So you’ve heard of Royal Deeside, but have you heard of Donside? Methinks no, because Donside doesn’t get anywhere near the same recognition as Deeside. But as a huge lover of rugged Scottish landscapes and wildlife, I fell completely head over heels for Donside during our recent visit to Sweet Donside Holiday Lets. These unique, quirky and dead romantic holiday lets are located in Strathdon, a remote and gorgeous part of Aberdeenshire. But they aren’t holiday lets, they’re life-affirming. Here’s why.
Liz and Brent at Sweet Donside have poured imagination, creativity, a ton of hard work and crazy attention to detail into creating the most fairytale-like accommodation we have ever seen. And we’ve seen heaps!
The setting for these quirky holiday lets is idyllic; placed on a hill surrounded by stunning rolling hills and huge pine trees. There are even four resident horses that wander the woodland behind the homely huts. And you’re almost guaranteed to hear an owl hooting through the night. And If you hoot back (and it’s convincing and doesn’t sound like a broken microwave), he’s a chatty chap. But I’m getting way ahead of myself…
Introducing The Wee Beehive
We had a two-night stay at Sweet Donside with each night in a different piece of the paradise. We spent the first night in the absolutely adorable and unimaginably romantic Wee Beehive, which by the way, has huge Swiss Family Robinson vibes. I loved that film when I was a kid (still love it).The Wee Beehive is a hut-come-cabin with its own porch, decking and wood-fired hot tub which was actually warm enough to get in when we arrived. We’ve stayed at quite a few places that boast wood-fired hot tubs and it takes hours to heat them up, so arriving on a cold day to a warm hot-tub was just fabulous. The interior of The Wee Beehive is absolutely gorgeous. Plush furnishings, a TV, mini kitchenette area with microwave, kettle, toaster, fridge etc. The hut has lots of cute little details, alongside central heating, an immaculate bathroom with copper features and the comfiest bed. We just loved The Wee Beehive, could have moved in.
Liz kindly left out a bottle of Scottish Vodka and Scottish Gin for us to try. G.H.Q is a brand new small spirits business from a secret location in Scotland. We made apple and elderflower cocktails with the gin and enjoyed the vodka with tonic, elderflower cordial and lots of ice. Both spirits were lovely. The vodka features Scottish heather honey and is super warming. Scott doesn’t drink gin yet he sat up into the night reading Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger whilst drinking plenty of gin. That says a lot. Check out G.H.Q spirits, the bottle alone is lovely.
The next morning, we drove from Strathdon over to Tomintoul for a nosy. I’ve nae been there since I was a kid. Tomintoul is known for the Glenlivet Estate and Glenlivet Distillery. We drove through the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, over The Lecht Road. which is one of the highest main roads in the whole of the UK. The hills there rise to 2,700ft! There is a ski resort up there called The Lecht, and it’s no wonder too considering the unexpected winter wonderland we hit. I even spotted grouse wandering through the snow. The landscape up there is vast, breath-taking and wild. It made me even prouder to be Scottish.
Ponies, Jacobites and Doggos, or as it’s otherwise known: My Favourite Day Ever
After stopping by Goodbrand and Ross for lunch (and the cutest Christmas display), we headed back to Sweet Donside and I mean, where do I even start with this? I about cried with happiness. There is a lovely lady, Leanne, who helps out at Sweet Donside and has Candy’s Clan. Leanne is basically what I aspire to be in life. Living in the countryside surrounded by animals. Leanne does pony walks from Sweet Donside over Poldullie Bridge, a 300-year-old Jacobite Bridge which is just across the road from the lets. The recent Mary Queen of Scots movie was part filmed on the bridge! Leanne had her cracking wee collie Opal along, and our Callie came too. She did not know what had hit her.Leanne also has two friendly and timid sheep, Puppy and Smiler, which she raised from babies. Both lambs needed a little bit of extra help and they basically just never left Leanne. They walk with her like doggies. I feel like I’m singing a lullaby. This is all real-life countryside fantasy and it’s Scottish, could it actually be better?
After our fun-filled day of ponies, sheep, doggos, hens and Russian ducks (for real) had come to an end, we checked into Sweetheart Cottage, and The Love Shack. It was a full-blown scene out of The Holiday and possibly one of the most romantic places we have ever stayed.The cottage is super cosy, with an open fire and a huge bed, a kitchen, a bathroom and lots of lovely little details. Liz is all about the detail. We’ve never actually come across such detail, but you’ll see what I mean when you visit. There is also a welcome hamper in each of the lets, with extras that can be arranged in advance, such as champagne and chocolates.
The Love Shack
As if the trip couldn’t get any better, we popped over to Sweetheart Cottage’s own private “Love Shack,” an extension of the house with a huge 4-person electric hot tub, decking, fairy lights draping from the ceiling, a diffuser packing punchy essential oils and a wall covered in faux greenery and roses. I don’t think I could draw a more romantic scene if I tried. This was heavenly.
There was even a barrel dog bed for our Callie, who really didn’t have a clue why we were having a huge bath and bringing her along to observe. It was everything the doctor ordered after a chaotic, busy and downright wild trip across the Highlands and Aberdeenshire.
Unrivalled Romance in Bonnie Aberdeenshire
There’s nothing like Sweet Donside, it’s perfection. Liz and Brent haven’t missed a single thing, there are even ponies. Like, I don’t know what to say other than this was one of the best press trips we have ever done with The Aye Life. The next time you can safely travel and you are looking for somewhere special, consider these wonderful Scottish holiday lets.
Thanks to Liz, Leanne, Brent, Opal, Tinkerbell, Lexi, Puppy and Smiler for a wonderful trip x (and that is one of the best non-fiction sentences I have ever written).