I know what you are all thinking, for someone who thought a birdie was something that sat up in a tree, this guy is surely doing the rounds when it comes to golfing hotels. Even if I don’t know my Albatross to my Eagle (there seems to be a lot of bird-inspired terms in golfing) I’ve come to learn that these exquisite hotels have a great deal to offer out with the realms of golf. One of these hotels is none other than the renowned Old Course Hotel located in the historic university town of St Andrews. Bordering the acclaimed 17th hole of the oldest golf course in the world and overlooking West Sands beach, this AA five-star resort boasts one of the most prime positions in the area. Its architecture may not be as prolific as its nearby historic counterparts but its impressive size and mellow hue echo the adjacent sands, making it stand out nevertheless.
There was an immediate air of elegance from the moment I wandered through its grand entrance, providing a teaser of what to expect throughout my stay. Although there was a hype of activity due to a busy check-in, the foyer’s beautiful decor emitted a relaxed and comfortable feel. Landscape and golf-inspired artwork, occasional seating and cosy lighting all added to its tasteful and refined ambience. The adjacent library provided a small luxurious haven to relax in front of a flickering fire. The Jacquard curtains embellished in an opulent wine tone, filled bookshelves and a myriad of antique trinkets made it feel as if you are sitting in the lounge of a stately home. This endearing quality continued throughout the hotel as I was guided towards my room with the hallways filled with fresh flowers, antique furniture and heavy piled carpet in rich comforting hues.
The Old Course Hotel houses an astonishing 174 rooms including 35 suites, some of which are recent additions following a series of renovation works in 2021. There are several room categories to choose from, including; Eden Rooms, Eden Suites, Old Course Rooms, Old Course Suites, Deluxe Suites, Fairway Suites and Deluxe Fairway Suites. In addition to this, the hotel recently revealed an impressive Penthouse which boasts a private internal lift, fire pit and balcony overlooking the Old Course. I was lucky enough to be staying in room 180, a Deluxe Fairway Suite situated on the first floor of the Millennium Wing. Walking into the suite, I was completely taken aback by just how beautiful it was. It was situated on an elevated corner plot; therefore the first thing I noticed was those stunning uninterrupted views. Floor to ceiling windows looked out upon the nearby famous golf course, down to the Eden Estuary and as far as the eyes could see.
Once I managed to peel my eyes off the stunning views, I began to notice all the details that made this suite so special. The expansive space included a lounge/dining area, a mini pantry, guest WC, bedroom and a large Kohler bathroom. The decor itself emanated a more contemporary flair yet still contained classic elements in keeping with the hotel’s traditional design. The neutral palette of whites, greys and black was punctuated by a deep forest green from the velvet curtains, furniture and accessories. A large dining table was adorned with fresh orchids and crowned with a stunning contemporary gold chandelier. The lounge with a large sofa, brown leather chairs and coffee table was accented with its very own fireplace which was the perfect place to unwind in the evening. There is nothing better than sitting back in front of warming undulating flames with a glass of champagne. A small mirrored pantry with coffee/tea making facilities, fridge and a selection of tableware was a fantastic addition and I especially loved the hotel’s very own branded white china.
The bedroom was yet another very spacious room, carrying on the same neutral shades but this time contrasted with deep purple trimmings and the addition of dark wooden panelling. A sumptuous oversized bed was the ultimate in luxury providing the optimum sanctuary to watch flat-screen TV and drift off into a much-needed slumber (and a good quality one at that). French doors led out to a small balcony, which was the ideal spot to further admire the sights whilst watching the many golfers carefully practising their skills.
Connecting the bedroom to the bathroom was a cleverly placed dressing/writing desk area and wardrobe. The extensive well-lit mirror was fantastic for getting ready in the evening and the addition of an iron/iron board gets a very big tick from me. As the hotel is owned by renowned American manufacturing company Kohler Co (best known for their sanctuary products) it’s no surprise that the adjoining bathroom was exquisite in every way. The contemporary grey marble bathroom was impressive in size with twin sinks, a spacious bath, a separate toilet and a separate shower unit. The addition of toiletries from British brand Noble Isle was a luxurious fragrant touch.
Being a busy lifestyle content creator on top of a full-time job, there is no surprise that I try to relax and recuperate as much as I can when staying at any hotel. To do this I often take full advantage of their spa facilities and luckily The Old Course Hotel has one of the best around. Kohler Waters Spa launched in 2016 and partly renovated in 2018, is the only one of its kind out with the US. Set across 2,300 sq m the spa features a 20m pool, fitness centre and a thermal suite with a hydrotherapy pool, sauna steam room and plunge pool. I was especially impressed with the swimming pool and lounge area due to its glass roof which gave the space a bright, airy and open feel, as well as allowing me to lay back and watch the passing clouds above.
