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Reviewed 25 July 2022

June 2022

The award-winning Grant Arms Hotel has been my "base camp" for birding adventures since 2017. Recently returned to Florida from my fifth visit; there would be more but Covid got in the way.
International travel being what it is today, this visit started with luggage left behind at Schiphol/Amsterdam on my way to Inverness. Two days of meaningless emails from KLM left me frustrated and unable to locate the missing bag. Hotel manager David Duncan stepped in and in a matter of minutes located the bag at Inverness airport. My reliable friend Lindsay Jack (Dialabus) drove there late at night, retrieved bag and delivered it to the Grant Arms.
This is a level of service and consideration rare these days. My already high opinion of the Grant Arms Hotel jumped several notches.
The Grant Arms changed ownership early this year and a seamless transition is underway. David was manager before and continues, for which I am grateful. Marion Muller, reservations manager, and her exceptional front desk staff (Morag, Jessica and Alice) continue as well. I was delighted to see that Pam still manages the dining room with her usual skill and good humor. Sue Williams and Loki, her well-behaved dog, manage the birding and wildlife events at the hotel.
It was a relief to see all those familiar faces despite changes at the top.
The rooms overlooking The Square are my favorites. It was especially entertaining during this visit to watch the sun set at 2200 on and around Summer Solstice.
The informal yet elegant dining room provides excellent choices every evening. Scottish breakfast is traditional and generous. And when out birding with local guides (Birding Ecosse/David Slater or the hotel in-house guide John Poyner; yes, they both continue) the hotel provides tasty bagged lunches for al fresco dining while birding.
Twice I walked to the nearby Anagach Woods and the Old Spey Bridge where a pair of Dippers fed young. The nest was in the old stones of the bridge itself. A walk along the river provided good views of Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Mallard and many others. In the woods it was easy to spot Crested Tit, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Red Squirrels.
Mid-visit, a long planned return to the Uists with David Slater/Birding Ecosse finally happened. Dave and GAH work well together and we birders benefit. He picked us up at the hotel and we relocated via Skye and the ferry to Lochmaddy. Details of that excursion are in a separate Tripadvisor review about Birding Ecosse.
GAH anchors you in the midst of excellent birding and wildlife viewing. They make it easy to head out with experienced wildlife guides who will tailor a tour to your interests (photography perhaps) or destination. Or even species.

November-December 2021

Yes, it was cold. Five layers from turtleneck to waterproof jacket was not enough at times. Storm Arwan did serious damage in Northern Scotland during my first winter stay at the Grant Arms Hotel. I was eager to return to GAH and Scotland birding after Covid dispupted plans in 2020 and early 2021, so winter weather was not going to stop me. Yes, worth it for great birds that I would not have seen at warmer times of the year. But, yikes, it was cold standing on the Moray coast or shivering at Strathdearn.
GAH was my home for almost three weeks. There was always a warm welcome as we shook the snow off at the end of a birdy day.
For one week I joined a GAH Bird Watching and Wildlife Club tour led by BBC Springwatch presenter Iolo Williams. These popular year-'round BWWC tours, led by well known naturalists, are based at the hotel and require reservations through the hotel. Book early, limited spaces are filled quickly. Through sleet and cold rain and snow, we ticked off winter birds during daily excursions. Iolo was relentless in his efforts to find elusive birds and then assure everyone had a good look through the scope. Group dinners and evening check-list meetings in the hotel bar were filled with laughter and the occasional tall tale.
The time before and after the BWWC week was also cold and birdy. As noted above, Birding Ecosse/David Slater leads birding excursions from GAH. I've been in touch with Dave since 2016 and have followed his lead from Aberdeenshire to Findhorn Bay to the Cairngorms and Gairloch. Not to mention Skye and the Outer Hebrides, the Uists and Barra in particular. Oh, and Andalusia.
This time, a drive to Brora, the Dornoch Firth and Tain yielded wintering ducks and a White-tailed Eagle. Hopeman Harbor gave close looks at a Little Auk, a new bird for me. Redcastle Road on the Beauly Firth was new to me, now a favorite. David's tours are limited to four participants so book him well ahead. These day trips all end back at GAH with a drink in the bar followed by a well-prepared dinner.
If your ideal holiday includes birding and good company and fine dining and modern comforts in a historic hotel then you need to contact the Grant Arms Hotel where it all begins.

Date of stay: June 2022
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank _emckeefe
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 9 July 2022

/All brilliant, wildlife experts on hand to guide, breakfast a real treat, asking if poached or boiled as an extra, then where to go, what can I expect to see , out you go with good advice. Back to the bar for pre dinner drinks, the restaurant with lovely food more helpful staff, the whole experience truly wonderful. Take the right clothes and you can't go wrong. Can't wait to return next May so booking after the weekend.
Grahame

Room tip: All good as its a base
Date of stay: June 2022
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank 721grahamew
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 4 July 2022

My wife and I visited the Grant Arms Hotel before the pandemic and we were so impressed that we decided to book a table in the restaurant for our wedding anniversary. We arrived by taxi and went into the bar for a pre-dinner drink. The barman was absolutely fantastic and couldn't have been nicer. It was very evident that he was extremely busy and doing the work of at least two or three people. We were halfway through a drink and someone came through to get us to go to our table. We felt very rushed and weren't even able to finish our drink in the bar which we did not like as we wanted the evening to be a really relaxing affair. We were asked what we wanted to eat and we both decided on going for a steak as a main course. There was a £10 supplement per person for a bog standard Sirloin steak. We did ask for Rib-eye, but they didn't do this! We like our steaks to be blue and asked the waitress if this could be done to which she told us it could.
We duly had our starters which were just average for the price. The steaks duly arrived and were grossly overcooked and were "Medium" instead of "Blue" as asked. They were sent back and eventually we did get a steak which was nearer to "Rare" rather than "Blue". My steak was exceedingly fatty and very tough. We then retired to the bar after the meal and we had a discussion that we thought that the hotel must have changed hands since we were last there which was a fabulous (see my last review). On checking, we found out that we were correct in thinking that the hotel had changed hands - sadly not for the better! The hotel prides itself on having a fabulous Chef - but a Chef who can't cook a "Blue" steak is not our idea of a fabulous one. Sorry, but a good Chef would know how to cook a "Blue" steak. Apart from the lovely barman who was so efficient, we were certainly not impressed and we will never go back.

Date of stay: June 2022
    • Location
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1  Thank MikeSouthLanarkshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 19 June 2022

Comfortable room, cheerful and helpful staff, tons and tons of information about the local wildlife, very good food. A superb base for a week's stay with beautiful Highland scenery on your doorstep but also located in a pleasant market town.

Date of stay: May 2022
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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1  Thank AMH2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 4 May 2022

Not had the chance to revisit since 2017 due to lockdown. However this hotel never disappoints. Extremely Friendly helpful staff, comfortable rooms. Excellent service - good food. The facilities for wildlife watchers remain excellent with very helpful input from a visiting guide every morning. "Club room" with well stocked library and a good range of wildlife books for sale too. Plenty of advice/information available. On one evening the gas supply to the hotel failed resulting in some disruption to the evening meal. The manager put himself up front and personally explained to all the guests what had happened and offered very reasonable alternatives. Sometimes a business can be judged when things go wrong - the manager responded in an excellent manner, others would have hidden away in their office and let staff deal with it Not this one!! Highly recommend this hotel especially for wildlife lovers/watchers. We will definitely be returning.

Date of stay: April 2022
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank 734bobr
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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