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Bandstand Blog


My name is Morag Holding and I own and manage the Braeval Hotel with my husband, Gordon.  The Braeval is a victorian villa, built in 1857.  We bought the hotel in 2006 and since then, we have completely renovated it and built our lovely sea view restaurant.  

We live at the Braeval - it is our home. So, we are passionate about continually improving it and making it somewhere we love to be. We hope our guests love to be here too. 

When we bought the hotel, we were complete novices to the hotel trade. To say we've learned a lot over the past eight years is a massive understatement!  Here you can read all the latest news about what's happening with us at the Braeval.

Bandstand Beer & Music Festival 2014 begins
What a wonderful start to our festival this weekend. The turnout was much higher than expected. Hundreds of people arrived to enjoy the fantastic range of ales, craft lagers and real ciders. The music this weekend has been truly uplifting.  The Nairn Pipe Band marched down the street and played outside the hotel for us to everyone's delight.  We had stirring sessions from Eileen & the Tree Fellers, Mia McIntosh, Paul Campbell, Schiehallion, The Mad Ferret Band, The Scone Fairies, Mak-A-Din and Silver Coast.  An amazing variety of really talented musicians. Ken Duncan, head brewer from Inveralmond Brewery in Perth gave us a fascinating talk about brewing which showed his love and enthusiams for the work. I'm looking forward so much to next weekend with even more great musicians and events still to come.

Top Marks in Cask Marque Surprise Inspection
Looking after real ales takes time, expertise and commitment. My husband Gordon is passionate about maintaining a great choice of quality ales at the Braeval. (I often joke that the ales get more attention than I do!)  But the results shone through today at our surprise  Cask Marque inspection. We were scored 100% full marks across all the ales for taste, appearance, temperature and aroma.  So, we've maintained our valuable Cask Marque accreditation and customers can be sure of always receiving a quality pint.

Awarded CAMRA Highlands & Islands Pub of the Year 2014 again!
We're absolutely thrilled to hear we have been awarded the CAMRA Highlands and Islands Pub of the Year 2014! This is the third time we've won this prestigious award - making us CAMRAs overall best pub of the Scottish Highlands.  It's quite an honour and means we have to continue to be the best we can be every single day to live up to it.

Beer and Music Festival 2014
Plans are well underway for this year's beer and music festival.  Not just for ale enthusiasts, this is an event with something for everyone to enjoy.  We are particularly thrilled that Nairn Pipe Band have agreed to play for us at the festival, along with so many more talented musicians.  Keep watching our Beer Festival Page for all the latest information.

Late Rooms winner of  "Simply the Guest Award 2013" Jan 2013
I was pleased to receive notification that we are winner of a Late Rooms "Simply the Guest Award 2013".  The award is based on genuine customer reviews, so that makes it even more special.  Meanwhile, we are busy with our usual January/February programme of renovations and improvements.   This week we are extending and renovating the Ladies Room in the Lounge Bar. Keeping a hotel in good order takes constant attention, but, like your own home, it's worth when you get to stand back and admire the results.

Secret Shopper gives us great review - Dec 13
Unknown to us, our restaurant "The Bandstand", had a visit from a "secret shopper" recently.  So,  we were surprised and thrilled to read the excellent review in the Press and Journal "Eating Out" section. Entitled "Seaside Treat We Want to Repeat", they compliment our food, our staff, the atmosphere and decor. We were awarded 4 stars (out of 5). Delighted!  To read the full article click here.

Winter mini beer festival 29 & 30 November
We recently decided it would be fun to showcase some of the great winter ales around.  What a busy weekend it turned out to be.  Lots of new ales to try - two from Cairngorm.  They all went down well and with all the extra ale enthusiasts around, we took the opportunity to ask for ideas for our annual beer and live music festival which is coming up fast (11 - 20 April 2014).  We had wonderful music provided by the Screaming Mojos.  What a superb band (I uploaded a video to our facebook page (see facebook/bandstandbar) They'll be back playing for us on 14 December. 

November 2013
We're into renovations season. Although the hotel and restaurant have stayed remarkably busy, we've started to re-decorate rooms and get on with our snagging list. Christmas and New Year bookings are flooding in (not many spaces left, folks - so get your bookings in quick!)  I've been booking music for next year's beer and music festival in April 2014.  Great talent booked - I'm so looking forward to this!  We are planning live music every weekend throughout the summer and I have been rounding up and booking some really brilliant musicians. We're also drawing up a new Cocktail Menu. Staff training on Wednesday involved making ten different cocktails and quality control tasting them - hard work, but somebody has to do it!  

