I’M standing on the private balcony of an uber-modern, glass-fronted hotel room.
Beyond is the 17th tee of one of Scotland’s most breathtaking parkland courses.
Dubbed ‘The Young Pretender’, this tee could have been made for me, the not-so-young ‘golfer’ who insists she plays off scratch. And it’s true, the gal who has laid hands on the original Claret Jug simply scratches out the bad scores, keeping only the good.
Today, however, I watch in awe as the Real McCoy steps up to the tee and drives the ball into the distance. No pretence there then. It’s heading straight for the hole near the clubhouse.
Suitably impressed, I laughingly utter under my breath my golf-daft dad’s phrase: “I didn’t go that far on my holidays!”
And there’s a ring of truth to that too. I’ve travelled a very short distance from my home in ab-fab Aberdeenshire to Meldrum House, an award-winning luxury country hotel and golf course set in 240 spectacular acres.
Crowned AA Hotel of the Year for Scotland 2014/15, Meldrum House is arguably the most magical base from which to explore all that’s on offer in this beautiful corner of the country.
Aberdeenshire lays claim to Scotland’s only castle trail, which includes 14 of the world’s most notable fortresses; many within striking distance of the hotel (Fyvie, Fraser and Delgatie being the nearest).
And who can resist a drop of amber nectar on the way? Glen Garioch distillery in the charming village of Oldmeldrum is an easy walk from the hotel. This enchanting enterprise nestles in the Garioch valley, reputed to be the finest barley growing area in the country.
And if the golf, whisky and history do not grab you, the angling must. Aberdeenshire has some of the best salmon and sea trout fishing in Europe.
But I’m here to be wined and dined and to luxuriate in the splendour of this 13th Century baronial building.
Earlier this summer, historic Meldrum House was pitched into the 21st Century with the launch of its cutting-edge, multi-million-pound extension.
The exciting new development created 28 additional bedrooms and a ballroom with space for 200 people; its chic private terrace affording panoramic views of the impeccably manicured US Golf Association-constructed course.
My tour over, I leave the swish balcony and head back in time to the 11-room manor house.
Donning the sumptuous, soft bathrobe and slippers provided, and with a glass of champagne in hand, I pad around my cavernous accommodation and take in its period detailing, intricate carved double doors and tall sash and case windows.
Amid the fine fabrics and furnishings, displayed with an effortless grace and elegance, are antiques and artefacts associated with Meldrum over the centuries.
Moving into the en suite I slip into a deep, hot, bubble bath and look forward to dinner. I know it will be good, I’ve dined here before.
Meldrum House has been the holder of two AA Rosettes for years, an achievement reportedly shared by about 10% of restaurants nationwide. This evening the menu promises lobster, T-bone steak, finest Scottish crab and smoked salmon.
With an action-packed day behind me, I turn my thoughts to my first golfing experience – an informal visit to St Andrew’s Royal & Ancient Golf Club and my brush with the coveted Open Championship trophy. Sadly it’s magic didn’t rub off on me.
There’s a knock at the door and my reverie is broken. It’s my other half who chirps: “Are you going to try a round of golf any time this weekend, Mrs Scratch?”
“Nope,” I answer, taking a sip of my bubbles (the non-soap variety). “My stay is already above par!”
A superior room at Meldrum House costs £210 per room per night, including full Scottish breakfast.
A standard room costs £165, also with breakfast. Until September 30, for £249 per couple the hotel is offering a midweek, two-night stay in a stables room including full Scottish breakfast, a visit to Fyvie Castle and a tasting tour of Glen Garioch Distillery.
Visit meldrumhouse.com or call 01651 872294.