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Short stay: Fairmont St Andrews, Scotland, UK

St Andrews is the spiritual home of golf pulling in players from afar. Hosting a final qualifier for the British Open, the Sam Torrance and Kittocks Course provide a challenging course for serious golfers. Scottish hospitality blends with top notch American-style service at Fairmont St Andrews to provide far more than just golf. The welcome There’s a warm welcome from Davey in his Stewart clan tartan trousers and Tam o’ Shanter hat. His team will valet park your car, look after luggage and store your golf-clubs. Quickly settled in your room there’s a unique welcome gift, a miniature bottle of St. Andrews whisky as well as a miniature chocolate golf club and ball. The rooms Spacious Sea View rooms look out across emerald acres over the Kittocks course towards St Andrews Bay. Subtle decor gets the Scottish theme just about right. There’s a discrete grey tartan pattern to the carpet and tasteful Tam o’ Shanter themed photos on the caramel walls. Technology galore: ample UK and US charging points, wide screen TV and reliable Wi-fi plus coffee-maker, kettle and an exceptionally well-stocked mini-bar. Beds are huge, armchairs comfortable and there’s a large desk if you really have to work. The bathroom Recently refurbished with a light grey slate-look, bathrooms offer a deep bath and a high quality rainfall shower. It’s a perfect rejuvenating feature for golfers who have had a long day on the courses. Rose 31 body lotion, conditioner and shampoo are personalised with your name on the bottles. The rare Centifolia rose, a fragrance with spicy and woody notes, ambiguously plays to both feminine and masculine users. The facilities At the gym, pool and spa you could run your own transformative boot camp – if that’s what really you want. But if you seek the tranquility of a serene candle-scented spa you’ve got that too. The gym is very well-equipped and tends to double-up or even treble up on options to minimise waiting. There’s a crescent of exercise bikes for spin classes as there’s a daily programme of exercise classes: from aqua sessions through to yoga. For golfers who’ve flown many hours and played several rounds restorative massages and recuperative physiotherapy are available. Lunch or dinner at the Fairmont St Andrew Grill, with stunning views of finishing holes of the Kittocks course and St Andrews Bay, is undoubtedly a must. The closed Josper Grill, with precise temperature control, preserves the natural texture of Scottish steaks and lobster. Though it is hard to resist the Seafood Platter: oysters, lobster, chunks of salmon and smoked salmon, crayfish and prawns. Back at the hotel the Cucina has a Mediterranean themed menu while the Zephyr Sports Bar goes vegan. The location Fairmont St Andrew is set in 520 acres of prime St Andrews headland just a couple of miles from Scotland’s historic university town where Wills meet Kate. Alongside the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral, there is a chic town of fashionable boutiques, classy cafes and great restaurants. Astoundingly St Andrews Old Course shuts down for the Sabbath. On Sundays people walk their Westies and picnic on what is public-owned land. Stand on the Swilcan Bridge, on the 18th, dreaming that it’s the last hole of the Open and that you’re three strokes clear of the field. Other nice touches There’s a baronial splendour to the architecture of the lobby. A touch of Lady Macbeth aspirational design to the primeval twisted wood sculptures and the towering sombre portraits. Breakfast on hearty porridge and haggis in the atrium – or lighter more contemporary offerings if you choose. After breakfast pause in the library for a moment to drink in the views through a towering picture window. Also Fairmont St Andrews recently took the AA’s award for Eco Hotel of the year. Cost Nightly rates at Fairmont St Andrews start at £179 per night, based on two people sharing on a bed and breakfast basis. Although 18 holes may cost £95 there are plenty of offers available including twilight tee-off reductions. The best bit The two golf courses channel the spirit of St Andrews’s historic Old Course: babbling burns, deep pot and revetted bunkers, breath-taking coastal views, firm-running fairways, impenetrable rough of white wispy grasses and thistles … Not only are you playing against your opponents you are battling the elements and topography too. There’s a strategic decision to be made before playing almost every stroke. The final verdict This is far too good a destination to rush, more than just a short stay. Far too many golfers race in and out on whistle-stop tours. Linger for a few days to relax in the spa, savour the Grill’s menu, take a walk over the Old Course and drink-in St Andrew’s rich history. Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Fairmont St Andrews.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. As a golfing addict I’ve always wanted to play in St Andrews. For me it is a long drive north so I would want to stay for a week. I know that I ain’t got much chance of getting to play the historic Old Course but I’d like to play a few courses whilst I’m up there. Also Carnoustie, another classic course,lies on the other side of St Andrews Bay about an hour’s drive away and it would be good to play that one too.

    As I head into middle-age the body isn’t quite what it was so it’s useful to have the gym and spa on hand to repair the damage of a round of golf. This place would provide s fantastic base for a great week of golf.

  2. I get the writer’s point about lingering and slowing down. I’ve played a number of the UKs great golf courses. It seems to me that some golfers have arrived, blitzed the course, and left before I’ve even taken my clubs out of the car. It’s as if they are ticking off a collection of British Open or Ryder Cup Venues. Once they’ve bought the Golf Shirt in the Club Shop they are back on the road again. They can’t get any real sense of atmosphere and history. I like to get to know a course, to play it in different lights and different weathers.

    1. Sadly I’ve not made it to St Andrews yet. I know that it takes a lot of luck to get to play The Old Course but I can’t understand golfers who don’t include a Sunday in their stay. Even just walking around the Old Course on a Sunday would be a very special experience.

  3. Take it from me that there’s a lot more to St Andrews than just golf. One of our kids went to university at St Andrews. She absolutely loved it though she didn’t meet her prince like Kate Middleton.

    As parents we visited a few times and really got to like the town. There are some fantastic restaurants and plenty of great shops too. You don’t have to walk round a golf course to get the views. They are free everywhere for everyone.

    1. By coincidence I got to know St Andrews when my son did his masters there. I remember how shocked we where when we parked up in the town for the first time. After miles and miles of emptiness and some very small villages we had suddenly hit a big thriving town. I was amazed to see some of the big trendy brands that I came across in the trendier parts of London. Also, I don’t know anything about golf but even if you aren’t into golf there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

  4. What a cute welcome gift, the mini whisky would certainly go down well! Themed decor in some places can seem rather tacky and overdone, but this place seems to do it really nicely for a more authentic feel with a genuine warm welcome for visitors. The refurb gives a modern edge to it, and I was surprised to see all the facilities and the gym. You could easily spend a long stay here and never want to leave, which is probably what I’d end up doing as I’m not a golf fan. Great location with plenty to do nearby, too.

    1. You never know you might fall in love with the game. The Fairmont offers novices courses to give people a taste of the game. One of the guests who had gone on a novice course said that the coach was both very gentle and patient. It’s worth giving things a go you might discover a talent that you never knew you had!

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