Christmas is coming!
We have a saying in Nairn - when Games Day is over, summer is over - and that means Christmas is coming!  So, I've spent all this week working with our chefs to devise our festive menus.  For those of you who like to plan ahead, our festive menus are now available (see our restaurant page for details). For everyone else - sorry to remind you but it's only 117 shopping days to Christmas!

September 2013 - Autumn Beer Festival
The festival was so much busier than we expected.  We had a really enjoyable weekend, great ales, great food and great music.  We were so lucky with the weather and managed to round the festival off with a BBQ in the garden while listening to the Scone Fairies playing out on the decking area.  Just an idyllic day!  A perfect way to close our busiest and best summer season ever.

August 2013 -  Autumn Beer Festival
It's been a wonderful summer, so we've decided to round it off with an autumn beer festival.  Dates for your diary are 26 - 29 September.  We'll have a long, lovely weekend of around 30 Scottish and English real ales and some great live music.  Plans are underway and details will be published on our beer festival page as they develop.  On Fri 27 Sept, we'll have Andy Murray playing and on Sat 28th, we'll have The Mad Ferret Band. Great craic!

August 2013 - Annual Beer and Music Festival 2014 dates announced
Time to plan your Easter holidays around our renowned annual beer festival.  The 6th festival (have we really been doing this for six years!) will take place over 11 days 11 - 21 April.  Details will be published on our beer festival page in the new year.

July 2013  Back and Busy!
Happy to say that we have now sourced excellent fresh mussels again and they are back on our menu.  We are currently serving around 140 meals every evening, so we strongly advise you to book in advance.  Remember - early bookers get the best tables!

July 2013 Mussels off the Menu!
We hate disappointing our hoards of sea food lovers, but fresh mussels are off our menu this week.  Mussels off the west coast of Scotland have been hit by a naturally occurring toxin caused by plankton bloom. It's safer not to eat fresh mussels until this has cleared.  Since we only sell fresh mussels - no supplies until the situation improves.  This is the consequence of warmer temperatures and quieter seas.  On a brighter note - still plenty monkfish, sea bass, scallops, prawns and haddock on the menu!

June 2013
We've been listening to feedback from customers who've been asking for some "bar style" dishes on our dinner menu. There is a need to cater for teenagers who are too old for the "Kids Menu" and yet don't want fine dining.  So, our summer menu now includes some "pub grub" dishes alongside our delicious sea food, steaks and vegetarian dishes.  The new dishes are made with our normal great quality produce and to the same high standards but we hope they will fit the bill for our younger diners.  Meals can be enjoyed in the Sea View Restaurant, Lounge Bar or in our Beer Garden (weather permitting!)
Gordon and Morag at the 2013 Beer Festival                         Fish and Hand Cut Chips

Bread and Beer - May 2013
If you've never tasted bread made from spent beer grain - you have to try it!  We've been looking for speciality breads to include in our new summer menus, and came across Capability Brown's truly scrumptuous bakery.  Elizabeth Brown, who lives locally in Inverness, bakes all sorts of goodies and is happy to bake breads for us using grain which is a by-product from the making of real ale from the Loch Ness Brewery. How perfect for us! Pint of local ale, hunk of fresh bread with local Connage Dairy cheese - what more can you ask!

Restaurant Toilets - May 2013
Gordon loves a project! Always at his happiest when knee-deep in building renovations.  The erection of the toilet block extension for our sea view restaurant has been a long saga due to the joys of planning permission.  Anyone who has ever had to negotiate the vagaries of a planning department knows exactly what I'm talking about!  But, we are nearing completion and are almost at the final painting/decorating stage.  The toilets will mean our diners do not need to walk through to the Lounge Bar to use toilet facilities and it will give us better baby-changing facilities and an additional disabled access toilet.  As the restaurant is growing from strength to strength, this can only be an added benefit to customers.

MFR Cash for Kids fundraising
Fun and Fund-raising at the Festival April 2013
Every year at our Beer Festival, we work hard to raise funds for the Moray Firth Radio Cash for Kids Charity. The charity is close to our hearts and we have been fund-raising for them for six years now.  All the money raised goes to help local under-priviledged and disabled children. We were absolutely thrilled this year when we raised £1572.05!  This is the most we've ever raised at one event.  We set up a charity stall and sold ale branded produce donated by suppliers and brewers of drinks we stock.  We had a really fun Pub Quiz night and a raffle too. I can't thank enough all the people who donated items for sale and participated in the events.  So, I guess we'll have an even bigger target next year, but we love a challenge!

Braeval Hotel hotel reviews
Braeval Hotel won CAMRA Highlands and Islands Pub of the Year 2014.

We are in the Good Beer Guide 2014 and hold Cask Marque for the quality and range of our Real Ales.


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