“ Marine Hotel, Shorehead, Stonehaven, AB39 2JY. Tel:+44(0)1569 762155 „
The Marine Hotel in Stonehaven is located in the "auld toon", the oldest area of the town around the harbour. The Marine is right on the harbourfront, with good views of the harbour and the surrounding cliffs.
Some pointers on how to get there...coming into Stonehaven from the north end of the town, keep going through until you are past the Market Square then watch for the High Street on your left, beside the police station - this is signposted for the Tolbooth. Follow this down to the harbour. If you enter Stonehaven from the south side, you will pass a BP garage and then the road will bend 90 degrees to the left - don't go round this bend, but rather go straight ahead into the High Street. When you reach the harbour, the Marine is to the right. There is parking along the harbour wall in front of the hotel, or you can carry straight on when you reach the harbour and you will find a car park on the left.
The Marine's location is the perfect spot for those (rare) Scottish summer days. You can sit inside if you want, but there are tables outside, or the harbour wall. I have happy memories of lazy lunchtime pints in the summer before I left for university, sitting on the wall watching the tide. This is of course weather dependant, and north east coastal weather is not to be relied upon to be good! However, if you are lucky enough to choose to visit on a sunny day, a pint at the Marine is not to be missed.
To entice you even more, the drinks on offer are superb. There are always at least six real ales on draught, including the Marine's very own house ale, the Dunnottar. In addition to this you can also find lagers and cider on draught, and I have to be honest and admit that whenever I visit I have a pint of Tennants - it's just not readily available in London, and I miss it! The selection of bottled beers is, in my eyes, unparalleled. The Marine has a particular interest in Scottish micro breweries, but you will also find an amazing number of Belgian, Flemish and Trappist bottled ales. And there's more...the Marine has over 100 whiskies on offer, from every region of Scotland and from abroad. These include the local malts of Fettercairn and Glenesk. The usual selection of soft drinks is available, and the last time I checked, they had Irn Bru on draught. Even if you have no plans to eat, the Marine is worth a visit just for a drink - they have so much to try, that everyone can surely find something to their taste or something new to try.
In terms of food, I have only eaten in the lounge bar but I believe the restaurant menu is similar. The restaurant is located upstairs, and I don't think they have disabled access. The menu has a strong Scottish flavour to it, and understandably offers a lot of local seafood. On my last visit I had garlic mushrooms to start, which were absolutely delicious, but included in the starters of the day were dishes with mussels and crab, both locally caught. For my main course I had haddock and chips, again locally caught haddock. It was lovely, full of flavour and cooked perfectly. I had actually had a bad experience with the fish previously at the Marine, when it had been ridiculously greasy and not very pleasant, but that was definitely a one off. Friends and family I have visited with have tried seafood dishes and meat dishes, and all of them have given it top marks. Where possible the meat is locally sourced. There are vegetarian options on offer, usually to be found on the specials board.
The service is very good in the Marine. The staff are attentive and service is quick. Rather disconcertingly, the last time I was there I found our waitress was an old schoolfriend! The bar staff are efficient and chatty, and will always have a blether.
The decor of the lounge bar and public bar is of a very good standard. There is a "marine" theme, but there is some very interesting art on the walls. In the lounge bar there is a lovely big fireplace, which is great in winter when you come in from the cold winds battering the harbour - but if you sit too close, you will get too hot! The toilets are upstairs, and are clean and presentable, if not the most modern facilities. There are rooms available but I can't comment on these as I have never stayed.
Overall, the Marine Hotel is well worth a detour to visit. It's a nice Scottish pub, with good food and an excellent drinks selection. If you can manage to time your visit for one of those rare sunny summer days, all the better...