My review of 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

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.

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

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.

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’.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Phil Huff says:

    I was there last week, too. If there were still a load of BMW X7 cars parked outside, that was the UK media launch of the new car.

    I had low expectations, thinking it would be a stuffy, tedious experience, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said, but I’d put the service ahead of the food – every member of staff I felt with were fantastic, which is impressive when there’s almost 1,000 of them.

    I was in the ‘new’ block, with a fantastic room. I wish I could put an image here to show it off!

    • Yes, BMW had taken most of the meeting space on Thu and Fri.

      • Phil Huff says:

        I was there for Tue/Wed. If I’d have known you were there, I’d have bought you a drink.
        Well, BMW would have 😉

  2. Totally agree, Gleneagles is set in a fantastic location. I was there a couple of years ago and it was outstanding in every sense. Stayed in an estate lodge suite – stunning. Catch some decent weather and it offers everything you could possibly need. Some great walking routes available too, stopping off at the half way house (between 9/10 holes) on the Kings/ Queens course for a coffee / snack. Played the Kings course 2 weeks ago. PGA centenary course is the Ryder cup course and is a tough test of golf. Hotel is expensive but you get what you pay for – worth every penny.

  3. When my hubby retired for the 2nd time almost 3 years ago we were taken to Gleneagles for a meal by his management team and were also given bed and breakfast which was an unexpected treat. I have never seen so much food for a breakfast spread in my life – I’m not a great eater first thing in the morning so it was wasted on me. I bought my hubby the Gleneagles Whisky Masterclass for Xmas a couple of years ago. He went with our neighbour while his wife and I enjoyed an afternoon tea. It is a beautiful place!

  4. The Savage Squirrel says:

    Nice review and a lovely family photo 🙂

    What were the accomodation options for a family with two children? Single room with an extra/pullout bed? The rooms certainly look big enough for an adjoining room to be unnecessary…!

    • Not sure – Emyr can speak to them and check best options. We took a suite because it wasn’t much more than two separate rooms and my daughter (5’8 at age 11) wants a proper bed if it is 3 nights.

    • Yes, family photo with a dog is v cute – Rob’s children look like small copies of their parents!

    • I think most rooms including and above their ‘sovereign double’ (one step above basic) can accommodate the extra rollaway beds. We’ve stayed there twice in a (very generously sized) estate double with a sofa bed and an extra rollaway bed, which worked well. They usually charge £50 b&b supplement for each extra guest in the room, although check with Emyr as this is sometimes waved in various promotions.

  5. Does seem a pity to be at one of Scotland’s most famous hotels and feel as if you’re in a London clone.

  6. Haha, love it, asking to change your round of golf to save cash at Gleneagles will likely be your faux pas of the year 🙂

  7. Nice family photo!

  8. Gleneagles is a great place. The Strathern restaurant is reopening soon, on the 1st May. Restaurant Andrew Fairlie is still open, you can book it here – https://www.andrewfairlie.co.uk/andrew-fairlie-restaurant/reservations/make-a-reservation

  9. ThinkSquare says:

    “if you are the sort of person who leaves London to head off to…”
    Whilst I’m sure leaving London is a very appealing prospect, is that really relevant to a reviw of a Scottish hotel? You do have readers outside London, you know

    • Given the prices, London salaries may be required 🙂

      • Freddy says:

        Yep we’re all skint ‘op north’ compared to the riches down in London eh

        • Never met a Yorkshireman who still live there who would pay £80 to borrow four bikes for an hour ….!

        • There’s a huge difference between what you can do with a London salary when you live in London and a non-London salary when you don’t. Disposable income, innit.

  10. When I was starting out as a journalist in Scotland in the 1980s, I was told we had to be very careful to call “Gleneagles” “Gleneagles Hotel”.

    Reason was that the Laird of Gleneagles in Gleneagles House was a “very spirited” defender of his family’s heritage.

    Quite a character, as his obituary shows:

    https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12676352.laird-of-gleneagles/

  11. henry warnock says:

    Gleneagles is without doubt the best hotel in Scotland. Just to let you know that Ennismore, the new owner, is doing the design of the refurbishment themselves, they have their own team of designers and have plans to make it the best in the UK !

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