Travel: Cambo House, review - a perfect wedding venue with snowdrops, sauna, magic and an excellent cafe

The Victorian building is available for large groups
Cambo House exterior Pic: Amelia JacobsenCambo House exterior Pic: Amelia Jacobsen
Cambo House exterior Pic: Amelia Jacobsen

Cambo House is different from other venues of its kind.

Although the B-listed East Neuk building is well-preserved, it doesn’t feel like a theatre set.

There are no rope room dividers in this classical stately home. It’s very much alive.

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West Wing bedrooom with four-poster bed Pic:Amelia JacobsenWest Wing bedrooom with four-poster bed Pic:Amelia Jacobsen
West Wing bedrooom with four-poster bed Pic:Amelia Jacobsen

Indeed, when we visit, we’re met by the lovely house manager, Sharon, who welcomes us via their gallery, where you’ll currently find a selling exhibition of paintings by Myanmar artists.

Our small party won’t need the whole house, as it can accommodate 37 across five suites and five guest wings, not including the three cottages in the grounds. That makes it the ideal destination for weddings, retreats, or multi-generational get-togethers. However, we’re getting a taster by staying in two of the self-contained spaces - the West Wing and the Lower Servants.

The estate is owned by Sir Peter Erskine, and has been in his family since the 17th century. His son, James, who stayed in Myanmar for seven years and lives in one of Cambo House’s ground floor spaces with his young family and black lab, gives us a quick and unstuffy tour, and makes it fun for the kids in our party.

They’re especially interested in the ‘mod-cons’ in this Victorian property. These include a star-gazing seat, and a lift, which the servants would use to take guest’s luggage upstairs, as well as speaking tubes that connect rooms to the kitchen.

Cambo House's drawing room Pic: Amelia JacobsenCambo House's drawing room Pic: Amelia Jacobsen
Cambo House's drawing room Pic: Amelia Jacobsen

James dashes down there so my niece can ‘phone’ and she asks for Champagne. None appears, sadly for us grown-ups.

We also discover more about the original building, which burnt down in 1878 at a staff party, while the family were away, and was rebuilt in 1879.

The larger rooms, such as the Dining Room, The Library and Drawing Room, with its vast chandelier and various oil portraits, are used for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as are the fairy-lit strewn Coach Yard and former kitchen. I’m sure even the most hard-hearted could get a bit soppily romantic in these areas.

On our stay, we’re at the tail end of the Snowdrop Festival 2024 and they’d just launched their Live from Cambo Kitchen music sessions down here, so we got a taste of Sir Peter Erskine’s grizzly voice, courtesy of his blues band, Sir Peter & The Snowdrops.

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Wedding party in the Coach Yard at Cambo House Pic: Anna Urban PhotographyWedding party in the Coach Yard at Cambo House Pic: Anna Urban Photography
Wedding party in the Coach Yard at Cambo House Pic: Anna Urban Photography

There was a great atmosphere but we didn’t linger, as we wanted to enjoy our quarters. The claret-carpeted West Wing has two twin rooms and a pair of doubles, one of which features an oak four-poster that’s made from a repurposed Dutch altar dating from 1520. However, my other half and I bagged the bedroom with en-suite bathroom featuring a free-standing roll-top bath. We have our own self-catering facilities, as does the neutrally-decorated Lower Servants, which used to be Cambo House’s accommodation for male servants, and offers a twin room and one double.

The next day is reserved for exploring. First, a visit to the oversized Tamworth piglets and the Greek Skyros ponies, who you’ll find just a minute’s walk from the house. Once we’ve said hi to the furries, our group divides. The kids and their mum do a bit of snowdrop planting - to add to the 300 or more varieties of this plant in their surrounding woodlands - before joining a session with WildStrong, co-owned by another Erskine family member, Gill.

They offer a weekly timetable of these classes, which involve exploring movement in a non-regimented way. The children enjoy pretending that the floor is lava, and scuttling around like crabs. If you don’t think of this as exercise, it becomes nothing but having fun.

While they let off steam, I take my husband to the Wild Scottish Sauna, where we bake peacefully. Then we stroll back along Cambo Sands to Kingsbarns Distillery, owned by the Wemyss family and housed in a former farm steading, to find out more about their Lowland single malts on one of their daily hour-long tours, which run from 10am. In this location, you’re also right beside Kingsbarns Golf Course, where they co-host the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship every year, should you fancy a round.

However, the final hole of any trip to Cambo Estate should be a visit to their bustling cafe. It’s run by Gill Veal, of Dundee’s Parlour and Folk cafes, and is in the old stables, which are beside their shop and beautiful 2.5 acre walled garden. There’s a primarily vegetarian and vegan menu, and we had pakora wraps, leek tart, and the finest cheese scones around. There were also about a dozen cakes on the go, including our favourite hummingbird version, with coconut and pineapple.

And I think it was more than just the sugar that left us buzzing all the way home. Cambo has that effect.

Hire of Cambo House (Kingsbarns, St Andrews, Fife) as a venue starts from £5,500 (not including accommodation); Hire of whole house including accommodation starts from £11,000, call 01333 450054, or see

Kingsbarns Distillery tour, £14, see

For more information on WildStrong, see

Use of the Wild Scottish Sauna starts from £16, see



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