The last time I lifted a golf club I was probably 14, and on the putting green of my local park. During the school holidays I’d enjoy a round most days, followed by a bottle of McDougall’s fizzy pop and a packet of KP crisps.
My interest waned as I grew up, but I have noticed that where there is a golf course there is also usually a splendid hotel and club house attached, plus stunning scenery, and these are things I can definitely get on board with.
So I’ll admit Murrayshall’s two fine golf courses were wasted on me, but the hotel did not disappoint in my own favourite pastimes – eating, drinking and relaxing.
My partner Gav and I arrived on a Friday evening in early summer. It was our first weekend away, sans-child, in over a year so we were looking forward to a relaxing time together.
Set in 365 acres of beautiful parklands, the hotel is a stone’s throw from Perth town centre, down a tree-lined drive. As soon as we stepped out of the car I could feel the stress from a busy week at work drain away. There is no sound of traffic, just the twittering of birds and the occasional whack of steel on ball coming from the fairways which surrounds the handsome 400-year-old former home of the Lynedoch family.
Our suite was clean, comfortable and tastefully decorated (the hotel has been recently refurbished). It took all my willpower not to flake out on the inviting crisp white sheets but we only had an half-hour turnaround before our dinner reservation in the a la cart restaurant.
After a drink in the cosy wood-panelled cocktail bar we were shown to our window table in the Lynedoch Brasserie, which has spectacular views of the Perthsire countryside. The menu was reassuringly select with dishes made from seasonal Scottish ingredients such as diver caught scallops, halibut from the Isle of Gigha and locally sourced smoked salmon. We enjoyed every delicious mouthful while watching the sun sink behind the hills in the distance.
While many guests do come to Murrayshall for the golf, the hotel also offers other countryside pursuits including fishing, kayaking and guided walks.
We’ve been talking about getting ourselves a kayak for a while (who isn’t these days?) so decided to try before we buy. We headed to Willowgate Activity Centre on the River Tay, where they offer guided kayak tours that take you under Perth’s iconic bridges and further downstream to Newburgh in Fife, finishing at Lindores Abbey distillery.
Sadly it was too windy to take the boats out that day, so we stayed in the centre’s sheltered lagoon instead. Still, we had a fun afternoon with our chatty instructor who gave us a two-hour lesson on the dos and don’ts as well as helpful advice on the best kayaks to buy. Much to my relief I made it through the session without falling in, though Gav wasn’t so lucky.
Our second evening was spent much like our first, only this time we dined in the club house restaurant. The menu and setting was a more casual affair but again, the food was top-notch. The juicy 8oz burgers topped with Mull cheddar cheese hit the spot but there’s also small plates, including halloumi and chicken wings if you want to dine light.
Exploring the area
Feeling a little bloated from our overindulging, the next day was spent exploring the beautiful walks from the hotel. My favourite took us through peaceful woodlands and up a fairly steep hillside which rewarded us with 360 views, across the Cairngorms, Fife and the Lomond Hills.
We couldn’t leave Perth without visiting Scone Palace, where Scotland’s Kings, including Macbeth and Robert The Bruce, were once crowned, so we decided to stop off on the road home. Sadly, the Palace was off limits as Potfest – a festival showcasing the UK’s finest potters – had taken over the grounds.
But we spent a pleasant couple of hours browsing the stalls and enjoying the beautiful gardens, getting lost in the maze and drinking take-out coffees on the historic Moot Hill which was once home to The Stone Of Destiny used in ancient coronations.
During the pandemic we have tended towards short breaks in Scotland rather than risking the foreign travel roulette. Perthshire is definitely worth a visit and Murrayshall is the perfect base to explore this beautiful county. And if you are into golf – all the better.
P.S. Perth was once the capital of Scotland and was a frequent royal residence. It has been known as The Fair City since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott in 1828.
Dinner, bed and breakfast at Murrayshall starts at £250 per night (based on two people sharing)
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