Burts Hotel could not be any more centrally located in the Borders market town of Melrose. It dominates the Market Square, its whitewashed façade reflecting the sun across the historic hub of town. The hulk of the Eildon Hills haunt to the south, while the River Tweed frames the town to the north.
Family and Tradition are Key
Family and tradition are key here. The building dates back to the 18th-century and Burts Hotel has been in the same family, the Hendersons, for over three decades. There is a sense of doing things properly here, the way they should be done in a Borders tradition of hospitality that has been carried on through the centuries. This relaxed oasis is perfect for a quiet weekend away amidst the sort of remarkable Borders scenery that had the likes of Sir Walter Scott scrambling for his quill pen.
The 20 guest rooms are traditional and comfortable, a nice change from all that mood lighting and funky designs that you get in so many hotels these days. The Hendersons are not ashamed of a splash of tartan and using traditional colours, which helps reinforce the sense of timelessness here. Shortbread in the tea tray and Arran Aromatics toiletries in the bathroom pleasantly remind you what country you are in.
Award Winning Hotel Restaurant
The award winning hotel restaurant is arguably the best place to eat in Melrose. Expect the very finest beef and lamb from local butchers. Here they only serve beef hung properly and you will notice the difference in the steaks whether you opt for a rib eye, fillet or sirloin. Look out for seafood too from Eyemouth and locally smoked salmon. The Bistro Bar does more informal meals that are great after a day out sightseeing or in the hills.
There are very few ‘facilities’ at Burts, but that is sort of the point as you don’t need to do anything here except perhaps recline with a whisky in the bar (there are almost 100 to choose from). There is a small residents’ lounge on the second floor and a modest meetings room if you are here on business. The Hendersons can also assist keen anglers by helping to organise fishing trips to local hot spots.
Exploring Melrose and Beyond
Melrose itself boasts an epic abbey. Melrose Abbey, one of Scotland’s finest ecclesiastical ruins, is great for rambling around. The centre is also home to the sort of lovely real local shops that are so thin on the ground these days with a choice of butchers, a fishmonger, well-stocked deli and a string of independent jewellers and clothing shops.
The local walking is also excellent. I headed up two of the three Eildon Hills for some great views of Melrose and the Tweed, but there are also more gentle river walks. Golfers will find something to suit with no fewer than 19 courses spread across the Borders. More passive sporting types can head to the town’s rugby stadium, which was the birthplace of Sevens rugby and is these days home to a busy club with tickets available on most match days.
Burts Hotel, Market Square, Melrose, TD6 9PN. Tel: +44(0)1896-822 285. www.burtshotel.co.uk
For Families 6/10
For a Romantic Break 7/10
For Food 7/10
For Business People 6/10
InsiderScotland Rating 7/10