Last week we ran the first of the two-part travel feature by Paul Godbold on his visit to the Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, for the second part of this travel feature he will be looking at the facilities, activities and dining options.
Having looked around the wonderfully decorated rooms in the hotel, all of which instantly draw you back to times gone by, it was off to explore some of the extensive grounds. The surrounding manicured lawned gardens offer far-reaching views and a true sense of tranquility enhanced with a croquet lawn at the front of the hotel.
Being away from main roads and populated areas makes it very quiet, there is a true sense of serenity making the hotel perfect for those that just want to get away from everything. For myself the sounds of nothing but nature was perfect, sometimes I just want to get away from everything and find a place devoid of the modern world, and the Roxburghe Hotel is one of the few places where I can do it.
Unlike many other hotels there is only one restaurant but this is neither a negative nor hindrance. In keeping with the rest of the communal rooms it’s well decorated and has quaint feel about it. All main meals are taken here and it offers a high standard of service with many traditional themed dishes and more often than not using locally grown produce. I was particularly impressed with the comprehensive cooked breakfast, one of the finest I had sampled in many years and yes, it did include haggis and black sausage. A special mention should be made to the evening meals. The dinner service had a quiet refined ambiance that made you feel more than a little special, with dishes ranging from locally supplied seafood to meats all well-cooked and presented to a high standard.
The closest populated area to the hotel is Kelso, a charming market town that is as pretty as the countryside surrounding it. We took some time to explore it prior to visiting Floors Castle. There is a lot of historical architecture throughout the town center and of course the magnificent River Tweed that borders it. On the second day of our visit I realized that I needed a new piece of camera equipment to replace something that I had inadvertently broken. I was less than optimistic that I could find the required part and after a quick browse of the internet still harboured little hope even though I did locate a camera shop in the town center. Not only did it have what I needed but the owner spent a good 15 minutes talking to me, asking about me and making me feel thoroughly welcome. It’s this warm reception that we found throughout the area that showed us exactly what we had been missing during our time away from the UK.
After our foray around the town, it was off to the magnificent Floors Castle. Guests staying at the Roxburghe hotel are provided with a voucher enabling free access to this glorious stately home.
Although Floors Castle is an impressive sight from a distance, it’s not until you get up close to it that you can fully appreciate the actual size of the property. The house is still home to the Duke of Roxburghe and family and what an incredible home it is! Walking around inside exploring the rooms is a joy and information is instantly at hand via the friendly and enthusiastic guides. Floors Castle and the Town of Kelso are a must visit for those who are staying at the Roxburghe Hotel.
We only managed to spend about 30 minutes in Floors Castle due to another commitment and this was one that was on the ‘never done that before’ list. Back at the hotel I made a quick change from my smart casuals into my newly purchased tweed. Waiting in reception for us was Alistair, the hotels ‘Ghillie’ (Scots term that refers to a man who acts as an attendant on a fishing, hunting, or stalking expedition). Alistair was to take us to the famous River Teviot where I could try my hand at salmon fishing. At the top of the main stairs of the hotel there are replicas of huge salmon caught in the past, for a brief moment I envisaged myself catching something similar…
After a short drive we arrived at the river and it was just as I imagined, a wide but shallow fast flowing river set amongst lush greenery with small rapids. On TV fishing programs everything looks so straightforward, but wading out on slippery stones in a fast flowing river, rod in hand, is no easy task. The fact is fly fishing is much more technical than I expected, and the sound and feeling of the water rushing past your legs is a huge distraction to the inexperienced. Although I didn’t catch anything, Alistair more than made up for any disappointment with his witty banter, encouragement and anecdotes. At least I can now say that I have been salmon fishing in Scotland and although my dream of catching a huge record-breaking salmon is still intact, in reality, a short rod, plastic float and ball of bread is probably my best chance of catching a fish. Alistair did suggest that we try the shooting but I politely declined, to be honest the thrill of standing in a fast flowing river was more than enough excitement for the day.
One of the most outstanding features of the Hotel is its proximity to the Roxburghe Golf Course, the hotel and course are situated immediately adjacent to each other. The course is set in 200 acres of sweeping parkland and has some wonderful far-reaching views across the surrounding countryside. Although I was offered the opportunity to play the course, I couldn’t allocate the time as we had a lot of filming that we needed to get done during our stay. As a compromise, the golf course kindly lent us a motorised buggy and we spent the next hour driving around the fairways and greens enjoying the beautiful views and watching a multitude of golfers playing the game as I imagine I do in my head.
In summary, we had a wonderful time which you can no doubt see from the two travel features we’ve written about the Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, we think it’s a great destination for a short-break and if we did give out award plaques for quality, this hotel would undoubtedly be the recipient of one.