An offer to experience Gleneagles, even for one night, is not something you want to turn down.
Who wouldn’t want to visit Scotland’s most famous hotel?
I had been invited there to see some of the changes that have quietly taken place at the hotel which last year finished on a high, having won a string of top industry awards including Best Golf Resort in the World and Domestic Bliss prize at the National Geographic Traveller Reader Awards.
Sharan Pasricha, founder and CEO of Ennismore, which owns Gleneagles, said: “The accolades we’ve received throughout the year recognise success across every part of our business – from our newly designed spaces, to our spa, and from our golf experience to our culinary offering – and give us the momentum to make 2019 even better.”
They are two of the awards the hotel won last year – there’s more but too many to list here – a year that saw the venue unveil new spaces such as Ochil House, a splendid building that has the feel of a luxurious country house; while the Dormy restaurant got a new look and all the Braid House bedrooms were redesigned.
Our room for the night was on the first floor of Braid House and overlooked the grand entrance to Gleneagles.
Luxury comes as standard here but this room exceeded my expectations thanks to the enormous spa-like bathroom, mega-comfortable bedroom and open-plan living room with living flame gas fire operated by remote control.
Sitting in the lap of luxury, in front of your own roaring fire, while winter raged outside, was just the best feeling.
Anness Brown, the hotel’s marketing director, gave me a quick tour of the hotel, including a visit to the iconic Century Bar by the main reception area, which has been redesigned by eminent design house David Collins Studio.
Here you can sample more than 120 single malts, vintage champagnes by the glass as well as memorable cocktails in real style.
The American Bar is also uber-stylish, a glamorous space that harks back to the iconic bars of the 1920s and 1930s.
Until recently, one area of it had been used to store luggage but, thanks to Collins’ designers, it’s now an opulent, beautiful place to enjoy an authentic cocktail from that era.
Dinner was in The Birnam Brasserie, a French bistro-style restaurant which has introduced a new lower-price menu offering.
We had big West Coast scallops with a lovely garlic sauce and home-made bread to start followed by Bouillabaisse, a flavour-packed fish stew with saffron potatoes and braised fennel and boeuf bourguignon.
We finished off our meal by sharing a pear and almond tart and the cheeseboard.
Next morning we were up bright and early as we wanted to visit the health club, which is free for all guests to use.
It’s a fabulous space with two indoor pools, one for adults only, and a heated outdoor pool, which on wintry days makes you feel like you’re in an Icelandic spa. With steam rooms, saunas and ice fountains, we left feeling relaxed and ready for breakfast in The Strathearn restaurant.
Breakfast at Gleneagles is something you must not miss.
The offerings are superb and include an impressive juice bar, or if you fancy something stronger, why not try a Buck’s Fizz or Bloody Mary to kick start your day? There’s a cheese counter, charcuterie, cuts of salmon, made-to-order pancakes, baskets of fresh fruit and yoghurts, along with a heavenly bakery section.
A traditional Scottish breakfast is available at the buffet while the kitchen will happily rustle up poached fish or omelettes should you prefer something made to order.
Our visit was short but sweet, and made it easy to see why Gleneagles is regarded as the jewel in Scotland’s hotel crown.
This September, the golf course plays host to The Solheim Cup, the biggest event in women’s golf, and it is expected to attract more than 100,000 spectators from across the globe.
The hotel, with its refurbished spaces and new areas for children, is a great option for those planning on making the trip to take in the Solheim Cup action.
However, demand is expected to be high, so early booking is advisable.