It’s early morning at drizzly Edinburgh Airport and I’m en-route to Gleneagles for a press trip with a complimentary hamper of shortbread at my feet.
Gleneagles is synonymous with golf, but having written about it some months back, I know that under Ennismore’s ownership the hotel is working hard to bring in a much wider clientele.
First impressions are of old-school luxury – all wood panelling, leather armchairs and crackling fireplaces. There’s a Gatsbyesque Ballroom with art-deco mirrored walls and chandeliers, and an amazing range of bedrooms, from floral chintz to modern greys.
But the hotel also features its fair share of also wet wellies and the occasional damp dog, which puts you at ease. There’s no need to stand on ceremony.
As much as it’s tempting to lounge about in the spa or kick back with a book, the Scottish countryside is what Gleneagles is really about.
Kitted out in the hotel’s wet-weather gear, we watch gundogs complete training drills and feed a Harris hawk by hand. Our instructor Nick Raby, who seems to be an expert at everything, teaches us the basics in fly-fishing (no fish were harmed), clay-pigeon shooting, rifle target practice and archery.
Although wielding guns and fly rods isn’t our natural calling, Nick’s one-to-one advice made sure that everyone improved quickly, much to their surprise.
Jeeps can accompany groups to wherever they want to go, laden with goodies, blankets, kit and Scottish tipples.
When we’re done, lunch is laid out ready in the cosy hunting and fishing lodge – an atmospheric setting for a cocktail party or dinner. We’d worked up an appetite, and gorge ourselves on the amazing local ingredients made in front of us by a dedicated team of chefs.
The rest of our trip was very indulgent. A mixture of spa treatments, chocolate making, sumptuous dinners and whiskey tastings ensured we all leave feeling truly recharged and well-taken care of.
At Gleneagles, they know how lucky they are with the space and scenery they have, and it feels like they want you to enjoy it, take your time and relax.
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