It can be difficult to switch off and totally relax at home. With so many distractions, including box sets and household chores sometimes it’s nice to just get away from it all. When we go away even for a short time it flicks the reset button. So when we were invited for an overnight retreat to the Stair Arms Hotel just before the festive season, we couldn’t wait. This was perfect timing.
As with all of our road trips, we always plan a stop off somewhere enroute. The easiest choice would have been Edinburgh as it’s not too far away, but this was supposed to be a relaxing break. We opted for a tour at one of the few lowlands distilleries.
I have been to this distillery previously but it’s now undergoing a major face lift. They are building a new visitor centre which already looks really impressive, with it’s large windows overlooking, what will be, landscaped gardens.
We checked in for a 1pm tour and headed up to the exhibition area to read all about the history of the distillery and plans for the future too. No-one else arrived in time for the same tour as us so we enjoyed a private tour.
I must have done well over twenty distillery tours since moving to Scotland and still enjoy each one. Although the process is essentially the same, the history is always different. Glenkinchie even tells tales of their distillery dog who was also included in their staff photo. As someone who has a soft spot for all animals, this warmed my cockles.
As with all whisky tours it ends with tasting the final product. I’m not a lover of whisky (yes, I know, I know…) and one of us had to drive so Dude enjoyed sampling some of the single malt. His usual preference is a peated Islay dram but he enjoyed his first taste of this lowland whisky too. It’s nice to explore some of the other choices.
The Stair Arms Hotel
The weather wasn’t particularly good for this trip and we had no plans for any walks. We had decided to make our way straight to the Stair Arms Hotel to see if we could check in a bit earlier.
We were greeted with a smile and cheery hello from behind the check-in desk, which immediately made us feel at home. Thankfully, we were allowed to check in early too.
The hotel has twelve rooms, including a large family room. Our room was at the far end of the hotel facing the gardens and fields to the rear. Considering there is a busy thoroughfare outside connecting Edinburgh and the Borders, we couldn’t hear the traffic at all.
We put the kettle on straight away and settled down to catch up on a bit of reading. Sitting by the large window I admit may have been a bit of a distraction once I realised there are horses in the field. With our phones now on silent we whiled away the next couple of hours unwinding.
The bedroom was a lovely space, with wooden flooring, plenty of space to pack clothes away in the wardrobe and drawers. We also had a dressing table with a large mirror. A nice touch. The king size bed was super comfy as we found out later.
The bathroom was nicely decorated, as you’d expect following a recent refurbishment. Although I did find it rather chilly in there, in spite of the heated towel rail.
Of course, when we are away, it’s perfectly acceptable to go to the bar early. It gets dark early here, during winter in Scotland and it was nice to go down to the bar to get a seat next to the roaring fire. After ordering some drinks we made ourselves at home on the comfy seats in the lounge area. Decorated in natural hues of creams and greens, with just enough tweed to make a statement but is not overdone.
Whilst chatting with some locals we discovered that there was an event on in one of the function rooms, just as more folk started to arrive.
Our table was booked for seven and we were seated near the fire. First look at the menu and we couldn’t make a decision, it all sounded so good. Eventually I opted for the battered mushrooms with garlic mayo, whilst Dude chose haggis fritters served with a creamy Glenkinchie and wholegrain mustard sauce. Followed by fresh haddock, chips and homemade tartare sauce, and the Stair Way to Heaven burger. A burger (obviously), with pulled pork, cheese and onion rings in a brioche bun.
In theory there is no way we should have had any room for more food! That said, it’s a well known fact that women have a separate stomach for pudding! So, with that in mind I ordered mint choc chip ice cream and Dude ordered three balls of his favourite flavours too. Needless to say our eyes were bigger than bellies. We were stuffed.
Retreating back to the comfy seats in the lounge area to finish our evening with coffee and a dram (not for me), content and almost ready for bed.
After a really good night’s sleep we found it difficult to get out of bed, choosing to read a few more pages of our books. Taking advantage of a later check out of 11am we had booked to have breakfast at 08:30.
As with our evening meal, there were plenty of tasty options. Everything from a full Scottish cooked breakfast, eggs royale and cold meats, perfect way to start the day. One more brew before we headed back up to the room to pack before heading off. We were in no rush to leave this relaxation bubble, even sneaking in another chapter of reading before we left.
Haste ye back
At the check out desk, we blethered to the young lady who was working and praised the amazing meal from the night before. It was clear that she was proud of the family business and enjoyed working there. We had found all of the staff to be welcoming, polite and helpful. Especially when I had to send Dude down to reception to ask if there was a hairdryer. Having searched the room I was unable to find one on the evening of our arrival. He came back with one, problem solved.
Situated on the outskirts of Pathead village, the hotel started out in 1831 as a coaching inn. These days it has elegance and charm, alongside the warmth of a family run business and a cosy log fires. For us this hotel offers the best of both worlds – reasonable prices, excellent food but just a hop, skip and a jump from Edinburgh city centre. Also not far from the coast (Musselburgh is just a 15 minute drive). With Glenkinchie Distillery and the National Mining Museum not far either, there is something for everyone.
Having an overnight retreat to the Stair Arms Hotel just before all the festive parties was just what we needed.
**We were invited to stay at the Stair Arms Hotel on a complimentary basis in return for this blog post. All menu choices were our own and over-eating totally our fault!