Style, Luxury, Elegance: Glenholme Country House

by Keith Savage · 3 comments

Glenholme Country House in Kirkcudbright

As my journey through southern Scotland continued from Ayrshire through the Galloway Forest Park and down toward the Solway Coast, my Traveling Savage “headquarters” moved to Kirkcudbright and one of the most stylish and elegant accommodations I’ve had the pleasure of visiting: Glenholme Country House. This stately house stands just off the road leading into Kirkcudbright, a small, artistic seaside town that makes an attractive base for exploring the southern reaches of Dumfries & Galloway. When I visited Kirkcudbright eight years ago, I stayed at a farm B&B a ways outside of town. This time around I wanted to be closer to the action at a place more akin to my tastes these days.

As I pulled through Glenholme’s wrought-iron gate I was struck by the commanding situation of the house overlooking a long and carefully tended front garden. The gravel drive led me up to a parking circle near the two main buildings, their red stones glinting in the late afternoon sun. There I met Laurence, one half of Glenholme’s enigmatic duo. After 25 years in the Diplomatic Service in such far-flung locales as Morocco, China, and Norway, Laurence and his wife Jennifer have settled here at Kirkcudbright to share with guests their loves: good food, stylish environs, and luxurious comforts. As Laurence led me into the house there was no escaping the sense of cultured experience permeating the place.

The interior of Glenholme Country House seems too perfectly assembled, and it made me wonder if the set designer from the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles has chosen it as his pet retirement project. Soft light illuminated worn, wooden floorboards covered with faded rugs, tartan pillows graced small chairs placed where the Feng Shui vibrated. Myriads of old books lay stacked on mantles and tables, arranged by binding color or subject matter, beneath old, quixotic maps. None of it felt tacky or fake – I spent the late afternoon simply browsing the house as if were a museum – and for good reason. Jennifer has experience renovating and redesigning traditional houses, and it was her vision that transformed Glenholme into what it is today. It came as no surprise to learn she runs an antique and vintage linen and textiles shop, Starched and Crumpled, from the house.

Each room in Glenholme Country House is named, and I spent my two nights in Curzon, which seems to be a reference to Lord Curzon (or his wife) who was a viceroy of India in the early 20th century. The room was cozy with a massive four-poster bed and a wide window that overlooked Glenholme’s front yard. The design of the room revolved around the color red, and specifically red books, which added an air of studied contemplation. The internet was perfect upstairs in my room, though there wasn’t much space to sit elsewhere than the bed. Of course the house does have an amazing lounge/library, but some guests do prefer the privacy of their room and it would have been nice to have a small loveseat or sofa.

Glenholme’s lounge/library is a spectacular space with floor-to-ceiling bookcases covering two of the walls. A full bank of windows look out on the front gardens and the final wall is dedicated to a large fireplace in which Laurence had set logs ablaze. After settling in I came down to the lounge and had tea provided by Jennifer. The lounge couldn’t be more comfortable and it would have made the perfect place to converse with friends or other guests if I hadn’t been traveling alone and been the only guest at Glenholme during my stay. Add a decanter of whisky and your night would be set, not to mention the rest of your life’s reading. One thing you won’t find at Glenholme are televisions – Laurence and Jennifer have chosen to leave out the ever-present idiot box. It seems to have been a wise move, for the design of the place is stronger without them.

The sleep at Glenholme was quiet, comfortable, and refreshing. In the morning I came down to the dining room where Laurence had set out the first salvo of breakfast. Fresh-squeezed orange juice arrived (I heard it happening in the kitchen) with homemade jams and toast. A variety of fruit had been arrayed in the “cold breakfast” bar including an artfully carved pineapple half. I opted for the full Scottish breakfast – my rule is to always have it at least one morning of a stay – and I was not disappointed. Laurence, who also cooks dinners for guests, turned out to be an excellent chef. Serving all local produce where possible, the savory banger and haggis Laurence served were particularly delicious.

Glenholme Country Houses’s style, elegance, and luxury comes at a steep cost that will turn away many prospective guests. Still, if you’re looking for a singularly stylish stay in southern Scotland, you can’t do better than Glenholme Country House just outside Kirkcudbright. I highly recommend it for couples.

WillNo Gravatar July 26, 2014 at 4:36 PM

For the price you do have to pay though, it certainly seems like its well worth it, given the surrounding environment and the food!

Escape HunterNo Gravatar July 18, 2014 at 6:23 AM

Cute little house, I guess it’s iconic to the region. I mean, typical…
And, that’s quite a rich library…
I hope the house isn’t haunted 🙂

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