Family Playground at Coylumbridge
Aviemore has a long-held family-friendly reputation destination. My own family visited regularly but it has been nearly thirty years since I last stayed at Coylumbridge Hotel, now part of the Hilton group. Returning with our own young kids brought back a flood of happy memories. (Though I was a little disappointed to discover that they no longer had one of those original table-top space invader games in the bar). There’s just something special about Aviemore surrounded by snow-capped mountains that combines a wonderful feeling of getting away from it all while also providing ample facilities to keep the kids amused. http://www.hiltonaviemore.com/see-inside/gallery/overview
Coylumbridge Hotel lies just a mile or so outside Aviemore and is absolutely ideal for families with young children. It has two pools, including a toddler pool, a huge soft play (plus games arcade), two mini golf courses, an outdoor play park and an adventure centre where they can provide you with skis and bikes plus mini-quads, trampolining, skating, all weather sledging and a climbing wall.
The hotel also offers a range of supervised evening activities for kids and there are four bar and dining areas where the staff are all incredibly relaxed about toddlers and young ones haring madly about. There is also a spa and a gym if mum or dad subsequently require some quiet time.
The Family Rooms (2+2) are ideal and are probably the best designed rooms for families we have seen in a hotel. There is a diagonal wall in your room creating a little enclosed bunk bed area for the kids with their own TV on the wall. The kids absolutely loved having their own ‘room’, while mum and dad appreciated it even more.
Food and Drink
The main dining room, the Inverdruirie Restaurant, offers a family-friendly menu of local produce or a self-serve all-you-can-eat buffet with a selection of classic Italian dishes in the evenings and in the mornings, a Full Scottish breakfast. The evening buffet was actually pretty tasty and the famous Hilton breakfast is excellent. The kids particularly adored the DIY Mr Whippy-style ice cream maker and the waffle maker too.
If you are paying full board (DB&B) you can put your dining allowance towards a meal in the Bistro and pay the difference, if you fancy a sirloin steak and chips, say. Our burgers and chips in the Bistro were superb so we’d probably recommend eating here. Do book ahead though as it’s much smaller than the main dining room.
The Soft Play centre has an American Diner for hot dogs etc. but this closes before six. There is also a sports bar over at the activity centre, the Woodshed Bar, where children aren’t allowed after 8pm.
As the evening activity session didn’t accept under-fives, we sat in the main foyer lounge bar with a pint and all the other parents, while the little kids ganged together,which was really nice. Once the over-fives returned everyone migrated over to the conference room where there was a kids disco one night and a DJ the following night.
Things To Do Locally
Obviously, in winter there is skiing and snowboarding (with a range of available lessons) but the nearby Cairngorm funicular railway is well worth a visit in summer time too. The views are breath taking, the kids enjoy the ride and there’s a decent hot choc or Latte waiting at the top.
We also visited the Landmark Forest Adventure Park which is a giant woodland playground. There’s a pleasant treetop walk plus rides such as mini-roller coasters and plenty of slides and climbing frames etc. (It’s probably not a wet-weather day out however).
The nearby Rothiemurchus Estate has plenty of action-packed outdoor activities available, including archery, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking and pony trekking. Loch Morlich and Loch Insh have lots of watersports such as sailing and kayaking. Loch Morlich especially, with its long sandy beach is a delightful place just to hang out, picnic and splash about – particularly if you have dogs.
In previous visits to Aviemore we’ve also enjoyed the Strathspey Steam Railway and the Cairngorm Deer Centre (with Reindeer!), both of which we’d recommend. There is also the Highland Wildlife Park, an offshoot of Edinburgh Zoo and new home of Edinburgh’s famous Polar Bear. There be wolves here too…
Aviemore makes a great weekend away as there really is just so much to see and do in the area. Even Coylumbridge Hotel itself has enough activities on site to keep the kids entertained for at least a couple of days, particularly if it’s wet out. It has a relaxed and chilled atmosphere, the staff are friendly so it really has to be one of Scotland’s top family destinations. We had a fantastic weekend and can’t recommend it enough.
Do check out their Special Offers on selected dates throughout the year , which seem to offer fantastic value. http://www.hiltonaviemore.com/offers For families with up to two under 5s, they offer Family Rooms with family dinners and breakfasts included plus several free family tickets to local attractions from £495-£650 (August).