Culture / Travel

Magical Scottish Retreat is a Favorite of Texans — Why Gleneagles’ Adult Playground is Such a Draw

More Than a Century of Tradition

BY // 12.19.19

Looking for festive holiday excursions, many people snag their passports and head across the pond this time of year. One popular spot for Texans is Scotland’s Gleneagles.

According to the hotel’s 2019 booking records, Texas is No. 2 in the United States following California as far as producing its most American visitors. After discovering all the activities and amenities offered at this adult playground, it’s easy to see why.

The five-star luxury hotel is spaciously stretched out on the 850-acre property. Neighboring the hotel on the estate grounds are three championship golf courses, a spa and all the Scottish outdoor adventures you could drum up in your brain.

This magical Scottish land nestled beneath the Ochil Hills sounds dreamy, but how hard is it to get there? Often times you hear about these blissful European escapes, but have to jump through hoops just to arrive. But this haven for country pursuits lies within an hour’s drive of the Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.

Gleneagles
Gleneagles allows you to get out into the true Scottish countryside.

For guests who wish to arrive by train (when in Europe, why wouldn’t you?), Gleneagles has its own station less than two minutes from the hotel, complete with complimentary transfers. The station is not privately owned, and is on the main London to Inverness line. You can travel by train directly from London Kings Cross to Gleneagles Station in just over five hours.

It is both luxurious and environmentally friendly. In fact, guests have been arriving in true European style since the Roaring Twenties by way of train. The Gleneagles station was first opened by the Scottish Central Railway in 1856 and renamed Gleneagles station in 1912.

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Less than a decade later, the hotel opened its doors. Fast forward more than 160 years, and the train station underwent a full-scale renovation in 2014 when the Ryder Cup was hosted at Gleneagles.

As if getting there wasn’t an experience in and of itself, sprinkles of magic descend upon arrival. The fall season saw the grand return of the renovated Strathearn restaurant, complete with new menus from executive chef Simon Attridge. The new designs evoke the fine dining experiences of the 1920s and 30s, transporting guests to past decades.

During dinner, live music serves as a backdrop. And the most anticipated, Instagram-worthy experience is the  table-side gueridon service with a bread, smoked salmon and roast meat trolley. Texas boasts its share of tableside guacamole, so we’re guessing this is Scotland’s version of a tableside atmospheric experience.

Gleneagles
Gleneagles boasts picturesque golf courses.

When pulling up to the estate, it’s how every Texan would imagine a Scottish countryside manor to present itself: lush green grass and palatial architecture. Similarly to how a Scottish person would feel juxtaposed, pulling into the Fort Worth Stockyards for the first time. Inside the walls of the actual hotel are more than 230 guest rooms and suites, fit for royalty. Although the bones and spirit of Gleneagles dates back almost a century, the modern upgrades leave guests lavishly pampered.

There are more than 20 outdoor activities to take part in, including falconry, archery, off-roading and even gundog lessons. An introductory gundog lesson involves the instructor teaching guests how to control a gundog in the field while hunting, and learning about the different canine breeds used for the sport.

And if outdoor pursuits aren’t really your cup of tea, the Gleneagles team literally has a cup of tea for you. One of the most popular offerings at the estate is an afternoon break for Scottish High Tea in the newly refurbished Glendevon Room.

 And for the holiday season, Gleneagles is bursting with yuletide cheer. From The Nutcracker ballet, performed by The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, followed by a Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea in the hotel’s historic ballroom, December brings a holiday bonanza. Following this inaugural holiday tradition, splashes of champagne, garland, fairy lights, real-life reindeer and a true winter wonderland blanket the property all through the month.

A Scottish Christmas could become a tradition.

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