Short stay: SCHLOSS Roxburghe, Kelso, Scotland, UK
The SCHLOSS Roxburghe has a long and interesting life and could tell many a tale of romance, war and uprisings since the 12th Century, which include Bonny Prince Charlie and a white rose bush said to still bloom today. The beauty of the surroundings coupled with the heritage that surrounds the area make this a delightful place to recharge one’s batteries. Owned by the 12.18 group, a small group of hotels providing “grand hotels in miniature”, Roxburghe is now also part of Destination by Hyatt.
There have recently been extensive refurbishments and alterations providing a further 58 bedrooms and 12 luxury Scottish cottages, a new restaurant and spa facilities. The hotel is easily found, being approximately 1 hour’s drive from Newcastle or Edinburgh, both with excellent airports.
There is a great welcome on arrival – rather like greeting old friends – with plenty of staff on hand to unload the car and take cases to our rooms which were ready and waiting.
The new bedrooms are in the annexe which has been very tastefully linked to the original property – so well done, in fact, that it is not noticeable. They are beautifully appointed and cater for every need and more.
I stayed in an Estate suite (room 231) with soft, muted tones and a contemporary, very comfortable four-poster bed, complete with reading material on the bedside table. My suite included a separate panelled living room with a herring-bone wood-effect floor, a bathroom and additional guest toilet facilities. It also enjoyed a full balcony overlooking the golf course and the living room has its own Juliet balcony with the same view.
The room is well-equipped with a Lavazza coffee machine and both regular and decaffeinated coffee pods, a kettle with a large variety of different teas, complimentary biscuits and a well-stocked fridge and selection of glasses. Free WiFi is available, as well as a smart TV in both the bedroom and the livng area. A safe and hairdryer could be found in the wardrobe.
The bathroom is well-equipped with a large bath with a handheld shower attachment, a separate rainfall shower, double vanity unit, an enclosed cubicle for the WC with a frosted glass door, and the luxury of underfloor heating.
There was a full range of Molton Brown toiletries, including hair conditioner which is occasionally overlooked in hotel bathrooms. Fluffy towels and bathrobes are ready and waiting for your comfort. Essentials are also supplied for those all-important items that visitors might forget or need such as dental, vanity and shaving kits, as well as shower cap, lip balm and exfoliating mitt.
Wining and dining are fully catered for whether it be the Sunlaws restaurant in the Mansion, Fairways at the Golf Clubhouse or Charlies in the annexe. Fairways serves light snacks either before or after your round from breakfast to lunch to the important reviving drink at the end of a challenging round. The Sunlaws restaurant serves fine foods and wine in a more traditional setting and ambience but still using local produce from local suppliers. Charlie’s in the annexe is the latest addition to the culinary experience at SCHLOSS Roxburghe, where the atmosphere, decor and ambience is modern with knowledgeable and kind staff.
Charlies is billed as “the home of Scottish Bistronomy” and is situated in a contemporary-styled dining room that looks through huge windows to the beautiful gardens and grounds. The term ‘Scottish Bistronomy’ refers to meals made with ingredients that come directly from the Estate to the plate, and showcases the finest local produce and ingredients found in the area. It caters for international and local palates with a respect for nature and the surrounding countryside. The area has a profusion of first class meat, fish and game and this is used to delicious effect. Local classics are mixed with international cuisine.
On our first night we were fortunate to dine on the ‘Langoustine Veloute Prawn Mono’ and the ‘Burnside Wood Pigeon Dodine’, followed by our main courses which included ‘”Cotelette” Confit Belly with Potato and Masala Harissa Lamb Jus’ and ‘Pork “Gentlemen Cut” with Textures of Parsley Root, Portobello and Yellow Wine Condiment and Amaranth Shoots’ – all of which was delicious and beautifully presented.
One of the hotel’s greatest assets and focus of attention is the Championship golf course that is part of the estate. There is no doubt that it is a Championship course as it gives any golfer a challenge and yet it is not too overwhelming for a club golfer. The course was designed by Dave Thomas using the natural undulating lie of the land. The par five 14th hole along the River Teviot with the view of the viaduct in the distance, clearly seen from the elevated tee, is the signature hole. There are, however, many other delightful situations requiring skill and course management with deep bunkers, shallow bunkers by pools and also lengthy par fours. In some places there are long walks from the green to the next tee bed but the beauty of the trees, the flowers and the wildlife make them a delight. The course is kept in immaculate condition – all credit to the green staff.
The staff at the clubhouse are knowledgeable and willing to help. They have a very good and tempting stock of equipment and the 19th has delightful snacks and drinks available for anyone needing refreshment after their round. It is a long course so, whilst many will enjoy this length, some may feel the need for a buggy and there are many available to assist you. You also need to allow time for the other delights that the hotel has to offer!
For example, the estate is the home of all kinds of field sports within the Scottish borders. Both beginners and experts can enjoy a day out fly fishing with a fully qualified fly caster. Clay target shooting offers a challenge of coordination between hand and eye with one-to-one training from a qualified instructor, whilst the popular recreational sport of archery is also available with instruction in a stunning riverside location within the grounds of the hotel.
Rides on horseback or bicycle are available, and jogging and hiking can be done directly from the hotel. There is even a map available for the hotel’s own woodland walk which runs along a fern-filled path, with thoughtfully placed water taps to revive parched throats. And for those who enjoy a more leisurely sport, there is a croquet lawn at the front of the hotel with mallets available at reception.
One of the highlights of the spa is the huge relaxation room with comfortable beds and chairs where one can enjoy the ambience with friends or just chill. The room overlooks the heated outdoor infinity pool which is heated to 30 degrees Centigrade and can therefore be used all year round. At the side of the pool is a hot tub, a plunge pool, an aroma sauna and a Finnish dry sauna giving visitors a full spa experince.
The spa teatments are extensive, ranging from full massages to relaxing facials. Kim, my beauty therapist whom I can thoroughly recommend, gave me a very calming rose facial starting with the inhalaion of frankincense and a head massage before she used the wonderful rose scented products which left me feeling completely relaxed and glowing.
There is also a full fitness suite on offer as well as a personal trainer on hand should you need.
Roxburgh is situated in the elegant countryside of the Scottish Borders, just over an hour’s drive from both Edinburgh and Newcastle. There is a beauty to the rolling landscape of this region that is unique. Here you will find the quaint, pretty market town of Kelso wherein lies the ruined Kelso Abbey, a racecourse and also the late 18th Century Floors Castle – the seat of the Duke of Roxburghe. This has Victorian walled gardens and hosts various concerts and events. The famed fine salmon fishing rivers of the Tweed and Cheviot also have their confluence at Kelso.
A little further away are the towns of Hawick, Melrose and Jedburgh to explore. The Eildon Hills which overlook Melrose are said to be where King Arthur was buried, whilst Jedbergh has links to Mary Queen of Scots.
SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel has a passion not only for the local Scottish landscape and scenery but also for the local community and its suppliers along with a respect for the culture of the area. This is evident in everything about the hotel from the welcome to the departure, ensuring that you are made to feel very special.
Other nice touches
During our stay, we were fortunate to be able to sample a Burns Night supper – a very special occasion for the Scots when they celebrate the birth of their favourite poet when both whisky and the haggis are revered and piped into the restaurant by a piper in full Highland dress. The haggis is treated to its own address both in Gaelic and English.
The meal that night was traditional with “neeps” (turnips) and “tatties” (potatoes) but there were plenty of modern touches with the flavours and presentation – a feast for both the eyes and the stomach. The full meal consisted of canapes, cock-a-leekie soup, cullen skink, roast loin of venison with haggis, neeps, tatties and whisky jus. This was followed by cranachan and petit fours – a delightful balance of flavours and a true delight of Scottish cooking and ingredients at their best.
The hotel is “a special place for special moments” where a team of staff will look after everything anyone wants or needs. This can be for a private function, business event or, of course, a wedding.
Courtyard rooms start from £162 per night.
Estate suites start from £399 per night.
The best bit
Whilst there were many and varied highlights to our stay, from the golf to the swimming in the pool and the facial, without doubt that I will not forget the Burns Night supper – the food, the traditions and the whole ambience of the evening will be something I remember for a long time. Judging by the number of very happy people sitting in the dining room that night, I will not be the only one.
The final verdict
SCHLOSS Roxburghe really is a special place to recharge your batteries – to relax and be pampered, to take part in pleasurable sports, to try different food and flavours, and to marvel at and enjoy the beautiful untouched nature of the rolling landscape and interesting historical places nearby. Their mission is to “make you feel good” and everything at SCHLOSS Roxburghe is designed to do just that, but above all the staff fully understand the needs of guests and go out of their way to make everyone happy. It is no wonder that it has become a resort retreat.
Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by SCHLOSS Roxburghe, Kelso, Scotland, UK.