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Issue 31 - A slice of luxury (Myres Castle)

Scotland Magazine Issue 31
February 2007

 

This article is 10 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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A slice of luxury (Myres Castle)

Sally Toms finds out what's cooking at Myres Castle

For most of us, a stay in a five-star hotel is the absolute height of luxury.

But we’ve discovered something even more so... imagine having complete run of your own five-star hotel. Such extravagance is off the chart, yet it is more realistic than you might believe.

Myres Castle is a beautiful 16th century estate just 30 minutes from Edinburgh’s Forth Bridge. It is also the first exclusive use property to be awarded the prestigious five stars by VisitScotland.

A stay here is completely private, it’s more like a house-swap than a hotel. There is no reception desk, no room keys or door numbers, nothing that really shouts ‘you are in a hotel.’ Instead it softly whispers, ‘this is your home – relax.’ Staff are discreet but dedicated, appearing when they feel you might need something, slipping away when you’ve fallen asleep on the couch after lunch.

This kind of privacy is bound to appeal to celebrities. When questioned, the staff at Myres Castle refused to disclose the famous names of the most recent guests, but a sneaky peek through the visitors’ book revealed names like photographer David Bailey, musician Morrissey and comedian Rory Bremner.

This is a playground for the rich and famous. There’s even a helipad to whisk you to and from the airport, should you really want to tip the scales. But the surprising thing is that to stay here could only cost £295 per person per night (obviously depending on how many of you are staying), which is the same rate as some posh hotels.

There are all kinds of activities on offer at Myres, from croquet on the front lawn, to clay pigeon shooting, falconry displays, archery, tennis, golf, or even your own mini Highland games. The list goes on and on, but one activity gaining in popularity are Myres’ day and residential cookery courses.

The ‘lessons’ take place in the castle’s homely Victorian kitchen, under the gentle guidance of chef Christopher Trotter.

Author of several books on Scottish cooking, Christopher started his career at the renowned Savoy hotel in London before gaining yet more cheffing credentials in Switzerland and France.

He is passionate about local, natural produce and will often incorporate field trips (quite literally) to farms and organic suppliers. You are also just as likely to find yourself in the vegetable garden at Myres, knee deep in salad leaves and vegetables.

Cookery classes are restricted to eight so they don’t feel at all crowded, and there are individual workstations so everyone has an opportunity to get their hands dirty.

What you cook, though, is up to you. You can join one of Myres’ scheduled dates (see website for details) or with friends another time, where courses can be tailor-made and anything goes.

How about learning to cook meals for vegetarians? Chocaholics? Quicksuppers for working parents? Grand dinner parties for skilled cooks?

We made rocket salad with strawberries and balsamic vinegar; slow roast shoulder of pork; warm salad with tarragon; cabbage with smoked bacon and potatoes; bread rolls; frozen berries with hot white chocolate sauce; and little puff pastry apple tarts. It’s amazing what you can get through in one day. And of course you get to eat what you cook, washed down with something from Myres’ exquisite wine list.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the cookery courses is the opportunity to increase your knowledge and confidence in the kitchen next to a ‘real’ chef, and to ask things you’ve always wanted to know.

What’s the best way to cut and onion? How do you make bread? How can you stop that cake mixture from curdling?

For anyone with an interest in cooking, such experience is priceless. And you don’t even have to do the washing up.

INFO
Day classes cost £125 per person including all demonstrations and tutorage, lunch, booklet of recipes, tour of castle and gardens,and Myres Castle apron.

Residential courses can be tailored to suit you.

Myres Castle, Auchtermuchty, Fife KY14 7EW Tel: +44 (0)1337 828 350 www.myres.co.uk