Rusacks St Andrews - The iconic hotel has an impressive upgrade - Scotland on Sunday Travel

The iconic hotel with views of the Old Course looks ahead to this year's Open with an impressive upgrade, writes Emma Newlands

Rusacks hotel St Andrews, overlooking the Old Course, has recently undergone a refurbishment.
Rusacks hotel St Andrews, overlooking the Old Course, has recently undergone a refurbishment.

The first things you notice when entering this high-end hotel are the well-to-do luxury, all dark wood panelling and furnishings in rich colours, and three large paintings above the fireplace. One of these of Mr Rusacks, the property’s namesake, another is of St Andrews golfing legend Old Tom Morris, with a rendering of the property inbetween.Therefore, from the tee-off, the twin appeal of the hotel’s offering is immediately apparent - there is an abundance “fore” golfing aficionados, with world-class views over the first and 18th holes of the Old Course and the famous Swilcan Bridge, but also top-notch luxury for guests like me and my mum.

Rusacks St Andrews has undergone a major upgrade by its American owner AJ Capital Partners, including the addition of a massive extension, now housing 120 guestrooms altogether plus food and drink venues 18, The Bridge, and One Under Bar - with Scottish chef Derek Johnstone, inaugural winner of MasterChef: The Professionals, leading the kitchens as executive chef.

Budget or boutique

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Most definitely boutique - touches include a traditional St Andrews Coat of Arms badge on the reception desk, while chandeliers in guest rooms apparently showcase the godwit bird known for grazing along the St Andrews coast.

Room service

We’re staying in a suite, with the sizeable living area (whose sofa can be turned into a bed) offering a panoramic view that makes us gasp. In the foreground it overlooks the Old Course and The R&A - the hotel surely offers some of the “best seats in the house” when The Open takes place on its doorstep later this year. Further into the distance is the vast, calming presence of the West Sands - the setting for the famous running scene in the film Chariots of Fire.The bathroom features the mixture of dark green and rich brown decor that recurs throughout the hotel, with a giant shower, a bath, gold fixtures and fittings, and fancy toiletries from Royal Warrant holder Floris.The main bedroom has a brown and white dominated colour scheme including elegantly patterned wallpaper - each guestroom in the hotel is decorated the same way - with bedside lamps sporting dark green velvet lampshades, for example. However, the suite doesn’t end there - there is even a nook round one corner, with a green sofa, chair, and table, where you could curl up with a book with the waves lapping against the shore in the distance.

Wining and dining

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The reception, with portraits of Mr Rusack, Old Tom Morris and a painting of the hotel.

We head up to the top floor of the extension for drinks in the bar, which has a rooftop terrace, followed by a truly sensational dinner at 18. Both spaces feel like a prestigious, historic US country club where a former President might dine, all dark wood and more dark green furnishings (reminiscent of the hallowed turf on the course outside), but infused with local character.The restaurant has a focus on open-flame cooking, so we try the steak, opting for one that serves two, which is blushing and ultra-tender, the ageing of the meat highly evident in texture and colour, and which we deem one of the best steaks we’ve ever had.Breakfast the following morning is in The Bridge, which is accurately billed as a “casual yet polished” all-day dining option, with a blue and white colour palette, matching the seaside nearby and with a strong Cape Cod vibe, plus portraits of famous golfers.We sadly don’t have time to visit the hotel’s One Under Bar, which serves the likes of a “world-class” dram, and pub food.

Worth getting out of bed for

We take an invigorating walk along the West Sands Beach, before heading into the centre of St Andrews and stopping at some of the many cafes between dips into shops.

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Little Extras

The bedrooms are decorated in a rich palette of browns and greens.

There is free on street parking.

Guestbook comments

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Whether you’re a fan of the sea, sirloin, or Seve Ballesteros, Rusacks is well and truly up to par.Rooms start at £219 per night including a full Scottish breakfast and VAT.

Rusacks St Andrews, Pilmour Links, St Andrews, KY16 9JQ, tel: 01334 474321, https://marineandlawn.com/rusacksstandrews/.

The Bridge, one of the hotel's restaurants, offers all-day dining.

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The restaurant, 18, is all dark wood and dark green furnishings, infused with local character, with a focus on open-flame cooking.