The Stair Arms, Pathhead: Midlothian, review

Cat Thomson stays at an historic coaching inn in Midlothian - Scotland on Sunday travel

The Stair Arms, Pathhead, Midlothian Picture: JPimedia
The Stair Arms, Pathhead, Midlothian Picture: JPimedia

The Stair Arms is a hotel set in the Midlothian countryside where you are guaranteed to receive a warm welcome. A refurbishment has turned a B-listed historic coaching inn built in 1830 into a modern but traditional small hotel. There are 12 rooms, all offering a comfortable night for their guests, with most being en-suite. The hotel’s prime location only 12 miles from the centre of Edinburgh make it close enough for a jaunt into the city, with the park and ride conveniently close at Sheriffhall. 

READ MORE: Do not Disturb: Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, Edinburgh

For the past 25 years, the Ramsay family have overseen the running of this place and currently three generations can be found working here. A family affair, they all pull together to make guests feel really at home.

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With an impressive function room holding up to 150 guests, there are large double doors that lead out under a pretty rose arbour into the manicured gardens. This space is ideal for small weddings or conferences and the event coordinator will ensure your special day goes without a hitch. They also hold a civil licence, so a registrar can come and perform your service right here.

The Stair Arms, Pathhead, Midlothian Picture: JPimedia

The building itself retains many interesting period features and the well-maintained beer garden and play area feature a horse and cart climbing frame. A genuine legacy from stagecoach days is the fireplace in the dining room. We all agreed that we would like to revisit in winter to feel its glow after a bracing walk.

Room service

We stayed in the family room which felt very restful, with calming muted colours and fabric textures. The stylish and roomy en-suite provided practical bathing features for our two teenagers. The bright airy adjoining rooms with TV, table and chairs and free wifi are ideally suited to work, rest or play.

Budget or boutique?

Not cheap but absolutely cheerful, the refurbishment means this place punches well above its weight. A family room sleeping four with breakfast included for £105 peak season makes this a bargain.

Wining and dining

The hotel can seat up to 60, with an inspired menu of modern Scottish and European fare. We sampled a selection of starters, haggis fritters with local Glenkinchie whisky sauce, breaded brie and light battered mushrooms, which were all delicious. A locally-sourced sirloin steak heartily impressed. A massive plate of haddock with triple-fried chips hit the hunger mark and Belhaven smokehouse smoked salmon fishcakes and vegetarian Thai green curry did not disappoint. Luca’s ice cream and a serving of Nutella cheesecake with cream and toffee sauce made for the perfect end to the meal.

Worth getting out of bed for

Just down the road you will find Vogrie Country Park with 11 miles of signed pathways through mixed woodlands and stunning parkland, a café in the Victorian baronial house, and outsized sculptures and an adventure playground to keep youngsters amused.

At Glenkinchie, less than six miles away, you can tour the picturesque distillery. Visitors can find out about the history before being guided through the production methods, ending the tour with a dram of Glenkinchie Single Malt Whisky.

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Visitors can also follow in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots, by calling at medieval ruin Craigmillar Castle. It was used as a filming location for Outlander and Outlaw King. Alternatively take a look at impressive Crichton Castle, owned by the Earls of Bothwell, with its impressive Italianate facade.

Little extras

Toiletries from Cole & Lewis of London add a certain panache.

Guest book comments

Friendly staff go the extra mile to make your stay memorable, whether you are here for one night on business, lunching, dining or perhaps staying for a wedding celebration. Call it the Stair way to holiday heaven.

Cat Thomson

Prices start from £45 for a single room, to £105 for a family room which sleeps four, and all rates include breakfast. The Stair Arms, Pathhead, Midlothian, EH37 5TX, (01875 320 277,