Edinburgh tours and history articles of various aspects on Edinburgh & Scotland

Posts tagged ‘“Scottish Borders” Kelso Scotland “Scottish History” “Floors Castle” Roxburghe’

Floors Castle – A Hidden Gem in the Scottish Borders

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One of Scotland’s finest country homes is Floors Castle. Like the Roxburghe Hotel it is situated very near to Kelso and within easy reach of both Edinburgh, which is 50 miles to the north, and Newcastle, which is 65 miles to the south. I mention the hotel as it is the perfect base from which to visit Floors and also enjoy many other leisure activities in the surrounding area.

Owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, this is a stylish and homely country house hotel. A fact reinforced by the warm welcome you will receive on arrival, stunning life size paintings as you climb the stairs to your room, followed by the top quality décor you will find when you open the door.

It has 22 uniquely designed rooms. Some even have four poster beds! Six of these rooms are in the courtyard. Dogs are welcome in courtyard rooms, perfect for four legged guests given the long walks available in the extensive grounds. The hotel also offers championship golf on one of the finest parkland layouts in Britain. World class fishing and shooting are also readily available. Fear not if you are a novice at any of these activities, as there is a PGA pro, professional fishing and shooting tuition available.

You can even enjoy a game of croquet on the front lawn, or have yourself pampered with the wide range of treatments available in the health and beauty suite beside the hotel.

The information available in the rooms on other activities is excellent. Many hotels only provide cursory information. Here you will find strong detail on borders towns like Kelso and Jedburgh, as well as Floors Castle. Indeed, Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford is not too far way.

Floors Castle was designed for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721 by famous Edinburgh architect William Adam. Between 1837 and 1847 William Playfair remodelled it, drawing his inspiration from Heriots Hospital in Edinburgh. The castle has been open to the public for over 40 years now, but remains a family home. This ensures that, unlike many other historic Scottish properties restoration is very much a part of things at Floors. This ensures that most of what you see is in all its’ finery. The family photographs which can be found in most rooms, together with the warm welcome the enthusiastic and knowledgeable provided by professional guides in every room ensure that you will feel and enjoy the life and charm of the house.

The 8th Duke’s American wife Duchess May had a huge hand in the items one can see today at Floors, through inheritance and her own acquisitions, she made in the early 20th century. This ensures that be it that your taste is in 17th century furniture, ceramics, paintings or tapestry you will come away from Floors Castle with your interests fully satisfied. I particularly enjoyed the wonderful array of ceramics, which included Meissen and oriental ceramics. The works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and the rare Thomas Hudson portrait also lit my imagination.

The landscape around the castle includes baroque avenues to the north front entrance, and to the south the Tweed meanders across a large area of open parkland. The 6th Duke was responsible for the creation of a new walled garden on the mid 1800s. These gardens are a combination of the traditional kitchen garden, and new creations such as the Millennium Garden which features a parterre of the French style, and depicting the initials of the present Duke and Duchess. Further contrasts are the glorious herbaceous borders in the walled garden, and the woodland garden which links the gardens and castle together. Floors Castle Plant Centre sells many of the varieties on display. To keep the young ones happy there is an adventure playground within the walled garden. ‘The Terrace Café’ with home-made food from the Castle kitchen provides sustenance, ensuring you can make a day of your visit. There is even Castle Kitchen produce shop, ensuring you can take home a taste of Floors.

Walled Garden Corridor

Walled Garden Corridor

After a day enjoying the romance, class and beauty of Floors Castle and gardens, you have still to enjoy your evening at the Roxburghe Hotel. The dining room has a roaring log fire, perfect after a challenging day on the moors, by the river or on the fairways. Almost every option from the carefully chosen menus are locally sourced. For example at breakfast you have honey from Bowmont Forest, homemade jam and marmalade from the Duke’s own residence at Floors Castle. The board on which these are placed is even made of Bowmont forest wood. Evening dishes include ribeye steak, haddock, scallops and game.

For larger events the Roxburghe Room can be booked. This has a sixteen person dining table, and makes an excellent setting for family gatherings or corporate events. The conservatory is always brimming with seasonal flowers, can comfortably accommodate 64 guests and is ideal for private parties and weddings. The doors can be opened onto the gardens for pre-dinner drinks in tranquil surrounds.

There is a library bar complete with antique books. This is staffed of an evening, but during the day if you would like a dram or a pot of tea with your newspaper, or one of the magazines and books available in the Drawing Room you need only ask at reception. Your refreshment will quickly arrive. Afternoon tea complete with cake and sandwiches is served between three and five. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. I enjoyed using it in the Drawing Room with a nice pot of tea.

German and Estonian lagers can be enjoyed, along with an extensive choice of wines from across the globe, not just by the bottle and half bottle but in 125ml and 250ml glasses also. Claret is a house speciality. The 10th Duke loves it. I certainly enjoyed mine. There are also a wide choice of sherries, ports and dessert wines. There are generous check out and check in times of 11am and 3pm.

The Roxburghe Hotel is open to non-residents to enjoy also. If you are local or from further afield, this is a venue worthy of repeated enjoyment.

Fraser Paterson