Great Places to Stay
- Craigsanquhar House Hotel, Cupar, Fife
A Real Country House Hotel
The phrase "Country House hotel" is often loosely used to describe a whole manner of hotels which do not quite match up to the true image of the traditional Baronial mansion set in its own gardens, amidst peaceful rural landscape. Be warned there are some small, modern guest-houses across Scotland masquerading as the real thing.
On the journey to Craigsanquhar House, in the heart of the beautiful Fife countryside, (five miles from St. Andrews), as we zig-zagged along the narrow single track roads for the final few miles north of Cupar, we felt a true sense of adventure and happy anticipation. Turning into the drive, partially hidden by trees here was the most perfect ivy-covered greystone Scottish Baronial house, with its imposing gables, turrets, stone carvings, rows of chimney stacks, lattice windows and around the side, the welcoming open outer lobby and front door. It is like walking into a private family home.
Dating Back to the Early 19th Century
Craigsanquhar House dates back to the early 19th century, surrounded by 36 acres of garden and woodland. Having been purchased by a group of American investors in the late 1990s, the hotel has recently been beautifully refurbished to provide luxurious accommodation perfectly in keeping with the period design.
The spacious square hall, (with a very discreet reception desk) leads into the bright and cheery drawing room and next door, the charming dining room both with wide bay windows overlooking the front garden. Colourful fabrics, furnishings, antiques, prints, paintings and object d`arts throughout offer an authentic sense of elegant style and comfort.
A sweeping staircase leads up to the first floor and the bedrooms and suites, each of which is individually decorated, some with four poster beds and huge bathrooms featuring original Victorian style baths. With only 13 bedrooms the house has a wonderful sense of privacy and homeliness. The spacious comfort of the bedrooms and the top quality fabrics, curtains, bedspreads, linen, bathrobes, armchairs, sofas and cushions all add to the feeling of old-fashioned luxury and romance.
In particular I welcomed the warmth in the room with two radiators turned on at 3pm when we arrived, a thoughtful touch which is to be congratulated.
Another excellent facility for overseas visitors is an electrical converter for non-British electrical appliances you may wish to use. There is bottled water provided, a tea and coffee tray, with room service for breakfast and all day snacks, sandwiches and drinks until 11pm.
The Dining Room
At Craigsanquhar House you will enjoy superb hospitality featuring the most superb cuisine of the highest quality and flair, reminiscent of a five star city restaurant. The Head Chef is Billy Thomson who has 25 years experience, and a host of awards and commendations to his name. Previously joint runner up in the National Culinary Championships, he later became Head Chef at the Inn at Lathones, (also in Fife), for seven years where he developed his individual style. Thomson moved to Craigsanquhar in September 2001 and the restaurant has already been awarded 2 prestigious AA rosettes.
The Table d`hote Dinner menu is extremely impressive with a great many choices per course so do go down to the lounge bar for a leisurely cocktail to allow plenty of time to study the menu. This is not a feast to hurry. Start for instance with a Lamb, Venison and Vegetable Terrine; a Cream of Chicken Soup; Tomato and Basil Mousse with a Poached Quails egg or Open Ravioli of Lemon Sole, Smoked Mussels and Langoustine - the latter two choices are both highly recommended. The creation and presentation of these dishes show great imagination and sheer enjoyment in cooking.
Main courses specialise in the very best of local Scottish fish, meat and game such as Roast Fillet of Beef with Stuffed courgettes on a Compote of Shitake mushrooms, button onions with Gratin Potato and port jus, or Pan Fried Loin of Venison with Red Onion Marmalade, Timbale of Potato and Chive sauce Grand Veneur. I very much enjoyed the Seared Fillet of John Dory, on a bed of ratatouille, grilled potato with green beans and tomato and lemon salsa. Vegetarians are well looked after with such dishes as a very tasty Roast Vegetable Tower of Aubergine, Courgette, and Beef Tomato, with Mozzarella Cheese and Pesto.
No wonder the dining room was fully booked with both houseguests and local residents enjoying a great night out in style.
Puddings to follow are equally intriguing. What about Tarte Tatin of Apples, Cinnamon, Apple Ice-cream and Anglaise Sauce specially made for you so that you have 15 minutes to digest your main course before indulging. Or Mascarpone and Champagne Cheesecake with Lemon Curd Cream or a light Cappuccino Mousse with berry compote. For those with a savoury tooth, there's a selection of five Scottish cheeses served with homemade oatcakes and biscuits.
Then you may move back to the drawing room and sink into a comfortable armchair to enjoy coffee, liqueurs and Petit fours.
Afterwards (thankfully) it is a just a short flight of stairs to the comfort and warmth of your bedroom.
Breakfast - A Serious Banquet
Even if you do not normally enjoy the typical full Scottish cooked breakfast, you are sure to find an appetite to sample a very special and unusual selection of dishes here. A buffet is laid out with juice, cereals, fruit, yoghurts, and pastries. Warm homemade croissants were brought to the table. But to follow, the menu offers such delicacies as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. This arrives most imaginatively presented with a small mound of lightly scrambled eggs wrapped up in a blanket of the soft pink fish. Delicious. Alternatively, every kind of egg, with bacon, mushrooms, smoked haddock, or kippers as well as scrumptious pancakes and cinnamon toast with maple syrup.
Breakfast at Craigsanquhar is a serious banquet which will really set you up for the day, whether you wish to go sit and relax, go off and play golf at St. Andrews, (the hotel will assist you with booking tee times), tour the local fishing villages or visit the many historic houses and castles all around Fife. Or simply enjoy a leisurely walk along the quiet country lanes nearby. Take a stroll a mile or so down the road to the village of Logie and admire the open fields, rolling hills in the distance and abundance of fresh air. Further on follow the sign and turn off the road down the farm track through the Woodland Walk with wonderful scenic views across the Kingdom of Fife and over to the coast.
Craigsanquhar House is the perfect place to relax for couples, families and groups of friends. The central location near Cupar, across the Forth Bridge only an hour or so from Edinburgh Airport and just a few miles from St. Andrews, it's also ideal for corporate events, conferences and leisure activities as well as small weddings and private house parties. The old Coach House behind the hotel is currently being developed as a wedding and conference suite, a charming traditional setting for a special event.
Craigsanquhar is a real gem of a hotel - this is an idyllic Scottish Country House, a delightful hideaway, an intimate retreat for a romantic weekend or a healthy sporting break for all ages. Here you will find friendly welcoming, attentive service, exquisite food and drink, and every possible homely comfort and hospitality. What more do you want?
More Information and Reservations
For more information and reservations, see the Craigsanquhar House Hotel Web site.
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