging to get to, but I assure you that within minutes of arriving on the shores of this unique place you will forget all about the journey and live entirely in the moment, relishing every minute in this incredible place.

More information and book a room to stay at Fogo Island Inn here.

I was a guest of Fogo Island Inn.