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Gleneagles is a hotel that you can never get bored of. I guess that is because it is far more than just a hotel. I’ve just been back up for my fourth stay – this time with my young family – and I’m happy to report that it just gets better and better. On this visit we discovered that the kids can help train the estate’s gun dogs. We also learned that not only do they offer pony trekking, but looking after pony sessions as well. Their new brasserie restaurant was welcome too, as was some big news about further developments in the pipeline from the dynamic new owners.

Gleneagles Hotel

Gleneagles Hotel (c) Robin McKelvie

Multi Million Pound Refurbishment

Gleneagles has recently gone through a massive multi million pound refurbishment programme. The big revamp is along a ‘going back in time but not backwards’ track. It espouses classic luxury and heritage from the 1920s when the hotel first opened its grand doors. The lobby has reverted to classic dark green, but there is still plenty of light in the decor. It’s the perfectly grand statement on arrival.

We found the same smooth and understated luxury in our interconnecting bedrooms. They abounded in hardwoods and lush fabrics. Again there was plenty of light in the walls and on the ceiling. I liked that our large double bed had two wooden posts instead of being a full four poster – these often make rooms feel darker and smaller. The minibar was a neat touch too. It was tucked away behind a drawer façade.

Bedroom at Gleneagles

Bedroom at Gleneagles (c) Robin McKelvie

World Class Facilities

McKelvie Girls in the Strathearn Restaurant

McKelvie Girls in the Strathearn Restaurant

The same classic ambience pervaded the grand Strathearn Restaurant. Here my wee girls enjoyed a sirloin of Scotch beef, while my wife and I savoured chateaubriand expertly carved at the table. We all tried their Scottish lobster too. Mummy and Daddy, meanwhile, had a real treat – a rare glass of Meursault, made possible through the hotel’s use of the brilliant Coravin wine preservation system.

Hotels change their spa product brands seemingly with wild abandon, but I was reassured that Gleneagles have not messed about with their outdoor pool area. It’s a great feeling easing around in the bubbling water in the fresh Perthshire air. My kids loved this unique thrill too.

Activities for  all the Family

Golf is, of course, the most famous outdoor activity at Gleneagles, and there are three championship courses to choose from. On this visit I only sneaked in a round on the pitch and putt with my eldest. Instead of a game of golf my girls tried dog training and pony trekking. They loved getting Beagle and Whisper to obey their commands and even fling themselves over fences. The pony trekking was spot on too and came with a typically Gleneagles twist. As well as enjoying a wee ride on their ponies the girls got to help groom them and take off their saddles as they visited the stables where they are kept.

Robin's daughter gun dog training at Gleneagles

Robin’s daughter gun dog training at Gleneagles (c) Robin McKelvie

Gleneagles has, though, never been a place to rest on its hard-won laurels. We checked out the new Auchterarder 70 bar at the Dormy Clubhouse. It only opened last year, but already this wood panelled dame is renowned for its great craft beer. I also love the American Bar, a classy wee speakeasy-style escape in the main hotel that evokes the golden era of Gleneagles. This is a great place to enjoy a perfectly mixed cocktail.

A great new eating venue has also been added in the form of the Birnam Brasserie. Here super fresh local Scottish produce meets classic French café style and a bit of American buzz. I do miss the old Deseo that used to excel here, but was quickly won over by its bright tempting cuisine. I like the sound of their Sunday roasts too and vowed to get back up soon to try those.

McKelvie Girls Pony Trekking at Gleneagles

McKelvie Girls Pony Trekking at Gleneagles (c) Robin McKelvie

Exciting New Plans

The go getting new owners of The Gleneagles Hotel are not content to stop there. This world famous luxury hotel and golf resort – the Ryder Cup was held here in 2014 – has some exciting new plans up its sleeve that I’m delighted to break for you. Away from the main hotel there are exciting plans for a ‘glamping’ experience – this being Gleneagles we are talking tipees with outdoor hot tubs! At an old farm site on the estate there are also plans for new eating and drinking outlets and conference facilities for those visiting on business.

I left Gleneagles feeling that what is arguably Scotland’s most famous hotel is in very good hands under its new owners. They have invested heavily in sensitively renovating her so that the original charms of this historic hotel have been brought back to the fore. They’ve been creative with re-inventing old spaces like with the American Bar and bringing in the new with the likes of the Birnam Brasserie. Watch this space for more developments on the glamping and farm grounds, and no doubt much more from this grand old dame.


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