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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 ten years is a massive understatement!  Here you can read all the latest news about what's happening with us at the Braeval.

Upcoming events

Bandstand Beer & Music Festival  27 April - 1 May 2017:  We are busy preparing for our upcoming annual festival - the largest in the Highlands. There's lots of great music booked already and some fresh, new ales will be featured.

December 2016 & Hogmanay:  The busiest every Christmas Day with over 100 lunches served.  What a wonderful atmosphere all day.  It was lovely to see so many "regular guests" returning to spend Christmas Day with us.  We all enjoyed the day.  And Hogmanay was another fun event.  Wonderful music from a band new to the Bandstand "The Naturals" had everyone on their feet until the wee small hours.  Great fun! 

September 2016: Another very successful beer festival!  Great ales, wonderful live music and a great turn out despite variable weather.

July 2016:  We were delighted to give a complimentary dinner for 22 children and their host families yesterday. The  Chernobyl charity brings children from Bellaruse to stay in Scotland for a month to give them a break from the contamination caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  The one month stay gives extraordinary health benefits for the children, clearing contamination from their systems for up to 3 years.  And of course, the children have a wonderful time during their stay in Nairn.  Nice to be involved in this very worthwhile charity.

July 2016:  Great fun today as our Head Chef, Willie Jacobsen and I took part in Moray Firth Radio early morning breakfast show. We cooked breakfast at home for MFR DJ Ginno, his family and the radio crew.  Great fun! We also hosted a dinner for them at the Bandstand Restaurant and got great feedback.

May 2016  More exciting news as we learn that our restaurant has been shortlisted for "Restaurant of the Year 2016" for North of Scotland in the Scottish Hospitality Awards.  Thank you to all who voted.

April 2016  Following this month's very successful Bandstand Beer & Music Festival 2016, we're excited and delighted to hear that we've been shortlisted for "Scottish Festival of the Year 2016" by the Scottish Hospitality Awards.  For all the details of the festival, see our Beer Festival page

March 2016  We're pleased to announce that we have won CAMRA Badenoch and Strathspey District Pub of the Year 2016.  This is the 8th time within 10 years that we have won a Pub of the Year award from CAMRA and we're delighted.

January 2016  Happy New Year everyone!  Hogmanay was terific fun and the music kept us all up dancing into the "wee hours"!  So, that's it for another year. Who can believe it goes so fast! 
I hope 2016 is a good year for you all.  We are now busy renovating and refreshing rooms as well as the public areas of the hotel. So, although it's a quieter time generally, it's a busy time for us. 

December 2015  It's been fun being part of all our guests Christmas celebrations and work nights out.  Although we work on Christmas Day (and miss our families) seeing everyone else have such  fun, makes all the hard work worthwhile. The music has been wonderful this month too! 

Autumn Beer Festival 18 - 20 September - Dates announced for our Autumn weekend festival (same time as last year). Watch our website for more details coming about the ales, live music and great food.

June 2015:
Busy time as we're completing our bedroom refurbishments.  We've hung black out curtains in all the rooms as we only have about 5 hours darkness during the summer months.  There's new furniture and carpets being laid and a fresh coat of paint throughout.

March 2015: CAMRA members voted our bar "Bandstand Bar" Pub of the Year 2015 for our district again!  This year, we were included in a larger and more competitive district - Badenoch & Strathspey. So we're pleased to have won when up against some really great venues.  This means our customers still rate the quality of our beers and pub environment as worthy of recognition. . Thank you to all who voted for us..

December - BREWDOG chooses the Bandstand
We're delighted to announce that BrewDog have selected the Bandstand Bar to be their only outlet in the Highlands to carry the full core range of their products in keg and bottle. Quite a coup for us. BrewDog is one of the fastest growing and most successful young craft breweries in the UK and the products fit with the high quality standards we set at the Bandstand for our beers and ales.  We're having a launch on Firday 12 December (6 - 8pm) when BrewDog will come alonge to present their beers.

November - Discovering Whisky Experiences
In a new venture for the Bandstand Bar, we'll be having the first of an exciting series of Whisky Experiences on 22 November. We have over 110 single malt whiskies on our whisky list and we've decided to hold a series of Nosing and Tasting experiences to help our customers explore and understand more about the wonderful single malt whiskies available in Scotland.  The events will be guided by Vic Cameron, who is an International Whisky Nosing champion with 23 years experience of the whisky industry.  This event is a ticket only event and will be held in our newly renovated Whisky Snug.  For tickets, please contact us.

September - Beer Festival Weekend
We have a fantastic range of autumn ales now here for the beer festival this weekend (12 -14 September).  The list of ales with tasting notes can be downloaded from the Beer Festival Page and from the Home Page.  We've a great line up of music throughout the whole weekend - kicking of wht the fantastic SCHIEHALLION on Friday night. The Scone Fairies will play lunchtime on Saturday(in the beer garden - weather pemitting!) with the brilliant EZRA on Saturday night.  We're hoping for sun on Sunday for our  BBQ and Hog Roast (3 - 4pm) again with live music from the Scone Fairies. Should be a great weekend!

August - SLTN Independent Pub/Bar of the Year 2014
We're delighted to hear that we've been shortlisted for the SLTN Independent Pub/Bar of the Year 2014. This is a very demanding and competive category and a prestigious award. So, we're really delighted to have been recognised at this level. 

June - Highland Food and Drink Awards 2014
I'm delighted to report that the Bandstand has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Highland Food and Drink Awards 2014 in the catergory Best Eatery. 

Renovating the Lounge Bar - May 2014
We're have just completed creating a brand new bar counter in our Lounge Bar and we are now in the process of completing the pointing of a lovely stone wall with open fire in the Lounge Bar.  I'm really excited to see the new look emerging and I know it will make the area even more comfortable for our guests.   

Bandstand Beer & Music Festival 2014
What a wonderful festival! 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 was truly uplifting.  The Nairn Pipe Band marched down the street and played outside 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. We enjoyed great weather which meant much of the music was enjoyed outside along with our Hog Roast! We raised over £500 from Moray Firth Radio Cash for Kids charity with generous help from all our visitors.

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!  



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