> Douneside House
The MacRobet Trust estate
The MacRobet Trust estate
At the heart of The MacRobert Trust estate in Aberdeenshire is Douneside House. In June 2016, Douneside was reopened following an extensive renovation project. The unveiling ceremony was performed by His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, and included a performance from the Ballater and District Pipe Band and a fly-past by a Tornado based at Lossiemouth, named “MacRobert’s Reply”.
Douneside House now operates as a luxury country house hotel and is open to the general public who wish to stay or dine. Set within beautifully tended gardens with views over the Howe of Cromar, Douneside House is also a popular wedding or conference venue. The main house features 14 elegantly designed guest rooms; many with antiques, photographs or artefacts reminiscent of the original interiors. In addition to accommodation in the house, five cottages in the grounds provide a further 15 bedrooms The refurbished health club, adjoining the house, includes a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, state of the art gym facilities and an aerobics studio, which is available to guests in the hotel and a local membership scheme.
Prior to the 18 month closure, Douneside was available for the use of serving and retired military officers from HM Forces. This tradition continues today with The MacRobert Trust providing subsidised rates for all military guests throughout the year. In addition, the Trust reserves the House during the summer weeks as well as over the Christmas holidays, for the exclusive use of serving or retired Commissioned Officers of HM Forces.
Douneside House sits within 17 acres of ornamental and productive gardens, originally laid out by Lady MacRobert. They now provide horticultural educational facilities for the Trust’s charitable ‘horticultural training scheme’. Each year four horticultural trainees undertake a one-year hands-on Royal Horticultural Society accredited training programme before moving on to employment or further training elsewhere. Guests and visitors to Douneside House enjoy access to the gardens and the House is provided with organic vegetables, fruit and herbs from the walled garden to be used by the skilled hotel chefs.
The complex of buildings and the greenhouse are heated by a 400kW biomass boiler on a district heating main, with woodchips being supplied from the Trust’s 7,200 acre estate. The majority of the power requirements are met by a ground mounted 250kW solar pv scheme on a two acre site close by.
Commenting on the launch of the newly renovated Douneside House, CEO Chris Hockley said: “I am delighted with the result of the renovation which has retained the original character and charm of Douneside. By offering special rates for members of HM Forces, we are keeping alive the tradition and close connection we have with the military.”
Hotel General Manager, Marcel Wassen added: “We have an excellent team in place at Douneside, including many staff who worked here prior to the renovation. I believe our fantastic location in the heart of Royal Deeside, along with our excellent facilities and talented staff, really make Douneside a very special place to visit.”