Finding accommodation along the Speyside Way can be a tedious task. While the trail comes through an abundance of little towns and villages, not all of them offer a plethora of accommodation. This is a guide to the hotels, B&B, bunkhouses, and hostels we stayed at during our long-distance hike in Scotland – all my favourite Speyside Way accommodation at one glance!
All of the accommodation mentioned here is fairly budget-friendly and able to accommodate individuals as well as groups of up to 4 people in a single room. Since I walked the Speyside Way in a group of three, we could only stay in B&Bs and hotels that would be able to accommodate us in family rooms or bunkhouse -style rooms with three single beds.
This, of course, limited our choice significantly – if you only travel with one partner, you might find it a lot easier to find suitable accommodation for your budget.
Where to stop overnight along the Speyside Way?
When I planned our route, I made our overnight stops very much dependent on where I could find nice accommodation. I also had to keep in mind how much we would be able to walk each day, and it was not always easy to balance the two.
We stayed exclusively in accommodation along the Speyside Way, except for one night, where we had to walk 2 miles off the trail and organised a lift back to the trail the next morning. I recommend you try to find accommodation as close to the trail as possible, so you won’t require any additional transfers.
If you’ve booked a walking holiday package, your tour operator will usually also organise accommodation for you, which may lie directly on or slightly off the trail. In the latter case, I would imagine though, that they also arrange transfers accordingly.
Our overnight stops were in:
- Boat of Garten (9 km)
- Grantown on Spey (18 km)
- Ballindalloch (24 km)
- Craigellachie (21 km)
- Fochabers (19 km)
- Buckie (17 km)
What kind of accommodation is available on the Speyside Way?
The majority of accommodation along the Speyside Way is traditional Bed & Breakfasts or small hotels. Apart from the big towns, like Aviemore and Elgin, there are no big hotels or chains around, so you can be assured of a true Scottish experience.
In a B&B or hotel, you can expect breakfast to be included in the room price. What this breakfast looks like varies from place to place, but it usually includes a choice of hot porridge, eggs, different meats and cooked vegetables, as well as cereal, toast and different jams.
Hostels and bunkhouses are more popular in the southern section of the trail, as this area is generally more touristy due to the proximity to the mountains and ski resorts. There are hostels in Aviemore, Boat of Garten, Nethy Bridge and Grantown on Spey. Most of these have self-catering facilities available, but no breakfast included.
Most accommodation here is walker-friendly, meaning that there is usually no dress code in the dining facilities, there are drying rooms available to hang your clothes and store your boots, and lunch packs may be provided.
How expensive is Speyside Way accommodation?
How much you pay depends very much on the standard of quality provided by your accommodation. We paid between £75 and £140 per night for a three-bed room or family accommodation. With two exceptions, breakfast was included, which meant saving pennies and the opportunity to fill up before a long day on the trail.
Since we were on a small budget, I spent a lot of time finding the right accommodation for us. To be honest, I doubt you’d get away with spending much less, particularly during the summer months. Unless you camp, of course!
Our total budget for accommodation along the Speyside Way was £275 per person for 8 nights in three-bed or family rooms – that’s less than £35 per night!!
Where to stay on the Speyside Way
Day 1: Aviemore Youth Hostel
On our first day, we took the train from Glasgow to Aviemore and had a relaxing afternoon in the town. We stocked up on a few necessities in the local shops (Tesco and Spar available, Lidl opening soon) and compared the contents of our packs.
We spend the night at Aviemore Youth Hostel, which is operated by Hostelling Scotland.
The hostel lies just a few minutes walk from the town centre of Aviemore. It is located at the edge of Craigellachie National Nature Reserve and surrounded by beautiful, light woodlands, waiting to be explored. The facilities include a shared kitchen, a lounge, a common space with games and a pool table, a luggage room and lockers, laundry facilities and free WiFi. Packed lunches can be arranged. Our room had a sink and a toilet and shower room were just across the corridor.
As always I was very happy with the standard provided by Hostelling Scotland hostels – it’s clean, the staff is friendly, and there are lots of other walkers – so not a party atmosphere.
We paid £87 for a room with two bunk beds between the three of us.
