Stay the night: Greywalls, Gullane
Intimate Edwardian country charm comes with the latest modern luxuries, says Minty Clinch
Sunday 31 October 2010
The only Edward Lutyens house in Scotland reopened as a boutique hotel this spring. And what a house it is, an ingenious triangular design with a concave front made out of stone from nearby Rattlebags Quarry that glows pinkish gold in watery sunlight.
You approach through an intricately walled garden, while the rear has expansive views of the Firth of Forth. As Gullane is only 16 miles from Edinburgh, it's a real oasis of calm, especially during the maelstrom of the city's numerous festivals.
Greywalls was built in 1901 for the Hon Alfred Lyttelton, a sports-mad politician who wanted a home within an iron shot of the 18th green on Muirfield golf course. Four years later, he sold it to Willy James, a wealthy American whose wife was allegedly the bastard daughter of Edward VII. True or false, the monarch was a constant visitor up to his death in 1910 and James extended the building continuously to accommodate his distinguished guests.
In 1924, Greywalls was bought by Sir James Horlick of the malted milk drinks empire. A hotel since 1948, it is now owned and supervised by his great grandson, Giles Weaver, and his wife, Roz. They have a house just outside the walls, with Ronnie Corbett as their closest neighbour.
Nowadays, the hotel combines an intimate Edwardian charm with contemporary luxury. With a choice of public rooms, it is always possible to find a quiet corner for chess or backgammon – boards provided – or deep sofas for a convivial chat over single malts far into the night.
Greywalls has 23 bedrooms, most of them in the main house or the small wing that was added in 1972. Alternatives include the former footmen's bothies by the front gates and the King's Loo, adapted from the regal convenience in the Rose Garden.
The food and drink
As of May 2010, eating at Greywalls is Chez Roux, masterminded by the legendary Albert Roux from Le Gavroche. The restaurant, decorated with celebrated Roux cartoons involving roasting whole ostriches and other culinary challenges, seats 40 people, while the Original Dining Room caters for private parties of up to 20. There is a choice between the three-course menu du jour (£22.50 lunch, £25 dinner) and the delectable à la carte. Roux's mission is to prepare local produce to perfection. His soufflé Suissesse and omelette Rothschild are to die for, but don't attempt them after afternoon tea (£16) in the Library: with as much currant scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam as you can eat, this is more than a meal in itself. An intimate snug, with Roux snacks, and a whisky bar complete this tantalising line-up.
Four acres of beautifully maintained gardens, designed by Gertrude Jekyll who worked with Lutyens on many of his country house projects. Two tennis courts, one grass and one hard, and a croquet lawn. Half a dozen golf courses, including three championship layouts, are within five miles. Wi-Fi in all bedrooms and public areas.
Room 17 has wheelchair access and an adapted shower. No dogs in public rooms, but welcome in bedrooms under supervision.
Bed and full Scottish breakfast £215- to £295 (based on two sharing), £195 to £275 (single occupancy). Caddy's Closet (single) £75 to £95.
Greywalls, Gullane, Edinburgh, EH31 2EG (01620 842144; greywalls.co.uk).
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