With 13 treatment rooms, including two twin rooms especially for couples, the spa offers an array of different treatments to suit everyone’s needs. I opted for their eighty-minute Youth Revealing Pioneer Facial, an anti-ageing treatment using acclaimed Phytomer products. After an initial consultation with my therapist Yanhua, she picked out the relevant products for my skin type and got to work on what was one of the best facials I have had in a while. The multi-sensory treatment using fragrant mists, velvety creams and sumptuous oils with the addition of a head, shoulder and foot massage was exquisite in every way. After slipping into a state of complete bliss I wanted it to continue forever but sadly it had come to an end. Afterwards, I was led to their deep relaxation room to unwind further and enjoy a selection of dried fruits, nuts and fresh lemon water.
Having six restaurants and bars within the resort, there is certainly no shortage of food and beverage options to choose from. The Road Hole situated on the fourth floor is a charming fine dining restaurant with expansive views out towards the golf course and beyond. After enjoying a few cocktails in their bar, I wandered into the restaurant on a dark winter’s evening. The ambience felt cosy and refined with its wood-panelled walls and sparkling chandeliers. Draped white table cloths were elegantly embellished with fresh red roses and glistening candles along with the faint background music provided a romantic and intimate atmosphere.
The menu uses the best Scottish produce and focuses on a tantalising selection of seafood dishes and grills. I opted for a starter of melt in the mouth West Coast Scallops, their smooth texture paired with a crunched black pudding crumb, saffron gel, chilli jam, coconut foam and salty pancetta crisp. The Smoked Duck Breast was especially tasty and succulent; the accompanying pickled mushrooms and berries added the perfect hint of sweetness and acidity. Feeling, particularly game, I picked the Venison Saddle for my main course and let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed. This rich flavoursome dish was perfect for a cold winter’s evening; its combination of ingredients ignited all of my taste buds and paired impeccably with the red wine recommended by the sommelier.
It is here where you can also enjoy the hotel’s delicious breakfast which offers a choice of buffet items as well as a tantalising menu of hot dishes. From a traditional Scottish breakfast, warm pancakes with maple syrup or Scottish smoked salmon, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes. Of course, having such a spectacular room and dining table, I also opted to dine in my suite one morning and the food was just as delicious.
The hotel’s most recent restaurant addition can seat up to a total of 80 diners and is aptly named Swilcan Loft, after the famous St Andrews golf course bridge. In complete contrast to The Road Hole, this had a more contemporary look, lined with floor to ceiling windows, contemporary furniture and an outside terrace. Due to its elevated position and expanse of glass, the selling point of this restaurant is certainly the views which not only look out towards the golf course but also the historic town of St Andrews.
The menu has a more eclectic international affair, offering anything from Seafood chowder to Lime & Coconut rice pudding. For starters, I chose the Swilcan salad, a delicious selection of plump juicy marinated heritage tomatoes accompanied with avocado & aubergine caviar. The main consisted of a deliciously moist and meaty Braised Short Rib embellished with a red wine jus, complemented by Dauphinoise Potatoes and green beans. After a dessert of satisfying Sticky toffee pudding, I couldn’t help but try one of their delicious cocktails. I especially enjoyed Islay Air, a perfect combination of Laphroaig 10-year-old whiskey, honey, fresh ginger and chocolate bitters.
In my opinion, I would opt to dine at Swilcan Loft for lunch, especially at this time of year when those beautiful views are sadly consumed by the dark of the evening. In addition, as darkness fell, I felt that due to poor lighting and scarcity of candlelight the restaurant lacked that cosy ambience of The Road Hole. Nevertheless, the food and level of service certainly made up for it and I can only imagine that on a summer’s evening it would be a perfect place to sip on a cocktail and watch the sun dip beneath the horizon.
From the moment you walk through its doors, The Old Course Hotel graces all of its guests with a truly enhancing experience. It somehow manages to provide a perfect balance of true Scottish hospitality with a laid back charm and a slice of luxury, a combination of which I very much enjoy. Their friendly and approachable staff are a real credit to the hotel, never overbearing but always there when you need them. These attributes along with the hotel’s first-class facilities and scenic coastal location make it the perfect hotel stay for everyone. So, whether you are a golfing pro, a spa loving enthusiast or a gastronomy connoisseur, be sure to book into The Old Course Hotel as it certainly captivated me.
Blu Blazer Guy Rating:
Location – 4/5
Customer Service – 4/5
Accommodation – 4/5
Cleanliness – 5/5
Food and Drink – 4/5