Day 2: Fraoch Lodge, Boat of Garden
On our first day, we only walked to Boat of Garten – a mere 9 km walk from Aviemore along a gentle trail through pine forests and birch tree woodlands, across sparse moorlands and farmland filled with frolicking lambs.
In Boat of Garten we stayed at Fraoch Lodge, which feels a bit like a B&B, a bit like a hostel. It is officially classified as the latter, but breakfast is included and a 2-course dinner can be booked in advance.
Our room was nice: plenty of space to spread out our stuff, free WiFi, a big window to let in fresh air and our own private bathroom; all very clean – only the shower head could have done with an update.
We made use of the drying shed outside in the garden, which itself is beautiful to look at. If you book a dinner here, you’ll be able to try the vegetables, herbs, and fruit from the garden. The included continental breakfast was OK – I’m always happy when hosts agree to make my porridge with water or soy milk instead of dairy – but it wasn’t anything special to tell your grandchildren about. There was a lovely group of older Dutch travellers, but somehow the atmosphere with the hostess was a bit tense.
I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend Fraoch Lodge, unless you can’t find anything else in Boat of Garten or you’re on a very tight budget. We paid £75 for the 3-bed room including free continental breakfast.
Alternatively, you could continue walking for another 5 km to Nethy Bridge, another quaint little town along the Speyside Way. In Nethy Bridge there are two hostels (Nethy Station – groups only – and Lazy Duck Hostel), a hotel and several B&Bs.
Day 3: Ardenbeg Bunkhouse, Grantown on Spey
image by Ardenbeg Bunkhouse
Grantown has a lot of accommodation options, but since we wanted to save a little bit of money, we decided to book another hostel – Ardenbeg Bunkhouse.
The hostel is operated by Craggan Outdoors, an outdoor adventure company offering a variety of activities, like climbing, kayaking or archery in the area. It can accommodate up to 23 people which makes it a perfect choice for groups walking the Speyside Way.
We stayed in the upstairs area of the house, a small room with two bunk beds and plenty of storage space for our backpacks and its contents. We had our own bathroom just across the corridor and shared kitchen facilities on the same level. There are more rooms downstairs, as well as another kitchen/common area, a washing, and a drying room. There is a back garden with outdoor furniture, a playground and a charcoal BBQ which you can use. Unfortunately, it was raining when we arrived in Grantown, so we could not make use of any of these.
We paid £78 for our room which did not include breakfast. There is a Co-op supermarket in Grantown, so you can buy essentials for dinner and breakfast on location.
Day 4: Delnashaugh Hotel, Ballindalloch
Today we had to slightly derail from the actual Speyside Way in order to reach our accommodation. Delnashaugh Hotel is a beautiful country hotel approximately 2 miles off the hiking trail, along the Tomintoul Spur. Unfortunately, the walk to the hotel leads first along a tarmac road and then on the grass patch along the main road towards Elgin – not the nicest introduction to the area.
But maybe because the walk to the hotel is not ideal, the hotel itself is absolutely breathtaking! We arrived around 7 pm, when the sun was still shining, but already dipping the white building and the wooden sun terrace in golden hues. Our room was at the far end of the hotel, a spacious twin room with an additional fold-out bed and a private bathroom. Again there was plenty of space to spread out all our stuff and we could leave our hiking boots in front of our door.
Since the hotel is more or less in the middle of nowhere, we had dinner with the last sunrays at one of the outside tables. In the evening, the bar room became lively with locals coming and going, stopping by for a dram and a hello.
Breakfast the next day was lovely and I particularly enjoyed the chat with the hotel owner, who used to work for Knockando Distillery for over 20 years. Him, his wife Fiona and their staff make a stay at this hotel a super-friendly, truly Scottish experience!
Delnashaugh Hotel was the first time I felt sad about having to move on along the Speyside Way, and I’m sure I’ll be back for a longer stay one day!
We paid £140 for our room which included breakfast.
Day 5: Bridge View B&B, Craigellachie
Craigellachie seemed to be the hardest place to find accommodation – there are plenty of B&Bs in the area, but I couldn’t find many that might be able to accommodate us in a family room. Bridge View B&B was a perfect choice!
