WIMBLEDON champion Andy Murray has served up an ace with Cromlix House, the five-star hotel he bought last year and which opened this week just outside his hometown of Dunblane.
Set amid a 36-acre woodland estate, the Victorian country house has been given a complete overhaul to turn it into a luxury destination. With Albert Roux on its expert panel, it is bound to become a destination for foodies, whether it’s for a show-stopping dinner in the elegant glass-walled dining room or lunch in the gold leaf and sky blue-walled bar, or simply afternoon tea after a game on the hotel’s tennis courts.
The ten bedrooms and five suites are all named after Scottish greats, from Hoy and Ferguson to Conan Doyle and Mackintosh, and are decorated in elegant neutrals and furnished with antiques and artwork, while new kitchens have been installed, the bar given a blue and gilt chinoiserie-style makeover and the conservatory rebuilt to house the Chez Roux restaurant where executive head chef Darin Campbell is preparing food well worth the trip up the tree-lined drive.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
It’s five-star luxury all the way but in a relaxed, welcoming way that will see residents and day-tripping foodies enjoying a slice of country house life.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
There’s tennis on the double hard courts, finished in the green and purple Wimbledon colours, with a professional circuit surface, a croquet lawn, walks in the grounds and further afield in the Trossachs. Stirling with the Castle and Wallace Monument are a short drive away, as is Doune Castle, for Monty Python And The Holy Grail fans.
Or simply book one of the bathroom suites where the shower is so vast it doubles up into a steam room and the baths are built for two, crack open the Arran Aromatics toiletries – specially blended for Cromlix – and relax.
If it’s a love match you’re after, there’s the private chapel where you can tie the knot, like Murray’s brother Jamie did in 2010. Perhaps it won’t be too long before there’s another wedding held in the hotel.
I stayed in the Mackenzie Suite, all elegant neutrals and original furnishings. With a bedroom, dressing room and bathroom with free-standing bath and shower, space was plentiful and you couldn’t wish for a more comfortable bed from which to watch the 32-inch TV, cunningly disguised as a mirror.
WINING AND DINING
Campbell, formerly head chef at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles and executive head chef at One Devonshire Gardens, is at the helm of the Chez Roux restaurant in the glass-walled conservatory, where the chef’s specialities such as twice baked cheese soufflé are complemented by a daily changing menu. French fine dining is given a Scottish touch from breakfasts where guests can opt for traditional oat porridge or an alternative porridge brûlée with whisky cream and demerara sugar.
As well as the restaurant, guests can dine in the small study, first floor snooker room and garden room, or if they can’t bear to leave their room, the room service menu goes way beyond the usual room service fare. From tantalisingly novel departures such as caramelised sweet onion tart with Ragstone Cheese for dessert to old favourites like Pudding de Date et Cassonade Chaud, Sauce Beurre et Caramel, Glace a la Crème – that’s sticky toffee pudding to you, me and Judy Murray, who recommended it – the execution of the dishes is only matched by the presentation.
If you can’t cope without tea and coffee-making facilities in your room, simply ask for the free hospitality tray and get brewing. And if you forget your wellies for that walk in the woods, Cromlix has an ample supply.
The only downside to staying in a place where peace and quiet, great food, and excellent service from the knowledgeable and helpful staff is on tap, is having to leave.
Rooms from £250 (until October, and from £200 November to March) see www.cromlix.com/accommodation/tariff/. Special Opening Offer, £199 per night, inclusive of overnight accommodation in a small double room, full Scottish breakfast and VAT.
Cromlix Hotel, Kinbuck, near Dunblane, Perthshire FK15 9JT (01786 822 125, www.cromlix.com)