Travel: Roxburghe Hotel, Borders

Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course'. Picture: Contributed

Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course'. Picture: Contributed

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WITH its cavernous fireplaces and laid-back atmosphere, The Roxburghe feels more like a private country retreat than a hotel.

But that’s not to say it’s stuffy; we received the warmest of welcomes on arrival after a drive of just over an hour from Edinburgh.

Owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, the hotel has borrowed furnishings, books and paintings from the duke’s own home, and the wine list has vintage bottles from his cellar. It all helps add to the sense that you’re one of the duke’s invited guests, as you enjoy a whisky cocktail in the sedate surroundings of the drawing room and gaze out on the manicured lawns beyond.

Whether it’s the duke’s ancestors staring down from oil paintings on the wall or the collection of PG Wodehouse novels set out in the library doubling as a whisky bar, everything gives the hotel a reassuring feeling of belonging to a bygone era.

While a country house has stood on this spot for a number of centuries, the current building dates back to the early 19th century.

The estate was acquired by the Duke of Roxburghe in the 1960s, with the house used as an estate office before being turned into a hotel.

For golfers, there is a challenging championship course just a short stroll away. Set in parkland along the bank of the River Teviot, the course has been voted among the best in 
the country, and lives up to its billing if you can drag yourself from the hotel.

WINING AND DINING

The Roxburghe is run by the ICMI group, which looks after hotels including Greywalls in East Lothian and Andy Murray’s Cromlix House. In common with those establishments, its restaurant is overseen by French chef Albert Roux, part of the culinary dynasty behind Le Gavroche in London. The menu is based around French classics made from locally sourced produce. 
There’s an extensive wine list, with pricier bottles brought from the duke’s cellar at Floors Castle, and the whisky bar cum library is well stocked. From this summer, diners will also be able to enjoy a more relaxed experience with the lanuch of Chez Roux on the Green in the clubhouse overlooking the first tee.

BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?

A stately home owned by a duke and run by a large hotel group could never be described as “boutique”, but the Roxburghe’s friendly and attentive staff give it the feel of a smaller, family-run establishment.

ROOM SERVICE

The hotel has 22 bedrooms, many of which have four-posters and log fireplaces. The decor is definitely more traditional than contemporary, but the chintz is kept to a minimum. The rooms have tea and coffee making facilities and there are Au Lait soaps and shampoos from the Scottish Fine Soaps Company.

WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR

For the golfer, any hotel with a championship course a short walk from reception is something not to be missed. Arriving mid-afternoon, a 3.30pm tee time meant I had this wonderful course almost to myself – helping reduce the stress of wayward shots! The showpiece hole is the par 5 14th, which runs alongside the Teviot and is framed by the Roxburgh Viaduct in the background. At more than 7,000 yards off the championship tees, the course is quite a walk, even if you do manage to keep your ball on the fairway and out of trouble. My only regret was turning down a buggy.

If you subscribe to the maxim that golf is a good walk spoiled, the hotel offers other outdoor pursuits, including shooting and fishing, and there are walking trails. It also provides a base for exploring the Borders, with Kelso and Jedburgh a short drive away.

LITTLE EXTRAS

For those in need of more in the way of relaxation, the hotel has a beauty suite with facials, manicures and massages on offer. The enzyme resurfacing facial comes recommended.

GUESTBOOK COMMENTS

A lovely country retreat where you can indulge any fantasies you’ve had about taking up residence in a stately home.

FACT FILE

• Prices for a double room with breakfast range from £225-£345 per night. Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, Heiton by Kelso, Roxburghshire TD5 8JZ, 01573 450331, roxburghe-hotel.net

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