BREAK FOR THE BORDER
beyond headed north to discover the magic of Cringletie House Hotel and were treated to a weekend to remember.
W ith its rolling hills, bewitching moorland, gentle valleys and the warm welcome it extends to all, the Scottish Borders possess a unique and enchanting charm.
Throw in a spell-binding country hotel set in 18 acres of stunning grounds, a haven of relaxation and a menu to die for and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the most idyllic weekend retreat.
It is easy to see how Sir Walter Scott was so enamoured by this beautiful part of the world, he decided to make it his home.
Sadly, he died 30 years too soon to see the arrival of Cringletie House – a breathtaking baronial mansion built in 1861 by acclaimed architect David Bryce.
A great shame, because if Walt had hung around a little longer he’d have most definitely enjoyed visiting this most inspirational of settings.
From the minute you arrive up the sweeping drive you are instantly captured by the magic of the place.
With its daunting towers, sprawling gardens and sweeping staircase, Cringletie House is as imposing as it is beautiful.
Described as a romantic country castle ideal for any occasion with fine dining to boot, what more could you want?
Throw in the fact, the hotel is very dog friendly and the three of us couldn’t wait to head north with silly smiles and wagging tail.
Located close to the bonny wee town of Peebles, Cringletie House lies just south of Edinburgh and is easily accessible from the major networks yet still manages to feel a million miles from anywhere.
We arrived at the hotel as dusk was falling and the rain began doing likewise, so imagine our delight to see a figure walking towards us through the drizzle clutching two umbrellas and a welcome that melted the heart.
It was an effortless but hugely appreciated gesture and the first of many we received from the friendly staff throughout our stay.
Providing 12 relaxing and individually-styled rooms, one luxurious suite and even a cottage in the grounds for larger groups and families, it is expansive but inclusive.
Our dog-friendly room was large and wellequipped and while it might have lacked the modern technological shenanigans of a plush city centre penthouse it more than made up for it in charm and endless character.
From the roaring open fire in the lounge to the impressive stairway and the hidden nooks to the incredible art, this is a hotel which has history on its side and maintains its style without relying on gizmos and gadgets.
The perfect escape from the modern world and a place where you can truly switch off and relax.
The hotel grounds are worth a trip in themselves and are as fascinating as they are extensive, and we wasted no time happily exploring the streams, woods, walled garden and even resting at a romantic dovecot – once used to host romantic dinners for two.
However, with an over-excited one-year-old Springer in tow, we opted instead for a table at the hotel restaurant where we were treated to food worthy every one of its three AA rosettes.
Delectable canapes served in the lounge were followed by the main event in one of the most elegant dining rooms I have ever eaten in.
Fresco ceilings, high-backed chairs and crisp white table cloths set the scene perfectly and our starters of roulade of smoked salmon wrapped in seaweed and a compression of seasonal melon was a great way to begin.
The grilled rump steak that followed was sublime while the pan roasted loin of cod with crushed Bombay potatoes and an incredible smoked baba ganoush was a delight to the eye.
The staff were attentive, knowledgeable and couldn’t do enough to make sure everything was to our satisfaction and it certainly was.
It was a meal served with passion and made all the more enjoyable by such a relaxed atmosphere and an exemplary attention to detail.
After a deep sleep, high in the tower, we ventured down for breakfast which was served with the same flourish and style as dinner.
As we reluctantly made our way towards the car for our homeward journey though, we were stopped and handed a little parcel, neatly wrapped. “Something for your wee doggie,” came the explanation, “we like to give our four-legged friends a souvenier of their stay.” A nice touch that summed up our weekend.
And with that we bid our fond farewells and headed south, with the promise to ourselves and Cooper the dog we’ll return one day to indulge in the magic of Cringletie House.