Great Places to Stay
- St. Andrews Golf Hotel
The Kingdom of Fife is the perfect setting for a short break or leisurely holiday on Scotland's sunny east coast. Whatever you want to explore - miles of sandy beaches, the charming East Neuk fishing villages and the picturesque seaside town of St Andrews, it's all in the Kingdom of Fife. St Andrews is internationally renowned as the spiritual home to golfers everywhere and seat of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, The famous Old Course has played host to the world's best players at several Open championships.
The town also has a world renowned ancient university (where Prince William studied and graduated in 2006), and ruins of a grand cathedral and castle high on a cliff top. With its impressive West Sands beach, an aquarium, great shopping, art gallery, Byre Theatre, cinema, and excellent Seafood Restaurant on the harbour wall, St. Andrews is a wonderful place to visit - even if you don't play golf.
St. Andrews Golf Hotel
For a small town, St. Andrews has an exceptional range of accommodation to cater for all visitors, from celebrity Hollywood golfers to young families, from luxury 5 star Golf and Spa resorts to private guest houses. Take my advice - one of the best places to stay is a smart and stylish hidden gem of a hotel located on a quiet terrace near the promenade just a stone's throw from the sea. The St. Andrews Golf Hotel has recently had a major facelift, converting a traditional Victorian townhouse into a city style designer boutique hotel. It is utterly gorgeous.
Parking is easy with free hotel car park opposite the hotel entrance on the Scores. Enter the hotel up the newly polished stone steps and into a bright and welcoming reception lobby. Just to the right of reception, the former old fashioned bar has been transformed into a glamorous cocktail lounge with comfy sofas and through the French windows, walk out into a pretty patio garden. To the front of the hotel on the ground floor, there is the intimate Number Forty restaurant with top notch food to match the surroundings - and views to die for. A sense of tradition is still evident, maintaining classic architectural features, portraits of famous golfers as well as attractive prints of landscapes and still life paintings by Scottish artists.
With just 22 bedrooms, as the hotel website points out, it's a perfect size - large enough to provide superior hospitality for the discerning guest, yet small enough to offer caring, personal service. The attention to detail is superb, offering facilities to suit everyone of all ages. As well as the Number 40 restaurant and bar, there's a cosy residents' lounge and a funky basement bar Ma Bells, (popular with local students) serving good pub grub in a laid back, casual atmosphere. The hotel location is just ideal, a short walk to the town centre and shops, a stroll over to the beach and the Aquarium and of course easily accessible to all the golf course.
The twenty two bedrooms and suites are spread up and down the tall townhouse (there is a lift!) with a choice of junior suites, premier bay view, garden view and unique four bedroom suites with private sitting room for family and friends parties.
One of the grandest suites in the house must be number 7, or the Bobby Jones Suite. On the first floor, it has a magnificent bay window with panoramic views of the beach and across St. Andrews Bay. A huge sumptuously soft sofa at the window is the place to sit, drinking in that scene and there's a table and two smart chairs for in room dining. The new interior design creates a fresh classy, contemporary look featuring bold terracotta, orange and crimson striped curtains, co-ordinating with a terracotta throw and flowery cushions on the master king size bed framed by a smart red and black headboard.
For homely comfort you can enjoy a flat screen TV, with half a dozen channels, (including Sky news, CNN, and music), a tea and coffee hospitality tray, a couple of green apples and biscuits, no mini-bar but you can order from room service. For some strange reason a bottle of complimentary water is only supplied in the summer months. It's the bathroom which is the highlight of this suite with its central roll top bath which faces the window. As you can see from the illustration here, the experience of bathing in this deep bath is simply luxurious! And there's also a walk in shower cubicle. All rooms offer the VIP treatment of bathrobes and Molton brown toiletries (in large dispensers rather than wee bottles or soap). There is a large clock but unfortunately you cannot see it in the dim light of morning. A clock radio would be welcome!
Number Forty Bar & Restaurant
Start the evening in glamorous style in the Number Forty Bar, an all day venue from morning coffee and lunch to evening drinks. This cool, chic bar is famous throughout St. Andrews for the best and unique cocktails in town. They stock certain specialist vodkas and Saffron Gin which other bars simply have never heard of! For gin lovers, Saffron Gin is a modern concoction made in a pot still by Gabriel Boudier. It contains 8 botanicals, including fennel, coriander and orange zest, and of course, an infusion of saffron, giving it a distinctive saffron colour with delicate spicy notes. So students, non residents and hotels guests can certainly enjoy a few drinks here served by James and his team - informed, friendly service.
Sit comfortably on camel suede sofas and chairs, complemented by suede lampshades. A glittering, sparkling chandelier lights up the room, with giant portraits of famous golfers around the walls. On the soundtrack this particular night, soft Latin salsa rhythms. On this warm summer evening, we sat sipping a flute of the house champagne, Gruer - ice cold, crisp and dry - the best bubbly I have tasted for years.
The Number Forty restaurant, with its dark wood panelled walls and brown leather banquette seating, is a destination St. Andrews restaurant in its own right. You may certainly dine here as a non resident, which will give you a taste of the hotel. The dining tables are dressed in white linen, with sparkling glasses, vase with flower stem. Head Chef Craig Hart, formerly at a very smart five star hotel, and his kitchen brigade have created an exciting, fresh and modern Scottish menu, complemented by a few perennial favourites for the traditional palate. Produce is sourced locally, with lobster and langoustines from Pittenweem on the Fife coast and it changes regularly for seasonal variety. Start perhaps with a beautifully presented platter of tender Roast Scallops with baby asparagus, a hearty shellfish bisque or carpaccio of venison with wild rocket salad.
Main courses offer a tempting list of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes. Perhaps Pan Fried Halibut, or a bowl of Langoustine and mussel risotto - delicious juicy shellfish - loin of Spring Lamb or a choice of rib eye or sirloin steaks from the grill. The ambience is quietly sophisticated rather than formal, with a soundtrack of soft jazz on this Friday evening in June. Time for pudding- with a wide selection. Recommended is the Trio of Coffee desserts, imaginatively created - chocolate tarte, coffee, mocha pannacotta and tiramisu ice cream. Alternatively, local strawberries, lemon curd parfait with blueberry muffin, or platter of Scottish and Irish cheeses.
Scott McLean is the very knowledgeable food and beverage manager who has selected a good wine list, with several house wines under £20. Red wine is invariably decanted, which looks so smart on the table. The entire meal far exceeded our expectations and was deliciously memorable, served with style, is attentive and utterly professional. There's a lovely mood to the place - and of course those views out to sea!
Lunch and afternoon snacks (Caesar salads, smoked salmon, Club sandwich), are served in the Number Forty Terrace bar 12 - 6pm. Downstairs Ma Bells offers good price pub meals - sandwiches, pasta, burgers, chicken and steaks both great alternative places to eat at the St. Andrews Golf Hotel.
For more information or to make a reservation see the St. Andrews Golf Hotel Web site. The postal address is 40 The Scores, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AS.
Location, location location - the St. Andrews Golf Hotel has it all. A quiet, secluded street, right on the seafront promenade with glorious views from the dining room, lounge and your bedroom window - yet just block away from the town centre. This is such a welcoming, friendly hotel offering chic sleek bedrooms, glamorous cocktail bar, a lively pub and superb destination restaurant. From the moment you arrive to time to say goodbye, staff are enthusiastic and friendly. Yes, this is the right size of hotel, balancing traditional and homely hospitality with a modern, smart and stylish look.
Vivien Devlin, British Guild of Travel Writers
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