About Us

Luxury, elegant and relaxed

The Marcliffe at Pitfodels is a luxurious, relaxed and ultra-elegant five-star Scottish country hotel set in its own picturesque grounds on the outskirts of the historic city of Aberdeen in North-east Scotland.

Since the officially opening in 1993 by Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, it has earned worldwide renown as Aberdeen's only five-star hotel, and the ideal base for exploring all the many riches that Scotland has to offer.

Mikhail Gorbachev opens The Marcliffe Hotel at Pitfodels

Although the Marcliffe offers a comprehensive range of superb facilities, which has deservedly earned it membership of the coveted Small Luxury Hotels of the World, it is essentially a family-friendly intimate hotel run by Owner Stewart Spence who is fiercely proud of its ambience of warmth, ease and charm.

You will have your own reasons for seeking a hotel of the calibre of the Marcliffe - perhaps you wish to visit the Grampian Region for a business meeting, perhaps you simply want to relax and chill-out in the comforting atmosphere of an exclusive hotel, or perhaps you want to be in adventurous mood and strike out on a famous tourist trail in which Scotland is the perfect place to explore the past, the present and the future.

Steeped in history, with an outstandingly rich heritage, you can discover and explore Scotland and all of its glories from your Marcliffe base which is ideally located to embrace and enjoy many of the country's finest attractions - all within easy travelling distance.

When you choose the Marcliffe as your hotel of choice, you can select from five suites and 37 bedrooms - all individually designed with your comfort in mind. Suites and rooms have king-size or zip-link beds, while inter-connecting rooms have double and twin beds to accommodate four guests, with extra roll-away beds available for larger families. Naturally, we all have all the ancillary facilities you would expect of a five-star hotel, including 24-hour room service and our attentive staffs who will guarantee to make your stay at the Marcliffe a most memorable experience.

As one of the UK's most distinguished hotels, the Marcliffe at has welcomed many high-profile guests. From the British Royal Family, there has been HRH Prince Charles and HRH Princess Anne; foreign dignitaries including the Sultan of Brunei; former British Prime Minister and world statesman Tony Blair; actor Charlton Heston and rock star Rod Stewart from the show business world, and legendary US golfer Tom Watson. It also caters specifically for the business and corporate world.

The hotel offers a choice of six private banqueting and conference rooms. These striking individually-decorated suites are ideal for cocktail parties, private luncheons and dinners, and receptions and board meetings for any number ranging from just two to 400. Many special events such as themed banquets, new product launches, press conferences and satellite conferencing are held in the various suites for our extensive private corporate client portfolio.

And if you seek a romantic wedding, in the most romantic of countries, the Marcliffe at Pitfodels will provide an all-in package to cater for all your needs - even a kilted Scottish piper!

We are especially proud of our culinary delights. In the design and preparation of our cuisine, our team of chefs selects locally-grown vegetables to complement Scotland's finest fish, meat and game...and reflect the truly Scottish nature of the Marcliffe. Set amid mature trees in 11 acres of wooded grounds, the Marcliffe has an instantly recognisable feeling of the countryside - but is just 10 minutes drive from Aberdeen city centre.

Aberdeen is Europe's oil capital, and one of the most distinctive and beautiful cities in the UK - highlighted by it's predominantly granite buildings which has led it to be known as the "Granite City".

Aberdeen has a rich maritime past as a great trading centre- famous for its shipbuilding and fishing industries in the past, and its current pre-eminence as a major and significant player on the global oil and gas industry scene.

Aberdeen is the gateway to Royal Deeside and Balmoral Castle which has been the holiday home of the British Royal Family's through seven generations since 1852.


Our Conservatory Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch (outside in summer) and dinner. Our chefs specialise in Grampian produce - Aberdeen Angus beef, game with fish and shellfish from local rivers and ports. The wine cellar holds more than 400 wines and the elegant but cosy Drawing Room bar is stocked with more than 100 choice malt whiskies.

A sense of comfort and well-being in our guests is the overriding aim of management and staff at the Marcliffe Hotel. Additionally, the staff of our Spa adds cosseting, pampering, massages, aroma therapy, facial and body treatments. Whatever spa treatments you choose, you will be in the sure, safe hands of our fully-qualified specialists.

The finest hunting, shooting and fishing to be found in Scotland can be arranged at very7 short notice through our network of agents on Royal Deeside and elsewhere in North-east Scotland. Golf can be enjoyed on a wide variety of local traditional courses including Cruden Bay, Murcar, and the renowned Royal Aberdeen Golf Club - the sixth oldest registered golf club (1780) in the world.


We are right in the heart of Scotland's Castle and Whisky country - home to more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK – close on 300 if you wish to count!

The Castle Trail takes in 11 of the finest examples of Scotland's architectural heritage. And we are no distance away from Moray which embraces the world's only Malt Whisky Trail - a superbly scenic route boasting eight malt whisky distilleries and one cooperage.

