An elegant, not-for-profit country house hotel is undergoing a significant refurbishment in January 2019.
Douneside House’s restaurant is renowned, not only for being the only three AA rosette restaurant in Aberdeen and shire, but for its head chef David Butters winning the coveted Hotel Chef of the Year award for 2018.
Now the restaurant itself will turn heads, as it reopens after an inspirational transformation in late January.
Douneside House’s gardens are one of four esteemed RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Partner Gardens in Aberdeenshire, and the only country house hotel in Scotland to sit within an RHS Partner Garden.
Douneside House is owned and managed by The MacRobert Trust, a Scottish charitable organisation that donated over £1 million last year to charities within Aberdeenshire and beyond.
Luxury interior designers, Goddard Littlefair, are the experts behind the new design concept, which aims to bring the outside inside, reflecting the links between the quality produce grown in Douneside’s walled kitchen garden and the fresh, seasonal dishes created in the kitchen.
Lucy Robinson, from Goddard Littlefair, said: ‘Bringing the spirit of Douneside’s gardens and passion for their home-grown produce into the restaurant space, Goddard Littlefair set about creating a new heart for the house. Featuring a pantry abundant with wines, a piano lounge for after-dinner whisky and cheese, a garden conservatory re-purposed as the prime dining room, and a beautiful patio sheltered by a custom-designed pergola.
‘Each space has its own character, brought to life with galleries of family photos depicting their history, screens in Arts and Craft fabric taking inspiration from the garden outside, and botanical colour ways including new sage green highlights in the conservatory that enhances the views across the landscape and beyond.
‘A new “library” restaurant will be an intimate dining space to enjoy Douneside’s renowned tasting menu whilst enjoying panoramic views across the Howe O’ Cromar. Both restaurant menus will comprise of seasonal organic vegetables grown in the kitchen garden by the gardens team, dished up within the newly refurbished boutique “family home”.’
Head of gardens, Stephen McCallum aims to create an interior landscape where the use of textural foliage and unusual plants creates a transitional space between house and garden, linking the interior of the house to Douneside’s glorious gardens.
He said: ‘The conservatory is a light and airy room with large windows looking directly on to our terraced gardens, and it really lends itself to the introduction of large, statement houseplants and smaller pot-plants. We will be introducing the beautifully graceful parlour palm (much favoured by the Victorians and Edwardians), pony-tail palms, and architectural plants such as Cycads, alongside soft and elegant evergreen ferns.
‘A range of well-known flowering pot-plants such as Pelargoniums and Clivia will be added seasonally, and also less seen plants such as Hoya bella the wonderful crimson flowering Dipladenia (also known as Mandevilla), and that old-fashioned favourite for its delicious perfume, Jasmine.’
The works are being overseen by local family-owned well-established contractors Pert Bruce, who are based in Aberdeenshire. The project will focus on using local textiles, curtain-makers and furniture-makers.
Restaurant manager, Tom Bielawski, has been working closely with the interior designers to bring this project to life and ensure it captures the ‘heart’ of the Douneside story.
He added: ‘I am incredibly excited about this project. Guests can now dine in the conservatory restaurant, which will have a relaxed atmosphere and offer beautiful views over the terrace garden.
‘The library restaurant, where we will serve our tasting menu on Thursday to Saturday evenings, will be the perfect, intimate setting for Chef to showcase his culinary talents. Our pantry will have a wonderful selection of wines on display, with lots of little extra touches which will really enhance the Douneside dining experience.’
The hotel and restaurant will be closed for three weeks of January 2019, re-opening on 26 January, 2019.