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Travel: A wave of bliss and the serenity of the seaside at St Andrews

The Auld Grey Toon in glorious technicolour.
The Auld Grey Toon in glorious technicolour.

There is a special moment of joy on every staycation and it’s probably not what you’d expect. It’s not arriving at the fancy hotel and it’s not even sitting down for an opulent dinner in a plush restaurant.

No, it is the precious minutes after you have packed everything into the car. After all the chaos and panic. The kids are safely stowed in their seats and you have started driving. For those brief few moments, you are going somewhere. It is the calm that descends, a low-level hubbub of anticipation. That, for me, and I am sure many other parents, is the holiday.

I had this wave of bliss as I headed off to St Andrews during the Easter break. It’s not quite driving home for Christmas, but it’s in the same ball park.

The religious side of holidays like Easter might be less and less pronounced these days, replaced by chocolate eggs and shop-bought baskets, but it felt like a higher power was looking out for us as we drove. The weather, which could best be described as damp, suddenly broke and we were treated to a gloriously sunny, albeit chilly, Easter Sunday.

Our drive from the Central Belt took us along the back roads to St Andrews, the low sun casting a heavenly glow over the rolling Fife farmlands.

A plush room with a view overlooking the North Sea.
A plush room with a<br />view overlooking the North Sea.

That time of serenity carried us all the way to our hotel, the Fairmont St Andrews, just an hour north east from Stirling. The Fairmont is immediately impressive and gives off a luxury vibe, with its winding driveway, perfectly manicured golf courses, huge portico entrance and valet parking.

From the first second, the Fairmont staff were excellent. Nothing was too much hassle and there was even the option of being collected by the hotel if you want to kick back even further on the journey here.

The Fairmont is enormous. The lobby, with its huge fireplace and inviting leather armchairs, opens out to a relaxed bar and lounge area. Behind that lies a vast open-plan entertainment area on the floor below. Around the sides of this are the spa and swimming pool as well as a restaurant, cinema and conference rooms and a children’s play area.

When we arrive, people are seated in groups, large and small, enjoying afternoon tea as sunlight floods in from huge panoramic windows at either end.

Inviting leather armchairs by the fireplace.
Inviting leather armchairs by the fireplace.

Easter Sunday was an excellent time to visit the Fairmont because the hotel had just launched its bottomless brunch in the Squire restaurant. The brunch had everything from fresh seafood to made-to-order rice and noodle dishes and an amazing Sunday roast. It also had tonnes of salad and charcuterie options as well as amazing handcrafted desserts and cheeses. The brunch, which is available on the first Sunday of every month, also includes four cocktails or mocktails or soft drinks.

Me, my wife and two daughters were staying in a double-double deluxe room, which was large enough to fit all four of us comfortably and felt lavish, with its plush furniture and gorgeous tiled bathroom. Our third-floor room looked out on the lush green of the resort’s famous Torrance golf course and out to the deep, dark blue of the North Sea.

The brunch was so massive that we were pretty stuffed for the rest of the day, so we spent the afternoon exploring the hotel. The spa and swimming pool were a huge hit with the kids and sports bar, with its own golf simulator, was an equally big hit with one golf-mad adult.

The vast open-plan entertainment area.
The vast open-plan entertainment area.

The next day the weather wasn’t quite as fair as winds from Storm Kathleen started to kick up a swell. But we took the five-minute drive into St Andrews and spent a few hours wandering the pretty cobbled streets and old-world lanes and alleyways. St Andrews is a little microcosm inside Scotland, full of international students, American tourists and exasperated Fifers.

Outside Jannettas Gelateria, a large queue of young students in pea coats had formed and, like any good travellers, we joined it.

Once inside, we saw what all the fuss was about: fridges full of every kind of ice cream as well as cookies, frozen yogurt, cakes and more.

It wouldn’t be a trip to the coast without some fish and chips by the seaside, so after our ice cream we headed to Cromars Fish & Chips before nipping across to the East Sands beach.

Sitting in the car eating fish and chips as the waves crash into the sand and wind buffets the windows is a rite of passage for all UK holidaymakers and we enjoyed creating these family memories.

The kids wolfed down the food before dashing off to the nearby swings. As for the adults, we enjoyed another of those rare moments of peace that make a staycation like this worth its weight in gold.

P.S. The five-star Fairmont St Andrews first opened in 2001 and had a multi-million-pound redesign in 2017. The resort includes two renowned golf courses, the Torrance Course, a par 72 championship course, which was originally designed by golfer Gene Sarazen and former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance. And The Kittocks course, par 72, originally designed by Sarazen and Bruce Devlin, who gave it its earlier name of the Devlin course. The course was renamed The Kittocks after the Site of Special Scientific Interest that forms part of the land.


For more information, prices and to book, visit or call 01334 837000