Hotel Review: The Fairmont St Andrews
Why this Scottish gem should high up on your travel wishlist
If the thought of St. Andrews doesn’t conjure up much beyond golf courses and the ancient university, maybe it’s time for a refresher. Perched on a cliff top position with a wealth of family-friendly activities on offer, the Fairmont St Andrews is the perfect spot from which to discover this charming coastal town.
Review: The Fairmont St Andrews
Though it’s a fifteen minute drive at most, the route from the centre of town to the Fairmont is a memorable one. Framed by the sea and glinting gold of the surrounding fauna, the views only get better once you reach the hotel itself, set in a sprawling coastal estate of 520 acres.
Once you’ve undergone the mandatory temperature check and breezed through the vast atrium – gently ushered all the way by the wonderfully attentive staff – the rooms upstairs are airy and comfortable, with cool-toned interiors and (naturally) subtle tartan accents. If you’re lucky, the windows open onto the hotel’s grounds, with views stretching all the way out to sea. Marbled and mirrored, the vast bathrooms are generously stocked with toiletries from cool NYC label Le Labo.
Whether you’re gearing up for a long day’s golfing or just eager to get stuck into every activity on offer (and there are many), you can be safe in the knowledge that the hotel’s dining options are varied and multi-faceted, all gathered under the capacious atrium roof.
Formal evenings call for dinner at the elegant St. Andrews Bar and Grill at the Squire restaurant, where the sizeable steaks are locally sourced and the seafood is impossibly fresh. In the morning, you’ll find it serving a hearty Scottish breakfast with lashings of smoked salmon. Alternatively, there’s La Cucina, the warm, family friendly Italian eatery where the patient staff are more than a match for your rowdy bunch.
Oh, and that’s not even mentioning the outdoor bars, where you can sip on a chilled glass of Moët or a hot toddy while soaking in the golden-hour ambience of St Andrews at sunset and distant sounds of breaking waves.
St Andrews is a university town (third-oldest in the UK and the oldest in Scotland), and it’s certainly worth a quick trip away from the oasis of the Fairmont to take in the ancient buildings, the dramatic ruins of the Cathedral and the general atmosphere of frenzied student life. After a stroll along the beach and nosey around campus, don’t miss a trip to the flagship Johnstons of Elgin store, where you’ll find every item of clothing you can think of rendered in the softest cashmere imaginable.
In terms of passing your time, it’s really all about the great outdoors – and a good thing too, for they are truly great. Top-class golfing facilities notwithstanding (there’s also family classes and junior lessons to teach your tykes the art of the swing), the hotel’s school holiday activities offer an unprecedented range of pursuits, from the educational to just plain fun. There’s archery, falconry, clay pigeon shooting and Segway tours, as well as guided walks, including discovering the archaeological quirks of the coastal path with archeologist and explorer Neil Dobson and a foraging session with wild food expert Tony Wison. Grown-ups can also enjoy gin tastings and visits to neighbouring distilleries.
If you’re seeking refuge from the blustery coastal winds, there’s always the hotel spa. It’s a luxurious affair, with Aromatherapy Associates products and a vast array of pampering treatments.
THE LAST WORD
Warm and welcoming from the get-go, the Fairmont St Andrews is the ultimate getaway for adventurous families and intrepid golfers, tucked away in a breathtaking setting just moments from what must be one of Scotland’s prettiest towns. Pack your best clubs and comfiest walking boots alike – with so much on offer, it would be a shame to only stay for a weekend.
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