Many times this summer I have spoken to people who have said they don’t really know much about the Scottish Borders. Most admitting they just use it as a gateway to Edinburgh, the Cairngorms, further afield and everything in between. I am not necessarily one of those people but just under an hour and a half away from Perth I can quite easily be in the Borders. Last week I decided that we should venture south and looked to book somewhere a little bit different. With the help of the ASSC I was lucky enough to find Airhouses, situated just six miles from Lauder.
Before we had even arrived we felt like we knew the property, what is has to offer and what we could do during our stay. The Airhouses website is beautifully presented, lovely images, descriptions and even cocktail recipes! Very helpful. It seems they really have thought of everything. The online information booklet (a printed copy also provided in the property) tells you all about a children’s treasure trail, the animals on the farm, local places to eat and those that deliver. Special occasion? No problem, you can arrange for a local chef to come and cook for you. There is a number for a local florist too.
It doesn’t stop there either. Telephone numbers for taxi’s, the doctors surgery, location of the cash point machines. You can have golf lessons locally, photography workshops and even the local beauty therapists can visit your lodge if you book in advance.
Although I didn’t use this booking process (our trip was organised through Embrace Scotland) it does look straight forward – you select your chosen accommodation, the dates you wish to stay, how many people you are booking for. After this you are sent to a page where you can add extra’s such as house keeping, extra coffee capsules and if you are bringing along dogs (there are added charges to all of these). It is on this page you can also request high chairs, shower chairs, high chairs and to swap your Scottish breakfast basket for a vegetarian option – all of these things are at no added cost.
Clear instructions were sent to us prior to our arrival giving directions, instructions on what time we can collect our key and reassuring us that Capercaillie, our chosen lodge, will have everything we will need for our stay.
Upon our arrival we were met with some stunning scenery. Rolling hills covered in hay bales and looking rather pretty. At reception we were greeted by Carol who owns Airhouses with her husband, Martin. She gave us our key and told us that Martin would be along shortly to give us instructions on how to work the hot tub and BBQ hut.
WOW! From the second we opened the front door we were wowed with how well designed, beautifully presented, warm, light and spacious Capercaillie is. I know it sounds silly to say that a property that can sleep ten people is spacious but I have been to some places where there have been pull out beds and people have to sleep in the living room. Not here!
The large entrance hallway allows access straight in to the open living space of the kitchen, dining room and lounge. The country house style kitchen has an Aga with ceramic induction hob – perfect for catering for a large amount of people. Lots of storage space containing everything you will want for a self catering stay – all the usual and then nice little touches like cling film, decent knives and food mixers (always good for a spot of baking). The large fridge will easily store all the food (and alcohol) needed to cater for ten people. There is also a large breakfast bar with two stools.
The dining area is home to a long table and chairs, for the family meals.
And at the far end of the room, the lounge. Three super comfortable, huge sofas and other seating – plenty for everyone. The television and docking station for playing music is also located in this area. It is from this end of the room you can access the outside decking area and admire the views. Or if, like us, you visit on a very windy weekend you can still look out through the french doors and keep warm.
Just in the next room is the snug. Again another light and airy space but this has a more relaxed feel to it. Lovely rattan furniture, a huge bookcase full of books, DVD’s, board games, packs of cards and even a games console! This room also has french doors which step out on to the decking and out to the hot tub (more about that later).
The first bedroom is on the ground floor and has a super king size bed and is accessible for anyone with poor mobility or those that use a wheelchair. The en-suite is a walk in style wet room and also has a bath with a hand rail. The built in wardrobes have lower rails and shelves and the whole room was clear enough to easily maneuver a chair or frame around. No tight spaces to negotiate.
The open staircase leads to the first floor where the landing over looks the snug and onto the farm. There are four further bedrooms up here, two with en-suite bathrooms and THE most amazing rainhead showers. Two of these rooms can either be twin beds or super king size doubles. There is also a family bathroom, so there shouldn’t be any arguing about how long someone is taking in the shower! All of the bedrooms have hairdryers and dressing tables, built in wardrobes and have hangers.
There are extra towels and slippers in each room for when using the hot tub too. Capercaillie also comes with its own plastic glasses to take into the hot tub – no-one wants any accidents!
So now I mention the hot tub and with our earlier lesson on how to operate it we were able to enjoy time in it on both nights of our stay. The first night it was really windy and cloudy but we did get to see bats flying about. On the second night it was much calmer, hardly any clouds and we saw the bats, heard owls and looked up to the sky to see the stars. Really quite special.
Each of the lodges (and the pod) has a hot tub and BBQ hut. Making this whole experience quite something! It was great to light a BBQ at the end of September in Scotland, be safe from the elements and enjoy locally sourced meat with the added charcoal taste.
As I mentioned earlier, Airhouses is located on a working farm with a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle. There are also Shetland ponies, a lama, two alpaca, pigs and chickens too. A lovely opportunity for children to feed the ponies and the website says that you can also help groom them.
There are various walks, treasure trails and hill climbs around and on the farm, so you really don’t have to go far to experience the Scottish Borders and it’s beauty.
Whilst we were there we saw hares and a couple of deer too but you may be lucky and see more.
Would I go back? Hell yes!
The attention to detail in the website, the accommodation, the information pack, the Scottish breakfast welcome pack in the fridge, the books for all ages, the sand pit and allowing children to get involved on the farm is perfect. The quality of the bed linen, the towels, the liquid soap in each of the bathrooms – it all makes a huge difference to someones stay.
We would definitely stay in an Airhouses property again. After spending time on Lauder golf course and also time on the coast at Eyemouth, just fifty minutes drive away, Capercaillie and the other lodges have so much to offer and I look forward to exploring the Scottish Borders again soon.
I will point out that for the purpose of this review we were invited to Airhouses via Embrace Scotland. Playing golf, drinking Scottish gin and eating local sausages were all done (not at the same time) responsibly.