Converted from a family home into a 22-room hotel, with more rooms to be added this summer, the bay-fronted stone and slate terrace building has retained its original features and added a new level of glamour. This makes for a welcoming bistro restaurant, bars and Macallan boardroom on the ground floor, while upstairs the bedrooms touch all the boutique bases, with all of the monsoon showers, flat-screen TVs, Egyptian cotton sheets and top notch toiletries today’s hip hotel aficionados could wish for.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Boutique, with a tartan touch. Think reclaimed dark-stained floorboards, restored fireplaces, rooms painted in heritage tones, framed pictures and paintings, soft lighting and comfortable sofas and chairs. The muted luxury continues in the bedrooms where drifts of snowy duvets and pillows muffle leather sleigh beds and bathrooms gleam with chrome and power showers.
We stayed in the Young Tom Morris suite named after the golfer who won the Open four times before his death at the age of 24, and whose sepia image dominates the room. Dark floorboards, old-style radiators, armchairs and grey/green heritage walls make for a comfortable young fogey feel, there’s a minibar, sitting area and sleek ensuite, but the star is the view, out over the Royal and Ancient and along the West Sands.
WINING AND DINING:
The Bistro du Vin restaurant has the same fantastic views if you’re lucky enough to sit near the bay windows, and pleasant arty foodie photographs for those who aren’t. There’s a comfortable ambience throughout and the staff are keen to please and advise, particularly when it comes to the extensive wine list, which runs from Merlot Hotel du Vin at £18.95 a bottle to £225 for a Hermitage La Chapelle Paul Jaboulet-Aîné : La Chapelle 2001. With what they bill as a French soul and Scottish heart, the fare is signature French dishes using fresh local produce, with daily specials, partnered by an imaginative wine list explained by the knowledgeable sommelier. There is a plats du jour menu (two courses for £14.95, three courses £16.95) as well as an à la carte bistro menu, and Sunday brunch is a feature, with the traditional roasts joined by a French market table of seafood and crustacea (£22.95 pp for four courses, children under 12 £9.95). Parties of up to 120 will be able to dine in the new ballroom when it opens this summer.
For dinner we had starters of succulent pan roasted scallops with pea purée and pancetta jam, and a perfectly balanced Roquefort, pear and walnut salad, all beautifully presented and full of flavour, followed by a gloriously Gallic bouillabaisse stuffed with red mullet, monkfish, sea bass and prawn in a hearty tomato sauce with rouille, Gruyère and garlic croutons for me. And for him too, after teething troubles with the Josper grill meant an underdone half-roast chicken with chunky apple sauce was returned to the kitchen (we visited the week it opened). Profuse apologies and lemon tart and raspberry soufflé with dark chocolate sauce and crème Chantilly got the meal back on track, along with the Fleurie, La Reine De L’Arenite La Madone Beaujolais.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR:
So comfortable is the hotel, and in particular the Young Tom Morris suite, that strolling, dandering and walking were just about all we managed, and we don’t even have the excuse that we had a golf club in hand. There was a slow-motion reconstruction of Chariots Of Fire along the West Sands, a wander round North, South and Market Streets and loitering around the 12th century Cathedral, where we encountered Young Tom Morris again, this time in the form of his memorial in the graveyard.
A plate of Tunnock’s macaroons in the room and Miller Harris toiletries specially concocted for Hotel du Vin in the gleaming bathroom were a nice touch. There is free wi-fi access throughout the hotel.
The Hotel du Vin is the perfect blend of town, gown and glam. Prices start from £175 for doubles, from £200 for bed and breakfast, suites from £280 including breakfast. Janet Christie
Hotel du Vin & Bistro, 40 The Scores, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AS (www.hotelduvin.com)