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Issue 33 - Mr & Mrs Smiths

Scotland Magazine Issue 33
June 2007


This article is 11 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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Mr & Mrs Smiths

The new Smiths Hotel in the town of Gretna Green has a reputation for romance… Vivien Devlin stayed there

For centuries painters, poets and travellers have recognised and relished the beauty, magic, mystery and altogether romantic tranquility of the Scottish landscape. Nowhere more so, it seems, than the village of Gretna Green, renowned as Wedding Capital of the world.

In 1754 England passed a law preventing any bride or groom under the age of 21 from marrying without parental consent. In Scotland the age was 16 and so young lovers eloped, heading north to Gretna Green just half a mile over the border. As a stagecoach changing post on the London to Glasgow route, the first building was the Blacksmith’s shop. Marriage was a civil contract at the time and the “blacksmith priest” acted as witness for these hasty marriages over the anvil, believed to offer good fortune. Runaway couples travelled for days by coach and horses, often with fathers in hot pursuit.

The tradition continues unabated today – 4,000 weddings a year – with couples travelling from across the world.

The accolade of Scottish Wedding Hotel of the Year, 2007 was recently awarded to Smiths at Gretna Green. This innovative £5 million hotel is the latest venture by a family business founded in 1886 when Hugh Mackie bought the Gretna Estate including the Blacksmith’s shop. Today his great grandson Alasdair Houston, managing director, and family have developed the wedding venue, heritage museum, gift shops and restaurant into a major visitor attraction.

Located opposite the World Famous Old Blacksmith’s shop, Smiths is an ubercontemporary four star boutique hotel with a unique design concept which reflects local tradition. Stone and glass architecture feature two towers complementing spires on the village church. Imaginative furnishings, fabrics and artwork echo classic blacksmith icons in brown leather, iron and metallic steel.

The welcoming ambience and smartcasual setting has a touch of glitz and glamour. Sip a cool cocktail or two in the lounge bar (comfy sofas and open fire) before enjoying fine Scottish cuisine – West Coast seafood, local lamb, venison and beef – in the Brasserie.

Fifty bedrooms have been created for contemporary living: flatscreen television, DVD player, flame effect fireplace, kingsize bed with tartan throw. Executive rooms have extra treats – robes, slippers, wine and fruit.

Experience the celebrity life in one of the stunning, sexy suites – four poster beds, double bath – or upgrade to the luxurious penthouse apartment: circular bed, double jacuzzi, jet shower, complimentary Champagne and chocolates.

Smiths offers a Wedding Bureau to help you plan your special day, from vintage cars and grand reception to an intimate ceremony for two on the Penthouse roof garden – eloping is, of course, the original heart of this romantic destination. And 250 years on, it’s an international affair with couples from Australia, Hong Kong, United States and across Europe choosing Gretna Green for their wedding day.

Apart from wedding parties, Smiths welcomes business travellers, conferences, leisure visitors and families – kids will love staying here – bunk bed ‘suites’ have TV/Playstation. It’s the perfect base to explore the beautiful Border country, rich in history, culture and a natural playground for golf, biking, hiking, boating and beaches along the Solway coastline.

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