On an exposed stretch of land, a mile outside St Andrews town is the Fairmont hotel, an unabashed five-star hotel that sits proudly on its own 520-acre estate overlooking the ocean. A place that is known as the ‘original home of golf’, here too the Fairmont has its very own course. An immaculate green vista welcomes guests on arrival with an exposed backdrop that is submissive to the handicap of the North Sea.
This Scottish five-star hotel caters to professional groups or adults looking to admire this peaceful eastern corner of Scotland. With half of the large property set aside for corporate events and incentives which the golf course ties into, on the most part, it would do a very good job of this. With the emergence of the great British ‘staycation’ due to travel restrictions, however, the Fairmont St Andrews has had to open themselves up to a wider variety of guests, including families. For a hotel not catered to younger guests, this somewhat proved a challenge which the dutiful team informed us of.
Despite being a small cog of an internationally iconic global brand, rooms thoughtfully reflect the hotel’s location. Located on the north wing, with warm earthy tones, our deluxe room framed views of the golf course and ocean beyond. Subtle Scottish coastal touches included a driftwood wood frame mirror and a tartan patterned carpet. This was partnered with a spotless white marble bathroom featuring both a spacious shower, bathtub and his and hers sinks.
Food and drink
There are several dining options, including a number of al fresco spaces to cater to guests safely outdoors. To the left of the grand entrance, this includes a glamourous champagne bar in collaboration with Moët and Chandon, meanwhile each weekend, on the other side of the building the hotel has set up a barbecue gazebo to serve guests smoked lobster, suckling pig, grilled Scottish steak, brisket and other grill options.
The highlight of this hotel, however, is the St Andrews Bar and Grill. A five-minute walk or quick shuttle from the lobby, this fine-dining destination has wraparound glass views that overlook the championship golf course and the bay of St Andrews. Touching distance from the ocean, (when the Scottish weather allows), St Andrews Bar and Grill is a showcase for incredible Scottish sunsets that delight both guests and the team.
Choose to dine al fresco on its terrace, or inside within the main dining room. We decided to start with cocktails outside before moving inside for dinner where warm homemade bread was followed by an exquisite starter of hand dive scallops. Meticulously presented with fresh green asparagus, carrot puree and pumpkin seeds, we were told this exceptional starter was created by one of the junior members of the kitchen, and we shared our admiration which delighted my guest.
Earlier that day a returning guest told us the chateaubriand is a must. We followed suit with this 500g sharing steak paired with a peppercorn and Béarnaise sauce, ‘enhanced’ with a St Andrews Bay grilled lobster. This was paired with sides which received as much careful thought. This included honey glazed carrots, truffle and parmesan chips and almond and chilli charred broccoli, which I have since endeavoured to recreate. We finished with a dessert the trustworthy team say is a must try: the ‘caramel banana’: a medley of salted caramel ganache and peanut butter.
The most impressive element of the spa is the interconnecting gym, which I did not use, however, would highly recommend. Considered one of finest in Scotland, (which I can fully believe!) it features an array of strength and cardio equipment that would challenge many London studios. Adjacent, the main spa space has ten luxury treatment rooms, a (supposedly) peaceful pool, and collection of hydrotherapy experiences. I paired my visit with a back, neck and head massage, excellently executed by a friendly local Scottish girl.
Unsurprisingly, golf is St Andrews’ leading activity with many of the world’s leading courses to choose from nearby, along with the seaside town with its ancient heritage and the iconic university. Should guests want to dig a little deeper, Fairmont St Andrews also offers guided coastal path walks with their marine archaeologist. Discover the stretch of coastline with its flora, fauna and history that surrounds the property.
Fairmont St Andrews is a one hour 15-minute drive from Edinburgh airport or a two-hour drive from Glasgow. Via train, the nearest station Leuchars is 20 minutes away and is on the mainline from London, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The hotel can then be reached by taxi from the station.
In a nutshell
Fairmont St Andrews has done a great job to embody its Scottish surroundings, offering an excellent sense of place; and despite disturbance from fellow family groups (a temporary adaptation), the flawless and friendly staff add a special spirit to the overall experience that is worth noting. The St Andrews Bar and Grill is a remarkable restaurant and is a destination itself. It may well be one of the leading fine-dining experiences in Scotland: encapsulating thoughtful service, highly impressive dishes, and a contemporary panoramic setting that welcomes the ocean inward.
Rooms can be booked from £368 per night.