Review: The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire – Scotland on Sunday Travel

Stay and play golf at a family-run hotel with views of the Isle of Arran on a stretch of coastline dotted with world-renowned courses.
The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire. Pic: Tom GibsonThe Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire. Pic: Tom Gibson
The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire. Pic: Tom Gibson

Wherever you stand on Scotland's “east is east, west is best” debate, it's fair to say that both are blessed when it comes to outstanding golf courses.

Determined to add a few more of them to my slightly one-sided playlist, I'd left behind the familiar links of East Lothian and headed to the “other” coast – and the previously uncharted territory of Ayrshire.

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Our base was the Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, one of three family-run hotels owned and operated by Irvine-based SimpsInns, who have recently launched Stay&Play golf packages.

One of the 23 bedrooms at The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire Pic: ContributedOne of the 23 bedrooms at The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire Pic: Contributed
One of the 23 bedrooms at The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire Pic: Contributed

Standing on the shores of Ardrossan's South Beach, the Waterside has 23 rooms and suites, many of them enjoying uninterrupted views across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran.

Stay&Play guests at the Waterside, The Gailes Hotel in Irvine and Old Loans Inn in Troon can choose to tee up at one of three courses – Dundonald Links, Gailes Links or Western Gailes – all offering year-round golf.

Guests at the three SimpsInns hotels also have access to the spa and the driving range at The Gailes Hotel.

Budget or boutique?

Guests at The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire have a choice of golf courses each with their own distinct character, including Western Gailes to the left, next to the sea, and Dundonald to the right of the railway line. Pic: ContributedGuests at The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire have a choice of golf courses each with their own distinct character, including Western Gailes to the left, next to the sea, and Dundonald to the right of the railway line. Pic: Contributed
Guests at The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire have a choice of golf courses each with their own distinct character, including Western Gailes to the left, next to the sea, and Dundonald to the right of the railway line. Pic: Contributed

Resembling a New England beach house, the hotel offers affordable, laid-back luxury for families, couples and golf groups looking to spoil themselves without breaking the bank.

Its four-star accommodation includes a choice of standard, superior and deluxe options to cater for different budgets, with a penthouse spa suite if you're looking for a boutique experience.

Room service

The Cape Cod charm that characterises the Waterside is particularly evident in the bedrooms, finished with stylish wood panelling, pastel shades and calming coastal prints.

Dundonald Links golf course beside The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire. Pic: Mark AlexanderDundonald Links golf course beside The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire. Pic: Mark Alexander
Dundonald Links golf course beside The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, Ayrshire. Pic: Mark Alexander

Our superior room, with its view of grassy dunes, the sandy beach and Arran beyond, had its own little lounge area and a delightful bathroom, boasting a walk-in rainfall shower and a mesmerising whirlpool bath.

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The most prized rooms are those with the floor-to-ceiling Juliette windows, looking out across the water from the rear of the property.

Wining and dining

The nautical theme of the Waterside Restaurant and Bar – adorned with shipping charts, nets and rigging – is perfect for the beachfront location and lends itself to a contemporary and casual dining experience.

The Waterside Restaurant and Bar attracts residents and drop-in guests with its menu focused on fresh local produce. Pic: Tom GibsonThe Waterside Restaurant and Bar attracts residents and drop-in guests with its menu focused on fresh local produce. Pic: Tom Gibson
The Waterside Restaurant and Bar attracts residents and drop-in guests with its menu focused on fresh local produce. Pic: Tom Gibson

It's a popular choice for locals as well as hotel guests, with the added attraction of al fresco eating and drinking on the covered veranda area and in the sheltered private garden.

Built around fresh local produce, the menu is extensive and hearty, and, like the wine list, reasonably priced. Classics like steaks, burgers and fish and chips (an easy after-golf choice for us), feature alongside more exotic options such as red Thai cauliflower curry, seafood chowder and a watermelon, feta and olive salad bowl.

Worth getting out of bed for

This stretch of coastline is dotted with world-renowned golf courses, not least Royal Troon only 17 miles away, while Arran – with its scenic walks and cycling routes (and yet more golf courses) – can be reached by ferry from nearby Ardrossan.

We chose to play Western Gailes and Dundonald. Separated only by the Ayrshire Coast railway line, which runs between them, each has its own distinct character.

Founded in 1897, its layout defined by the coastline, Western Gailes is perfect for the purist in search of classic seaside golf.

In contrast to its more traditional neighbour, Dundonald has all the trapping of a modern, five-star golf resort and championship venue. One step removed from the seafront, its generous fairways, framed with gorse and pine trees, were equally beautiful and challenging.

Little extras

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A lovely place to unwind after golf, there's the option for a moonlit stroll along the beach, should the notion take you. Just nip through the gate in the hotel garden.

Guestbook comment

The golf was everything we'd hoped for, as was the warmth of the west coast welcome.

The Waterside Hotel, Ardrossan Road, West Kilbride, KA23 9NG, 01294 824414, www.watersideayrshire.com

Prices for SimpsInns' Stay&Play package start from £219 a night, based on two sharing, and include bed and breakfast, three-course dinner and one round of golf. The deal also includes 60 balls at the Gailes driving range, Ayrshire's only Top Tracer facility, and a complimentary drink at GG's Sports Lounge.

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