Cringletie House, near Peebles, Scottish Borders

I adore the sight of wellington boots at a front door; their presence hints at time well spent and the existence of country walks and plentiful outdoor opportunities – justification of sorts for an otherwise indulgent stay. Neat rows welcomed me to Cringletie and I couldn’t wait to see more of the Country House Hotel nestled deep into the heart of the Scottish Borders countryside.

Once a region of many a fierce and bloody battle between warring English and Scots, the Borders Region now sits resplendent in peaceful beauty amid rolling hills and green pastureland. Cringletie reflects that tranquillity. A former Scottish Baronial castle dating from the 13th century, with quite a history, Cringletie has been lovingly restored by the present owners and proudly sits amidst 28 acres of manicured gardens and private countryside walks.

We were warmly welcomed to Cringletie by Fiona, following a short and really pleasant journey from Edinburgh and offered a tour of the hotel. Meandering through the hotel’s restaurant, bars and lounge, conversation was jovial and informal, with Fiona’s explanation of the ‘bell system’, which remains within the building, forming a most entertaining and unique addition.

The smell of log burning fires also welcomed us and fitted well with the traditional décor and plush furnishings in rich Scottish colours. An impressive oak staircase formed a focal point from the main hall, sweeping upwards; reassuringly typical of a Scottish country house hotel. Not typical however was the provision of a lift in such a building; a surprising, yet welcome addition however as Cringletie, although not large; with 12 exclusive bedrooms; is spread over several floors.

Our traditional bedroom offered some spectacular views over the gardens and the Borders countryside beyond, where winding woodland walks, take those with the inclination, through some beautiful lowland countryside. Plentiful sporting opportunities are within easy reach of guests at Cringletie with rights over River stretches for fishing enthusiasts and vast lawned areas; ideal for Teddy Bear’s picnics! And indeed the teddy features quite prominently at Cringletie, where children are made very welcome; outwith the hotel, options are boundless with Edinburgh a short drive and the charming town of Peebles even closer.

Working up an appetite has never been more enjoyable and returning to the hotel, following an afternoon spent exploring the vast grounds, thoughts turned to dinner. A formal, yet relaxed affair, the feeling is most definitely that of being a guest in a large house, especially considering the personal artwork collection and relics from an interesting history which adorn the walls and surfaces in this beautiful house.

Pre-dinner drinks seemed a natural progression and in the company of a barman, extremely proficient in his trade, all too soon, we were taken for dinner. Dishes at Cringletie have very obviously been carefully crafted, from produce available locally and served with care and attention by attentive waiting staff. Dinner was a leisurely affair, relaxed fine dining in supreme surroundings. Our choice being to take coffee in the lounge, in front of a roaring log fire, resulted in retiring to bed sooner than planned, before contented sleep overtook!

Something about the countryside air and the relaxed ambience at Cringletie prompts early nights in probably one of the most, if not the most comfortable bed, I’ve ever had the absolute fortune to sleep in.

A stay at Cringletie is most likely everything you would expect from a Baronial Castle hotel in the heart of the Scottish countryside and more; a pride in tradition, a love of the building and everything it stands for and traditional hospitality; the very strengths which shall attract guests from worldwide and bring them back again and again: Bells and Boots and all…