Roxburghe Hotel Kelso comes with a game shoot on its own doorstep and a menu courtesy of Albert Roux. Do you need another reason to stay?
I can’t resist humming the theme from Mike Hodge’s Get Carter whenever I head north on the East Coast Mainline. When I make the journey, sometimes with a shotgun in the guard’s van (not for use in retribution for my brother’s murder, of course), I travel full of curiosity for what I’ll see as the train flicks through the counties.
My attention is never on a copy of Farewell My Lovely (as Michael Caine’s was in Get Carter), not when within spitting distance of the line Yorkshire fishermen are lugging rods to a riverbank, Northumbrians are tending to houses and Scottish dog walkers are battling the rumbling jostle of North Sea winds.
Around 26 miles to the south west of Berwick train station is the Roxburghe Hotel Kelso, an education in Scottish history in itself. Part of Roxburghe Estates, this 22-bedroom beauty, set in 340 acres, has been made so with the guiding hands of its owner, the Duke of Roxburghe.
His choice of furnishings, wines and influence on service push away those feelings one dreads upon entering other stately hotels saddled with narrow-minded leadership and no real sense of place in the modern world.
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With the added bonus of an Albert Roux restaurant (a 15-year tie-in was signed with the French chef last year) the Roxburghe Hotel Kelso is more than just a grand Scottish house with tartan carpeting, a drawing room with a roaring fire, a library stocked with a lifetime’s knowledge and a brilliant white Victorian conservatory – the rooms are so well cared for even the spiders must have dusters stashed somewhere.
The broad range of sporting opportunities available across Roxburghe Estates’ expansive and diverse grounds is surely the envy of many in Scotland. With salmon fishing across two beats on the River Tweed, grouse shooting on moors at Byrecleugh and Rawburn, and pheasant shooting around the duke’s home at Floors Castle and beyond, the fact a hotel of the Roxburghe’s stature is waiting for you upon your return surely makes an overnight stay or two here a no-brainer.
Scores for the Roxburghe Hotel Kelso
Catering: The menu at the Chez Roux restaurant must really put the frighteners on the competition. 9/10
Accommodation: Our room was big but neither bold nor brash. A tasteful and functional place to rest your head and perfect for double gunning practice. 8/10
Atmosphere: Even in a hotel this size one was never alone for long. The room layouts invite conversation between friends and strangers alike. 8/10
Service: Swift, polite, chipper and resourceful. 8/10
Suitability for shooters: With so many sporting opportunities at Roxburghe Estates the hardest thing for visitors will be getting out of bed on shoot day. Contact Daniel Newcombe at the estate office for more information. If you’re short on shooting kit then head to A Hume in Kelso. 9/10