Gleneagles: The iconic Scottish golf hotel that’s a perfect hideaway for non-golfers in the Highlands
From falconry to fly fishing, there’s something for everyone at Gleneagles, says Country Life editor Mark Hedges, who checked in for his honeymoon.
Gleneagles was built as a Scottish resort by the Caledonian Railway to persuade Edwardian gentlemen to use their line to the Highland Riviera north of Edinburgh. Construction began in 1913 with the first guests arriving in 1924. Today a train station remains nearby making a train journey from London (seat on the right hand side to make the most of the Northumbrian coast) one of the nicest ways to get there. With over 200 rooms, it is large, but thanks to investment from new owners, it has regained its place as the sparkling grand dame of Scottish country hotels.
Justly famous for its golf, there are three separate courses, but as golf has never been our passion, it seemed an odd choice for Rachel and I to go there on our honeymoon, but so many friends n kept recommending it that we were sure.
We stayed in the spacious suite that once hosted George Bush at a G7 conference with views of the hills of Glendevon and Ochil and wandered through the various restaurants, each with a different style of menu.
The fine dining at Strathearn was superb. A new ‘old alliance’ wedding between Scotland and France saw delights such as Orkney scallops on mushy peas and bacon jam or a delicious nut soufflé to ignite the taste buds for be followed by something as traditional as beef Wellington, but here tackled with Roscoff onion, chanterelle, Bordeaux and truffle.
There is a real revival of Scottish cuisine in this restaurant, although our evening meal at Birnam Brasserie was less successful. Normal service was gone and too many dishes were not available.
Breakfast each day was an assortment of delights and offered an excellent range of gluten-free delicacies (go all the way and sit in the orangery for the best view) and fill up because staying at Gleneagles is an outdoor issue.
Rachel took Ron for a walk in the park. Ron, a harris hawk, flew from tree to tree, but returned to Rachel’s hand with a high-pitched hiss except when he thought he heard a mouse in the undergrowth. Earlier we watched Hawkstone the Pilgrim duck and pass us a few feet at over 100 mph. The care and love for these birds of prey embodied the whole philosophy of the hotel.
Ms Hedges is a shy newbie to fly fishing, but under the expert tutelage of country sporting director Uri Janssen, she caught a fine trout in the park next to one of three championship golf courses. Uri and I made our way the next day for a morning on Balloch Loch, home to beaver, to attempt some trout, later I went fishing with the ghillie leader, Garry Rattray for salmon at Kinkell Bridge on the River Earn. I have not matched my wife’s success.
While I was relaxing, catching nothing (only a true fisherman will understand), Rachel headed to the excellent spa and found her own paradise. There is something for everyone at Gleneagles.
Rooms at Gleneagles – from £575 based on two sharing and including breakfast