The Scottish borders is a breath-takingly beautiful region, sometimes rather overlooked by travellers, tourists and adventure seekers in favour of the more obvious brooding, dramatic vistas of the Highlands. The borders are more reminiscent of the gorgeous hills and valleys of northern Derbyshire’s Lake District, with countless charming, tumbledown stone walls marking the borders of rolling fields making a patchwork quilt which stretches away into the horizon as far as the eye can see.
The Scottish borders aren’t just picture postcard perfect, with the salmon rich river Tweed snaking its way through the region, they’re also brimming with history and extraordinary ruins, like the highly impressive and rather ghostly Kelso Abbey. The Abbey is, incidentally, just four miles from Schloss Roxburghe. This is also an area which is very easy to access from both Glasgow and Edinburgh via train, making it a total cinch for city visitors looking to slide out to the Scottish countryside for a weekend but who don’t necessarily fancy an eight hour round car journey to go up to the North of this remarkable country. Instead, hop on the Waverley to Galashiels train which takes less than an hour and then take a short taxi to the hotel.
Schloss Roxburghe, a five-star hotel and part of the magnificent Hyatt Destination collection, is set in the beating heart of the Duke of Roxburghe’s estate. The original edifice greets you as you arrive via the driveway, a stunning castle-esque building which makes its guests feel as if they’re being invited onto the set of a period drama with a peppering of Hogwarts thrown in for good measure. The grounds of this stunning hotel deserve their very own special mention; they’re utterly immaculate and groomed to perfection.
The flawless lawns, topiary and zen-inducing water feature truly set the scene for a deep dive into Scottish luxury at its very finest. Dozens of new trees have been planted in recent days and the gardens are all so green and smart that they’re more like Wimbledon centre court than the grounds of an ancient estate. Behind the original building lies a modern extension to the hotel; a completely different, slick and modern aesthetic but yet still magically in aesthetic symbiosis with the main house. This new addition to the building allowed a significant increase to the total number of hotel rooms, which now stands at 78 with 12 private cottages. Rooms in the original, traditional part of the building are as you would expect and perfectly combine opulent, old-world décor with some key, contemporary features, fixtures and fittings.
The rooms in the new section are decorated in a more modern fashion though, as with the rooms in the old part, they boast seemingly endless King sized double beds, high thread-count bed linen and bathrooms which are dripping in Molton Brown products. My own suite boasted a fabulous view out over the golf course, and to the rolling hills beyond. The course itself is the full 18 holes and is a resounding hit with guests and day-visitors to Schloss Roxburghe.
The ‘Schloss Spa’ is a bit of a powerhouse in its own right, it features a sizeable outdoor infinity pool which is vey well heated, allowing it to be used all year round, state of the art treatment rooms, a well equipped gym and an extensive menu of shamelessly self-indulgent pampering options from Swedish massages to Reflexology, from detoxifying body scrubs to immune boosting facials.
Gastronomy is taken exceedingly seriously at Schloss Roxburghe. The hotel has two dining offerings, at ‘Charlie’s’ the estate to plate philosophy is at its finest. This chic restaurant is hell bent on using the very best of ‘Scotland’s larder’ and makes a point of always sourcing the best, local fare that can be found. The restaurant is in the modern half of the hotel, and so the overall design is in keeping with this; white marble, glass and enthusiastic service abound. The style of food is French, but with a Scottish twist, and with a huge range of wines to please any palate – from the enthusiastic novice to the eagle eyed connoisseur. Both the Roe Deer and the Monkfish are exceptional and the restaurant bar mixes a mean Whisky Sour, should you be in search of an appetite revving pre dinner ‘aperitivo’.
The State Room Lounge is rather more classic, with a roaring fire at one end and a well-stocked oak pannelled bar at the other. The lighting is low, perfect for some informal, candle-lit, late night dining. The griddled Tiger Prawns, the rib eye steak and the Sticky Toffee Pudding steal the show in this charmingly informal part of the hotel.
Schloss Roxburghe is meticulous in its commitment to offering the very best of everything it possibly can; whether that is food, golf, spa treatments or just helpful and engaged service. One of the best things about this slam dunk of a hotel is that it so clearly appeals to all ages and everyone is made to feel totally at home and at ease. Couples slip-slop past in snow white, fluffy dressing gowns and slippers on their way to the spa, golf weary visitors sip whisky by the fire and big, family gatherings toast champagne in Charlie’s – there’s something for everyone and no request is too much.
Schloss Roxburghe, Heiton, Kelso TD5 8JZ