But The Old Millhouse in Dalkeith is no ordinary retreat. It might just be the perfect place for an escape within easy reach of Edinburgh city centre eight miles away. Rescued from a state of dereliction nearly a decade ago, the B-listed former miller’s house has been transformed into an award-winning self-catering country house and spa since its restoration. With a secluded setting by the River Esk, within three and a half acres of ancient woodland, The Old Millhouse is an enchanting combination of old and new to suit all tastes.
Budget or boutique?
Available to rent for a minimum of two nights out of season for exclusive use, the self-catering property can accommodate up to 10 in its five en-suite bedrooms and is ideal for a special occasion or family gathering.
It was no surprise to discover owner Sally Da Ward is an interior designer given the care and attention given to the carefully curated rooms, each tastefully themed from rich textiles and soft furnishings to the intriguing array of paintings and antiques.
The main ground-floor living space, The Orangery, was a cosy, candlelit haven to unwind in after our arrival and to enjoy dinner. The following morning, the room was bathed in light through its large windows and roof lights as we enjoyed breakfast, watching the shifting sunlight through the trees and listening to the sounds of the river.
No visit should be complete without venturing into the aviation-themed snug for a pre or post-dinner drink from the bar.
All rooms are individually styled with beautiful views to the gardens. The River Esk master suite was the height of comfortable luxury with an elegant bathroom including an impressive roll top bath, walk-in rain shower and complimentary toiletries from Scottish skincare company Siabann.
General Manager Johanne Falconer looks after your every need with quiet efficiency. We asked for Earl Grey tea after our evening meal which she didn’t have but magically it was there with breakfast.
Wining and dining
The Old Millhouse offers bespoke packages for occasions ranging from birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, to food and drink tastings, private dining events, corporate functions and away days.
Private chefs can cater for your entire stay or a special meal and we were lucky enough to be treated to Charley Dickins’ culinary skills.
After chilled champagne and canapes by the fire, we enjoyed smoked salmon pickled veg and purple eggs for a starter, a main course of ballotine of pheasant, wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke puree and tender stem broccoli, and a dessert of passion fruit posset, sloe gin spiced blackberries, and cranberry and orange shortbread. Each course was matched with fine wines selected by Edinburgh wine merchant Laurence Smith & Son. A Scottish cheese selection served by the fire was the perfect end to our evening.
Worth getting out of bed for
While we settled for a riverside walk in the bright sunshine after Storm Arwen, fishing, falconry, archery and even Highland Games can be arranged within the expansive grounds.
It also doorsteps the unmissable Dalkeith Country Park, one of the best outdoor locations in the Lothians. A site of special scientific interest with some trees more than 900 years old, its history can be traced back to Roman times, while it has been in the Buccleuch family for more than 300.
The main draw for us was Restoration Yard, the 18th-century stable block transformed into a retail therapy and foodie mecca, as well as a wellbeing centre.
A big selling point is the outdoor Hydro Pool swim spa for lazy days lounging on its terrace or an al fresco meal when warmer weather returns.
We loved the specially curated selection of books in every room, from aircraft technology to art and design.
It is easy to see why visitors find it hard to drag themselves away from this splendid riverside sanctuary. An outstanding luxury getaway.
The Old Millhouse is available to rent, minimum of three nights, from £695-£1200 per night.
The Old Millhouse, 40 Newmills Road, Dalkeith EH22 2AQ