Strathpeffer used to have a railway line, a branch line of the Highland Railway Inverness to Kyle line. A weekly through train from London and daily connection from Aviemore brought travellers to Strathpeffer in its heyday as a Spa. Changes brought about by two world wars and the rising popularity of the motor car contributed to the station's closure, first to passengers in 1946 and then totally in 1951. The old station building survives and houses the Highland Museum of Childhood, as well as the Museum Coffee Shop, a Fair Trade shop and a picnic area. Other buildings of note are the Pump Room and the Spa Pavilion. Bold text
The surrounding countryside of forests, hills and mountains offers walks and trails and in nearby Contin, there is a 16km mountain-bike route. Bikes can be bought, hired and repaired at Square Wheels in Strathpeffer Square (01997 421000).
The former Spa Pavilion has recently been beautifully restored and is now a great venue for events of all kinds. On the Pavilion website http://www.StrathpefferPavilion.org, there is not only a list of what's on at the Pavilion but also a page of other events in and around Strathpeffer and useful links.
Next-door to the Pavilion, you can taste the spa waters in the Pump Room, also recently restored. The Pump Room houses a fascinating exhibition of Strathpeffer's spa history, as well as the Tourist Information Centre. The Pump Room is generally open mid-May to September.
At the Old Station you will find the delightful Highland Museum of Childhood, open 1st April to 31st October, http://www.highlandmuseumofchildhood.org.uk which is well worth a visit, exploring the history of Highland childhood through audio-visual displays, childhood treasures and a fascinating doll and toy collection. At the Old Station, there is also a coffee shop where you can eat al fresco under the station awning, a fair trade shop and a picnic area. There are a number of other shops in the centre of the village (known as The Square, though it is not a square!), including a pharmacy with window displays of Victorian items, gift shops and a small supermarket.
Strathpeffer also has a very scenic and challenging golf course. http://www.strathpeffergolf.co.uk
Nearby Castle Leod, the home of the Earl of Cromartie, Chief of Clan Mackenzie, is open to the public several times a year - dates and times on the Pavilion website.
Go hiking - the area around Strathpeffer has some great forest and river walks
There are a number of gift shops in the Square, as well as a pharmacy, and an "open all hours" supermarket. At the Old Station are a Fair Trade shop as well as the Highland Museum of Childhood's own gift shop.
Strathpeffer now has a wide selection of places to eat.
RedPoppy Restaurant @ the Pavilion
In the Pavilion, as its name implies (entrance on the bandstand side of the Pavilion). Chef Nick Aburrow offers an interesting and varied menu, normally: Tuesday - Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm (lunch, coffee shop and dinner menus until 5 pm, dinner menu only thereafter); Sunday from 12.30 to 5 pm, but times may vary depending on events in the Pavilion. Tel: 01997 423 332
Coffee Shops / Tearooms
The Coffee Shop, in Cromartie Buildings, just off the Square, offers tea, coffee, snacks and holds regular acoustic music sessions.
Maya, opposite the Pavilion. Strathpeffer's famous Belgian chocolate shop, which serves tea and coffee as well as the very rich hot chocolate. You can also buy some delicious handmade chocolates to take home. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 5.00 pm Tel: 01997 420 008 http://www.mayachocolates.co.uk
The Museum Coffee Shop, beside the Highland Museum of Childhood at the Old Victorian Station, offers freshly-prepared traditional Scottish lunches and snacks, homebaking, and delicious ice cream as well as tea and coffee. Open 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday, 12 noon to 5 pm Sunday. Tel: 07759 690 459. In fine weather you can eat al fresco under the station awning.
The Wee Swally, in White Lodge, the Square (use the side entrance in Church Brae) is a Victorian tearoom with a delightful atmosphere and home baking plus soup at lunch-time. Open Tuesday to Saturday from approx 11 am to 4 pm Tel: 01997 421730
Coul House Hotel, Contin 01997 421487
Shearings Highland Hotel 01997 421457
Mackays Hotel & Spa Lodge 01997 421542
Strathpeffer Hotel 01997 421200
Guest House / Bed & Breakfast:
Heatherlie 01997 423220
Linnmhor 01997 423357
Wyvis View 01997 421053
Many of the bigger hotels in Strathpeffer cater to coach parties of pensioners, and compete with each other to provide the cheapest package. For independent travelers, this can mean that, if you eat in your hotel, you end up paying over the odds for dire, overcooked slop that's churned out for the lowest possible price per head. If you drink in the hotel bar, it means that you're likely to encounter dubious "entertainment" in the form of singers and keyboard players, and hotel lounges are full of coach party members slumped in front of gameshows. If this sounds like your idea of hell, then book into a smaller guesthouse.
Strathpeffer, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, is an ideal base from which to tour this spectacular and fascinating area.