Eden Mansion, St Andrews

When 1st Earl Field Marshall Douglas Haig’s family built their family home, on the outskirts of St. Andrews in 1860, it epitomized the era and displayed all the elements of grand Victorian design.

Amidst 5 acres of landscaped grounds incorporating a sweeping drive and walled gardens, Eden Mansion has retained the grandeur of the era of its birth, welcoming guests of the 21st century through its grand doors with tradition and flair.

Reminiscent of scenes from a period drama, a welcome was extended which was pleasantly surprising but not at all out of place at this luxurious hotel, where great importance and pride has obviously been placed on tradition and etiquette.

Modern hospitality could certainly learn a thing or two from the natural charm and ease with which such formalities were carried out by the Eden Mansion staff. Truly second nature, each member seemed to fit their role perfectly; from the superbly professional doorman, to the highly efficient and subtly charming restaurant manager and deferential, yet friendly chambermaids, who could quite easily be pictured giggling and descending the stairs having dressed the lady of the house for dinner! This truly was like stepping into a movie set, one, which I felt very much part of.

The ambience is more ‘house-guest’ than hotel guest, particularly as Eden Mansion is a relatively small hotel, where, only a few rooms and suites afford an extremely personal touch and spacious quarters for all those fortunate to discover this charmingly luxurious country house.

It is refreshingly endearing to discover, in addition to the host of other superb qualities, somewhere, where as much importance is placed on the bathrooms, as the sleeping quarters and suite facilities. Rooms in their own right and far from squeezed into a tight corner, the ensuites offer utter luxury, affording the same beautiful views of the grounds and commodious enough to accommodate furnishings in addition to the typical functional pieces, and beautifully thought out soft furnishings. The 1st Earl Haig Suite brought to mind scenes from The Great Gatsby – a theme which never ventured far from my thoughts throughout the stay.

The delicious aromas of dinner drifting in through the open bedroom window, prompted a descent of the sweeping staircase and exploration of some rather surprising discoveries in the form of an art deco style cinema with original chairs and, by contrast, some very state of the art appliances: a library of DVDs, PlayStation, Xbox, Netflix, Bose surround system and a 70 inch plasma – all part of an excellent evening enjoying an array of movies in the comfort of your own in-house cinema – quaint!

An ornate bar area has been invitingly decorated and provides the venue for the Afternoon Tea, for which Eden Mansion seems to have become particularly renowned. A gramophone and lovely views of the Walled Garden, complete the picture; and with Gatsby music playing in my ears once again, it is time for Dinner.

Very much an event and with the late evening sun streaming in through the beautiful windows, we were seated for dinner and superbly hosted for the duration of the evening by John, the Restaurant Manager or Maitre D’, which seems more apt. An unflinching service and attention to detail with utmost respect to traditional formalities, followed and the food deserved no less.

Each course, the tantalising amuse bouche and chef’s own, showcase dishes, were works of art, immaculately prepared, artfully presented and exploding with complementing tastes. Time was required to indulge in dinner; as an experience and not just a meal. John had the timings perfected and cleverly adjusted his approach and conversation, based on each dining party and their particular needs; only an well practiced and accomplished professional is capable of such adroitness, whilst remaining calm and charming at all times!

As the evening faded and dinner concluded, guests departed for the lounge (or cinema!) to enjoy the last of the day and the setting sun on the grounds and wider Kingdom of Fife.

In the suites, upstairs, the turndown service was quietly efficient and, as with all things at Eden Mansion, performed to utter perfection and with a great deal of thought; guests’ comfort at the forefront, at all times.

Following a restful and absolutely silent night of sleep, the day slowly crept in around the shuttered windows, the sunlight, casting shadows on the dewy grass, creating another idyllic view from the window.

I’d guess that Eden Mansion was fully booked that night, however neither typical hotel morning bustle nor breakfast service reflected that fact, with utter calm and peacefulness easing the start of the new day.

Breakfast at Eden Mansion was again, a leisurely affair, encouraged again by John, his unwavering service ever-present and ever welcome. The Eggs Benedict was pure heaven with an exceptional hollandaise and all ingredients cooked and presented to perfection. A bottomless pot of tea, suited just fine and had I not been forced to leave for another engagement, would have been very welcome to stay longer and enjoy the grounds perhaps or another quick movie screening.

There is no sense of ‘check-out time’ at all, with guests departing at leisure, epitomizing everything for which Eden Mansion exists; relaxed and easy luxury.

A brief description of Eden Mansion may sound slightly contradictory, with its Victorian roots and influences of 1920’s indulgences and intricate detailing. But rather Eden Mansion reflected a flow through the eras; a seamless display of everything good about two consecutive periods in history and a reflection of our great heritage and traditions.

Although superb, in an almost too good to be true sense, Eden Mansion is completed and crowned by the staff who work within the walls and grounds, loving the house and caring for the guests in what can only be described as exceptional, in each and every way – thank you all.