“My big no’s are cold plates, stained teapots with lukewarm tea, poor quality bread for toast and marked cutlery. It's a no before I see the menu. A good quality breakfast starts at the door”.
Beth Cruickshank should know, as her business, Linlithgow’s Arden Country House, has won AA Breakfast of the Year for Scotland at the 26th annual AA B&B Awards 2022, which were announced in London on July 5. To bag a top prize in this category, this five-star bed and breakfast doesn’t just stick out mini packets of cornflakes and slop beans onto deep fried breakfasts. It’s a bit more considered than that. This place offers a list of seven to eight seasonal dishes, which are altered daily.
“Personally, I change the menu to keep my sanity, there are only so many ways to cook a sausage,” says Cruickshank.
These options might include cinnamon French toast, pancakes with maple syrup, vegetarian haggis with beetroot, feta sun-dried tomato pastry squares or cheese on a toasted soda farl topped with crispy bacon, tomatoes and homemade chilli jam. We imagine that the yolks of their poached eggs are never hard. Unless you fancy them like that.
“Some like crispy bacon, others prefer firm scrambled eggs, it's not a problem to cook to the guests’ requirements. I always remember a chef saying he would not cook my steak the way I wanted it – he wasn't eating it, I was, so I could not see the issue,” says Cruickshank. “We offer buffet-style seasonal fruits, home-grown rhubarb compote, cinnamon poached pears, yoghurt, toppings, fruit salad mixed Scottish berries, homemade muesli and granola. In season the rhubarb is often picked at 6.30am and in the dining room by 8am. It's lovely to see guests try a little bit then go back for more”.
Other prizes at the event include AA Friendliest B&B of the Year, who were qualified because they “distinguished themselves for their excellent hospitality”. The overall winner was The Hideaway in Windermere, but three Scottish hotels made it to the shortlist of nine. They were Kingsway Guest House in Edinburgh’s Newington, Moor of Rannoch Restaurant & Rooms in Perth & Kinross, and Hearth at The Old Mill Inn Brodie in Forres, Moray.
The AA Guest Accommodation of the Year for Scotland award went to Perth & Kinross four-star country estate inn, Meikleour Arms, who have just added converted stables to their overnight offering.
“Everyone at the Meikleour Arms is over the moon and we are so proud of our team who always go the extra mile to make every stay a special one”, says Claire Mercer Nairne, owner of Meikleour Estate. “As we are launching some exciting new accommodation, we would like to say a huge thank you to the AA for their invaluable support and advice throughout our journey.”
The AA inspector described this venue as having; “Home-made touches and warm, genuine hospitality with notable style, elegance and quality”.
For more information on the AA B&B Awards, see www.ratedtrips.com