Scotland on Sunday, Do Not Disturb
St Andrews in January makes you think of weather: the bone-chilling blast whipping off the North Sea or that opening scene in Chariots Of Fire where barefoot runners dip their toes in the freezing waters of West Sands. A short drive up the hill, and with views of the North Sea and the town spread out below, the Fairmont offers a luxury retreat from the Scottish winter.
This vast hotel has more than 200 rooms, two golf courses and all the amenities you would expect of a five-star resort. But it also offers something quintessentially Fife – a seafood restaurant in its golf clubhouse.
There’s also a spa for when all that luxuriating has left you with a few knots and creases which need to be worked out.
Budget or boutique?
Neither. The Fairmont is a luxury hotel but on a grand scale. Sitting on a 520-acre site, it has a number of restaurants and bars and is clearly designed for the international visitor. That’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed by those closer to home, however. The hotel’s clifftop location makes it a great base for golfers or for those wanting to explore St Andrews and Fife.
Wining and dining
The Fairmont is home to La Cucina, a restaurant serving classic Italian dishes, and Kittocks Den, a well-stocked whisky bar which serves food to complement its extensive wine list.
We ate at the St Andrews Bar and Grill, a clifftop seafood restaurant with views of St Andrews. The restaurant is attached to the golf clubhouse and guests are shuttled from the hotel reception. After a delicious lobster bisque, I enjoyed a seafood grill of crab, lobster, langoustines and king prawns. My partner ate oysters followed by grilled salmon.
Our spacious room had a fantastic view of the golf course and the sea beyond. There was also a huge desk of presidential proportions – ideal for business travellers – and free wifi.
The bathroom had recently been refurbished and featured a luxurious Kaldewei bath, oversized rainfall shower and Le Labo toiletries.
There are also two four-bedroom houses with kitchens for those who prefer that option.
Worth getting out of bed for
Lying just a short drive from the Home of Golf, the Fairmont is a handy base for those lucky enough to have a tee time at the Old Course just under two miles away, or Kingsbarns a little further up the coast.
But the hotel has its own courses, the Torrance and the Kittocks, both of which offer stunning views out to sea and back towards the town. The Torrance takes its name from its designer, former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance.
Both courses are popular with hotel guests and local golfers alike and offer a stern test. And for those who subscribe to the view that golf is a good walk spoiled, the hotel has a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and relaxation room, and a spa offering a range of treatments including locally-themed massages, and facial and relaxation therapies using exclusive Aromatherapy Associates products in ten treatment rooms.
We spent an afternoon in St Andrews, a five-minute drive away, which included a trip to Mitchell’s Deli and a happy hour scanning the shelves of the wonderful Topping & Company bookshop on Greyfriars Garden.
We made good use of the Nespresso machine provided in our room and there was also an impressive mini bar.
Don’t let this hotel’s vastness or its golfy image put you off visiting – it’s perfect for a weekend getaway even if you don’t take your clubs with you.
Prices at the Fairmont, St Andrews, start from £209 per room per night based on two people sharing a Fairmont guestroom and include breakfast. Fairmont St Andrews, Fife KY16 8PN (+ 44 1334 837000, www.fairmont.com/st-andrews-scotland)