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Review: the Gleneagles hotel and resort in Scotland – it’s good

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This is our review of the Gleneagles hotel and resort in Scotland.

We spent three nights at the Gleneagles resort in Scotland last week, at the end of a 10 day holiday.

We thought we should end the holiday at a smart resort in case the kids had got too bored tramping around the mountains – but they actually enjoyed the whole trip.

This is not a full review because we only did a fraction of what is available at Gleneagles, and we didn’t play a full round of golf.  All of the photos here are ‘official’ ones, although to prove we were there, here we are after a gun dog training session.

Molly Burgess Max Burgess

Ten years ago, I spent two days at Gleneagles courtesy of my old financial services company.  I was in the new wing, which was impressive, but I had a tour of the rest of the hotel and it was clearly in need of some help.  Those days are gone.

Four years ago it was sold by Diageo, the drinks company, to the investment group that owns Hoxton Hotels.  A small fortune has been spent since then renovating the hotel.

Let me be clear about this.  I have never seen a more thorough hotel refurbishment in my life.  Every corner, except where listed building status intervened, has been renewed.  It looks astonishing and I cannot begin to imagine how much money has been spent.   

I’ve seen top-to-toe refurbishments before, of course, but not in a hotel which has multiple restaurants and multiple swimming pools.  Even more impressively, the hotel apparently remained open throughout.

All that is left to finish is the refurbishment of the main restaurant which is currently closed.

The only criticism I have – perhaps more of an observation – is that it is a ‘London’ refurbishment.  David Collins Studio led the work, although it did not do all of it, and David Collins Studio is responsible for the bulk of luxury hotel and restaurant design in London.   There are zero Scottish touches anywhere, so if you come here expecting big swathes of tartan you will be disappointed.  If you spend time in luxury London hotels and restaurants you will get a feeling of deja vu.

Gleneagles is, of course, a golf hotel at heart but I would say that the majority of guests, especially during the school holidays, are not golfers.  There is a free pitch and putt course in front of the hotel which I played each day with my seven year old son but that was it.  If you do play properly, you get a free round on one of the championship courses if you book via our booking partner Bon Vivant or, for American Express Platinum cardholders, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.

(2021 edit: the free round of golf is no longer a Virtuoso or Amex Platinum benefit)

Whilst ‘only’ 230 rooms, this is a huge hotel.  It takes you 24 hours to get used to it.  It is short of very little:

there are two kids clubs, one for small children (two hours free per day, £10 after) and one free one for older kids and teenagers

there are two pools, a family pool and an adult lap pool, plus an outdoor heated spa pool

there is a very high end spa

even with the main restaurant closed, you are not spoiled for places to eat in the hotel – there is also a full restaurant and a bar which serves food in the golf clubhouse (also refurbished top to bottom) about three minutes walk from the hotel entrance

there is the biggest luxury shopping arcade of any UK hotel, I think

there is, in The American Bar, probably the classiest bar – with a very strict dress code – I have ever seen in a UK hotel (see below, if it reminds you of The Blue Bar at the Berkeley Hotel it is because that was also by David Collins Studio)

I was a little worried that the food and service would be terrible.  It wasn’t Four Seasons in charge here, it is an investment group best known for running low-frills Hoxton Hotel properties.  I needn’t have worried.  Both the service and, more importantly, the food were far better than I had been expecting.

There is so much to do here it is silly.  There is an equestrian centre with 25 horses, there is falconry, there is gun dog training, there is archery, there is shooting, there are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, pitch and putt, the three main golf courses, mini 4×4 driving for young kids etc etc.

My only criticism is that none of this comes cheaply, apart from the free pitch and putt.  Even borrowing a bike to explore the 850 acre estate costs £20, so £80 for a family of four.  If you throw yourself into the activities, you can easily spend more than your room rate each day.

In terms of getting there, Gleneagles has its own railway station with direct services from London.  (The hotel was originally built by the Caledonian Railway in the 1920s.)  Most people would drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow airports – it is under an hour from Edinburgh.

I know that this is not the most thorough hotel review we’ve ever done.  However, all you need to know is this:  if you are the sort of person who leaves London to head off to Four Seasons Hampshire, Coworth Park, Chewton Glen or The Grove at the weekend, you can now add Gleneagles to your list.

Special benefits for booking Gleneagles via Bon Vivant or Amex Platinum

If you book via our hotel partner Bon Vivant you will get the following extra benefits on top of the ‘Best Flexible’ room only rate:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Full buffet breakfast
  • Traditional afternoon tea for two once during stay
  • Early check-in / late check-out, subject to availability
  • For stays of two nights or more:  a complimentary round of golf on the King’s or Queen’s Course (2021 edit: the golf is no longer available)

You can contact Bon Vivant via the form on this page of HfP.

Alternatively, if you have an American Express Platinum charge card, you can book via Fine Hotels & Resorts.  You will get similar benefits, although check the room rates as FHR pricing rarely matches the official website.  Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but it rarely matches exactly!

The FHR benefits are:

  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available.
  • Noon check-in, when available.
  • Daily breakfast for two people.
  • In-Room wi-fi, exclusions apply.
  • Guaranteed 4:00 pm late check-out.
  • A complimentary round of golf for two people per room, including greens fee and cart rental (for courses that permit carts), once during your stay.  (2021 edit: the golf is no longer available)

Note that the hotel will not swap the golf amenity for anything else if you don’t play – we tried.

The key difference with FHR is that you don’t get the afternoon tea but you do get a guaranteed 4pm check-out, whereas Virtuoso is a woolier ‘late check-out subject to availability’.

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Comments (68)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Bootlace says:

    Slightly O/T but golf related, on my way to Augusta last Friday. AA offered $600 to take later flight from LGA to CLT, however Mrs Bootlace wasn’t having it, so I passed up $1200 of flight credit. The Masters was awesome. Next stop Portrush.

  • Anna says:

    We love this area though our budget doesn’t run to Gleneagles, unfortunately! I still laugh when remembering one year when we visited Blair Castle and the very grumpy and exasperated local guide who was showing a group of American tourists round started by snapping at them that, no, it’s not Tony Blair’s ancestral home.

    • TripRep says:

      lol – He probably gets asked evey day.

      If I had that as a retirement job I’d whisper “shhh, pls dont tell anyone, they wouldnt believe you anyway”

  • Alun says:

    BBC ran a “The Boss” article today on the guy who bought the Gleneagles hotel. Worth a quick read if you’re interested in the background of the owner.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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