Putting their house in order

Press release   •   Apr 18, 2019 12:01 BST

A dilapidated croft house built in the 1850s and classed as a building of ‘national importance’ by Historic Environment Scotland has received a Five Star grading from VisitScotland following its restoration into a luxurious self-catering cottage.

Downie’s Cottage is thought to have been the highest working farm in Scotland and has breathtaking views over Braemar and the Dee valley in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.

The cottage was built in the mid-1850s and was last occupied by tenant, James Downie. It was abandoned sometime between the wars, and although the steading was damaged by fire many years ago, the house remained largely as an undisturbed time capsule, complete with box beds, old shoes and Victorian Christmas cards.

For almost 90 years, the building became drenched in vegetation and was due for demolition to lay the foundations for a new family home.

But with the help of its new owners, Jackie and Calum Innes, Downie’s Cottage has now achieved the highest grading from the national tourist board’s Quality Assurance (QA) scheme. The scheme is a benchmark for quality across the tourism industry and operates across accommodation, visitor attractions and food sectors.

Downie’s now provides comfortable and luxurious accommodation but with the unique experience of living in an original 19th century cottage with all its original features retained and restored - flag floors, exposed beams, limewashed walls and a wonderful example of a wooden ‘hingin lum’ are all retained and restored.

The cottage does bring the old and new together, with the installation of ‘the electric light’ and indoor plumbing (both firsts for Downies), and round source underfloor heating, a fully equipped kitchen, and with the more intrusive modern shower, TV and internet discreetly hidden away behind 18th century oak panelling.

Outside is an idyllic seating area with table and chairs, a fire pit and a wooden hot tub from where guests can enjoy splendid views over the Tomintoul parks to Braemar below.

Recently, the Fife Arms in Braemar has undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment and Downie’s Cottage’s high level grading further adds to the high quality tourism offering in Upper Deeside.

Jackie Innes, owner of Downie’s Cottage, said: “I am over the moon with our Five Star grading from VisitScotland! The restoration of Downie’s Cottage has been a labour of love for myself and Calum and the fact the national tourist board recognises this commitment, means a lot.

“We could not be happier with the result and we can’t wait for guests to experience our beautiful holiday home.”

Roger Curtis, Technical Research Manager for HES, said: “Woven into this refurbishment has been an appreciation of the people who lived there and how such links connect us with a way of life that lies at some distance from our own.”

Jo Robinson, VisitScotland Regional Director said: “What a fantastic achievement for both Jackie and Calum! To achieve a Five Star grading on their first visit is a testament to the hard work that has gone into restoring Downie’s Cottage.

“Developed and improved for over 30 years, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance schemes are world-leading and provide a trusted, independent and impartial source of information for visitors. They allow businesses to not just meet visitor expectations, but exceed them.”

For more information on Downie’s Cottage click here:

For more details about VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Scheme, go to:

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