Review: Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, St Andrews – Scotland on Sunday Travel

What better than to wake up watching the sun rise over one of Scotland’s most instagrammable views, St Andrews’ West Sands Beach and the Old Course, the famous 18-hole championship course that staged this year’s Open?

The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews has so much to offer as well as golf. Pic: J Christie
The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews has so much to offer as well as golf. Pic: J Christie

The five star Old Course Hotel Golf Resort and Spa makes the most of its location by majoring on golf, with 11 courses to play on in and around the town, but there’s so much more to do both at the resort and beyond in the historic town that hugs the Fife coast.

Owned by Kohler Co, who started out in plumbing products and moved into hospitality, the hotel has a luxury spa and fitness centre that’s a destination in itself, six award-winning restaurants and bars serving up the best of Scottish produce and events and wedding spaces.

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For those who prefer the privacy of apartment stays, there’s also the neighbouring Hamilton Grand, with 26 residences and apartments managed by the Old Course Hotel, and access to its rooftop deck eyrie, lounges and ground floor wood-panelled Hams Hame pub and grill.

A room with a view of the 17th hole and the town's West Sands. Pic: James-Nader

At the Old Course the ambience is one of comfort, with subtle nods to the location, from black and white period photographs that reflect the town, gown and golf heritage lining the corridors to paintings of famous golfers and landscapes, while echoes of the surrounding area are repeated in the colours and textures.

While many of the guests are golfers, non-golfers love it here too, including, it’s rumoured, William and Kate, but don’t expect the very discreet staff to confirm or deny their guest list, as they treat everyone like royalty.

Budget or Boutique

The Old Course Hotel is a five-star destination and luxury is par for the course. Recent multi-million pound renovations have kept it up there with the best that Scottish hospitality has to offer.

The hydrotherapy pool in the Old Course Hotel's Kohler Waters Spa. Pic: Contributed

Room Service

There are 175 rooms including 35 suites and a sumptuous penthouse, and our room was spacious with generous wardrobe space, a TV, writing desk, sitting area and floor to ceiling sliding doors opening onto a juliet balcony with that view. The spacious, modern bathroom encouraged lingering, with a bath and shower, double sink and own brand toiletries, as you would expect from Kohler Co - no sputtering showers or dodgy plumbing here.

Wining and Dining

We made a valiant attempt to sample the multiple eating and drinking options available: there was excellent fine dining using local produce including a show stealing a veggie option of glistening pearl barley tucked up tight inside cabbage leaves with piquant pickled turnip and spicy carrot puree in the 3 AA Rosette Awarded Road Hole Restaurant; a cosy pub lunch beside an open fire in its historic Jigger Inn (in the listed former railway station master's lodge) accompanied by a glass of Jigger Ale; dinner in the Swilcan Loft (opened in 2021 with views of the famous bridge) restaurant with a crowd-pleasing retro twisted knickerbocker glory from the eclectic international menu; a dram fine introduction to whisky from the Road Hole bar which has an extensive menu of 293 whiskies.

Braised pearl barley stuffed cabbage with spiced carrot puree, pickled turnip, roasted heritage heritage carrots and shallot, parsley sauce, at the hotel's AA Rosette Awarded Road Hole Restaurant restaurant.

Worth Getting out of Bed for

Golf of course, and being novices we stuck to the range at the hotel’s championship heathland course, The Dukes, overlooking the town before a birl around the mature woodland setting in a golf buggy.

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After all that swinging, it was time to loosen up in the 2,300sq m Kohler Waters Spa with its 13 treatment rooms, 20m pool, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room and plunge pool where a Sea Holistic Face and Body Ritual spa treatment massaged me into an altered state.

Visiting around St Andrews Day, we enjoyed the town’s Big Hoolie outdoor music and ceilidh, which saw the crowd led by bagpipers and torch bearers to the beach where a spectacular firework display culminated in a pyrotechnic St Andrews cross that illuminated the expanse of the sands and shoreline.

The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews has Christmas packages available for those dreaming of five star festivities. Pic: J Christie

Unlike other resorts the Old Course Hotel has a town right on its doorstep so there’s a wealth of other options besides golf and the spa including multiple shops (whisky and wool feature heavily), cafes and restaurants.

We enjoyed a tour with local guide Val Eglinton ([email protected]) who managed to make light work of several hundreds of years of history in an informative and entertaining walk from the Old Course through the town’s cobbled streets beneath the crow-stepped gables to the castle, cathedral, and ancient university, where we were lucky to happen upon a soaring choir practice in the beautiful gothic interior of St Salvator’s church.

After a warmth restoring risotto that packed a flavour punch in the town’s family-run Adamson Restaurant and Bar it was off to the nearby Kingsbarns and Darnley’s Distillery and Gin School and visitor centre to be led through an exploration of the drink’s history and a taste of the strengths and flavours of the award-winning tipple.

Little Extras

It would be easy to develop a serious shortbread habit at the Old Course as there’s a supply in the rooms that’s replenished on request. Fluffy robes and slippers are provided to keep you cocooned from room to spa and back.

Guestbook comments

The firewords over West Sands Beach at the St Andrews Big Hoolie outdoor music and ceilidh to celebrate St Andrews Day. Pic: J Christie

You’ll be blissed out, dreaming about a return visit before you’ve even checked out.

Prices

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Overnight packages are available from £325 per room and include dinner and breakfast.

Festive season packages available: A two-night stay costs £1,340 per room based on two adults sharing an Eden Room and includes Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day lunch and dinner and breakfast both days, and entry to the Spa and Fitness centre. Similar options for Twixmas https://www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/explore-more/all-packages---offers/twixmas-package and Hogmanay https://www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/explore-more/all-packages---offers/hogmanay-package stays.

Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa Old Station Rd, St Andrews KY16 9SP, (01334 474371, https://www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk)

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