Never heard of Dinnet? You're probably not alone. It's really no more than a clachan on the busy A93 linking Aberdeen with the beauties of Royal Deeside.
Thousands of travellers pass through the village every day with scarcely a glance at what it has to offer. To be fair, it can be categorised as one of those "blink and you'll miss it" places.
It lies between the popular Deeside towns of Aboyne and Ballater, a few miles from Balmoral Castle, and surrounded by some of the most scenic countryside in Scotland.
It might not have much in the way of facilities, but for those who take the time to find out it does have one thing: a first-class and very welcoming hotel.
People of a certain age who know the area may remember the old Profeits Hotel which became run down and eventually closed.
It has now been given a makeover and reinvented as the Loch Kinord Hotel.
The hotel advertises itself as providing "country comfort, service and style", and, as soon as you walk in the front door, there is a friendliness and unpretentiousness which immediately makes guests feel relaxed and welcome.
The rooms are comfortable and intimate, and owners Andrew and Jenny Cox are excellent hosts. They greet you at reception, serve you behind the bar and are there at meal times. It's safe to say they run a very tight ship. The food in the very comfortable dining room was superb. We opted for venison collops and sea bass and both were presented and cooked to perfection. The service was typical "cheerful and couthy" Aberdeenshire.
The hotel is named after one of two small lochs which form part of a nature reserve right at the hotel's back door. It's a great place for countryside walking, the River Dee is only a few hundred yards away, and the Cairngorms National Park just a few miles drive.
Loch Kinord Hotel could truly be described as a hidden gem. Next time you find yourself on the North Deeside Road, it's well worth stopping to smell the roses.
Loch Kinord Hotel, Dinnet. Rooms from £49.50 per person per night for dinner, bed and breakfast. 01339 885229 / www.lochkinord.com / email@example.com
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