Jenny Rowe and Sally Coffey bed-surf their way around southwest Scotland, home to some of the most outrageously luxurious hotels in the whole country, set amid some of its most underrated scenery
MORE FROM SCOTLAND MAGAZINE
True luxury hotels and accommodation effortlessly meet and surpass everyday needs, elevating the mundane events of sleeping and eating into once-in-a-lifetime experiences and offering excursions to fill those fleeting in-between hours with lifelong memories.
Plus, stretching between Largs in the north and Ballantrae in the south, you won’t be short of things to do here. The region encompasses Alloway, the birthplace of national bard Robert Burns, and Ardrossan, from where you can set sail for the Isle of Arran, while to the east lies the allure of the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, Galloway Forest Park.
“Our Ayrshire adventure begins with a motorway closure and further diversions due to flooding, but stress levels drop as we meander through rolling farmland, crest a final hill and descend to sea level. Ayrshire borders the Firth of Clyde and Scots flock here in summer for its long sandy beaches (at Troon, Barassie, Ayr and Girvan) and atmospheric golf courses, including, among many others, three of the world’s finest links courses: Prestwick Golf Club, Royal Troon, and Turnberry. The latter boasts both a beautiful beach and links, and is our first stop. Undoubtedly on the best places to stay in Ayrshire.
Scotland’s iconic Turnberry resort began as the Station Hotel in 1906, developed by the Glasgow and South Western Railway as a place for visitors to the golf course to stay. Over a century later and with a £200 million injection from owners, the Trump Organisation, kilted porters greet us in the courtyard and ferry our bags to our room before our feet have crossed the threshold. The roaring fire in The Grand Tea Bar & Lounge stokes our anticipation.
The afternoon brings better weather and from our Deluxe Ocean View room we watch the silhouette of Ailsa Craig, an iconic volcanic island 10 miles off the coast, disrobe from its cloak of cloud and bathe in a flood of amber light. Just in time for our ride.
With 800 acres of Scottish countryside on hand, incorporating forest, field, sand and sea, horse-riding is just one of the many outdoor pursuits offered by the Turnberry Adventures Hub. Hotel guests and non-residents alike can book in for quad-biking, e-biking, paddleboarding, kayaking, archery, rifle target shooting and much more. Mountain bikes are also provided free of charge to resident guests.
Our patient steeds Tilly and Louis are both Percherons, a French breed renowned for their agreeable nature. True to form, they are the gentlest of giants. All levels can be catered for at Turnberry, with trips ranging from short lead rein rides around the estate to a canter along Turnberry Beach.
Afterwards, a visit to Turnberry’s newly refurbished spa is a must. A huge 18-month restoration project has elevated this already award-winning wellness haven into a palatial heaven-on-earth. The spa’s design cleverly takes advantage of its natural assets, most notably its enviable view: both the new 65-foot indoor pool and bio-sauna overlook Ailsa Craig and Arran (on a clear day).
ESPA designs a full range of wellness experiences exclusively for Turnberry, from skin and beauty treatments to reflexology and aromatherapy. Guests can choose the essential oils for their treatment – I opt for ‘Restful’, a lavender-based blend – and the Balinese hot stone massage makes the most of its exquisite, soul-touching scent by beginning with an inhalation bowl.
The evening continues in a similarly self-indulgent vein at 1906, Turnberry’s signature restaurant, where each night’s service begins at 19.06pm in acknowledgment of the year the hotel opened. Classic dishes such as prawn cocktail, lobster bisque and apple tarte tatin are all mouth-watering. Staffed by friendly, far-from-stuffy locals, legendary sommelier Sumith is particularly charming if you need any help choosing wines.
A deep sleep is guaranteed in the hand-carved walnut burl mahogany bed, complemented by matching bedside tables, both of which are decorated in delicate gold leaf: just one example of Turnberry fulfilling the Trump Organisation’s mantra to ‘never settle’. Every single furnishing and fitting – from the chandelier to the thick tartan curtains and sparkling marble floors – is of the highest quality.
This is an extract. Read the full feature in the January/February 2022 issue of Scotland.
Herstory: The Real Mary King’s Close celebrates Women’s History Month
MORE FROM SCOTLAND MAGAZINE
Published six times a year, every issue of Scotland showcases its stunning landscapes and natural beauty, and delves deep into Scottish history. From mysterious clans and famous Scots (both past and present), to the hidden histories of the country’s greatest castles and houses, Scotland‘s pages brim with the soul and secrets of the country.
Scotland magazine captures the spirit of this wild and wonderful nation, explores its history and heritage and recommends great places to visit, so you feel at home here, wherever you are in the world.