The wonderful welcome from Robyn at reception is typical of the staff at the Roxburghe. Always at hand, always willing, yet never interfering. This wonderful Georgian house, owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, is situated on the banks of the River Teviot. This river, together with the Tweed where the Duke also has beats available to visitors, offers some of the best salmon fishing in Scotland and an introductory lesson by Eoin Fairgreave, the resident expert is not to be missed.
Fishing is just one of the sporting activities available to guests. The Duke is a keen golfer and his championship course was designed by Dave Thomas, one of Europeís leading professional golfers for two decades. Opened in 1997 the course is challenging with well positioned bunkers and large rolling greens. It is ranked among the top inland courses in Scotland and offers spectacular views; none better than the signature fourteenth which runs alongside the river.
There is a choice of two woodland walks. They will take one past the Japanese ponds and bridge and through the woods where red squirrels, deer and pheasant abound. The memorial to the Duke of Wellington after his victory at Waterloo can be seen on the hillside opposite. After passing the old walled garden and the orchard one may see tree sparrows using the nesting boxes placed by the local primary school. Soon one will come across the Hermitís Grotto, sadly no longer occupied!
No guest should leave without trying the clay pigeon shooting under the guidance of Alistair Ferguson (senior instructor, Clay Pigeon Shooting Association) who is able to guide the experienced shot and entertain the novice with the stories he tells with a twinkle in his eye.
The bedrooms are spacious and redolent of times gone by. The walls are decorated with early prints and the large windows give views across the beautifully maintained grounds to the surrounding hills. Large and comfortable beds ensure a good nightís sleep and the next day starts with a true Scottish breakfast of porridge, fresh and dried fruits, followed by locally sourced smoked salmon, bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding and, of course, haggis.
Before setting off for the day to explore the stunning Scottish Borders countryside and Floors Castle, the home of the Duke of Roxburghe built in 1721, guests can collect a picnic to take with them. They should not miss towns such as Kelso, Jedburgh with its castle and abbey and Melrose with its gardens and Roman heritage centre.
With sight-seeing completed guests should not forget to sneak back early for afternoon tea in the library at the Roxburghe Hotel. The library walls are lined with volumes from earlier centuries and the comfortable arm chairs and log fire make this a wonderfully cosy room. With the bar in one corner this room will be the starting point for many guests dining in the hotel.
Like the other public rooms the dining room was refurbished earlier this year. Overlooking the spreading lawns of the estate it has an open fire and glittering chandeliers. The furnishings in the room are enhanced by paintings from the Dukeís own home.
Scotland is famed for its food. Having an extensive coastline that provides a wide variety of fish and a countryside that is home to a great range of game, both feather and fur, gourmets are in for a treat. Dinner at the Roxburghe Hotel offers the best of Scotlandís larder. Scottish shellfish on the menus include crab and scallops and for game lovers there is partridge, grouse and mallard and for the traditionalists there are always local steaks and many other dishes.
A strong team in the kitchen, under the watchful eye of Neville Merrin, ensures that presentation is elegant and up to date and, as always, the service is impeccable and always cheerful.
Desserts on offer include a selection of traditional and modern dishes and the cheese board always has a fine selection from local dairies. No wonder the hotel is winning awards!
The wine list is extensive but the highlight must surely be some of the very special bottles from the Dukeís own cellar which gives the oenophile a rare opportunity to taste the very best.
There can be few places in the United Kingdom that can offer domestic and overseas visitors such a complete and high quality experience at the highest level. A true treasure.