We literally confirmed our booking with the owner hours before our arrival. So our stay at An Cala was last minute to say the least. We weren’t as spontaneous as this all sounds though. Our original plans involved flying to Paris and staying in a lovely Hilton hotel and celebrating my 30th birthday in the City of Lights or City of Love, whichever one you prefer.
The Paris trip was planned, booked and packed…well almost packed for. I always find last minute things to throw in the case just as we are heading out the door, much to Allan’s annoyance. Is that a woman thing or is that just a me thing?
Anyway, our trip to Paris has been postponed for a little while because we decided to cancel it in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. We were due to fly out to Paris a few days after the attacks, but felt it was best to put it on hold for another time. Hence the extremely last minute decision to book the beautiful An Cala.
An Cala (the haven) is a luxury riverside house in the Cairngorm National Park in a little forest village called Nethy Bridge. We fell in love with the house as soon as we came across it online. Everything from location to the interior design. We kept expecting Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs to walk in at any moment.
The only question we had..”Is it wheelchair accessible?”
There wasn’t any access information on the website and although the photos were great, it’s difficult to solely judge it’s accessibility on photos alone. After several emails back and forth with the owner we were satisfied that it was accessible enough for our needs. Although there was no steps going into the house, there was two steps up from the kitchen/dining/livingroom area to the TV room. The kitchen/livingroom area was open plan with a toilet, shower and bedroom all on the same level just off from the kitchen. Therefore all the essential rooms were on the same level that I could access.
This part of the house was designed to make you feel like you are in a treehouse and it definitely does.
The next time we stay here we will take a portable wheelchair ramp so that I can go up to the TV room in my wheelchair. This will save me from having to be carried up the steps.
The owner, Lara, told us another wheelchair user had stayed the previous month and found it was suitable for him. Everyone has different needs and abilities, but we decided to go ahead with the booking and make it work as it was only for a short stay anyway. We’re so glad we did!
We were greeted by Lara as we arrived. It was freezing so she was in the middle of getting the log burning fire going for us. She asked if we wanted to have a look around to make sure everything was going to be ok for us and if there would be enough space for moving my wheelchair around. She was very welcoming and friendly as she explained how everything worked.
The kitchen was great and we especially loved the huge table that she had gotten made in Austria. It was a good height to allow my wheelchair to roll underneath. There was a welcome food pack with milk, butter, bagels, tea bags, spices, herbs and lots of other basics in the cupboard. Everything was very thought out and anything we could have needed was there and more.
How awesome is this coke bottle opener!
The decking was accessible so I was able to roll around to the hot tub, which was nestled on the steep wooded hillside at the side of the house. There was steps down to the picnic and BBQ area. Thankfully we didn’t need to go down to that area, but again a portable ramp would do the trick if you wanted to access more of the garden.
Sitting outside on the decking was peaceful as Abernethy Forest surrounded us and River Nethy flowed by at the bottom of the garden. Bliss!
We spent two relaxing nights in this cosy house. One of those nights being my 30th birthday and even though we weren’t celebrating by enjoying the view of the city from the Eiffel Tower, it was still an amazing birthday and we both had a great time. We even watched Christmas movies on Netflix in the TV room (snug). It’s the little things, guys! I love that things start to feel and look like Christmas around my birthday. The Santa Clause and Home Alone were among some of our favourites that we decided to watch.
The hot tub was used so much during our stay. Perfect for relaxing after a hard day of doing nothing but watching movies. It’s a great feeling to be able to move my arms and legs in the water without much effort or difficulty. The weight-less feeling is amazing.
We were sad to leave this cosy haven, but we will definitely book another stay soon whether it is just the two of us again or with some of the family. With 5 bedrooms (3 king size beds) and 6 single beds, there would be plenty of room. My only concern if our nephew was with us, would be the steep drop from the decking down to the river as it is not enclosed at all. It would be good to explore the surrounding area and especially good for people that enjoy spending time outdoors with the many walking trails, forest adventure parks and more. I would definitely recommend staying at An Cala for a special occasion or just to get away from it all. Lara was lovely and her attention to detail was amazing. Not surprising as this is Lara and her family’s home for part of the year.