Scotland overflows with grand country house hotels, but sometimes they don’t quite live up to the hype or the rarefied image of them guests have before arriving. The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course does not have that problem. This palatial retreat reclines in acres of gorgeous Borders scenery and is awash with four poster beds, grand public rooms, a superb restaurant, an 18-hole golf course, a beauty suite and even trout ponds where we landed our own dinner!
The Roxburghe is owned by the Duke of Roxburghe himself, one of Scotland’s most famous landowners. It is tucked just south of Kelso within touching distance of his own even larger home, Floors Castle. Roxburghe benefits from his personal input and the recently revamped public rooms do the country house thing better than Hollywood ever could with roaring fires, dusty old books and impressive oil paintings of famous ancestors, giving it a real regal feel.
There are 22 bedrooms. We were in No. 7, which worked well with our two kids. They had plenty of space, while we got to enjoy a four poster bed. Next door was an even more impressive room, No. 8, with its own stone fireplace and balcony. All of the 22 bedrooms boast bags of character, though we found we spent most of our time in the public rooms or out in the grounds.
Serious About Local Produce
Dining at the Roxburghe is no afterthought with innovative chef Neville Merrin at the helm. He is serious about seriously local produce. We savoured pigeon shot on the estate as well as wild garlic, leeks and even wild flowers from the estate. As much of the red meat and fish as possible are local. On our second night the trout could not have been any fresher. We can vouch for that as we had caught it that morning on the estate and had the chef pan fry it with an asparagus and estate salad!
Fishing is just one of the outdoor pursuits on offer at Roxburghe. I took a beginner’s hour fishing lesson and managed to land a couple of decent catches, including the aforementioned dinner. Also available are clay pigeon shooting and pheasant shooting. Right in front of the hotel there is a croquet lawn and then there is the championship golf course, which offers a real test. The grounds are massive and we enjoyed just strolling around them too looking out for herons, pheasants and squirrels amidst the thick forests.
The Beauty Suite was another plus. Here the well trained therapists, under the guidance of experienced owner Sarah-Kaye Hook, use Decleor products across a wide range of treatments. They offer facials, manicures, pedicures and wraps. I opted for a hot stone therapy treatment, an excellent way to relax after a day trekking around the grounds. Lying there under the warmth of the stones your thoughts can start to drift towards a wee aperitif by the fire followed by a sumptuous dinner at a hotel that excels in offering the proper country house experience.
The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, Heiton, Kelso, Roxburghshire, TD5 8JZ. Tel. +44(0)1573-450331. www.roxburghe-hotel.com
For Families 8/10
For a Romantic Break 8/10
For Food 8/10
For Business People 6/10
InsiderScotland Rating 8/10.