IT IS described as one of the world’s most exclusive golf clubs. So when I got the chance to visit The Renaissance Club with my golf-loving partner, we were suitably excited. A private members’ golf club, it offers a “one-time experience” to try the course before potentially signing up for membership.
Since members pay £75,000 for a 30-year bond, and are charged £5,000 a year in annual dues, we knew this would be our only opportunity to check out what the hype was about.
The drive up to The Renaissance is spectacular. Nestled in one of the most beautiful parts of East Lothian, the location is breathtaking. The massive black gates add to the sense of exclusivity, and as you approach the clubhouse and glimpse the practice holes and first tee, you know this place means business.
The three-storey clubhouse is imposing but not intimidating, and once inside you are immersed in the world of golf, with photographs and souvenirs from the world’s top players. We knew this place was big and bold… it was also soothingly quiet.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
At £350 it’s not cheap to stay in one of the 23 rooms, yet The Renaissance Club feels more relaxed than formal five-star. Wooden beams and high ceilings abound and every window has views of the windswept East Lothian coast and beautiful green vistas. There is a small jacuzzi, sauna and steam room in the changing area and a gym nearby.
The rooms are not overly cluttered. Big chairs and an even bigger bed greeted us. As well as size, comfort was key. Our room had a big kitchen area, but no cutlery or plates. I loved the huge bath and even bigger shower with bathroom views of the 6th hole. The rooms are fairly standard, but the pièce de résistance was the view: a picture postcard vista of the 10th hole and the Firth of Forth.
WINING AND DINING:
It was a glorious evening and we dined on a balcony in the members’ bar and restaurant area, overlooking the course and sea. This is not Michelin-style dining, rather a varied and inexpensive menu of impressive snacks labelled “19th hole nibbles”, “Deli-style sand-wedges” and “Clubhouse Classics”. Our Aberdeen Angus beef fillets served with a whisky and peppercorn sauce, at £22, were tasty and filling. The waiters were very friendly, but we had to approach them when we needed anything and we weren’t offered a wine or dessert menu, so plumped for coffees to finish off.
The next day, we rushed back up to the restaurant after being misinformed about breakfast times, but discovered breakfast was served all day. Guests are greeted with a small table of coffee, tea and juices and a selection of delicious-looking scones and pastries. We opted for eggs Benedict, for just under £8, with the eggs done to perfection and the Hollandaise sauce tangy and tasty with not too much lemon.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR:
It is all about the par-71, 7,435-yard championship golf course. Located on 300 acres of golfing coastline and adjacent to the world-famous Muirfield links, it oozes class. Designed by renowned US course architect Tom Doak, it has been described as having the three finest holes in links golf, including the showstopper 430-yard “cape hole” which doglegs along the cliff. My partner was due to hook up with a club professional, but when they were diverted elsewhere, a delightful member of staff stepped in. My partner enjoyed the scenic and challenging course and spent three hours – walking around six miles – on the greens. He later insisted I check out holes nine to 11 because they were too picturesque to miss, so after dinner we jumped into a golf buggy, dodged the pristine bunkers, parked up and watched the sun set over the little white lighthouse, barely trodden-on sandy beach and Fidra Island. Heck, we even saw a deer. Playing the course had been his highlight – this was mine.
In our room we enjoyed The Renaissance Club’s own-blend coffee, nutty with a hint of vanilla. There is a full-size snooker table, golf library and honesty bar in the members’ lodge.
Big and bold. It’s all about the course (and THAT view).
A round of golf costs £250 per player. Double bedrooms: £350. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.trcaa.com
The Renaissance Club, Cowden Hill Drive, Dirleton, North Berwick EH39 5HS (01620 850901, www.trcaa.com)