Arriving late on a chilly autumn evening I was greeted by delicious ‘light bites’ and a crackling log fire in the library. What better way to start a visit.
Four hundred year old Murrayshall Hotel, the former home of Lord Lynedoch, is set in 365 acres of glorious Perthshire countryside. It’s a quintessential country house hotel with the added benefit of an 18-hole golf course plus a smaller 9-hole course also in the grounds.
The main building and annexe provide 40 luxurious and spacious bedrooms and suites. A range of function rooms, hosting from four to 120 people, make it a perfect location for groups, from business meetings and conferences to wedding receptions. The hotel is also licensed for weddings.
The welcoming Barossa Bar has lovely views, comfortable seating and is especially popular for pre-dinner drinks. The hotel quite rightly prides itself on its award-winning food and the next evening dinner in the Eolas restaurant, beautifully prepared by chef Craig Jackson and his team, was truly memorable. My wife, a vegetarian, who has sometimes experienced ‘second best’ catering, declared her meal one of the best ever. The restaurant also serves breakfast and my Eggs Benedict the following morning maintained the high standards of the previous evening.
Not to be outdone, at lunch in the more casual Cairns restaurant on the day of our departure, Chef Sahan Wijesinghe served an amazing Sri Lankan curry with a stunning range of dishes. More ordinary food, such as the excellent fish and chips, is also available but the hotel chefs proved that they can produce top-class food with ease and confidence.
Golf is an obvious attraction and Murrayshall golf course is rated eleventh best in Scotland, the home of golf. A round of golf costs £70 but hotel guests get a hefty discount, paying just £45 to play on this immaculate course with glorious views.
For non-golfers there are plenty of other activities to keep guests busy. Two signposted walks around the estate are great for lovers of fresh Scottish air, with maps available from reception; in good weather picnics are popular. There is a small spa, bicycles are available to hire and for groups the hotel has partnered with nearby Willowgate Activity Centre to set up more unusual activities on the lawn.
First, I tried my hand at laser clay pigeon shooting. I’m not a big fan of shotguns but this uses guns that fire laser beams as the discs come flying across the participants. An electronic scoreboard lets you see who’s hot and who’s not and small speakers provide the bangs when the guns are fired. It was great fun and, of course, totally safe. Then it was on to axe throwing, basically darts on steroids. More of them ended up on the lawn than in the targets, but it didn’t really matter. The hotel can also arrange fishing on the River Tay, a visit to a distillery and other outdoor activities.
A major nearby attraction is Scone (pronounced ‘Scoon’) Palace. From the ninth century it was where 42 Scottish kings, starting with Kenneth MacAlpin the first King of Scotland, were crowned whilst seated on what is popularly known as the Stone of Destiny.
It was also here in 906 that Scotland’s first Parliament was called. Currently home to the ninth Earl of Mansfield and his family, it is closed for winter, except for the gardens. The Palace re-opens at Easter 2024, along with the new, nearby Perth Museum. The Stone of Destiny will be moved from its current location in Edinburgh Castle to the museum where it will be joined by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s sword and a rare Jacobite glass, both on public display for the first time.
What better way to experience Scotland, past and present.
Murrayshall Country Estate, Scone, Perth, PH2 7PH, Scotland.
Tel: +44(0)1738 551171
The hotel is around one hour by road from Edinburgh and Glasgow and 90 minutes from Aberdeen. It is 20 minutes from Dundee whose airport is served by Loganair with two daily return flights from London Heathrow.
Type of Hotel: 4-Star plus Country House Hotel & Golf Course
Number of rooms: 40 rooms and suites with complimentary Wi-Fi.
Price Band: Medium. Rooms start from £199 a night including breakfast.
Insider Tip: Try the Sri Lankan curry, the dishes are unique and delicious.
Reviewer Rating: 8.5/10
Mike Pickup is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer who covers all forms of travel including ocean and river cruising for UK national newspapers and magazines.
Photographs courtesy of Murrayshall