The Gleneagles Hotel: Five star luxury in Scotland’s Perthshire countryside [REVIEW]

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The five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland, provides the perfect countryside bolt hole to enjoy a luxurious break away, for couples and families alike. The magnificent location, set among the rolling Perthshire hills, offers a great opportunity to ‘get away from it all’, with country life activities to hand and five-star facilities in the hotel and spa to retreat to. The hotel, which opened in 1924, is as cosy as it is glamourous, and strikes that tricky balance of being homely and feeling wonderfully extravagant.

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FACT PACK:

Hotel: The Gleneagles hotel
Location: Auchterarder, Scotland – near Perth and Stirling, on the A9
Address: The Gleneagles® Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland. PH3 1NF
Phone: 0800 389 3737
Nearest airport: Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports are both less than 50 miles, or an hour’s drive away. You can arrange a private chauffeur, with the hotel. There is also Gleneagles rail station, nearby – a complimentary transfer service to the hotel is available from here.
Rates: Double rooms at Gleneagles start at £245 per night, including breakfast. Visit the hotel website for the latest rates and deals – the hotel often offers packages. Sign up to its newsletter to receive news of these.
Website: The Gleneagles hotel
Pool? Yes – two indoor pools with one leading to a small outside pool area. All pools are heated.
Wi-Fi? Yes, in room and in communal areas
Perfect for: Couples wanting a luxury countryside retreat, families looking for highland adventures and a five-star base.
FashCatherine credentials: The range of outdoor activities is immense, from horse riding and off-road driving to cycling and falconry. If you are a fan of golf, you’ll be interested in the three 18-hole championship golf courses, which have hosted the Ryder Cup. Also, the ESPA spa – one of the finest spas in the world, and my absolute favourite, so far. After a £5million refurb project in 2014, this place is tough to beat. Keep reading…


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The view from Edinburgh Castle – why not spend a day in the city on the way to or from Gleneagles?

THE JOURNEY

My mum and gleefully took the train from London to Scotland. The scenic five-hour trip from King’s Cross along the east coast to Edinburgh Waverley provided the perfect excuse to do nothing but eat, chat and read magazines – a rare opportunity. Next time, however, I would take the plane. The train was a little bumpy. On arrival, Norman, a friendly chauffeur from Gleneagles, whisked us north, pointing out landmarks like Sterling Castle on the way. You can prebook a chauffeur with the hotel, prior to arriving.

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Rolling hills and championship golf courses…

THE HOTEL

Excitement rising as we drove through the heather-covered Scottish glens and three golf courses at the resort, we were welcomed by a smiling porter dressed in traditional tartan. As he directed us through the art deco lobby of the 1920s hotel towards check in, I felt like we had travelled back through time. Mum, meanwhile, couldn’t stop chattering about the scenery – more specifically, Gleneagles’ PGA golf course, which recently hosted the Ryder Cup.

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Girls in search of fine food, wine and spa time! 

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Our hotel room

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Unwinding, in the roll top bath

Our room was wonderful, with an enticing view of the pool and spa. For me, the highlight was the roll top bath, which I had to resist the urge to start running run, as soon as we shut the door.

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More happy feet – this time, at the ESPA spa

THE SPA

We were booked in to experience the ESPA spa: part of its recent £5 million refurbishment, along with the pool area. I enjoyed a relaxing full body massage treatment with my therapist, Anna, who gave me a choice of aromatic oils and found out where my troublesome areas were, such as my lower back. I emerged into the communal area, after around an hour, blissed out and blinking in the bright lights, where I found mum asleep on a lounger in front of the open fire.

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The incredible pool, next to the spa

Sleep seemed to be calling both of us, so we retreated to the single-sex relaxation rooms, which are filled with pillow-laden loungers, headphones for listening to sleep-inducing music and cosy blankets – basically an invitation to take what we would forever after refer to as the ‘best naps ever’.

After forty winks, we reconvened at the communal hydrotherapy pool, taking advantage of the muscle pummeling showerheads and benches. There are also single-sex steam rooms, tropical showers and saunas.

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The whole pool to ourselves…

THINGS TO DO

After a quality night’s sleep, we were feeling particularly energetic and headed to the pool for 7am. We guessed we would have the entire place, including the outside Jacuzzi and adult-only pool, to ourselves – and we were right!

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Trying our hand at horse riding 

With the autumn weather feeling fine, (we visited in September) we decided to try some of the outdoor activities on offer, starting with an hour’s horse riding lesson with our patient instructor, Lynsey. My mum had only been on a horse once before, but was trotting around the indoor arena merrily, after our lesson. Later, we strolled to the nearby town of Auchterader for coffee and cake, and ended our day with a three-mile cycle ride around the PGA golf course – the closest mum got to golfing that weekend.
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Life on the open… golf course

THE FOOD

On our first evening, we ate at the hotel’s Deseo restaurant, (below) which has a delicious Spanish tapas style menu, as well as a deli where you can choose and cut your own size steak and seafood. One of the brilliant things about Gleneagles is how family-friendly it is. Although we were able to eat in a more secluded area of the restaurant, we noted just how many families were dining and staying there. A good excuse to come back with our wider family, at some point!

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Deseo restaurant

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Steak, scallops and tasty veg at Deseo restaurant

 

Andrew Fairlie’s Michelin-starred French restaurant, at Gleneagles, is probably the ultimate dining experience. We didn’t try it on this particular visit, but always leave a place you love with a reason to return, hey?

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Dressed for dinner in the beautiful 1920s styled Gleneagles lobby

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Beef wellington at Strathearn restaurant

We finished our weekend off with dinner, accompanied by live piano music, at the hotel’s elegant Strathearn restaurant, perfect for a special treat. I’d highly recommend the beef wellington – it was melt in the mouth. It was served carved at the table, from a silver trolley.

Breakfast at Gleneagles is a food-lovers delight…

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Order at the table, and also enjoy…

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…breakfast cheese tray…

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…breakfast ham tray…

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…and breakfast salmon tray! Plus lots more…

Discover a world of adventure and cosy luxury, at the Gleneagles hotel

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ESSENTIAL INFO

Double rooms at Gleneagles start at £245 per night, including breakfast. The ESPA spa offers a range of treatments, with an aromatherapy massage costing £95. For more details, visit Gleneagles, online

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The stay reviewed in this article, in September 2015, was supported by the Gleneagles hotel.

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