Whilst I love the refinement of a 5* hotel, the enormity of the breakfast buffet and the touch of a button room service, there’s also a lot to be said for booking your own pied a terre for the weekend. No restrictions on what to pack, the ability to sprawl out across an entire property and the fact that it’s all yours! No late night corridor disturbances from party revellers, no need to dress for breakfast and a fridge that can accommodate full size items - mini bars never suffice let’s be honest. There’s something altogether more relaxing about a holiday cottage break.
For our most recent sojourn we headed north of the border to the pretty Scottish village of Ancrum and the picture perfect Campsie Cottage. With not much more than the village store and local pub, it’s the perfect setting for a weekend of pure relaxation and a time to reconnect with nature.
Positioned in the centre of the village, a stones throw from the village green, pub and shop, Campsie Cottage is an idyllic two bedroom whitewashed stone cottage. If visiting during the colder months the caring owners will stoke the wood burner pre arrival ensuring a warm and cosy welcome. We also lucked out with an enormous, and delicious, homemade chocolate loaf cake and a welcome hamper which we made good progress on across the course of our stay.
If you’re an interiors fan then you’ll gain lots of inspiration here as the owners have tastefully decorated using locally sourced materials alongside designer finds - think Farrow and Ball paints, St Judes wallpapers and Oka fabrics. The result is a contemporary take on timeless country stylings.
The cottage has two comfortable bedrooms. One ensuite king size master bedroom with a French inspired carved wooden bed that’s so comfy you could easily be tempted to snooze all day. A second bedroom can either be set up as a king size or twin so it’s perfect for couples or families alike.
Downstairs the warm and homely living room is an ideal place to snuggle up in front of the fire after a long day exploring or taking in one of the many local walks. Turn on the smart TV or pick from the cottage’s extensive DVD selection, for the competitive amongst you there’s a healthy selection of board games to while away the hours or alternatively hook up to the wireless speaker, put your feet up and enjoy some downtime.
The fully equipped kitchen has everything you’d need to whisk up a hearty breakfast and for the more adventurous cooks there’s a selection of good cookbooks to inspire you. As you’re on holiday however I reckon it’s time to down tools and thankfully the Ancrum Cross Keys offers excellent homemade pub food, we can vouch for the mac n cheese, haggis bon bon and hearty burger. Go with an empty stomach because the portions are generous.
In the warmer months dine alfresco in the cottage’s courtyard garden and take in the golden sound of nothing except local birds and the breeze dashing through the trees - bliss.
Out and About
Exploring the village of Ancrum will take you all of 5 minutes, although a very pleasant and pretty 5 minutes. Take the footpath alongside the village school and you can join a pretty walk along Ale Water. Less than 10 minutes in a car will see you in Jedburgh with its impressive abbey ruins, colourful market place and Ferniehirst Castle. Slightly further, but still within a half hour drive, is the bustling town of Kelso bursting with independent shops and galleries, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Whether you fancy adrenaline fuelled adventure sports or more leisurely historic wanderings, animal encounters or spa based pampering the cottage owners have curated the best of the local attractions for you to peruse and plan during your stay.
For eating out we had it on good recommendation that the Caddy Man (5 minutes by car) was worth a visit. On first appearance it may not strike you as one of the Borders’ premier establishments - the hotchpotch furniture, paper napkins and impressive collection of table mats doesn’t scream 2023 haute cuisine. However, interiors aside, the service is warm, friendly and experienced and the menu impressive. The Good Food Guide, The Scottish Field and The Scotsman all conclude it’s one of Scotland’s best restaurants and the ever growing list of awards would suggest they might be onto something. Specialising in game it’s not the venue for vegetarians or vegans but if you enjoy fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients paired with local game, beef, lamb and fish then you’re in for a treat. Between us we sampled most of the menu and nothing disappointed. An absolute must if you’re in the area.
Alternatively Schloss Roxburghe Hotel and Golf course offers both fine dining and afternoon teas.
What are you waiting for? 3 nights at Campsie Cottage is available through Crabtree & Crabtree from £506.25 (7 nights from £675). To book visit www.crabtreeandcrabtree.com or call 01573 226711. If you’re travelling with furry friends up to 2 well behaved dogs are welcome to stay too (£25 per dog).
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Sarah Hayman is a contributing food and travel writer at Marie Claire UK, covering everything from UK breaks to far flung destinations, the best greasy spoon to Michelin star dining.
Growing up on the Kent coast Sarah spent virtually every day of her summer holidays frolicking on the beach so it’s no wonder that a life living and working in London leaves her yearning for sand between her toes and cool wines on summer eves.
To ensure she’s ordering the right thing in a restaurant and knowing her lefts from her rights, Sarah has since dabbled in languages being conversational in Spanish and currently studying Arabic at SOAS.
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