Afour-star luxury and pampering weekend in the form of an early spring break – just what we needed after a long, dreich winter.
The Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Peebles, was where we chose to go for this treat. A hotel full of promise, with spa, golf course, fitness suite, swimming pool, restaurant and bars, deluxe bedrooms and a wide range of outdoor pursuits and activities.
After a pleasant drive down to the Scottish borders, we arrived in Peebles in time to partake of an afternoon coffee in the High Street with its impressive selection of coffee shops and independent stores.
Suitably refreshed, we drove the remaining few miles to the hotel at Cardrona where we enjoyed a warm welcome from the receptionist and a very swift check-in.
Our room was on the ground floor, with patio doors opening on to the golf course, very inviting bed and comfortable chairs. The room was all we expected and more.
Before we even had a chance to unpack there was a knock at the door and room service appeared with glasses of champagne and a plate of handmade chocolates. Now this sort of treatment I could get used to.
Our massage treatments were booked for just after 5pm so we walked along the corridor to the treatment rooms. My wife was to have a face and neck massage, while I was to have my neck, shoulders and back massaged. The masseuse was very professional explaining exactly what she would be doing, why and what oils she would use. She started so gently and I relaxed into the mood, but all too soon it was time to retire to the relaxation room, with comfy chairs, soft lighting and soothing music where we could both recover gradually, before preparing for dinner.
Dinner was excellent. From the minute we walked into the restaurant, the staff were attentive and friendly. They were also extremely knowledgeable of the food on the menu, and so able to help us choose from the menu.
We settled on the smoked salmon from Aberdeen to start, while I enjoyed the haunch of venison, beautifully seasoned and cooked, and my wife had the pumpkin-stuffed ravioli – unusual and very tasty. We both had sticky toffee pudding for afters, followed by coffee in the lounge.
After a superb night’s sleep, helped no doubt by the relaxed mood brought on by the massages and the extremely comfortable bed, breakfast was what we expected from a hotel of this stature. Cold buffet, cereals, yoghurts, fresh fruit, all available and replenished regularly with a full Scottish cooked to order.
Over breakfast, we decided that I would go to Glentress Mountain Bike Centre, just a couple of miles from the hotel, while Moira would have a walk along the river behind the hotel.
One of the features of this hotel is the number and range of activities nearby. If the weather had been really bad, we wouldn’t even have had to leave the building to go swimming or keep fit in the hotel fitness suite, or even talking about golf in the golf bar, or with the professional in the golf shop.
Glentress is probably the best biking centre in Britain having won several awards.
It has brilliant trails of all grades and a new visitor centre including a bike shop and cafe. All it costs for access to over 30km of trails from easy to extremely arduous and difficult is £3 per day to park your car.
I hadn’t been before and soon linked up with a group of riders from an internet group who were having a day out mountain biking and when they discovered I was on my own, invited me to join them on the trails.
After three hours of exhausting climbs and exhilarating descents, I returned to the hotel where my wife was relaxing after her walk along the river.
The hotel staff recommended a visit to Peebles, mentioning especially Cocoa Black, an establishment which won UK Confectioner of the Year 2011. Wild horses couldn’t have held us back.
As well as the sweets and chocolates, Cocoa Black has a coffee shop with a delicious range of coffees and cakes to die for, although we did have to queue for a short while before we could get a table, but it was so worth it.
The town centre in Peebles is fantastic, and very picturesque.
When it started to rain, we simply slipped into one of the many tea-rooms which frequent the High Street, then made a dash for the car, driving back the few miles to the hotel, in time for a pleasant swim and shower before dinner.
The hotel was fairly busy on Saturday, so we chose to have a late dinner. In spite of this the staff were extremely cheery, with warm smiles. The service was every bit as good as the evening before, and it wasn’t long before we could reflect on a superb meal and contemplate a comfy bed and good night’s sleep.
On Sunday, we woke up to a dusting of snow which threatened my round of golf. Breakfast over, and snow all but disappeared, we made our way to the golf shop.
Although you can bring your own clubs, there is no need as the shop can easily accommodate.
At more than 7,000 yards, the course is a challenge for high-handicap golfers like me.
The temperature was pretty cold so after playing just a few holes, on a course which was a credit to the greenkeepers, we called a halt and returned to a hot coffee in the 19th.
This was an unfortunate end to a superb weekend in a hotel which catered for every eventuality.
Knowledgeable, friendly, helpful staff, fantastic food, outdoor and indoor pursuits for all abilities and ages, few hotels can match the Macdonald Cardrona for these facilities.
Exhausted, we headed home, planning for when we could return and experience it all again. Hopefully in slightly warmer and drier weather, but the Macdonald Cardrona can help you enjoy your break, whatever the weather.
Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Golf & Spa, Horsbrugh Ford, Peebles. Phone 0844 879 9024 or visit www.macdonald hotels.co.uk/cardrona
Golf/spa package: from £95 per person inclusive of dinner, bed & breakfast and your choice of a half-hour spa treatment or 18 holes of golf.
Spring three for two offer – £179 per person inclusive of dinner, bed & breakfast with a complimentary £10 drinks voucher and £10 spa voucher. Children stay free B&B. Valid until April 30.
B&B rates start from £103 per room. Rates are based on two people sharing a classic twin/double room.