The Fife Arms – Braemar, Aberdeenshire
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If you think that Scottish hotels – especially ones close to the Queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle – are set in their ways, then get ready to have your preconceptions turned inside out, upside down and round and round in a whirl. The Fife Arms, in the heart of Braemar, is Instagram gold. Its interiors by Russell Sage recall the busy, eclectic taste of the Victorian era, with the richest of wallpapers, brocades, velvets, taxidermy and grandfather clocks – full of interest and yet never fusty. The art, courtesy of its owners, international gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth, is simply amazing: a Picasso dominates the tartan-walled drawing room; there’s a Lucien Freud, a Louise Bourgeois spider, an extraordinary ceiling by Zhang Enli and a flying stag with swan’s wings in the bar. Locals congregate here: The Fife Arms is first and foremost a place of hospitality and you will eat, drink, relax and sleep here as well as in any traditional, comforting Scottish hotel. Just don’t forget your camera.
Doubles from £325
+44 (0)1339 720200; thefifearms.com