This family-run B&B only has three bedrooms and is overlooking the river Spey – however, the bridge you see from your room is unfortunately not the historic bridge, but rather the main road bridge across the river Spey. Despite that, the views are amazing! Craigellachie is a small village that holds on tight to the steep hill at the river’s edge – a welcome mountainous feeling after a fairly flat and unadventurous hiking day.
Our room was upstairs and had one king bed and a single bed. If you sharing with friends rather than a partner, be aware that there is just one large duvet rather than two smaller ones, as is more common in the rest of Europe.
The room was great and the bathroom really beautiful, with a large rain shower, a beautiful bathtub and plenty of space in between. The breakfast which was served downstairs was delicious and a hotel with typical Scottish food was just around the corner.
We paid £110 for our room which included breakfast.
Day 6: Gran Arms Hotel, Fochabers
When we arrived in Fochabers and spotted Grant Arms Hotel, we were super happy – behind us was a long day on the trail, a whisky distillery tour, and way too much time spent walking on tarmac roads.
The Grant Arms Hotel is a typical Scottish small town hotel – not super charming, like the country hotels and B&Bs we stayed at the past few nights, but clean and efficient. Our room was on the top floor and actually consisted of two rooms – one with a king bed and one with two single beds. We also had a private bathroom and breakfast was included.
When we arrived, we went straight through to the pub in the back of the hotel, which also serves as reception. After we dropped our bags, we sat down in the beer garden, ordered a few pints and relaxed our feet. Within a few minutes, the barman brought over three Aberlour whiskies floating on a glass of water – on the house! Tipsy and hungry, I picked up a few pizzas from the Italian takeaway in town, which we ate at the pub and before we knew it, we chatted to locals and contractors staying in town until 1 am. Another kind of traditional Scottish experience!
Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, we missed the breakfast times the next morning, but the owner was happy for us to help ourselves to the continental side of the included breakfast after the official times.
We paid £120 for our family room which included breakfast – a bit more expensive than other places, and not quite as charming, but still a hotel I’d definitely recommend!
Day 7: Rosemount Hotel, Buckie
We spent the last two nights of our time in the Speyside in Buckie at the Rosemount Hotel. Located in a beautiful Victorian townhouse, it is yet again a typical Scottish B&B as you’d envision it.
Our room was located on the top floor of the building, ensuring that we had nice sea views. We had three single beds, a large and clean shared bathroom and there was free WiFi. For the first time in a while, we had a TV in our room and actually wanted to use it – unfortunately, it was rather temperamental, took ages to come on and the signal cut out every once in a while.
A two-course breakfast was included in the room rate, first porridge or yoghurt and fruit, followed by a selection of cooked items. Veggie sausages are available, making this the most comprehensive vegan breakfast I was served at any accommodation along the Speyside Way. We also had dinner here one night, which was delicious, if also a little pricey. However, everything was cooked with fresh and locally sourced ingredients, including the seafood for my friends, so it was OK to indulge.
We paid £107 for the family room per night, which included breakfast.
Overall, I can certainly recommend the Rosemount Hotel in Buckie – I just wouldn’t recommend Buckie itself… If I could change one thing about our Speyside Way accommodation, it would be choosing a different town for our two nights along the coast. Historically a fishing town, but now pretty run-down, there is not much to do in Buckie, no pubs with outdoor seating and not many restaurants to chose from.
If I’d walk the Speyside Way again, I’d finish in Buckie but get on the next bus to Cullen or Banff for some seaside relaxation!
When to book your Speyside Way accommodation?
One final thing to talk about is when to book your accommodation for the Speyside Way. We walked in the first week of June and booked all our hotels during February – so a few months well in advance. While you could probably get away with booking rooms closer to your walk, I still recommend to start looking early, as accommodation in some of the towns is very limited. Especially in touristy places like Aviemore, Grantown on Spey or Cullen, it is good to plan ahead!
There really is no need to book a walking holiday package for the Speyside Way, as it’s very easy to find and book all accommodation yourself – especially now that you’re equipped with my recommendations!
Note though, that if you book your trip independently, you have to book luggage transfer yourself as well. Read more about this soon in my upcoming Speyside Way hiking guide!
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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.