DOWN the road from the famous Greywalls Hotel, The Golf Inn at Gullane offers a friendly welcome and fine food to rival its illustrious neighbour.
That’s hardly surprising given that head chef Derek Johnstone – a former winner of BBC MasterChef: The Professionals – worked under the legendary Albert Roux at Greywalls. Johnstone, who also spent two years in London at the two Michelin-starred La Gavroche, has created a destination restaurant while retaining the charm of a country pub.
The Golf Inn has six en-suite rooms as well as separate accommodation in Hazel Cottage, where we stayed after a drive of around 40 minutes from Edinburgh. For an area steeped in golfing heritage, it’s apt that all the rooms in the cottage are named after famous courses, and we spent the night in Royal Lytham, which had views out on to the garden. For golfers, the inn is perfectly placed between Muirfield and Gullane links, but it also provides a base to explore Gullane itself and the beautiful East Lothian coastline that lies beyond.
WINING AND DINING
After winning MasterChef in 2008 and spending time working in London, chef Johnstone returned to Scotland and Chez Roux at Greywalls. Albert Roux predicted his young charge would become one of the “big-time chefs in Scotland”. It’s easy to see why. The food at The Golf Inn is unfussy but superb. After a starter of haggis bon bons, I opted for the delicious shin of beef which came with a pearl barley risotto. The restaurant went to extra lengths to cater for my partner, who suffers from food allergies. A bespoke menu was prepared from which she chose the celeriac and Granny Smith apple soup – expertly ladled into the bowl at the table by our waitress – followed by corn-fed chicken breast with wilted kale and chunky chips. There’s plenty on the menu for pub grub traditionalists, though, including steak and ale pie and fish and chips, with many of the ingredients sourced from East Lothian suppliers. I’m looking forward to the North Berwick lobster on my next trip. As one would expect from an inn, there’s also a lively bar next to the restaurant where diners can enjoy a drink before or after dinner.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
With just a handful of rooms and a welcoming atmosphere, The Golf Inn feels like a modern boutique hotel, but manages to retain the traditional feel of a country pub. Guests of the hotel have access to a small upstairs lounge, where we enjoyed a post-dinner drink.
The hotel’s rooms are newly refurbished. Ours had a large, if a little hard, double bed and doors opening out on to a garden. The rooms have tea and coffee making facilities and there are soaps and shampoos from the Scottish Fine Soaps Company. Fans of high-pressure showers will be happy to know our room came with one capable of putting out a fire several miles away.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
The Golf Inn is perfectly placed for those planning on tackling Scotland’s self-styled “Golf Coast”. With courses including Muirfield, Gullane, Archerfield and Kilspindie all nearby, anyone looking for a sporting challenge is spoilt for choice. I was rather envious of some of the other diners, who had the contented and slightly weather-beaten look of a day on the links. The only thing letting down our stay was that an early morning departure meant it would have been pointless to take my clubs with me. The hotel is also just a short walk or drive from Gullane beach and around ten minutes by car from North Berwick.
A warm and welcoming inn, with fantastic food befitting a top hotel. Brilliantly situated for golf enthusiasts.
• The price for a double room with breakfast is £150 per night. The Golf Inn, Gullane, East Lothian EH31 2AB (01620 843 259, www.golfinn.co.uk)