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Issue 22 - Taste of the country

Scotland Magazine Issue 22
August 2005


This article is 13 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Taste of the country


Roxburghe Hotel.
By Kelso, Roxburghshire.
Tel: +44 (0)1573 450 331.

The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, near the handsome market town of Kelso on the confluence of the Tweed and Teviot rivers, is an ideal choice for a break – be it relaxing, active or even romantic.

Enjoy walking, fishing, horseback-riding, tennis, shooting, golf on the hotel’s own excellent championship course. Have a spa treatment. Pop into neighbouring Floors Castle, Scotland’s largest inhabited one. The hotel itself is a perfect ‘storybook’ 19th century three-gabled mansion house with ivy clambering up the stone walls.

This exceptionally friendly charm and wideranging appeal won the Scottish Country House Hotel of the Year 2005 award for the Roxburghe.

The drawing room as seen above, with open fireplaces and oil paintings, and the woodpanelled library bar with its leather bound volumes, are elegant and inviting. Fresh flowers scent the air. Why not simply relax by the fire with a good book – perhaps even some Scott? Sir Walter was a local man and loved the rolling Border hills.

The 22 bedrooms and suites are spacious and comfortable. Many have four poster beds, antique furniture, marble bathrooms and lovely views over the gardens. The ambience is homely and gracious rather than formal.

At dinner time you will enjoy very delicious Border fare: a recent lamb dish knocked the spots right off fancy nouvelle creations. The stylish claret and green fine dining restaurant is overseen by head chef Keith Short – a man who can cook.

Gullane, near Edinburgh.
Tel: +44 (0)1620 842 144.

The façade is known to international golfers the world over since the historic Muirfield links are adjacent; but many have not have discovered this most discreet of country houses.

Greywalls is a suitably presbyterian name for a Scots hotel but a misnomer it is indeed: the concave embrace of Sir Edwin Lutyen’s 1901 mellow masterpiece is all honey-coloured and sandy warmth.

In summer, on the many dry East Lothian days, this is a little corner of bliss. Purple prose you might well think but when you have an historic house of rare warmth, elegance and true architectural merit… and wall it away, secreted from the world’s neuroses, with a garden laid out by none other than Gertrude Jekyll, then – can you blame us for swooning? And can’t you just smell the roses and lavender from here?

There are 23 bedrooms, of which six are in the gardens as was part of the original Lutyens plan.

Rooms are unfailingly charming and are decorated using classy, classic fabrics and wallpapers by the owning family of six decades, the Weavers. Sue Prime is the award-winning manager and she’s the one to chat to when planning a stay if you have particular requirements.

New for 2005 is head chef David Williams’ arrival: we are impressed by his flair and passion for top-notch, imaginative cuisine. Before dinner relax in the library with its pictures, grand piano and gramophone. Feel that Edwardian summer.

Summer Isles Hotel.
Achiltibuie, Ross-shire.
Tel: +44 (0)1854 622 282.

While Greywalls’ moniker misleads, who could fail to be lifted by the very name of this one, the Summer Isles Hotel?

Gerry (she’s a she) and Mark Irvine have for many years run this Michelin-starred hotel in the most remote and wildly scenic of locations, on the Ross-shire shores, approached through spectacular mountain scenery. And yet don’t think it to be inaccessible: you can get here from Inverness in less than two hours – two rewarding hours.

Gerry is an artist and, as we often say on, where there’s art about, you can bet on the rest of the show being creative and interesting. Here, where one might expect acres of chintz or a phalanx of stags’ heads there is instead lightness, freshness and an artistic, contemporary country house chic. And fine pictures.

Bedrooms come in several distinct types – from log cabin affairs to airy first floor doubles with sea views to the top room, the Boat House.

The Summer Isles themselves are unusual in that this small scattering of islands, known for diving, issue their own stamps. Nearby, the Summer Isles smokehouse prepares mouth-watering fare. But in the hotel the cuisine is the real prize: Chris Firth-Bernard creates utterly dependable, unfussy cuisine founded on the rock of superlative local produce.

In one of Scotland’s most dramatic areas, one of the best things about this hotel is that they have a room type to suit just about anyone. No excuse, then!.

Tel: +44 (0)1776 810 471.

Winner of The Scottish Country House Hotel of the Year 2004, Knockinaam is a sparkling example! Set by its own private bay this Michelin-starred hotel provides fine cuisine, elegant bedrooms and fabulous wines and whiskies in a setting drenched with romance.

Tel: +44 (0)1397 722 235.

This is one of our discoveries of 2005. And our readers just love it, too. About 30 minutes’ drive west of Fort William you’ll find an atmospheric, wood-panelled house with masses of character and a fair room rate.

More than this, the bar offers live Scottish music and great ‘craic’. Room 1 our tip.

Tel: +44 (0)1667 454 896.

There are many reasons why Boath House is one of Scotland’s finest. There’s the art, the Georgian elegance, the friendly owners, the spa treatments, the superb dining: chef Charlie Lockley is without question a chef to make one President Chirac mangez ses mots aussi bien que son dîner écossais.

Hotels featured in the ‘Best of Scotland’ section are by definition recommended by this magazine. The GoldPlate food honour and MoMA Mark of Merit quality award are presented on merit by the Guide. Hotels featured onthis page have been inspected by independent –minded, experienced HRS reviewers.

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