HAVE kids will travel is a phrase you hear often – and as a new mum I thought I’d put this to the test, writes Natalie Walker
With the car packed to bursting point, my partner, my three-month old daughter and I headed to the Borders for an eventful yet relaxing stay at Cringletie House.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
A stunning property set in 28 acres of lush green and woodland ground, it is neither budget nor boutique. Rather it is a well-priced place to get away from it all. From the minute you enter you are transported into a tranquil world of tartan and dark wood. Staff go out of their way to make you feel like you are visiting old friends at their grand country home, with guests welcome to eat or drink in the stunning dining room, cute bar, two comfy if slightly soulless lounge areas, or a bright conservatory. We felt at home and relaxed throughout and our daughter was welcomed and fussed over by staff and guests alike.
WINING AND DINING
The dining room’s sprawling old fireplace and prettily painted high ceilings create a refined atmosphere. We enjoyed two dinners – the haddock with fennel sauce was sublime and the beef fillet was juicy, rare and top notch, while our burgers were gigantic, well seasoned and made of the best beef fillet and served with tasty chips and fresh salad (at £8.95 they were a steal). Breakfasts were good and there was plenty on offer, including porridge with whisky soaked prunes. While the staff at breakfast were cheery and attentive, the waiters in the evening were equally delightful but were a tad slow at serving guests and difficult to flag down as they were working between three areas on the same floor. But the food is worth the wait.
My partner enjoyed a whisky tasting (£35 for an hour including several samples) from the hotel’s well-informed bar manager, while I enjoyed a large glass of wine from an extensive, if slightly overpriced, list. We also had a savoury afternoon tea (£18.50) which was adequate. It was served in the lounge bar downstairs and despite there being other people there, the experience lacked ambience. Thank goodness for the stunning views – and our little one, who attracted everyone’s attention and chat.
The chef is about to start holding barbecues in the walled garden every Friday (£12) for which we will certainly return. Beer and cheese nights are held on Wednesdays.
Ours was one of the bigger of the 12 bedrooms. It had period furniture and a large comfy bed with a cot provided free of charge. Nice touches were the small decanter of house malt whisky, quality bath and hair products and fluffy robes. On the downside, the carpet had several stains which detracted from the classy feel of the high-ceilinged and airy room. The bathroom was spotlessly clean with a deep bath and powerful shower.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Spa facilities are available in guests’ rooms and we had a delightful therapist from a nearby salon. The mini facial (£27) was relaxing and a deep tissue back massage (£30) was just what my partner needed.
We loved walking about in the grounds (with the buggy) and thoroughly enjoyed playing boules and croquet in the sun and sitting on well positioned benches in the tranquil and well-kept walled garden. There is a tiny putting area and a children’s play area. You can also see the rows of herbs that are used by the hotel’s chef. Staff can sort out excursions to local activities such as clay pigeon shooting, fishing and cycling. With Peebles so close (just a few minutes’ drive) we headed there twice to enjoy the shops, cafés and bars and a river walk.
GUEST BOOK COMMENTS
A great countryside getaway where you feel you are staying at a friend’s palatial home. n
• Three nights’ bed and breakfast for the price of two, from £99 a night for two people. Three course dinners available: average £29.95. Cringletie House Hotel, Edinburgh Road, Peebles EH45 8PL (01721 725750, www.cringletie.com)