Even if you’re not a golfer
On the beautiful coast of St Andrews, a small Scottish town known for its club-and-ball sport history and university (yes, the one where William met Kate), lies the Old Course Hotel. Named after the Old Course, the oldest golf course in the world, and surrounded by acres of perfectly maintained grass, the five star resort forms the ideal destination for a quick coastal break. I brought along my Belgian friend, Laura, who, like me, had never visited Scotland before, and we decided to make a two-day stop in Edinburgh before hopping on a one-hour train journey to St Andrews.
The Old Course Hotel perfectly represents old-style luxury. As soon as you get out of the car, the friendly, snappily dressed staff welcome you to the hotel – the doorman even taught me some words in Gaelic (sadly, I can’t remember them, but it’s the thought that counts). Interior-wise, shades of burgundy and pine green complement the fabric-lined walls, wooden panels, antler-like chandeliers and cream velvet sofas.
The club-and-ball sport is definitely an ongoing theme – with 11 courses in the immediate area, it makes total sense – but it’s featured in the décor in a way that even non-golfers like me can appreciate: with beautiful coffee-table books, framed vintage pictures and displayed accessories. Fun fact: several Sundays a year, the Old Course is open to public for walking.
Try to book an eastern facing room with balcony. It will make for some amazing views in the morning, as you’ll see the sun rise over the greenery and St Andrews dunes. The rooms are spacious, accommodated with dark wooden furniture, Scottish tartan textiles and antique-style lamps and mirrors. Depending on what room you go for, it will include an additional guest bathroom and lounge area, but the suites’ best feature is the Kohler bathroom that comes with a large chromotherapy bath and separate shower (than can easily fit about ten people).
With six restaurants in total, The Old Course Hotel offers an extensive dining experience. Breakfast is served in the Road Hole Restaurant, located on the top floor and accommodated with floor-to-ceiling windows, you can enjoy your cuppa and eggs Benedict while looking out on the golf course and West Sands beach. In the evening, the Road Hole Restaurant serves a mix of locally sourced Scottish food, seafood and grilled meat. Agreeing to a three-course menu, I started off my first dinner in St Andrews with a lobster bisque, followed by a Scottish fillet steak with pont-neuf potatoes, vine tomatoes and portobello mushrooms and ending with a fresh lemon meringue soufflé (worth all the calories).
For our second dinner, we booked a table in the Sands Restaurant. Skipping starters because we were still too full from the night before, I opted for the lobster mac and cheese as a main and the baked vanilla cheesecake with cherry compote and pistachio ice cream as dessert, while Laura ordered a tomato and vegetable risotto with sea bass and chocolate fudge cake with peanut butter ice cream.
You really must
Book in some time to unwind at the Kohler Waters Spa. As the first UK spa experience by Kohlers, the Wisconsin-based design company whose products are featured in all the hotel bathrooms, the spa specialises in hydrotherapy. In addition to the amazing therapeutic bathing facilities – there is an indoor swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, cold plunge pool (I took a very quick dip into that one), experience shower and rooftop hot tub – Kohler Waters Spa also offers a wide range of treatments.
I went for the Kohler Waters Signature Massage, a heavenly 75-minute treatment that started off with a relaxing footbath, followed by a full-body massage featuring their Kohler Signature scent. For a personalised experience, I was given a sketch of a body to indicate what parts of my body I wanted them to focus on and what pressure I was okay with. After my treatment, I had a small bite to eat at the Spa Café, before heading back to the spa facilities for a relaxing afternoon.
Travel by train to Leuchars station or fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh airport, the Old Course Hotel offers a complementary car service to and from your chosen train station or airport. Rates start at £307 per room per night on a B&B basis, based on two people sharing. Visit oldcoursehotel.co.uk or call +44(0) 1334 474371 to book.