History lovers venturing into the Scottish Borders will relish the chance to visit ancient Neidpath Castle, near Peebles. Arriving inside they will tread in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed there as a hunting guest of the powerful patriots who held sway over its imposing walls.
Neidpath Castle is the largest in the region which is intact and the oldest surviving of its kind. By booking in advance, visitors can enjoy an hour long guided tour of the building with the present day owners and learn the rich stories of a past dating back to 1190. Remaining as built, its features include a dungeon pit prison, a basement well and a long drop lavatory.
The castle makes a romantic wedding venue for up to 80 guests, offering the beautiful vaulted Laing Hall for ceremonies and the Great Hall, lined with batiks depicting Queen Mary’s eventful life, for magnificent wedding breakfasts.
People can even stay the night in the castle, in a suite newly opened for hire this season, or rent one of two properties in the grounds for splendid self catering overlooking the River Tweed, hills and woodland. The castle room oozes atmosphere with its 17th century four poster bed, open fire and rugs, but benefits from modern bathroom furnishings, a living room and kitchenette. Dinner can be served by arrangement.
Fabulous food is one of the key attractions of the Buccleuch Arms, an 1836 coaching inn offering 4 Star holiday accommodation in the heart of the Scottish Borders. Its reputation has spread nationwide thanks to having been named Scottish Inn of the Year 4 times in 10 years and having captured the accolade for Best Breakfast this year and last in the Scottish Hotel Awards.
Run by Billy and Rachael Hamilton, who are both from farming families, the Buccleuch Arms excels in preparing Britain’s finest and freshest food to exacting standards and serving it exquisitely. That applies whether at breakfast – where Eggs Benedict is a favourite order – at lunch in the bar or at dinner in the Blue Coo Bistrot.
Accommodation is all high quality in 19 well-furnished en suite bedrooms including doubles, twins and family rooms. The beds have been chosen for superior comfort and in some rooms are king sized. Customer service is a high priority throughout the hotel.
Special deals are available combining a stay at the Buccleuch Arms with local golf, clay shooting or horse racing. Throughout winter guests can enjoy three nights for the price of two.
“We get all sorts of people including sightseeing tourists, sporting tourists, cyclists, walkers and foodies,” says Billy. ”Floors Castle and Abbotsford are popular attractions. There’s loads to do.”
The Old Manor
Relaxing and tranquil, the 19th century Old Manor overlooking the beautiful Berwickshire beach of Coldingham Sands is the perfect spot to unwind and connect with nature at her very best.
The location is so idyllic that its owners, sisters Suzie Skipper and Sarah Sinclair, have been going there with their children for nearly 20 years. They bought The Old Manor, 100 metres from the beach, in 2014 and have since refurbished it to high standards to suit up to 12 people.
The four bedrooms – two large doubles and two twins – are all en suite with great views and there is a fifth shower downstairs, making the property ideal for different generations holidaying together. Downstairs is a king sized sofa bed.
Other amenities in this light, spacious house include a well equipped kitchen, sitting room with smart TV, dining room, games room and secluded garden a patio and barbecue space. A log burner and underfloor bathroom heating keep it cosy all year round.
The fishing communities of Eyemouth and St Abbs are pleasant walks away along a sandy beach with rockpools and clear waters famous for surfing and scuba diving. Surfing lessons are available. The beach is so perfect several guests have used it for their weddings and the nearby cliffs are a National Trust Nature Reserve with seals, puffins and other wildlife.
Self catering holidays can be teamed with field sports such as stalking, falconry and fishing on the extensive Hearthstanes Estate, an awesome expanse of working farmland in the Tweedsmuir Hills of the Scottish Borders.
This amazing landscape straddles the River Tweed and accommodation is available in five comfortable, well equipped and pet friendly holiday cottages. These are created from old stone farm buildings surrounding the steading courtyard and all have their own living room with Freeview TV, DVD and internet access. They accommodate two to eight people, or a total of 26 when hired together.
Most of the estate is a designated Area of Special Scientific Interest and it supports cattle, sheep and red deer. Visitors frequently enjoy unspoiled walks and cycle rides, including the Solway to Forth Coast to Coast route, or play 9 pin bowling in the steading. Tours of the property by 4 X 4 can easily be arranged.
In season many guests take the chance to hunt sika or roe deer, helping the farm achieve the quotas required to protect its forestry from excessive numbers. Stalking and guided nature walks can be arranged via Tweed Valley Sporting.
One of the owning family, Ralph Glatt, says: “We are extremely rural but we are still within easy reach of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Many of our guests go sightseeing.”
Mansfield House Hotel is a country house hotel offering 4 Star luxury accommodation in the picturesque Scottish Borders, complemented by its Amarone Thistle Restaurant serving high quality Italian cuisine with a Scottish twist.
Located just outside the largest border town of Hawick, Mansfield house was built as a private residence in the 1800s. Now it provides stylish accommodation for modern guests, who can enjoy its 10 acres of beautiful grounds at leisure. Dogs are welcome and stay at no extra charge.
The premises are large enough to accommodate large groups including bus parties and are hugely popular as a wedding venue, having a large function suite and an Italian-themed terrace for outdoor dining.
The hotel has some exceptional bedrooms among its en suite selection, especially the Tower Suite with its four-poster bed and stunning views. Guests have use of a pleasant conservatory, a cosy lounge and a bar stocked with numerous gins and whiskies.
New owners Lynn & Stephen Murray are experienced hoteliers who ensure their chefs in the Amarone Thistle can produce the best possible dining experience for guests by providing food that is fresh and locally sourced whenever possible. They provide high standards of service and can even manage events as required.
Guests can obtain special dinner, bed & breakfast packages rates if they contact the hotel directly.
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