Saturday, 2 June 2012

St Andrews Old Course Hotel

I was recently at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews for a three-day conference, which was a great opportunity to stay in a very famous hotel.

Our bedroom was nice and spacious, with floor-to-ceiling windows which let in plenty of light - although sadly we had a view of the car park rather than the coast. I made good use of the desk to catch up with work in the evenings, and there were a couple of armchairs where we could sit and relax. The bed was gigantic (I really had to stretch reach my husband's hand, if we were both using our bedside tables for drinks), the sheets were nice and soft (I'd guess about 300 count cotton), and there were three different types of pillow. The in-room instant coffee, hot chocolate, and shortbread biscuits were of good quality (there was even a teapot provided). As well as the usual morning cleaning routine, the housekeeping staff came around every evening to turn down the beds, refresh the tea and coffee supplies, and even change any wet towels. Which isn't very environmental (nor was the full change of sheets every morning), but I suppose that isn't their priority - and at least they didn't change the pillows we hadn't used.

The hotel service was excellent. The staff were consistently friendly, helpful to a fault, and never sniffy about our wandering around in jeans and casual clothes. Nor did the smiles slip when I had cause to complain (for which, see below).

Breakfast was served in the fourth flour dining room, with fantastic views across the golf course and out to sea, at least on days when the whole shore wasn't shrouded in mist. There was an extensive cold selection of fresh fruit, pastries, muffins, breads, yoghurts, cheeses, and so on. The hot buffet was not so great for vegetarians (offering only eggs, potato scones, mushrooms, and tomatoes), but there was an a la carte menu available, from which I sampled the Belgian waffles and eggs florentine - both cooked to perfection. It would certainly take me a while to get bored with the breakfast choices.

Unfortunately, I was somewhat less impressed with the lunch and dinner catering, from a veggie perspective. On the first day of the conference, our cold buffet had all sorts of sandwiches pushed together on the same plate, and it was hard to find even a single cheese sandwich which hadn't been contaminated. I was disappointed, to say the least, and was careful to request that vegetarian food for the following days should be plated separately - which it was, as on subsequent days we each received an individual salad plate. The thing that bothers me is that I needed to ask. When I see such an elementary mistake in presentation, then I wonder about the separation of vegetarian food in the kitchens as well. The waiter who asked on our first evening whether the dessert "would be okay" despite containing gelatin showed a similar lack of understanding.

Evening meals were also included in the conference package, and served in the beautiful conservatory which also benefitted from golf course views. We had a fixed menu for the event, and the quality of the food was variable, from the disappointing mashed potato cubes (fried and advertised as "gnocchi"), garnished with a disproportionate pile of fresh rocket, to a very tasty, creamy vegetable stew. (And on the day of the sandwich incident, I was feeling sufficiently upset with the whole thing that I skipped out to have pizza in town.)

Overall, we had a lovely stay, and very much enjoyed the environment of the hotel. I only wish the vegetarian provision could be brought up to the otherwise-high standards, as it felt a bit like going back to the '90s.

Our room:






The hotel & golf course:




Charlotte Klein said...

I totally know what you mean re: veggie options. I would think that since so many people have dietary restrictions a fancy hotel would take all this into consideration. I would have the same complaints, too. That being said, the property and room shots look absolutely gorgeous!

Lilian Nattel said...

My adventures in vegetarian eating have ranged from a "veggie burger" from a fast food drive-in in Utah which consisted of a bun with lettuce and tomato to a very fancy catered dinner in Toronto where the beautiful looking vegetarian plate consisted of a hunk of beet and rice. I get in the habit of carrying a snack of nuts and dried case.

A Cuban In London said...

I've heard of St Andrews before probably through a famous golf tournament. Fantastic landscape.

Re veggie, although I'm not one, I do sympathise with you because I've got friends who are veggies and when they go abroad (Cuba is a good example) all they get is a little bit of salad and cheese, if anything.

Loved the post and photos. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rachel said...

I'd forgive them a great deal for that breakfast!

Jillian Nicole said...

My husband would love to go here. It looks fantastic. He is a golfer and I would really fall in love with the place. I love to visit those places where you feel as if you walked into the Victorian Era.
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christine said...

such a shame about the food - one would have expected better of them, and as for the waiter asking if gelatine was okay - perhaps the chef had prompted him to ask - which is even more scary!

Lovely room, though:)

mywildcrazylife said...

It looks positively lovely. Glad you had a great time despite your dietary issues.

Head Ant said...

Beautiful grounds and room!

I always look at hotel menus to plan what I want to eat beforehand. Or at least fantasize about the food... I'm sorry that the food fell short of your expectations.

Diva Locks said...

Never heard of this place but the room looks great, sucks about the food though :(

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