The Grampian area offers a multitude of sports and leisure attractions, including 52 excellent golf courses – both links and inland courses. The area's coastline offers great opportunities for water sport enthusiasts, and two of Scotland premier ski-ing destinations - The Lech and Glenshee - are located in Scotland's Castle and Whisky country.

The many towering mountains, glens and hills offer a choice for walkers of all abilities, and some of Scotland's best fishing can be found on a clutch of rivers – including the Spey, Dee, Don, Deveron and Ythan. And the area's outstanding environment of rivers, mountains and forests are ideal for a wide variety of outdoor activities - including cycling, canoeing, off-road driving, rafting, shooting, stalking, trekking and diving.

On the doorstep of the City of Aberdeen

THE five-star Marcliffe Hotel and Spa is located on Royal Deeside - on the western fringes of the city of Aberdeen, in North-east Scotland.

Aberdeen (population 201,500) is also known worldwide as the "Granite City" because of its links with one of its most famous, indigenous industries - the granite trade.

However, more recently, it has achieved worldwide status as the capital of Europe's energy industry. It is a truly cosmopolitan city which with its rich history, excellent shopping facilities, world-class sporting and leisure venues, cultural hotspots and all year-round entertainment, rivals any European city.

Stately architecture and sparkling granite buildings, the legacy of a rich heritage and tradition, combine with contemporary structures, and plenty of green open spaces to create a city that people feel happy to walk around.

However it is Aberdeen's proximity to some of the most awe-inspiring countryside and coastline which had led to the area being marketed as 'Aberdeen - City and Shire' that sets it apart from other international cities and it is one of the few major cities with a beach.

A whole range of outdoor sports are available on the doorstep and Aberdeen City and Shire offers world-class golf with no fewer than 50 courses throughout the region. The most outstanding of the traditional golf clubs in the area is Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, at Balgownie Links, established in 1780, and the sixth oldest registered club in the world.

Aberdeen is also a city of culture where arts and music play an important role. His Majesty's Theatre has won global renown; the Music Hall plays host to a wide range of concerts, and the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference is a premier facility for major rock and pop concerts, sporting events, public shows and exhibitions.

Aberdeen has a rich affinity with the sea and the fishing industry. The award-winning Aberdeen Maritime Museum is a major attraction. And, as you would expect from a city which has won so many coveted Britain in Bloom awards, there are many magnificent parks and gardens in which to relax. Unwind and visit the city's prominent public buildings - such as the prestigious Art Gallery, Marischal College, Provost Skene's House or the Tolbooth Museum.

North-east Scotland also boasts the greatest concentrations of castles in the whole of Europe - from the dramatic stronghold of Dunnottar Castle to the impressive ruins of Slains Castle at Cruden Bay. Take in the famous "Castle Trail" - a selection of thirteen of the world's most unique castles that has been designed to highlight the cream of the area's many castles.

The area offers a wide range of angling opportunities and three of the top five salmon rivers in Scotland are to be found in the area, including the world's top spring salmon river - the River Dee, on which the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa owns a private beat.

To catch up on all the major high street stores you would expect to find in a city of Aberdeen's size and reputation, you can head to the larger shopping malls. The Bon Accord Centre, St Nicholas Centre, The Academy and The Trinity are all very central, and a relative newcomer, Union Square, offers a traffic-free, shopping, dining and entertainment environment close to Union Street. Sandwiched between the major shopping centres, Aberdeen's Merchant Quarter is the 'Beat and the Soul' of the city catering for visitors and locals looking for a high-quality less conventional experience. The Merchant Quarter is one of the most historical parts of the city, rich in history and architecture, and boasting an eclectic mix of independent businesses divided into four parts; Restaurants and Bars; Live Music and Entertainment Venues; Independent Shopping; and Glamour and Lifestyle.

Aberdeen is the gateway to Royal Deeside and ever since Balmoral Castle was built for Queen Victoria in 1855, the British Royal Family has enjoyed the peace and tranquility as their summer retreat. When the Royal Family is not in residence, you can visit Balmoral and gain an insight into over a century of royal life on Deeside.

On the first Saturday of September, the Braemar Gathering draws thousands to the brilliant spectacle of pipe bands, the splendour of tartan and the excitement of the "heavy" sporting events.

The spectacular scenery of Royal Deeside combines with some of the finest stalking, shooting and fishing in Europe.

And North-east Scotland is the home of the whisky industry with no less than 30 major distilleries within easy motoring distance of The Marcliffe and Spa, and the famous "Malt Whisky Trail".





The property, set in 8 acres on the north side of the river Dee, is built on "lot 13" of the original Wood of Pitfodels, which was set out to feu in 1846 by John Menzies, the Laird of Pitfodels, who at that time lived in Pitfodels Castle on the banks of the River Dee, which was then destroyed and rebuilt, and is now known as Norwood Hall.

