It was with some trepidation that I booked a four day break at Gleneagles. Gleneagles is a world famous, 5 star luxury hotel. It is without doubt a beautiful and magical place. The hotel website describes it as “a palace in the glens”. It has Scotland’s only restaurant awarded two Michelin stars. So why might you ask was I hesitant in booking a short break there?
Well, I have two children with boundless energy, aged seven and five. Any parent will now understand my fear . Do I really want to take my two animated little offspring to a high end luxury golf resort? I know nothing about golf but I’ve heard stories about stuffy golf clubs and rules and regulations. Couple this with a luxury spa hotel, would my children fit in with this environment? Would it be a constant strain to make sure they are quiet and behave like “mini adults”, which quite frankly after a journey from Brighton to Scotland, would be no mean feat.
It’s only occasionally that we stay in hotels with our children, we usually prefer the freedom and space of self catering. Self catering is usually easier with children as you don’t have battles about the mini bar and constant demands for food can be provided much more easily and cheaply.
So before booking I analysed every aspect of the hotel website. I read all the TripAdvisor reviews and tried to work out which negative ones were genuine and which were from people who were ever so slightly mad. Then I took a deep breath and booked it. It was never like this in pre-children days!
Our four day holiday at Gleneagles is something I will never forget. Thankfully, for all the right reasons. I had no reason to be worried because this is truly an enchanting place. The atmosphere of the hotel is the first thing that struck me. Very friendly, very relaxed and surprisingly, completely unpretentious.
The service at this hotel is unparalleled. Every member of staff was friendly, courteous and helpful. One evening we ate at the Dormy restaurant , the golf club restaurant, which is perfect for families. We left in a bit of a hurry as my daughter was becoming tired. The waiter seeing that we’d gone actually came out of the building after us just to give us a cheery goodnight. That meant a lot.
The food everywhere in the hotel was outstanding. There were lots of different options for dining with children and our two loved making their own pizzas in the Deseo restaurant.
We booked a family hotel room and it was huge, the size of a mini apartment. All the beds were comfortable and there were no sofa beds used to accommodate us. Two big, comfy sofas and a TV and DVD player, allowed for some quiet relaxation time. Everywhere the hotel was immaculate. The décor was stunning in parts and yet furnished in a homely country house style, not at all corporate or stuffy.
There were lots of activities for the children to choose from. As it was a half term break the hotel had arranged lots of additional activities for children such as Highland Games and Cookery. Our two didn’t actually have time to do these in the end!
Available throughout the year there are plenty of activities for children to do. Ours thoroughly enjoyed their own off road driving experience in mini Land Rovers with very friendly and caring staff to help them. They also took part in a two hour “Own a Pony” experience which was wonderful and even now they cannot stop talking about it!
As a family we went “off road” in a Land Rover which was excellent fun, going through ditches and driving at 40 degree angles with expert tuition! We also went on lots of bike rides using some of the many hotel bikes, of which there is a great selection for families.
We played golf on the putting green. We spent hours in the hotel pool which is perfect for families and we loved the large outdoor hot tub! The children had lots of fun in The Zone, playing air hockey and table football and Wii games with some of the many other children who were staying at the hotel.
The journey was remarkably easy. A quick and easy flight from Gatwick to Edinburgh, hired a car and then it was short drive to the hotel.
There’s no denying Gleneagles is expensive, but at the same time it is not overpriced and certainly worth every penny. Gleneagles manages to cater for serious golfers, corporate conferences, couples and families, and everyone had their own space in this huge hotel and blended well together.
Now all I need to do is save up so we can have Christmas or New Year there, as I’m sure that would be truly amazing!
Michelle Stonehill is a Managing Partner of Brighton Holiday Homes.