Great Places to Stay
- Enterkine House, Ayr
More a Family Home Than a Hotel
Many a Country House hotel boasts of its privacy and exclusivity but Enterkine, Annbank, near Ayr, is such a small and private 'home', that while open to a few select guests, it cannot really be termed a hotel. Enterkine House was built as a family home in the 1930s, and today still privately owned it is graciously preserved just as it was, a delightful white washed villa, surrounded by pretty gardens and beyond an extensive 300 acre estate, lost in its own valley, surrounded by woodland and meadows stretching down to the River Ayr.
All The Comforts
There are just six bedrooms but there is nothing vulgar or commercial as room numbers or even names. In fact we were not given a key on arrival, an unnecessary object when staying in this, a totally secluded country house with an invitation for only a maximum of twelve residential guests.
The bedrooms are all individual in style, size, colour-scheme and furnishings, each beautifully comfortable with either twin or double beds, covered with a fine lace coverlet and piles of cushions, armchairs or a sofa, wardrobe, dressing table and TV. DVD and CD players will soon be an added feature, following feedback from regular guests. Each bedroom has a very spacious marble bathroom with art deco 1930s features. White towelling bathrobes are supplied along with an abundance of towels and a basket of Arran Aromatics toiletries. There is one suite, which has a separate sitting room, and the bathroom has a stylish traditional roll top bath and a separate shower cabinet.
There are all the essential home-from-home comforts including hair dryer, kettle, tea and coffee, chocolate biscuits, mineral water and a bowl of fresh fruit.
An additional `guest` in each room is a huge cuddly toy, a grumpy looking Bulldog called Muffin. He sits on your bed to guard your room and if you do not wish to be disturbed, day or night, put him outside your door for peace and quiet.
Worth Writing Home About
"To die for, we will return"
Mr. and Mrs. D. Smyth, South Carolina, USA
This very quotable comment from the Visitor's book may refer to the homely comforts, quiet location or, I would hasten to guess, to the cuisine. In October 2002, Enterkine House won the prestigious Macallan award for best rural restaurant. A young virtuoso chef, Douglas Smith is in charge of the kitchen and his distinctively unique and appetising menu is based on the best local ingredients with fish and seafood brought straight from the Ayrshire fishing ports.
"Contemporary Scottish cooking, skilful dishes cooked and presented in the best country house style."
Taste of Scotland, 2002
A Four Course Banquet
Dinner at Enterkine House is a special occasion so dress up in style (this is a 1930s house remember with a real sense of glamour) and come down to the drawing room for an aperitif and tiny canapés as you study the 4-course banquet menu. To start I enjoyed a delicate Quails egg salad with mixed leaves, croutons and a sherry dressing. Also recommended is a warm mushroom, Roquefort cheese and asparagus tartlet in a light flaky filo pastry case. There was also Roast spiced salmon with apricot salsa and yoghurt riata. You see what I mean about unique and original creations?
Then an intermediate soup course and a choice of Cream of Broccoli or West Coast Seafood Chowder, both perfect in smooth texture and seasoning and served in a small coffee cup, the perfect portion, following a healthy appetiser.
Then on to the main course. Roast Duck breast with duck confit croquettes, lentils, pancetta and a sherry vinegar sauce, or Loin of Lamb, Potato dauphinoise, creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms. I very much enjoyed a tender Pan Fried Halibut atop a crisp salmon rosti, tomato and basil dressing. Each dish is as described, complete with the chef's selection of vegetable accompaniment. Vegetarians are offered a similar gourmet dish - a Wild Mushroom risotto with a soft poached egg - an ingenious and perfect combination.
A pause before tackling pudding, not all of them heavy and sweet like many restaurants. There is a separate long menu of homemade sorbets and ice-cream such as marshmallow, peach or pistachio. I selected vanilla ice-cream and fresh raspberries, an deal cool and light dessert to aid digestion. Alternatively dig into a Hot chocolate pudding, with warm orange, and chocolate granache, or a selection of French farmhouse cheese served with celery, grapes, plum chutney and quince preserves.
The attention to detail, texture and flavours, combining quality local meat and fish with unusual salads, vegetables, sauces and dressings, is impressive. It is certainly worth travelling a few hundred miles to dine here. Chef Douglas Smith will surely go places and join the ranks of celebrity chefs in years to come.
Intimate and Cosy
The guest dining room is intimate and cosy with just four tables, overlooking the garden. Next door is a large elegant room with a long table, glittering with polished silver and crystal glasses, and seating ten or twelve and this can be reserved for a private party. And off this room is the library, a small oval room, with shelves of books all round up and to the ceiling. On a wet or cold day this would be a perfect place to curl up on an armchair and become lost in a cracking good novel. The library can also be the setting for a smaller private dinner for four or six guests. The large pretty drawing room, filled with the scent of fresh flowers, is a most charming room with sofas on either side of the log fire and at the far side, huge comfy armchairs by a long picture window.
A Day Out
Enterkine House has a perfect setting for leisurely walks around its own farmland estate and along the river, drive over to the coast to Ayr or enjoy a day out at Culzean Castle. For golfers, tailor made itineraries can be arranged with a specialist local company which will ensure tee times at the world-class links at Turnberry, Royal Troon, Western Gailes and Prestwick. Lee Trevino stayed at Enterkine House while playing the 1973 Open at Troon.
In the gardens at Enterkine there's a croquet lawn and putting green. Fishing and game shooting can also be arranged for guests.
If you wish to experience a relaxing break, exquisite hospitality, food and wine, not forgetting huge Scottish breakfast feasts, then take my advice and head for Ayrshire and Enterkine House.
For more information or to make a reservation see the Enterkine House Web site.
Return to the Index of Great Places to Stay in Scotland>.
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar>
Places to Visit>