No matter where I am in the world, if I’m by the sea, I’m the most me!
I wrote that in a recent instagram caption and whilst it may not be grammatically correct it’s such a true reflection of how I feel. I spend a lot of time in far and distant destinations to be side by side with waves but the lure is always the water.
Last weekend I bundled up my boots and sweaters and hopped on a plane to Scotland. I traveled up to the pretty town of St Andrews with the Fairmont St Andrews as part of a collaborative press stay and I fell straight back in love with the destination whilst discovering so much more of it’s beauty and charm.
This was my second visit to St Andrews but a far more exploitative and insightful escape. Our two night stay was jam packed with activities and delicacies and it’s helped me form what I would proudly describe as the best guide to a short but sweet stay!
One thing I remembered so dearly from the Northern territory was how phenomenally gorgeous the sunsets were by the sea and upon our arrival into town the universe decided to remind me of just that!
The Fairmont St Andrews
Staying at the Luxury Fairmont St Andrews, the location couldn’t be better in my opinion for showcasing the rural beauty of the area. The large hotel is situated on a cliff’s edge looking out over it’s impressive golf course and the North Sea. The views are unobstructed and breathtaking and it’s the location of the hotel that sets the tone of the entire resort.
The Fairmont brand of Hotels have worked with their individual properties around the world to focus on the idea of their hotels being at the heart of the local communities. They pride themselves in a commitment to authenticity and strive to build a deep connection with the location of each of their hotels and The Fairmont St Andrews is at the forefront of this sustainability campaign. By working together with the community and local area the team at Fairmont St Andrews aim to help the destination flourish as well as the hotel itself. They do this in a number of ways but what we were able to witness first hand was the locally sourced food and drink. With the sea, land and forest naturally providing the hotel with the most delicious ingredients it’s heartening to see and even more so to feast!
The scale of the hotel matches well with the huge expanse of land it resides on and the interiors are rich and comforting, fire burns to welcome you indoors at reception and the spa and fitness center leaves no desire for escape when it comes to a pampering weekend away.
The hotel’s magnificently elegant Atrium offers a unique art display that stretches across the ceiling from window to window and it’s quite the talk of the town at dusk when the light starts to dim down and the display creates a visionary journey of colours from pale pink to hot magenta.
It’s beneath this pretty suspending display that breakfast and afternoon tea are served. We were lucky enough to sample the spread on arrival and the Fairmont St Andrews have successfully managed to bring a glimpse of London to Scotland with their delicious ‘Savoy’ afternoon tea spread. The selection is the very same of that which is served in the Savoy London with the additional option of adding a Scottish twist.
I was hosted in one of the junior suites and it was a dream two night stay. The spacious room has everything I needed to relax in luxury and each of my windows looked out on to the sea. The bathroom was excitingly marble with shiny modern fixtures a dreamy bath and additional walk in shower and……wait for it……personalized toiletries!
The floor was heated, the fireplace lit up with a switch and the coffee sachets were accompanied by shortbread, like a said, a dream stay. Watch the full room tour in my latest Youtube Vlog here.
Walking away from the hotel on Sunday the main thing that will remind me of how much I loved The Fairmont St Andrews was 100% the food and drink. I don’t think I’ve eaten that well in a really long time and knowing that the ingredients were possible were all locally sourced just made the taste that little sweeter!
The hotel has a few dining options with The St Andrews Bar & Grill stealing the show for excellence in my opinion. The restaurant is romantically located closer to the cliff’s edge with panoramic views of the sea and is home to one of France’s (& now Scotland’s) finest sommeliers, Laurent. Laurent is a shining example of the ‘Hotel’s at the Heart’ ethos of the hotel, his studies were funded by The Fairmont St Andrews whilst working as a part of the team keeping the very best of their talent thriving within.
From the first glance of the menu a short shriek of delight escaped me as the two vegetarian options looked to-die-for. Both of which I ordered (for the good of this write up of course, what we journalists class as research) and both of which were absolutely divine! Ricotta Gnocchi with sweet potato, tenderstem broccoli, toasted hazelnuts with a crispy sage & Parmesan crunch then Roasted Cauliflower with brown butter, a macadamia crumb, picked mushrooms, crispy kale, cauliflower cheese pure and chimchuri sauce………please excuse me whilst I wipe the dribbles of saliva off my keyboard!
Ordered to the table for me in addition on recommendation were some delicious sides of locally sourced vegetables, in particular the carrots (provided by Karen ;)) stole the show! Those and the Laurent selected wine which was perfectly suited to every bite and went down so well a second bottle was ordered without hesitation.
The coastal town is, of course, world famous for introducing our bashful royals Kate & Wills being home to St Andrews university but even without the famous love tale and award winning educational institution there’s so much charm. The clifftop town is beautifully quintessentially Scottish, you could wander through the cobbled streets and down the gated seaside paths for hours just taking in the picturesque views and conversing with the ever-friendly locals.
There are lots of activities and excursions available to enjoy throughout the year, some of which we were able to test-run for you last weekend 😉
We all know what to do in Rome………..duh……..as the Romans do. Well when it comes to Scotland, slip into your wellies, wrap up in your finest tartan and take to the countryside as a honorary Scot.
There’s an abundance of space to roam up north and whist summer lends a hand to a number of outdoor activities even thier harshest of winters would struggle to stop a rifle 😉 One of the best parts of our trip was our morning spent with the Scottish Clay Shooting Experience. Novice but willing and eager we all took a ‘pop’ and the ricocheting targets in turns (with the safe, helpful and charming help from our master of the art, Gordon) and though it took me a few goes, the feeling of catching the flying disc with a spray of bullets in the air is the most invigorating and exciting feeling!
As you now know the Fairmont St Andrews spends time selected the best local sourced ingredients and that, in Scotland, naturally lends to spirits as well 😉
One of these local gins stocked Faimon St Andrew’s Kittocks bar is Darnley’s. We were lucky enough to take a trip to the Kingsbarns distillery where the tipple is made. It was a fun an informative tour, we were shown the whole process of how the gin is made as well as diving back into the history of gin itself and how it has been perceived through the ages. It’s a great tour with props and interactive moments, we learn so much and we were then rewarded for our studies with some gin and whisky sampling 😉
I remember a satisfying feeling of ‘I must return’ the last time I was in St Andrews and this trip left me with an more powerful pull to the location. I learned so much about the local area from the team at Fairmont St Andrews and had so much fun exploring the town. I was truly spoiled during my stay and would highly recommend the hotel.
I’m headed to Edinburgh for Christmas this year, something tells me I may be making the hour drive down for a secondary order of that Ricotta Gnocchi 😉