A Night at the Roxburghe Hotel, Part 1

by Keith Savage · 7 comments

The Roxburghe Hotel, Kelso, Scottish Borders

The Scottish Borders are an undeniably beautiful place. The gentle, rolling hills and sheep-strewn fields hiding the ruined abbeys and peel towers of yesteryear make for exhilarating, if tiring, days out. So the question becomes: Where will you rest your head and recover your strength? Thankfully, the Borders have no shortage of accommodation options – I’ve already detailed the Roulotte Retreat and Whitehouse Country House – but as usual I spend scads of time scouring the interwebs, collecting personal recommendations, and listening to my gut to find the best ones (and credit where credit’s due: Sarah is really good at this).

Today I bring you part one of my experience staying at the luxurious Roxburghe Hotel just outside Kelso. The Roxburghe boasts 22 unique bedrooms, a championship golf course, an excellent restaurant in Chez Roux, a spa, and a wide variety of activities available throughout the grounds, many of which I had the opportunity to enjoy. I finished up my stay in the Scottish Borders last April with two memorable nights at the Roxburghe Hotel.

Let me show you around.

I arrived to the hotel on a sunny Sunday morning and stepped in from the cool air to find a roaring fire inside the Roxburghe’s foyer. I was immediately struck by the cozy atmosphere and beautifully detailed woodwork. The desk staff’s welcome was as warm as the fire, and they quickly led me up to my suite despite the fairly early hour.

How can I say this? Woodside suite is freaking huge! As we passed through the door I realized we were standing in an anteroom for hanging coats, hats, suits of armor, and whatever else a lord might need to unload before relaxing. Moving into the suite proper I couldn’t help but notice it had more square footage than most NYC apartments. A wide window overlooking the front of the hotel allowed in copious amounts of light. Beautiful furniture had been arrayed around a wood-burning fireplace, and all of this stood opposite the king-size bed. The decanter of whisky on the desk was just the icing on the cake.

First impression: Stunned. The first order of business was to sit by the bright window with coffee and a still-warm chocolate chip cookie. Not for the first time on my savage travels around Scotland did I wish I could share the experience. The bathroom was on an equally large scale, and for the first few minutes I feared they’d forgotten to put in a toilet. Was this to be an authentic stay in a castle? Should I have been looking for a chamber pot?

As it happened, the toilet was in plain sight the entire time. What I thought had been a wooden bench was in fact a clever lid that hid the most unique toilet I have ever seen. I won’t belabor this topic any longer – just take a look at the photo below.

After my brief rest I took to the halls to explore the remainder of the hotel. Magnificent portraits framed chandeliers hanging over wide stairwells. Tartan carpeting amped up the Scottish atmosphere, and upon the walls hung maps, paintings, and other paraphernalia exhibiting Scottish country life.

Breakfast in the Roxburghe’s restaurant, Chez Roux, is an activity in itself. A delicious one. I started with a bowl of granola and yogurt heaped with slivered almonds, blueberries, and red currants. The restaurant faces the same direction as my room, so the morning sun casts its warm rays upon the diners. On a different morning I started with a hefty bowl of porridge served with little ramekins of honey, brown sugar, and cream. Nothing keeps you going like this. To top off breakfast I ordered the smoked salmon with poached egg – all the tastes!

The Roxburghe Hotel has among its many public rooms a handsome conservatory/library where guests can relax with a pint or a dram from one of the many whiskies on offer. I spent quite a long time perusing the old volumes on the shelf with a glass of Macallan and a pipe in my pocket. I could get used to this country living thing.

After the delicious breakfast, I decided to book a table for dinner at Chez Roux. They started me off with a neat plate of spiced almonds and olives in the conservatory with a dram of Knockando 10. The moment my table was prepared, the hostess collected me and brought me into the dining room where I enjoyed an amuse bouche of terrine with cranberry-plum compote.

My first course was a sumptuous Berwickshire crab tian with gelatinous grapefruit, avocado, and cucumber jelly that was simply outstanding. The main course was a seared hake fillet accompanied by samphire, small potatoes, and herbs. The complexity of flavors and presentation were clearly French, and the meal as a whole was certainly one of the most lavish meals I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. Unfortunately, there was no room for dessert, so I settled for a cup of tea with four squares of chocolate and apricot.

The Roxburghe Hotel is the perfect place to base yourself in the Scottish Borders. Few places can match the combination of luxury, excellent food, and activities that the Roxburghe provides. It was such a pleasure to return here each night and relax in the conservatory or the privacy of my massive suite, and I haven’t even mentioned the various things to do at the Roxburghe. Guess that will have to wait until my next post 🙂

Disclosure: The Roxburghe Hotel provided me with a complimentary stay. All thoughts and opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.

World travelerNo Gravatar February 18, 2015 at 5:29 PM

This hotel is beautiful! All the elegance, charm and mysterious flare one loves in Scotland. I could spend months here, let alone a few days. 🙂

SumishaNo Gravatar February 13, 2015 at 3:49 AM

Wow! Your blog is really exhaustive! I was in Scotland last year and loved it even though we had only 3 days there and could visit only Edinburgh and did a day trip to the highlands. However, I will be visiting Scotland soon and your blog is going to come handy!

MartinaNo Gravatar February 12, 2015 at 7:13 AM

had the feeling that I was there, almost felt the taste of those culinary delights!
what a great break from my routine work!
perfect pics and story as always, thanks! 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 12, 2015 at 8:54 AM

Glad to break up the doldrums, Martina!

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