Gleneagles – it’s not just golf! A delightful secluded retreat.
If you’re needing to chill out: to totally unwind: to clear the head from the frenetic daily round – and want a perfect holiday destination- then look no further than Bonnie Scotland, with its whimsical fairytale castles and wildly evocative history: full of passionate tales of the heroic Wallace, the beautiful sad, Mary, Queen of Scots and the ill-starred adventures of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Scotland can cater for every taste……….anything from an intimate week end a deux, in a secret retreat snuggled in the depths of glorious countryside or wild mountain glen. If you’re after the razzmatazz of city life, burn both ends of the candle in Edinburgh and Glasgow; the cities boast some of the best clubs and bars in Europe, and don’t forget the theatres, museums, terrific restaurants, leading tourist attractions and top class entertainment.
On my last visit to Scotland I went to Perthshire- the heartland of Scotland – and fell in love with the verdant green valley’s framed by windswept hills. It’s only an hour or so’s drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow and an ideal place to linger. I stayed at the internationally acclaimed Gleneagles Hotel, famed for its champion golf courses and elegant spa.
Surrounded by 850 acres of magnificent Perthshire countryside Gleneagles is the perfect place to have a truly luxurious escape, with its indulgent Spa by ESPA, to pamper you with lotions, potions and marvellous soothing therapies – Gleneagles is an hotel where you can spoil yourself unashamedly.
For all its international prestige, I found Gleneagles to be a very relaxing hotel and not at all ‘stuffy’. The rooms are furnished in a classical Scottish country house style but with a chic modern overtone. Dining is amazing – the hand carved Scottish smoked salmon I chose for my starter at dinner was so good that I had it again at breakfast! (You can dine in a variety of venues including the Michelin starred Andrew Fairlie restaurant or have a light snack in the bar.). The wine list is extensive and eclectic. The whiskey list is wonderful………….
Away from the golf courses, quiet places abound hidden amidst beautiful native woodland. In autumn, when I visited, the leaves, still clinging tenaciously to the trees, were a glory of russets, gold’s and ochre’s. The heavy scent of autumn in the air was pure nectar! Come summer the grounds are lush green and irresistible for a perfect picnic a deux, under the shade of an ancient tree.
But it’s not all relaxation at the hotel. Golf is obviously of major importance here and guests can arrange lessons or play a few rounds on the famed course. Driving around in the golf buggies is such fun: but imagine walking on the hallowed turf where the likes of Tiger Woods have graced the green!
Naturally there’s more recreational activities to Gleneagles than just golf. I tried my hand at clay pigeon shooting and even had a go at range shooting. Archery was a new sport for me and it would take me years I think to manage to hit the target on a regular basis! Other options included going on a breathtaking off road experience in a 4×4 storming around the Perthshire countryside. I did this with the Highland Safari company and so enjoyed throwing the Landover around. I was very disappointed as I didn’t have time to go horse riding in the lovely countryside. Lessons too can be arranged for horse lovers.
My stay was short, but memorable. The staff were very welcoming and offered every assistance when asked a question. I loved the food, the activities and I loved the whisky even more– try one of their hot whisky toddy’s – great to warm the cockles of your heart after a brisk walk. – sheer heaven! As a destination, Gleneagles is ideal if you want a real taste of luxury, Scottish hospitality, and to enjoy being surrounded by beautiful countryside. – but check the golf schedule if you want to hide from the paparazzi and the adoring crowds!