AS THE country’s great academics and gowfers flock past to the university town of St Andrews six miles up the road, and its foodies have taken an early right turn off the A92 to Geoffrey Smeddle’s acclaimed Michelin-starred Peat Inn, Craigsanquhar house and lodges finds itself with an embarrassment of luxury local attractions to compete with.
Yet the journey up the winding country road to its discreet location is worth every crunch of the gear box and upon arrival visitors are left in little doubt that the combined mansion house and surrounding lodges pride themselves in their splendid isolation.
Not only that, but the history of the house, originally owned by the Spens family of Lathallan, whose ancestry can be traced back to King Robert III of Scotland and King Edward III, is worn keenly. There are stone carvings at the entrance highlighting elements of the original towers that remain and immaculately kept 36 acres of walled gardens and woodland. Now owned by Texan Tom McClendon, the latest jewels in its crown are its four-star self-catering lodges.
WINING AND DINING?
The hotel boasts of its AA Rosette restaurant, over which chef Billy Thomson presides, and with an à la carte dinner menu including octopus, pea and red wine stew, grilled fillets of plaice with a bacon, leek and mint compote and beaujolais reduction, dessert, coffee and petit fours all for £34.95, you might struggle to find fault. However, the restaurant interior and ambience had about as much life in them as the poor stag above our lodge fire. Lifeless, sadly, covers it, when all that was required was some soft lighting, fresh flowers and music. Easily done.
You’re not necessarily contemplating the hotel interior from the vantage point of your lodge. With three vast, ensuite bedrooms and a utility room big enough to hide all your belongings, the lodges are set out for luxury entertaining. Chestnut wood floors, vast French windows, real fires, leather recliners, Princess and the Pea beds and a kitchen and dining area with tables and seating scaled to Alice in Wonderland heights. You can only be impressed.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR?
We stayed in the chill of winter and the surrounding walks were spectacular, as was the morning coffee on the patio with nothing but birdsong and the distant hum of farm life over the hill as a soundtrack. Of course, with American owners wise to Scotland’s attractions, shooting, golfing and fishing trips are all available as package stays. You are mere miles from the East Neuk or St Andrews with all their historical and coastal delights.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
These lodges are indeed a ‘supersize-me’ boutique experience, with an interior space kitted out with rich woods and plumped soft furnishings. The exterior of tranquil Scottish hill and glen is quite heart-stoppingly beautiful, with each lodge benefitting from its own air of privacy.
Every lodge has wifi, a laundry room with washer and dryer, a fully equipped kitchen, flat screen TV and indoor and outdoor fireplaces. The bathrooms are furnished with gorgeous orange and bergamot Duck Island lotions and potions.
It's all very much American-style ranch luxury with a distinctly Scottish hue. A suite for up to two adults and two children, breakfast included in the main house, currently costs £150. A luxury three-bedroom lodge, sleeping six, costs £600 per night. See www.craigsanquhar.com for more details, or contact the hotel on 01334 653 426.