I suppose the only thing stopping most of us paying £600 for a night in a hotel based in a Scottish stately home is that we don't have £600 just lying about, twitching to be spent under toasty tartan bedspreads and on a mountain of fine kippers.
And while tennis squillionaire Andy Murray – having spent some of his net gains on the purchase of Cromlix House in Perthshire – will be hoping his celebrity persuades ordinary Brits to ditch their plans for an anniversary weekend in a provincial Travelodge, one can't help thinking that the target demographic will be from a little further afield. Like, say, Chicago or St Petersburg.
In fairness to Andrew Barron Murray (talk about to the manor born), he has insisted that while the 15 ornate bedrooms on offer at Cromlix may well be somewhat beyond the sporrans of most locals (the cheapest are around £200), he is intent on keeping the restaurant side of the operation affordable.
"Affordable", of course, is relative. As are my wife and baby son. So I took them to Cromlix the other night to find out if Murray's choice of kitchen overlord, Albert Roux, meant the eaterie had what it takes to be afforded by people without hedge funds. Or, indeed, hedges.
We arrived in the kind of rainstorm that provides high-velocity water at a horizontal angle. Thanks, then, must go to the concierge who, before I had even switched off the car's ignition, was dancing towards us sporting a quite enormous umbrella. Indeed, the whole tableau reminded me of The Singing Butler, the shelter-from-the-storm painting by the Scottish artist Jack Vettriano, and I remain unconvinced that this wasn't entirely deliberate. Me? Well, I squelched into reception, but heroism is never bought cheaply.
The restaurant sits in a conservatory, with the open kitchen providing lots of opportunity for culinary eavesdropping. One audible trinket that caught my attention repeatedly was the head chef reading out new orders to his staff. He would then be answered by eight or nine resounding affirmations of "Oui". Although they were staggered, so it sounded like a flock of Gallic seagulls had alighted on the kitchen roof.
Here's the thing: I detest restaurant reviews. So forgive me if I limit my comments to the fact that my wife and I had three courses and some wine and the bill topped out at £130. The food was nice – not amazing but far from swill – and the bill would not disqualify local folk.
So you would have to say that Murray has achieved his egalitarian goal. And good for him. He would have been on a loser had he made it millionaires' night every night; Scots aren't keen on being forgotten by their own. That said, given his global status, one suspects he could fill both bedrooms and restaurant with foreign high-rollers from now until it stops raining in Perthshire.
And that's a very, very long time.Reuse content