The feu was purchased by Francis Smith, Head Accountant of the North of Scotland Bank in Aberdeen in June 1848. In 1852 the house was completed and Francis Smith took up residence at Balnagarth, named after the area of Garthdee.

He lived there until 1869, when it was then purchased by a leading solicitor in Aberdeen called George Collie, of the firm James and George Collie, living there till 1949. The Collie family owned substantial land at Pitfodels, and several mansion houses were occupied by the family from that time until the present day.

The next owner Mr Alfred Cordiner, from the local well known Cordiner family of timber merchants and garage owners, lived there until 1958 when he subsequently sold the house to Mr James Irvine of the Irvine's of Drum Castle, another famous local land-owning family. In 1974 the house was purchased by Mr Gordon Cochran, solicitor, of Adam Cochran and Company, who remained there until 1987 when the house was sold to Mr Charles Mitchell of Mitchell's Car Hire. The property was then purchased by Stakis Plc, as a site to replace the Royal Darroch Hotel, Cults, which had been destroyed by a gas explosion in 1984.

The property lay undeveloped until 1991, when it was bought by The Pitfodels Development Company and sold on to the Spence family for development into the present Marcliffe at Pitfodels, opening in November 1993.


Our proprietor - Stewart Spence MBE

YOUR host, Stewart Spence, was educated in Aberdeen at Ashley Road Primary School and Robert Gordon's College. He opted for a career in the hospitality industry in 1962, at the tender age of 15, as a trainee chef in Aberdeen. The first six years of his career was spent with British Transport Hotels.


During the first decade of his career in the hospitality industry he held the following posts:

1962-65 Station Hotel, Aberdeen (Chef/Waiter)

1965-67 Fouquets, Paris (Waiter/Barman)

1967-68 Great Northern, London (Office and Bar)

1968-70 Treetops, Aberdeen (Assistant manager)

1970-72 Commodore Hotel, Stonehaven (General manager)


Stewart and his family bought their first hotel - The Atholl Hotel, Aberdeen -in 1972, and he has subsequently owned seven hotels and restaurants in the Aberdeen area. They include:

1972-89 Atholl Hotel, Aberdeen

1974-78 Capitol Restaurant, Aberdeen

1973-93 Queens Hotel, Aberdeen

1979-83 Marcliffe, Queens Terrace, Aberdeen

1982-90 Belvidere Hotel, Aberdeen

1983-93 New Marcliffe, Aberdeen

1987-93 Invery House, Banchory


From 1993, Stewart has been the proprietor of The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa which was opened in 1993 by former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. It is Aberdeen's only five-star hotel (VisitScotland).

Stewart Spence, Proprietor of The Marcliffe Hotel at Pitfodels


Among Stewart's honours and achievements are:

Master Innholder and Freeman of City of London 2007

CIS Lifetime Achievement Award 2008

Honorary Doctorate, Aberdeen University 2009

Honorary Doctorate Robert Gordon University 2010

Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2012

Board member Prestige Hotels and Small Luxury Hotels of the World 1988-96

Board member Grampian Enterprise 2000-2008

Board member ACSEF 2008-2012

Chairman, Hospitality Training 2001-2015

Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality (UK)

Royal Aberdeen Club Champion 1989

Honorary Life Member of Trump International Scotland 2009

Grampian Awards for Business Excellence, Lifetime Achievement Award 2014

MBE 2015


Stewart is divorced but was the father of four children; Jackie, Greg, Craig and Ross. Sadly, Jackie died in December, 2009.

Stewart has been a keen and accomplished golfer since his childhood and plays off a handicap of seven. His home club is Royal Aberdeen Golf Club but he is also a member of Cruden Bay Golf Club, Deeside Golf Club, Ballater Golf Club and The St. Andrews Club. He gives financial support to the career development of junior golfers, through the Paul Lawrie Junior Foundation.

An avid fisherman, he fishes for salmon in Russia and Iceland every year, and is an enthusiastic fundraiser for Orri Vigfusson "Patron Saint of Salmon", and the North Atlantic Salmon Fund.

Stewart also supports many local charities and good causes in Aberdeen and North-east Scotland.

He is a wine lover and his tastes include Penfolds "Grange" (Red), Pavillon Blanc Margaux (White), Domaine Ott (Rose), All Domaine Romanee Conti Wines, Hennesy XO Cognac.

He smokes the occasional cigar, including: casual - Rio 6; formal - Davidoff & Cohiba.

Stewart drives a Range Rover and BMW 7 series.

He regularly shops at Harrods (Brioni) and has a passion for Turnbull and Asser shirts, Bvlgari ties and Church's shoes.


Employment opportunities with us