Scottish Travel Guide: Peebles

Is there anything more satisfying than getting out of the city for a night and relaxing in the luxury of a hotel?  I mean, there might be, but sometimes just one night away from the hustle and bustle can be a much-needed thing, which is why a couple of weeks ago the husband and I headed to Peebles for a night at Cringletie House.

Cringletie

Peebles might seem like an odd choice for a weekend getaway, being just over an hour outside of Glasgow, but it honestly felt like we were in the middle of the countryside – the perfect escape without having to travel for miles! I have to admit, I was worried there wouldn’t be much for us to see and do food-wise in Peebles, it being a relatively small town, but I was quite pleasantly surprised. So, in the spirit of past travel guides, let me tell you all about where to stay and what to do in Peebles!

WHERE TO STAY

We were lucky enough to be invited to stay at Cringletie House Hotel, which, unlike others in the area, is a less than 10-minute drive from the town centre, making it ideal for exploring. It is also, thankfully, a great spot for foodies like me, with a fine dining restaurant that serves an ever-changing, seasonal menu using local Scottish produce.

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The hotel is located on 28 acres of beautiful grounds, with a walled garden and woodland walks – plus it’s dog friendly, so you can enjoy the scenery with your furry friends! There are just 12 rooms in the castle, giving it a really intimate feel, and we were in one of the junior suites, Melrose, featuring a super-king four-poster bed, spacious seating areas and an ensuite with a big old bath – one of my favourite things about any hotel! I’m sorry, but there is something so relaxing about getting into a hot bubble bath far away from home.

Prices start from around £150 per night, but there are also some really fab offers available – like the Tasty Sunday deal which includes a FREE stay in a classic room, you simply pay for a seven course tasting menu, matching drinks and breakfast. It’s definitely the kind of place you go for a special occasion, as the whole hotel has a feeling of magic to it. In the winter you can sit in front of coal fires with a hot drink, in the summer, explore the gardens in full bloom!

Cringletie House view into walled garden

If that wasn’t enough, you can also have a number of spa treatments done with their in-room spa options. I decided to get myself an express facial and it was heavenly. Treatments range from facials to full body massages and start from just £20, plus there’s something quite nice about never having to leave the comfort of your room.

WHAT TO EAT

As we were only there for one night, we ate in the hotel restaurant at Cringletie. The fine dining a la carte is based on seasonal produce and there were some seriously incredible dishes on the menu. Highlights included a starter of crispy pigs head with a mustard seed tuile, venison loin with venison haggis bon bon and chocolate sauce, and rib eye of beef with baby turnips and beef jus.

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If that doesn’t get you salivating, don’t worry, the desserts definitely will. Both the husband and I had our eyes on two desserts. The first was a blood orange millefeuille with blood orange sorbet and whipped cream, the second was a dark chocolate delice with milk gel and yoghurt sorbet. They were out of this world and 100% the highlight of the meal. The food and the service really blew me away, especially with the added touch of finishing our drinks and receiving petit fours in the lounge, which was a really lovely, spacious room with comfy seating and a log burner crackling away – it was January after all!

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Breakfast the next morning included the standard continental buffet selection: meat and cheese, pastries, bread, cereal, fruit and yoghurt. On top of that, there was a menu of hot breakfasts including a full breakfast that had some of the best haggis on it I’ve ever had – super peppery, which may not be for everyone, and full of flavour.

Don’t make the same mistake I did though and order the pancakes with blueberries and crème fraiche, because the portion is tiny. There are proper pancake stacks further down the menu which I urge you to choose instead, although the small amount of pancakes I did have were absolutely delicious and you could tell they were properly made from scratch, no re-heating or packet mixes here.

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WHAT TO DO

After we checked out at the reasonable time of 11:00am (seriously, is it just me or do you hate being forced to rush through breakfast, pack your bags and be out the door by 10am?!) we decided to do a bit of exploring and took the short drive into Peebles town centre.

I’ll admit, I was convinced we would be lacking in things to do and figured we would be heading back to Glasgow within the hour, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

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The foodie in me was EXTREMELY excited to visit Cocoa Black, home to multi-award winning, world-renowned patisserie chef, Ruth Hinks. Yep, that’s right, a world-class patisserie smack in the middle of Peebles. In fact, she is SO good that she taught George Calombaris from MasterChef Australia. There is café with a fridge full of incredible looking cakes and bakes, like…seriously. Out of this world. There is also a fridge full of hand made chocolates and truffles, or a range of pre-boxed selections all ready to purchase.

We sat in and had a couple of cakes and they were just as delicious as they looked and we picked some chocolates to take away with us, which are now long gone. It was also incredibly well priced, for two patisserie cakes, two soft drinks and a bag of 10 handmade chocolates, our bill was £19. There is also a chocolate school upstairs where you can learn from the woman herself, ranging from one day courses to proper qualifications.

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If you are staying more than one night and want to venture outside the realms of Cringletie dining room, there are a surprising number of options. There is an Italian, which is said to do some pretty decent pizzas, and restaurants Coltmans and Osso both offer extensive and interesting menus.

If you’re looking for a foodie souvenir to take home, head along to Villeneuve Wines, located just next to the church on the high street. It boasts a selection of wine from all over the world, as well as a number of craft beers, whisky and spirits. We got a lovely bottle of Sancerre, a bottle of sparkling red (yes, sparkling red, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it), a reduced to clear bottle of Edinburgh Gin and a few bottles of craft beer. Yes, we spent far more than we should have, but hey, we were on holiday!

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Just next to the wine shop on this particular Saturday morning, local restaurant Osso were selling a range of hand made sausage rolls from a market stall in a range of flavours you could only dream of: haggis and black pudding, bacon, cheese and chilli jam, pheasant, bacon and apple, chorizo… the options were endless and were being sold at four for £10, so naturally we came away with four!

If you want to go a little further afield, obviously Edinburgh and Glasgow are both just over an hour away, so a stay at Cringletie House in Peebles is the perfect combination of country relaxation and easy access to Scotland’s capital and Glasgow, arguably the best city in the world.

With thanks to Cringletie House and Perception for hosting our stay.

 

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