If it’s good enough for Beyonce, it’s good enough for me.”
That’s what I thought anyway after reading that the superstar had supposedly stayed at Mar Hall while she was performing at the SECC in Glasgow, just a few weeks before I was due to stay there.
My family and friends told me to be on “celeb-watch” while I was there. But having stayed in Mar Hall, I honestly couldn’t tell you if I did see any familiar faces among my fellow guests as there was one star that I couldn’t take my eyes off – the hotel itself!
Formerly Erskine Mansion, Mar Hall sits amid 200 acres of the Earl of Mar Estate. Originally starting off as a stately family home, it later became a hospital for injured servicemen.
Nowadays, it is a grand and elegant hotel boasting 53 lavishly designed bedrooms and suites while many period features have been retained. It has breathtaking views over the River Clyde and also boasts a spa and the 18-hole Earl of Mar Golf Course.
Having looked at the hotel online, I couldn’t wait to see the magnificent hotel for myself. As we made our way down the long winding driveway, I caught glimpses of the building, teasing us until the grand reveal. The first look at the hotel, however, is definitely worth the wait. It is an elegant building which complements its scenic locations beautifully.
The grandeur only gets better once inside. After being greeted by friendly and helpful staff, we made our way to our bedroom – a gorgeous and large space complete with four-poster bed, period fireplace and large windows offering great views of the grounds. A stylish bathroom gave the room a modern touch.
Once refreshed and changed, we made our way to the Crystal Restaurant, which meant walking through the grand hallway which is completely jaw-dropping and exquisite.
The restaurant itself was equally impressive and was a lovely setting for what we were to discover would be a brilliant dining experience. We were offered both a set menu and a la carte with lots of choices on offer. However, being in a large former country mansion, I decided to go rustic and start with the root vegetable soup with black olive bread roll while my boyfriend chose the Cullen skink, a particular favourite of his.
Neither of us were left disappointed by our choices, especially my boyfriend whose dish was not only beautifully put together but also uniquely presented to him. The dish came with a free-range soft poached egg and toasted oats, which were on the plate when it was served to him. Seconds later, the waiter returned with the main element of the dish and poured it around its accompaniments in front of us. It definitely gave the meal an interesting start.
For the next course, we both went for meat choices – me the Ayrshire breast of chicken with spring onion mash, seasonal vegetables, tarragon and pancetta sauce, and for my boyfriend, the herb-crusted three-bone rack of Ayrshire lamb carved on dauphinoise potatoes, carrot puree and roasted vine tomatoes.
Chicken can be a particularly boring choice, but at Mar Hall they managed to make it one of the most enjoyable dishes I’ve had. The meat was very soft and full of flavour while the spring mash was a nice alternative to your basic potato. My boyfriend also enjoyed his lamb which was, in his words, “cooked to perfection”.
And despite being pretty much full, we both managed to find space for dessert. I went for the warm chocolate cake with fruit and vanilla ice cream while my boyfriend tried the mango and marscarpone cheesecake with summer berry compote and passion-fruit syrup. The fact that neither of us came up for air says it all really. Both desserts were absolutely delicious and were a great end to our culinary experience.
We then decided to head into Glasgow’s city centre, which is one of the many great things about Mar Hall. Although it is a fantastic rural retreat and offers beautiful countryside and river views, with the motorway only a short distance away, you can be back to the bright lights in around 20 minutes. So we spent Saturday night enjoying Glasgow’s legendary night life beginning our journey in the west end’s quaint Ashton Lane before heading on to busy Sauchiehall Street to explore its score of pubs and nightclubs.
Saturday morning got off to a great start with a buffet breakfast back in the Crystal Restaurant. As well as traditional Scottish cooked breakfast staples, Mar Hall has a wide range of breakfast items, definitely something for everyone. We rounded off our visit with a trip to the hotel’s spa facilities and a walk around the scenic grounds.
Our spa treatments began with a relaxing back, shoulder and neck massage and finished with a refreshing facial which left my skin glowing. My shoulders also felt more relaxed and as if they had actually dropped down an inch. It was a great end to what had been a very relaxing stay.
Mar Hall is many things; it is a fantastic country retreat and it is close enough to Glasgow to work as a location for a city break or accommodation for events such as the Commonwealth Games or gigs at the various venues. So whatever you are looking for, Mar Hall will definitely have it.
Mar Hall Golf and Spa Resort, Bishopton, near Glasgow PA7 5NW. Call 0141 812 9999. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Rooms from £195 per night for bed and breakfast