When you experience an afternoon of backing losers, you need a winner to soothe the angst of a wounded wallet. That winner for me came in the shape of an overnight stay at the four-star Murrayshall hotel and estate, which is less than a 15-minute drive from Perth racecourse, where my afternoon there, delightful though it was, had proved again that punting on horses can be a painful business.
Such negativity, though, was quickly forgotten at Murrayshall. The hotel, with stunning views over the Perthshire countryside, is a gem, combining food that has already earned two AA rosettes with rooms that incorporate modern style and sophistication without losing the sense of history that the place - built in early 17th century - imbues.
The hotel has just completed the refurbishment of 14 of their junior and deluxe suites - I stayed in one of them - which is part of an ongoing
programme of investment, including a luxury spa, glamping pods and outdoor pursuits, all due to open within the next year or so.
The plans are ambitious, but Murrayshall wants to reposition the hotel into one of Scotland’s leading country hotels and golf resorts.
General manager Gary Silcock said: “We are on track with our plans to date and will continue to push the boundaries to offer something unrivalled for a luxury boutique hotel in this beautiful area of Scotland.”The hotel is in the running for awards, recently bagging UK’s Best Boutique Restaurant with Boutique Hotelier magazine for its main restaurant Eolas. From my visit, you can certainly see why.
Budget or boutique.
This newly refurbished four-star hotel and estate is boutique right down to its bootstraps, but the quality comes at a surprisingly affordable price.
I stayed in the first suite refurbished under the latest development, and it did not disappoint. The bathroom was huge, with rolltop bath and large walk-in shower. The lounge's furnishings and design were heavily influenced by Scottish taste, and the dining room could seat up to six. The entire suite oozed comfort and class.
Wining and dining
Chef Craig Jackson and his team have recently won a second AA rosette, and a third will not be long in coming given the evidence of the taster menu served on my visit. Sometimes, taster menus can leave you feeling somewhat underfed, but this was not the case here. All six courses were packed with flavour, with the main course, the beef sirlion, braised cheek ragout and confit onion, undoubtedly the highlight for me. The wine - including a delightful English sparkling wine - came with an extremely knowledgeable waiter, who gave some interesting insights into the history of wine-making, in particular, how the English invented champagne! As well as top-quality food, the main restaurant, the Eolas, has views to match, looking out over unbroken countryside. A pretty perfect combination.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is ideal for visits to Perth racecourse, of course, but it also offers the guest a myriad of other options. There is first-class golf on the estate's two courses (18 and 9), while the golfing meccas of Gleneagles and St Andrews are close enough for day visits. The hotel can also arrange anything from distillery trips to river kayaking, while walks, which are signposted, around the 350-actre estate are not to be missed, either.
I'm cheating here as this was a pretty big extra, but the hotel looks out over the Perthshire countryside from its elevated position; the views are truly stunning.
A gem nestling in the stunning Perth countryside.
Prices currently start from £169 per room.
Murrayshall Country Estate, Murrayshall Road, Scone, Perth PH2 7PH.