IF YOU are looking for somewhere unique to spend some time away or you’re just a bit of a trainspotter at heart, the Old Station four-star B&B, just outside beautiful St Andrews, provides a railway-themed weekend with vintage appeal.
It’s a stay away with a difference, as you can choose to spend the night in a converted old train carriage, first class no less.
Located five minutes’ drive from St Andrews, it’s easy to spot the guesthouse from the road: just head over the railway bridge and turn left at the old signal lights and you’re there. The Old Station is exactly what it says on the tin – originally known as the Stravithie train station, it was used in the past to link the local areas around St Andrews. Now it features six individually themed rooms, and within the two-acre garden sits the pièce de résistance, a train carriage transformed into two apartments in modern colonial style.
The carriage has a particular retro charm, from the narrow corridors and doorways between the rooms and the curved train roof above your head, to the ‘no smoking’ and ‘first class’ signs still stuck to the windows. The old glass sliding windows even steam up and collect condensation just as I remember from a rainy train journey.
WINING AND DINING? With St Andrews and all its culinary delights on the doorstep there are plenty of places to choose from for dining out. We particularly enjoyed The Dolls House Restaurant in the town centre for an al fresco lunch. With two courses for just £6.95, you can’t go wrong. The Kingarroch Inn at Craigrothie was our favourite spot for a great dinner, due to its delicious cuisine and excellent ambience.
ROOM SERVICE? The carriage is a romantic getaway decorated in colonial style. It’s a space to take time out together and chill so the mod cons are kept simple. There is a TV and DVD player, and games and books are available to borrow from the main house. It’s a tiny space but they have still found room to tuck away a hairdryer, iron and ironing board. Despite the small dimensions, the layout works well and the apartment features a living room, bedroom, small bathroom and kitchen. Pack lightly as there’s not a lot of space to manoeuvre and if you’re a tall and broad chap like my husband, you’ll need to learn to squeeze through the narrow doorways!
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? Take yourself down to the beach at St Andrews for a bright and breezy walk, hit one of the many golf courses, or, if it’s raining, wander along to the Secret Bunker for a surreal day underground exploring a nuclear command bunker created during the Cold War. Being the upmarket university town it is, St Andrews has plentiful fabulous shops to browse and cool coffee places to sit in if golf isn’t your game.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? This is an affordable romantic retreat with a twist. We loved hopping down the railway carriage steps in the morning, leaving our little oasis behind to walk over to a tasty breakfast in the main house. There is railway memorabilia galore and lots of books featuring vintage images of the Old Station to entertain you over breakfast. Hosts Fiona and Colin are always happy to fill you in on local knowledge.
LITTLE EXTRAS? To help you relax there are also waffle robes, slippers, complimentary toiletries, biscuits and frequently replenished bowls filled to the brim with toffees.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? It’s like stepping back in time to the heyday of railways.
Rooms start from £50 per person per night for a double including full Scottish or continental breakfast. The Old Station, Stravithie Bridge, St Andrews
(01334 880 505, www.theoldstation.co.uk)