When you think of heading to a hotel in Auchterarder, thoughts naturally turn to Gleneagles. I might not have a Gleneagles budget, but I’ve certainly got Gleneagles tastes. So a newly refurbished boutique hotel in the village sounded perfect. The Aurora Hotel Collection has taken an old Victorian hunting lodge which, to be fair, Perthshire is awash with, and created an unbelievably hip, luxurious hotel.
WINING AND DINING?
The Grill is the real talking point of the hotel. Having had an impressive state-of-the-art Josper Grill installed in the kitchen, the chefs are going to make the most of it. Working on the theory that if you’re coming to a Grill Restaurant, you’re not really here for the couscous, there are loads of dishes like the steak platter and the chateaubriand, to share. Although, if you feel like pigging out on your own, they can safely accommodate that too. Even when you move off the grill menu, there are beautiful fish and tapas dishes to tickle your fancy. The restaurant staff really know their stuff, informing the diner about different cuts and cooking options before guiding you through the perfectly matched wine list.
ROOM SERVICE There may only be ten rooms – but each has been fitted out to an exceptionally high standard. Ours was up in the eaves of the old house but didn’t feel in the least cramped. From the large double bath to the king-sized bed, there was loads of room to spread out and an amazing amount of comfort to do it in.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? Auchterarder has, naturally, plenty of golf on offer – the Auchterarder course is directly opposite the hotel – but for people who don’t find the sport their bag (who they?) then there are lots of other activities to occupy you. If you need an adrenaline rush that doesn’t come from working on your back swing, there’s white-water rafting and off-road driving. If you want to get close to nature there’s falconry and horse-riding.
And, if you find golf just too high-octane for your break then Auchterarder village has loads of great shopping opportunities as well as lovely tearooms and galleries to relax in.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? Och, boutique all the way. From the Timorous Beastie wallpaper to the white, studded leather walls and B&O sound systems this place is uber-hip.
LITTLE EXTRAS? What really makes this place is the staff. We started noting names to mention them to the duty manager, Jamie (himself outstandingly professional), but realised we were collecting every staff member and so stopped. Without exception, they were knowledgeable and helpful.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? This is obviously perfect for those who would like to stay at Gleneagles but can’t afford to. It can’t be too long before Gleneagles becomes the Cairn Lodge spill-over hotel. Enjoy a special rate of £199 per night for two people, inclusive of dinner and full Scottish breakfast. Based on two people sharing a classic double or twin room, this is valid until 31 January 2013 (excluding Christmas and New Year, subject to availability and allocation). Call 0844 800 4000, quoting ‘Spectrum’.
The Cairn Lodge & Hotel, Orchil Road, Auchterarder (01764 662634, www.cairnlodge.co.uk)