Words by Sara Darling
Situated in the middle of Ayrshire’s rugged coastline, on royal land housing ruins of King Robert the Bruce’s castle, this imposing resort has direct views of the ocean and welcomes golfers, families, solo travellers and celebrations (especially weddings in the fairy-tale 500-seater ballroom). With options for every type of guest, the impressive Turnberry Lighthouse, with its views over the atmospheric Irish sea, is the perfect spot for romance, where couples or friends can book this water’s edge retreat all to themselves. The plush main house suites are great for traditionalists, whilst families and golf buddies may prefer the self-catering cottages.
Guests arrive at the Turnberry via an impressively manicured driveway, which opens up views across the ocean, allowing you to see Ireland on a clear day. Situated just over an hour from Glasgow airport or 30 minutes from Prestwick this is the most convenient way to enjoy your stay. However, you can catch the train to nearby Girvan station which takes you to Glasgow, Edinburgh or beyond, and transfers can be arranged.
The main property is as grand as you might expect, resembling a cartoon castle atop a hillock surrounded by 800 acres of greenery with uninterrupted views overlooking the rugged Ayrshire coastline. The 198 rooms, suites, external cottages and self-catering apartments make up an exclusive resort which is both friendly and luxurious.
The hotel was renamed when golf-obsessed investor Donald Trump bought the property in 2014, and spent millions of dollars reinventing the place to suit his idiosyncrasies, which include the notable Trump Turnberry tartan, a liberal application of gold detailing on the furnishings, and a couple of bewildering thrones!
Guests are welcomed into the reception area by a kilted doorman and you are immediately in awe of the sparkling chandeliers and large bay windows in the Grand Tea Lounge and Bar which oozes Edwardian splendour. The friendly staff make you feel very welcome, and the quiet background chatter makes the atmosphere relaxed rather than stuffy and pretentious.
The rich black and gold carpeted corridors ensure that your feet don’t make a sound, and the bedrooms are impressively spacious, complemented by the handcrafted mahogany beds and embossed silk wallpaper and comfortable sofas. Each marble bathroom has a standalone bath and rainfall shower with taps, knobs, waste paper bins and tissue boxes finished with gold plate (natch)! The thick velvet curtains ensure that any starlight is completely eliminated and you can switch off from the bling to get a very dreamy night’s sleep.
Enjoy breakfast and dinner in the signature 1906 restaurant (named after the year the hotel opened), where you can enjoy specialities such as locally caught fish or an inventive vegetarian/meat menu, and the knowledgeable sommelier will be able to recommend a matching wine for every course. I also squeezed in an afternoon tea in the lounge, which came complete with local cream and aubergine sandwiches. It’s hungry work taking in the hotel’s grandeur!
Not wanting to exert myself too much, I spent the afternoon at the spa, and if you want to be spoiled, this is definitely the place to treat yourself. Book in for an ESPA massage or facial or just wallow in the 65-ft glass walled pool and hot tub with panoramic views of the scenery. Guests also have access to the sauna, steam and relaxation suite, which is just perfect for some ‘me time’.
If you’re not a golfer and you’re feeling energetic, the on-site gym is like a children’s playground with brand new equipment just waiting to be trialled. If you don’t know how something works a PT is on hand to give instructions, and if you’re that way inclined, you could easily spend an afternoon working out. But the fun doesn’t stop at the gym! The hotel is geared up for the adventurous, and families love getting involved in the thrilling outdoor pursuits at Turnberry Adventures, which boasts a myriad of activities including archery, clay shooting, horse riding, quad biking and falconry.
Trump Turnberry is mostly known for its golf credentials and offers three links golf courses for the pros, and a Turnberry Performance Academy which is perfect for a beginner like me. Offering a personalised service, you can book in for a private lesson which assesses your approach to golf and your lesson is mapped by a clever AI computer system which tracks your stance, speed and distance when you (eventually) hit the ball, under the patient guidance of pro golfer Olly, who guided me through teeing off. I would have stayed for another lesson, there’s so much to learn, but life of a freelance journalist and all that!
The historical links were converted to aircraft runways during both world wars, but thankfully for golf aficionados, they have been resurrected to their former glory with a little help from commissioning architect and links specialist, Martin Ebert, who remodelled the site to take advantage of the dramatic coastal scenery. Now, generations of friends and family can take up the challenge under the watchful gaze of the iconic lighthouse while enjoying breath-taking views of the Isle of Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Irish Sea.
Christmas at Turnberry
With Christmas just around the corner, why not consider a Scottish escape? The hotel is offering a festive special, which includes a sumptuous Christmas lunch with their indulgent 1906 Vintage Christmas Pudding and a guaranteed view of the Isle of Arran’s snow-capped mountains. If you have more time to spare, hole up for the season and join the celebrations for New Years Eve. Experience a traditional Scottish Hogmanay, which includes live bagpipes, a three course dinner, dancing and plenty of drams to welcome in the new year.
In a nutshell
Visiting The Trump Turnberry is a treat and an experience. You’ll get first class service from the staff (some who have worked at the hotel for decades), the activities are spectacular and the location is second to none.
Rooms can be booked from: £429 per night.
Address: Trump Turnberry, Maidens Road, Turnberry, KA26 9LT
Phone: 01655 333991