LYNN O’ROURKE checks into Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa in Falkirk and finds a family-friendly bolthole of tranquility
ANYONE who has children, or has ever been in the company of children on a car journey, will know that the shorter the journey the better. Which is just one of the many reasons why the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel is such a tempting bolthole to escape to. Despite the fact that we only leave Edinburgh mid-afternoon following the usual manic round of kids’ Saturday activities, I am at the Inchyra Spa for a 5pm treatment while my other half takes the children to the hotel pool – result.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Although part of a chain, each Macdonald hotel has its own style. The Inchyra has 98 rooms, yet still retains a personal touch, and while the restaurant and spa feel distinctly boutique-y, you can still get a great deal price-wise.
We stay in an Executive Room, which has a king-size bed plus two singles for the kids. It’s spacious, with sumptuous sofa and chairs, which our 10-year-old and six-year-old daughters ooh and ahh over. There is a large flat-screen TV (all the better for Strictly watching as we get ready for dinner), tea and coffee-making facilities, mini fridge and an en-suite big enough to tempt even the most reluctant child bather.
WINING AND DINING
A flicker of doubt flits across the face of my vegetarian husband when he hears that we will be eating in the Scottish Steakhouse restaurant, but as it turns out, he needn’t worry.
Leather booth seats, wooden floors and subtle but effective use of cow-hide print make the restaurant an inviting space. Not surprisingly, there is a wealth of choice on the steak front, ranging from butcher’s cut to fillet (from £14.50 to £26.95, including chips or a baked potato) as well as a range of classic dishes. I start with prawn cocktail. Forget the 1970s, this is beautifully presented with plump jumbo prawns and slim garlic toasts perched on a delicious saucy base, while hubbie has an equally good asparagus and ricotta tart, with red onion and capers on a perfect puff pastry bed.
The children tuck into generous portions of fish and chips, with side salads that they ignore, but which I eat (superb dressing). My generous main course of prime Scottish steak club beef burger with glazed brioche bun, beetroot-infused coleslaw and the chunkiest chips might have stopped a lesser woman in her tracks, but I am well versed in the art of gluttony. Hubbie’s wild mushroom, tarragon and creamed spinach crêpe with hollandaise gets the thumbs up too. Thankfully we don’t have far to waddle to sleep off the excess.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
The spacious hotel spa offers a wide range of treatments, and there is a gym and pool. Our day starts with elder daughter and I trying out a Segway Safari (scottishsegway.com) by the Falkirk Wheel. After a short introduction to the battery-powered two-wheelers, we’re off up the hill with lovely guide Rhiannon for a scenic tour that is enormous fun. And while we grown-ups marvel at the Falkirk Wheel, the excellent play park is a major draw for the kids.
Lunch at The Milk Barn (www.themilkbarn.co.uk) features paninis, and the most delicious milkshakes and ice-cream made with milk from the Ice Cream Parlour’s own herd of cows. (Children can even take a turn at milking Glenda, the resident fibre-glass milking cow.)
Refuelled, we head to Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway (www.bkrailway.co.uk) and step back in time as we hop aboard a steam train. Harry Potter fans will love the billowing steam and rhythmical sound of wheels on the track as you journey along the shores of the River Forth – a million miles from modern rail journeys.
Bathrobes and toiletries are provided; access to Vital health and fitness club; free wi-fi.
There is something for the whole family here, the food is excellent and, if you live nearby it’s a special treat even for just one night. There is also lots to do in the area – we didn’t get near the Kelpies in Helix Park – so a return trip is on the cards.
• There is a special Kelpies offer until 30 November, from £129 per family for dinner, bed and breakfast, including Kelpies tickets (www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/offers/kelpies); Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa, Grange Road, Falkirk FK2 0YB (0344 879 9044). For further information on things to do in the area go to www.visitfalkirk.com