The Scottish Borders is famous for farming, rugby and wool. Well, Neil Braidwood says you can now add this country house hotel to the list.
Nestled in the hills outside Peebles lies the Cringletie House Hotel. This baronial-style sandstone pile was built in 1863, although there has been a house here since the 1660s. Converted to a hotel about 300 years later, the interior has been upgraded recently, and has a relaxed feel, with modern art on the walls, and friendly staff eager to help.
My wife Maureen and I were to be staying in the Melrose room, one of 16 named for Border towns in the area.
The large room was decorated in a Mackintosh style – with a cast-iron four-poster, comfy chairs and a bay window overlooking the pitch and putt area to the rear of the house. The bathroom boasted a fairly serious looking drench shower, along with a separate bath. Arran toiletries were on hand, as well as a plentiful supply of white fluffy towels.
There was still plenty of time before dinner so we went off to explore Peebles. The busy market town has a theatre/cinema, plenty of cafes and even an old-fashioned ironmongers. We took a stroll along the banks of the River Tweed, before heading back to the hotel.
The restaurant is large, with a painted ceiling in an Italian style. By this time we’re quite peckish and are looking forward to our meal. It’s an impressive menu, favouring seasonal produce, and there is another menu catering for vegetarians.
Maureen goes for Inverlochy goat’s cheese fondant with a grape, apple and rocket salad, while I opt for a warm oak-smoked haddock cake with a soft-boiled egg perched on top.
Next, for me, roast loin of Highland venison with haunch pudding, and for Maureen, confit salmon with prawn tempura. There’s a decidedly eastern flavour to Maureen’s dish, having the crisp tempura, pak choi and a chilli kick to the vegetables.
I worry when I see only two pieces of venison on my plate, but actually the dish is very filling, with the addition of the haunch pudding and glazed root vegetables. Cooked to melt in the mouth perfection, my glass of Chilean red goes very well with it all. Neither of us have a sweet tooth, so we decide to go for a platter of Scottish cheese, with oatcakes, chutney and grapes. We have coffee in the lounge with petit fours.
Not far to our bedroom, where we realise our television has Amazon movies. Now where do we find the box sets?