A Taste of the Borders at Whitehouse Country House

by Keith Savage · 8 comments


Whitehouse Country House, St. Boswells, Scottish Borders

When I began planning my time in the Scottish Borders, the area that immediately stood out as a focus for my travels was a triangle of land with the towns of Melrose, Kelso, and Jedburgh at the points. I’d been through the region briefly on a massive trip around all of Scotland in 2006, and the pleasantness of the area never left my memory. I like to have a small number of “bases” on my trips to limit how often I need to pack up and move on to another accommodation, and so I began to scour this region of Scotland for places to stay that met my admittedly strict standards.

There’s always some uncertainty when choosing accommodations through internet searches and social media alone, as popularity not quality tends to command attention, but I’ve grown to trust my instincts after repeated trips around Scotland. One place that cropped up early in my research and caught my interest turned out to be one of the places I chose to stay in the Scottish Borders: Whitehouse Country House. Seeing that Visit Scotland had given it a five-star rating, and that it had won the 2012 Thistle Award for best B&B and guest house in all of Scotland, set it firmly in wheelhouse.

I loved the location of Whitehouse Country House. It stands hidden among trees just east of St. Boswells along the B6404 in the pastoral lands leading to Kelso, near the River Tweed. This orientation smack dab in the heart of my “triangle” would provide an excellent base from which to explore the heart of the central Borders.

I arrived to the Borders via the Grey Mare’s Tail and passed through Selkirk on my way to St. Boswells and Whitehouse Country House. At the time I was dealing with an annoying travel cold, so by the time I arrived to Whitehouse I was exhausted and in need of hot tea and comfort. I drove down the secluded gravel path and pulled up to an attractive, 19th-century building of red stone that had been the dower house of the Duchess of Sutherland.

There I met Roger Tyrer, an affable man with a passion for fly fishing who forms one half of the duo who own and run Whitehouse Country House. He led me into the plush sitting room where I could relax while he prepared tea and hot cross buns. It was nice to catch my breath here, take some needed nourishment, and look out the windows upon the bucolic farmland. A pair of Australians arrived while I was here and we had a good chat about their travels – meeting other travelers is one of the things I love best about B&Bs.

Once I downed the black tea and crusty buns, Roger took me to my room. The accommodations were quite large, with two double beds on one wall taking up only half the space. Sitting chairs and a beautiful wardrobe stood across the room, and a table by the door served as my workstation. The quality of the room was what I consider to be “old-time elegance” – printed wallpaper, floral drapes and accents, and muted colors. It’s a motif I’ve seen in my places across Scotland, from castles to B&Bs, and I mention it because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I found the room very comfortable during my three-night stay.

The bathroom was nearly as large as my bedroom. A spacious, tiled shower stood behind the door while a beautiful tub occupied one wall. Little soaps and accoutrements were in all the right places, and I could tell someone cared about the details. The bathroom was much more modern than the adjoining bedroom, and it made me wonder if the house was in the middle of a general renovation.

One of the things that really attracted me to Whitehouse Country House was their focus on good food, and, while I didn’t partake in the dinners they prepare, I enjoyed several stunning breakfasts. It was in the bright dining room that I meet the other half of Whitehouse Country House, Angela Tyrer. Angela welcomed me to Whitehouse and presented a breakfast menu that was anything but standard fare. Turns out she is a very skilled chef, and I took this opportunity to try some of the rarer items I’ve seen, like smoked haddock with soft-boiled egg and a deliciously deadly terrine of Scottish breakfast. The porridge made for a hot, hearty way to begin the day, and the salmon and eggs possessed a flair for presentation. Homemade jams, single-variety apple juice (the apple juice equivalent of single malt whisky), and a cold spread combined to make for the most enjoyable breakfasts of my trip.

As an aside, a trip to Scotland is no time to go on a diet, attempt to adhere to a diet, or otherwise watch what you eat (beyond it entering your mouth).

It was interesting to compare the Whitehouse Country House to the Three Glens, the accommodation I had just left in Moniaive. Both count themselves as luxury accommodation, and they are, if in very different ways. Whitehouse is full of the feeling of yesteryear. Among the halls and rooms, you can imagine what it must have been like for the Duchess of Sutherland to live in this richly appointed and stately house. Roger and Angela soften the formality, providing a homey experience built upon comfort, excellent food, and a grand location in the heart of the central Borders.

Disclosure: Whitehouse Country House provided me with a discounted stay. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.


De'JavNo Gravatar November 3, 2014 at 5:07 PM

This looks like an amazing place to stay. The brekkie looked like one to live for. Thanks for taking us on your journey.

UmaNo Gravatar October 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

As hokey as some old-style B&B’s can be, the high service levels make up for any clash in design and the preferences of the guests staying there. Based on your review of the food, I’d say that it would be worth staying there for that alone!

Misty KnappNo Gravatar October 30, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Keith,

Gorgeous views! It looks like a lovely place to stay while exploring!! Have you considered taking your blog posts and turning them into a novel? I know I’d be interested in reading all about your travels in Scotland.

Misty

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Hi Misty. I’m currently spending vast amounts of time writing a novel, though it is not a synthesis of my blog posts. It’s a historical fiction/fantasy heavily influenced by ancient Scottish and Celtic history.

Misty KnappNo Gravatar October 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Yay! A new author… it sounds intriguing. Hmm, maybe I need to write one with some Scottish history (hubby is Scottish). Looking forward to reading it and if you need someone to proof-read, let me know!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: