Nestled in the gently rolling hills of the Borders, Cringletie’s secluded pink-hued turrets certainly deliver the wow factor. This county house hotel, a former baronial castle set in a 28-acre estate, is impossible to spot from the road, treating guests to a first glimpse only after they cross a private bridge.
Just outside Peebles, and only around 20 miles from Edinburgh, the venue is a popular choice for weddings – including Harry Potter-themed nuptials, based on the hotel’s resemblance to Hogwarts, the receptionist tells me.
My companion and I are visiting for a well-earned rural mini break, hoping for tranquillity and a little taste of luxury.
No two of Cringletie’s 13 rooms and suites are the same. Our spacious but cosy junior suite may genuinely outsize my Edinburgh flat. It boasts a superking-sized bed, feature fireplace and a pair of easy chairs – the perfect excuse to enjoy the garden view and tuck into the complimentary fruit bowl. Complimentary tea, biscuits and Nespresso coffee provide an afternoon snack, while a generous nip of whisky makes for the ideal nightcap later in the evening. The roomy en-suite includes a bathtub with overhead shower and complimentary slippers, snuggly robes and quality toiletries. The estate also has a self-catering cottage, complete with private terrace and Jacuzzi, that sleeps four.
Budget or boutique?
This four-star hotel is all about country comfort.
Wining and dining
This is the jewel in the crown of a stay fit for royalty. Head chef Iain Gourlay oversees the seasonal menu in the hotel’s Sutherland restaurant which offers local fare served in a grand dining room with a vaulted, frescoed ceiling. It recently scooped the Dining Experience of the Year gong at Hotel Awards Scotland, and it’s not hard to see why. Diners are treated to a four-course menu incorporating fresh produce from the Cringletie estate, surrounding countryside and east coast harbours. Autumnal highlights include lightly smoked loin of Borders venison and a pumpkin and comté tarte tatin. I plump for the latter as my main, tucking into the bed of honey roasted root vegetables as eagerly as the squash delight it carries.
Food is more than nourishment at The Sutherland – it’s a spectacle. The waitress reassures me that she’s brought the correct dish when, after ordering Jerusalem artichoke soup, I look down to a waterless bowl of filled vegetable skin. Only once on the table is the accompanying liquid showered on top, a creamy, heartening dish releasing rolling layers of flavour.
The ensuing dessert menu – frozen bramble parfait, apple tart, cheese plate – is impossible to whittle down, so I opt for a Selkirk bannock soufflé on a staff recommendation (an excellent steer), which is served with a divine toffee sauce.
Worth getting out of bed for
Why get out of bed? Cringletie offers an in-room spa service, ranging from massages and facials to reflexology and beauty treatments. A choice of bars and lounges means you can find a peaceful spot to snuggle down with a good book if the weather is poor.
But it would be a shame to not take advantage of the region’s history and culture, so we pull on our walking boots and head to nearby Peebles for a river walk along to Neidpath Castle followed by a peruse of independent shops and afternoon tea.
Walking and cycling
routes are recommended
by reception, while the hotel is within easy driving distance of several gems of the Border towns, such as Moffat and Kelso, and ideally placed for trips to the abbeys at Melrose, Jedburgh and Dryburgh.
Croquet and a putting green are available for fairweather stays. A particularly nice touch is Huggie, the Cringletie House mascot, who welcomes guests on arrival and can be “adopted” to take home. There are pooch-friendly rooms for
dog owners looking to bring four-legged friends.
A stunning setting to recharge your batteries with attentive staff and a destination restaurant.
Plus the biggest bed I’ve ever slept in.
Pricing starts from £145 bed and breakfast in the low season, based on two people sharing. Breakfast and dinner are included in the hotel’s 3 for 2 offer available until the end of February, excluding Christmas and New Year. Cringletie House Hotel, Edinburgh Road, Peebles EH45 8PL (01721 725750, www.cringletie.com)