St Andrews is the mecca of the golf world and to play the oldest golf course in the world is on every golfer’s to-do list. The Old Course Hotel has to be every golfer’s dream accommodation. It may well be many a golfer’s wife’s dream as well to stay here to enjoy the charm and services offered at this historic hotel.
This five-star hotel, with 144 rooms (including 35 suites), was once an old railway station. You can still see some of the original stone walls in the ground floor hallways.
We stayed in an Old Course room on the 2nd floor, overlooking the 17th fairway (the infamous road hole) with spectacular views of West Sands Beach and the Scottish coastline beyond. Up the course, we could also see the 1st fairway, Swilcan Bridge, Granny Clark’s Wynd and the 18th hole. Fun to watch cars whose drivers were crazy enough to attempt to cross the wynd, get hit by a golf ball.
Rooms are clean, fresh and well appointed. Décor ranges from soft yellows and greens to neutral tones. Suites are resplendent with leather furniture, dark wood (think old school men’s club) and fireplaces. The only drawback I experienced is the walls being a bit on the thin side as we could hear family members in the next room.
At the time we stayed there in September 1998, room rates included complimentary use of facilities in the spa (including indoor lap pool), full Scottish breakfast and 17.5% VAT.
Dining at the Road Hole Restaurant (formally the Road Hole Grille) on the top floor is a luxurious gourmet experience. Windows provide panoramic views of the town and surrounding area decked out in fall color. You can see the Royal & Ancient clubhouse; the stonework bathed in golden light from the setting sun. As luck would have it, it was my husband’s birthday. He claims it was the best birthday he has ever had. He enjoyed rib roast and Yorkshire pudding with a Beaune 1st Cru. He and his brother retired to the Road Hole bar for to enjoy an after dinner dram of 12-year old Glenlivet Scotch.
Breakfast is definitely worth getting up for! A full buffet is laid out at the Road Hole Restaurant. Many dishes are what make up a full Scottish breakfast – eggs, streaky bacon (awesome!), potatoes, sautéed tomatoes and mushrooms, blood pudding. Homemade granola, fruit, yogurt and a variety of bread and pastries baked on the premises are also offered.
The hotel was full during our stay as it coincided with the annual meeting of the Royal and Ancient (R & A), the governing body of golf. Lots of celebrities were around, including Sean Connery! Golf has been played here since 1400. The golfers in our party had tee times arranged far in advance of our arrival, absolutely necessary due to high demand to play the courses.
There is a small putting course called the Himalayas, which once served as the ladies course in times past, when women were not permitted on the Old Course. Back when there in the late 90s, the keeper’s Border Collie could be seen trotting around the course when he accompanied his master to work.
If you are at the hotel on Sunday, there is no golf that day, in keeping with the age-old tradition of no golf on the Sabbath. Instead, there is another tradition on the Old Course of people walking and playing with their dogs on the links. I am sure our Westie back at home would have enjoyed running free on the world’s most famous golf course.
Afternoon tea is held daily in the Conservatory. The floor to ceiling glass walls are reminiscent of solariums found in English and Scottish baronial estates of bygone days. Noting a good size crack in one window, our server informed us that occasional errant balls have hit the glass causing a horribly loud noise that is frightening to diners. While not making time to tea, I ran in and begged for some Scottish shortbread. Baked on site, it was tender and buttery perfection.
The Jigger Inn, which was once the station master’s house (the building is over 100 years old), is a cozy setting for a 19th hole bar. Fun to have a favorite pint or wee dram while watching Dr. Who or Red Dwarf on the telly.
The Kohler Waters Spa is a relaxing spa experience for golfers and non-golfers alike. The staff is very knowledgeable and skilled. Enjoy revitalizing facials, massages, a new hair-do and the best leg waxing anywhere. The calming indoor pool with cool blue and green décor and waterfall is pure bliss.
Luxury and a once in a life stay not to be missed. For more information, visit their web site at http://www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/