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Five-star gold at the end of the rainbow

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Sunsets, woodland walks, exceptional dining and log fires – just some of the delights experienced by Susan Welsh during a relaxing trip to the Borders


Oh dear, this visit to the Borders wasn’t going according to our plans. The idea was to drive directly from Inverness to the Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course near Kelso straight after work on the Friday night. No dilly dallying. Then we’d spend the weekend exploring the Borders.

Instead, as we drove slowly through lush green countryside and gently rolling hills, mother nature put on a spectacular show, starting with several rainbows which appeared to be beamed magically through the clouds, and followed by a stunning sunset that bathed the Borders in vivid hues of orange, purples and reds. We kept stopping to admire the night skies which made us a tad late in arriving.


Arriving at the hotel, which has the look and feel of a splendid luxurious private house, we were warmly greeted by general manager David Robertson. Apologising for our tardiness, he assured us this wasn’t a problem but something of regular occurrence as spectacular sunsets, which are par for the course here, often stop people in their tracks. As soon as we stepped across the threshold into the entrance hall, we felt at ease.

With a wood fire burning merrily in the grate, tartan carpets, tasteful antiques and furniture and some rather delicious smells wafting from the dining room which is overseen by legendary French three-star Michelin chef, Albert Roux, we knew we were in for a wonderful break. Our room was charming, with a luxurious en-suite and fantastic views across beautiful gardens which are part of the Duke of Roxburghe’s ancestral estate.

Pre-dinner drinks, along with some rather tasty nibbles, were served in the library, a superb room with a small bar and shelves lined with hundreds of books. On chilly days it would be the perfect spot to lose yourself in a novel by the fire. Dinner was served in the restaurant which is classically decorated and has wonderful views overlooking the lawn which is dominated by an illuminated impressive oak tree. It’s bright enough to let guests play croquet on the lawn in front of the tree – a nice way to work up an appetite!


Albert Roux is very much at the helm of the restaurant and is regularly around to ensure all is going to swimmingly. We tucked into his classic twice-baked cheese souffle, and dishes featuring local salmon, guinea-fowl and venison – superbly presented and full of flavour, and after a post-dinner drink in the library, retired feeling very contented with life in general.

Saturday was a glorious day with brilliant sunshine all the way. After a superb breakfast, we headed out to explore the hotel’s grounds which include a championship 18-hole golf course, one of the top inland courses in Scotland and created by Dave Thomas, an internationally renowned golf course architect and former Ryder Cup star; a golf driving range, pitch and putt area, a lochan where you can practice casting – you can also try salmon fishing in season; grouse and pheasant shooting (depending on the season) and clay pigeon shooting.

Having been provided with a map of woodland walks, we spent a couple of hours blissfully walking and soaking up the views and sunshine in equal measures before heading back to the hotel for a delicious light lunch. A small wedding was in full swing, and we had the pleasure of sitting outside in the gardens while listening to classical music played by a quartet drifting on the wind. If this is how the other half lives then I’d like to join them please.

Bowmont Suite at the Roxburghe House Hotel & Golf Course in Kelso
Bowmont Suite at the Roxburghe House Hotel & Golf Course in Kelso

The early part of the afternoon was spent in the company of a wonderful gent, clay shooting expert Alistair Ferguson, whose passion for the sport is matched only by his love of old jokes which he delivers with a twinkle in his eye. Under his guidance, we successfully hit a
few clays which was great fun. “I tell people if they don’t hit at least one clay they’ll get their money back,” said Alistair. He’s yet to give a refund as under his patient tuition, you can’t fail to succeed – when you stop laughing.

Before dinner we visited the hotel’s beauty suite, where friendly young beautician Jodie Adams used her skills to give us a 30-minute back massage which left us feeling even more relaxed and pampered before yet another veritable feast courtesy of the talented Mr Roux’s team.

With just 22 rooms, The Roxburghe feels less like a hotel and more like a private house belonging to a well-heeled and very generous friend. Part of the ICMI hotel collection, it’s about as far removed from a chain hotel as you can get. Part of that credit must go to the staff who are exceptionally helpful and friendly without being intrusive and really go out of their way to make you feel like a welcome old friend who has come to stay.

It was only when were reluctantly preparing to check out on Sunday that we realised that we hadn’t left the hotel or grounds all weekend – something we’ve never done before as we tend to use hotels as a base to explore the local area. That in itself speaks volumes for The Roxburghe which has now gone into our list of top 10 hotels to visit.


Standard rooms are priced from £225 per room per night. Rates include a full Scottish breakfast.

The hotel offers morning coffee, afternoon teas and daily lunches with dishes priced from £5. The lounge menu is available daily from noon-10pm. Chez Roux offers lunch and dinner daily with both set price and a la carte menus.

Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, Heiton by Kelso Roxburghshire, TD5 8JZ

Contact: 01573 450331 or