I have never travelled alone. Not completely.
So after a bit of a mix up with dates and Gary, our original plans for Aberdeen changed. The idea had been to enjoy a relaxing, romantic two night break away from London. Together.
Instead I found myself on a plane to Scotland all by myself. (Cue the Bridget Jones style karaoke)
No bookings, no schedules, no one else to think about or plan around. Just me, myself and I.
And you know what? It was bloody brilliant.
Fun fact: it takes almost as long to fly London to Aberdeen, as it does London to Palma de Mallorca.
Another fun fact: Flybe has the tiniest airplanes in all the land. Like, mosquito-sized, four-seats-to-a-row, hardly-enough-room-to-get-your-suitcase-up-the-corridor kind of tiny. Luckily it was a super clear night, but the thought of going through turbulence in that thing still makes me hyperventilate a little bit…
Once we arrived in Aberdeen, I jumped in a taxi to the hotel. There are buses that go into town from the airport, but by this point it was nearly 11pm, it was dark, and I was tired. So taxi it was! The journey took about 30 minutes, and cost me £25.
I also had to take a taxi into town the next day, as I hadn’t realised quite how far out of the city the hotel was. Just something to keep in mind if you’re not driving/hiring a car! But once I’d been dropped off at the top of Union Street (£10) the city itself was easily walkable. I got around 20k steps in on my FitBit that day, and it was a great way to see the city.
I stayed at Ardoe House, one of Accor Hotels’ crowning jewels in Scotland, and it is GORGEOUS.
I’ve been calling it the Disney Princess hotel in my head for months, and I think it’s a pretty accurate description, don’t you? The grey stone and turrets give it a proper castle feel on the outside, and as soon as you step inside, you enter a world of wood-panelled walls, royal purple carpets, and pouffy armchairs.
The bedrooms are a bit blah. My Classic Double Room was huge, clean, and full of the usual amenities. The views were gorgeous, and the bed was crrrrrazy comfy… but compared to the vibrancy of the rooms downstairs, it all just felt a bit beige and drab.
The Drawing Room is just off the main reception, and it’s ornate and faaaabulous darling! Sprigged wallpaper, wooden panels, classic artwork, and a dozen plump sofas give it a cosy feel, and I had a lovely glass of malbec curled up on one of the window-seats on Saturday night.
If you prefer something a bit stronger, head to the Whisky Bar next door. You’ll find a fully stock bar, with over 40 choices of whisky to choose from. And while you’re drinking it, see if you can name all the famous Scots on the wall!
Other things to look out for: the gorgeous spa (featuring a range of spa treatments, an indoor heated pool, and a fitness room), the Liards Bar & Brasserie (where I spent most of Sunday curled up reading my book and editing photos), and Blairs Restaurant (which sounds incredible, but I made the mistake of not booking ahead, so I missed out on this one!).
The one area of the city that everyone said I had to visit, was Old Aberdeen. Home to lots of cute cobbled streets, pretty and flowery cottages, and a real villagey sense of home. It’s utterly charming and definitely worth the half hour walk from the city centre.
It was such a beautifully sunny day, so we sat outside for a couple of hours, just drinking pink lemonade and getting to know each other. I’ve been following Ana on Instagram and Twitter for aaaages, and it was so lovely to finally meet in real life!
Aberdeen has two universities, but the one everyone told me I had to visit was my girl Claire’s alma mater: King’s College.
Ana’s currently doing a PhD there, so while she finished up her work in the lab, I had a wander around campus.
It’s lovely. Beautiful stone buildings, with turrets and columns, and surrounded by green lawns… I mean it’s basically Hogwarts. Look at that photo of the columns just below and tell me it doesn’t look like a Hogwarts corridor!
I was lucky enough to be in Aberdeen on the weekend of The Heatwave, so after our drinks, Ana and I set off on a wander down to the beach. We walked along the prom, avoiding the seagulls, admiring the view, and talking about everything from blogging to education, to growing up abroad.
We only realised we’d missed lunch when our tummies started rumbling at three o’clock! The few independent places we looked into were completely full of people enjoying the sunshine, so we ended up ordering salads, wraps, fries, and wine at Frankie & Bennie’s instead.
Ana’s boyfriend and their dog joined us for lunch, and we had a lovely relaxed couple of hours soaking up the sunshine and playing with Cruz!
FOOTDEE FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE
After lunch, we jumped in the car and headed down to Footdee. The lovely @LoveandOAS had recommend I check it out, because (and I quote): quaint little cottages *heart eyed emoji*
Footdee is an old fishing village, and all the cottages are covered in kitsch fishy-themed tat. I LOVED it.
Pretty green spaces surrounded by stone cottages, colorful doors and lotsss of flowers. The bronze ship knocker on the pink door was a favourite, but I also really enjoyed the bright yellow door, and the green hut covered in ornaments!
I was actually really boring on this trip, and didn’t try any of the local specialties I said (and thought) I was going to. Which is odd for me, because usually I’m the first one to jump on a local food bandwagon!
But for some reason I didn’t this time. No haggis, no cullenskink soup, no deep-fried Mars Bars…
My biggest jump was trying the black pudding on my breakfast (which I, surprisingly, really enjoyed). And, actually, the only foodie thing that really stuck with me from this trip were the breakfasts.
My hotel booking had breakfast included, so I made the most of it! Big ol’ Scottish breakfasts featuring local bacon, sausages, fresh eggs, black pudding, buttered mushrooms, baked beans, tinned tomatoes… It was all so good. So unbelieeeeeevably good.
And on Sunday I took it one step further, and treated myself to breakfast in bed. The £5 tray charge was worth every penny for the comfort of being able to eat breakfast in my PJs, wrapped in my duvet, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on my laptop!
THE ME TIME
Having that time to just chill out in the hotel, to be by myself, do what I want, and just relaaaax… I loved it. I really did.
I’m not used to holidays like that. Usually, there’s always so much to see and do. We’ve got plans, itineraries, bookings. It feels sacrilegious to go travelling and not explore, right?
But on Sunday, it was grey and rainy, and I wasn’t feeling great. So after I checked out of my room, I settled myself in a comfy armchair in the Bar area, and just read my book for hours on end. I didn’t go anywhere, I didn’t do anything exciting, and I had a burger and fries for lunch. And it was amazing.
It was exactly what I wanted and needed.
And yeah I know, my privilege is showing. Travel in any form is a privilege and luxury, but it’s a luxury that we should be able to enjoy as we please. And sometimes, enjoyment is doing absolutely nothing, and doing it somewhere other than in my living room. And that’s OK.
I really, really liked Aberdeen. I know there’s still a lot of the city that I didn’t get to see, and several people have also recommended visiting some of the villages on the outskirts of the city, so I think next time I visit (and there will definitely be a next time!), I’d like to hire a car and properly explore the surrounding area.
Maybe I’ll even make it another solo trip!
*My travel and accommodation were provided by Accor Hotels.
You can read part one of #WeLoveAccorHotels campaign in this post here!
All other expenses are my own.