About Time: You Discovered Schloss Roxburghe, The Scottish BordersBy Francesca Brooking
There’s something wonderfully wholesome about spending a weekend in the countryside. You just can’t beat the acres of rolling green hills, picturesque woodlands and the sounds of wildlife all around you. There’s a reason why nature is a form of therapy. Now, in the new year, we owe it to ourselves to make our physical and mental wellbeing a priority, and Schloss Roxburghe offers the perfect retreat. Deep in the heart of the Scottish Borders, this newly renovated country hotel has it all from outdoor activities to hearty food, here’s why:
Schloss Roxburghe is a beautiful country estate in the heart of the Scottish Borders, just north of Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Once a hotel owned by the late Duke of Roxburghe, the estate has since been acquired by the German investment company 12:18 and underwent an extensive 6-month refurbishment before opening its doors to guests once again in June. The newly revamped hotel is a sight to behold. Its magnificent Georgian country mansion exterior has been kept while its interior has seen a dramatic change, marrying bold contemporary style with Scottish country tradition.
My first sighting of Schloss Roxburghe was during the long snaking drive through the estate grounds. It was a rainy day and the country mansion emerged from behind the trees, slate grey and formidable against the burnt autumn colours of the leaves. It certainly wasn’t lacking in wow-factor despite the dreary weather. We bundled inside and were greeted by a roaring fire and welcome smiles from the awaiting reception staff.
The overall style of the hotel is that of a cosy country manor. Warm colours contrast dark tartan carpets to create earthy natural tones. A dozen picture frames hung on every wall to give you the impression of someone’s home rather than a hotel.
Each communal space had a unique design. A small bar was located in the library, complete with cosy plush and leather-backed chairs clustered around tables. The drawing room’s summery muted teal upholstery and white walls created a perfect setting to enjoy a round of cream tea.
The most breathtaking room of all was the hallway. It had a cosy fireplace, stunning tapestry-inspired wallpaper and a sweeping central staircase that gave you a royal entrance every time you went to dinner.
Schloss Roxburghe has 13 rooms ranging from Superior to suites for both families and couples a further 57 rooms are planned in the next extension. I was lucky enough to be staying in one of the Suites and it was by far one of the best hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in. The room emulated country house luxury with its high ceiling and windows, thick curtains and an ensuite bathroom complete with a walk-in shower and underfloor heating.
An enormous flat-screen TV hung above a chest of draws, a mini-bar displayed beautiful bottles of wine and a wooden writing desk sat by the window with views across the hotel grounds. There was a choice of seating arrangements, including an armchair and the plumpest sofa I had ever seen.
The most impressive feature hands down was the bed. It was a beautiful four-poster with an overhead canopy and high mattress that required you to leap a little if you wanted to get on top of it. Once successfully under the covers, it was soft and light, rather like being cocooned in a cloud. Perfection.
You certainly won’t be going hungry at Schloss Roxburghe. The hotel has two main on-site restaurants; the State Room Lounge, which is open during the day and Sunlaws which is open for dinner service. The restaurants feature seasonal menus put together by Executive Head Chef Olivier Borja.
Each menu follows the hotel’s estate-to-plate initiative; most ingredients are either harvested from on-site vegetable gardens, foraged from the grounds or sourced from nearby farms. This focus on sustainably sourced produce is part of the hotel’s commitment to making sustainability part of their daily operations.
In the State Room Lounge, you’ll find a range of breakfast and lunch dishes to suit any taste. Sunlaws offers a more fine dining experience in the evening where you’ll be treated to 3-course dinners and à-la-carte meals.
A notable highlight is the 5-course Scottish taster menu. Not for the faint of appetites, guests can enjoy the likes of game and berries terrine, Cullen skink, loin of venison, apricot and vanilla crème brûlée and cranachan with berries. It’s a lip-smacking fusion of traditional Scottish flavours paired with the finest quality international wines but be warned, you will be suitably stuffed so make sure you dress for the occasion.
The afternoon tea was one of my absolute highlights. We took it in the drawing-room by the fire, gorging ourselves on towers of scones with lashings of clotted cream and jam. There were plates of dainty finger sandwiches, heaps of cake and my absolute favourite, crumbly cheese scones.
There are two afternoon teas to choose from at Schloss Roxburghe; the traditional which is sweet and the gentlemen’s which is savoury. Each one is a celebration of seasonal produce, inspired by a melting pot of culinary influences from all over the world.
Schloss Roxburghe is a holy grail for country sports enthusiasts. Boasting a 7,100 yard, 72-par Championship Golf Course, the hotel is one of the best golfing holiday destinations in Scotland. Spend a blissful day following the 18-hole course designed by renowned golf course architect Dave Thomas, observed by the occasional wild deer. Don’t miss Schloss Roxburghe’s signature hole, the 14th tee, with stunning views of the viaduct over the River Teviot.
The hotel is able to accommodate a range of leisure activities from horse riding to jogging, but for those who want to do a bit more, they have a dedicated shooting school in the grounds. Try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, led by the safe and excellent instruction of the shooting school team. Or, get involved with tomahawk throwing, archery and falconry.
Fly fishing is also available on the river or in the hotel’s own trout pond. There the team of fly fishing experts are on hand to help you hone your skills so that even beginners can make a catch. Passionate hunters can even take part in deer stalking by arrangement and no game shot is wasted by the hotel kitchens.
If you want to explore a little of the local area then the town of Hawick makes for an excellent excursion. An epicentre of industry in the Scottish Borders, Hawick is a part of the Textile Trail due to its world-famous designer knitwear. There you will find designer mills such as Johnstons of Elgin, Hawico, William Lockie and Lovat Mill making handmade cashmere and tweed for some of the top fashion houses in the world. Grab yourself a bargain at their discounted stores or book yourself a mill tour at Johnstons of Elgin and see the knitwear being made in action.
For those who enjoy a tipple, head over to the newly opened Borders Distillery which specialises in Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Borders Gin and small-batch vodka. Distillery tours are available from Monday to Saturday and the gift shop has a wide range of stellar souvenir options. Hawick is just 30 minutes by car and 1 hour away on public transport from Schloss Roxburghe.
Schloss Roxburghe Review: Our Verdict
Schloss Roxburghe is a countryside retreat in the heart of the Scottish Borders. Only 1 hour away by car from Newcastle and Edinburgh, it has excellent transport links for drivers eager to reconnect with nature. The hotel is a cosy estate, beautifully decorated to create a timeless Scottish manor, full of modern luxuries – including a Championship-grade golf course.
If you’re in need of some wholesome country air, hearty meals and a good night’s sleep then Schloss Roxburghe is the stay for you. After a successful renovation and with more on the way (spa included), this hotel is truly one to watch.
A one-night stay at Schloss Roxburghe starts from £235 for two people sharing a Superior Room on a bed and breakfast basis. LNER trains from London King’s Cross to Berwick-Upon-Tweed take approximately 3 hours and 36 minutes and a car from Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Schloss Roxburghe takes 28 minutes. Find out more about Schloss Roxburghe here or call 01573 450331.