Exploring Border Country; Angela Upex Stays in an Outstanding Old Hunting Lodge Hotel Surrounded by History

The Birmingham Post (England), January 6, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Exploring Border Country; Angela Upex Stays in an Outstanding Old Hunting Lodge Hotel Surrounded by History


Byline: Angela Upex

Steeped in history and proud to maintain its heritage, the Borders is indeed a very special place.

Driving through the many picturesque towns and villages set in a landscape of rolling hills, wild moorland and meandering rivers help banish any stresses from the working week.

Travelling through Ponteland, Otterburn, Carter Bar and Jedburgh, we arrived in St Boswell's less than two hours later.

Our destination was a hotel which has been offering hospitality for many a traveller for centuries. The Buccleuch Arms Hotel is an outstanding house which stands beside the village green in St Boswells, bordering the main road from Jedburgh to Edinburgh.

Situated in the heart of the Scottish Borders, it dates back to 1872 when it started life as a hunting lodge for the local gentry.

The hotel is owned by Rachael and Billy Hamilton and has recently undergone a major refurbishment.

Using their experience in the trade, Rachael and Billy, have fashioned the hotel into the ideal venue for weddings, business conferences, team-building sessions, golf breaks or simply a place to stay and relax in a beautiful part of the world.

The Buccleuch was voted Scottish Inn of the Year 2009 for a second year in a row so we were excited for our trip.

On arrival we were welcomed by a beaming receptionist and we were shown to the Lily room which is one of 19 individually designed en suite guest bedrooms. The room has a fresh and bright feel and was wonderfully comfortable.

The en suite bathroom is modern and spotless, complete with posh toiletries.

Elsewhere in the hotel there is a spacious lounge in which to enjoy pre-dinner drinks, as well as a bar, packed with character, which also doubles as a restaurant.

Externally there is a wonderful garden. And in fact, when you can bear to leave the comfort of your room to explore the surrounding area, it becomes clear that the hotel offers a gateway to some of the best attractions and sightseeing the Borders has to offer.

There are a host of towns, villages, museums, attractions and country homes to check out within driving distance of the hotel.

The Borders is rich in history from Roman remains, abbeys, castles and towers, many of which can be visited.

In addition, there are beautiful parks and gardens and magnificent stately homes like Abbotsford, Floors Castle, Mellerstain and Manderston.

Local walks are also in abundance, ranging from gentle strolls to more adventurous hikes that can take hours to complete.

We had a big to-do list, so our first stop was nearby Kelso.

Kelso is said to be the most architecturally attractive of the border towns, and it is easy to see why. The town is set within a bend in the River Tweed, and opposite its confluence with the River Teviot.

At its heart lies the largest market square in Scotland, a large cobbled area that gives Kelso a distinctly continental feel. It is renowned for its interesting shops, so we decided that we would try to get the retail urge out of our system as soon as possible by heading straight for the town.

Kelso was a delight. And if you like shopping, Melrose is also interesting. It has lots of good value cashmere and wool blankets and scarves, shoe shops and an abundance of gift shops.

Hawick, which is about a 25-minute drive away, also has excellent good cashmere shops.

After a few hours attempting to sniff out some bargains in Kelso it was off to the magnificent Floors Castle which was originally built for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe, in 1721. The castle was first opened to the public in 1977 and millions of visitors have explored the castle and its gardens.

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