A quaint and countrified gatehouse with ancient stone piers marks the entrance to Cromlix Hotel. Set in 34 acres of roaming Scottish woodlands and landscaped gardens, in Stirlingshire, this beautiful 15-room boutique hotel was once a private residence to the Drummond family with a storied history dating back to the 1800’s.cNow owned by British tennis star and his wife Andy and Kim Murray, the couple have transformed the Victorian mansion into a romantic retreat that pops with colour, vibrant style with accents and ‘nods’ in respect to its location and heritage. Cromlix Hotel is a POB hotel – a collection of the very best independent hotels across the British Isles.
The long winding driveway is not just an impressive physical feature of the estate – it is a subconscious symbol. As guests pass the beautiful entrance and gatehouse any preoccupations and distractions harboured are left at the gate and descending further through the woodland to reach the hotel, the natural desire to ‘switch off’ and enter a truly relaxed mode at this countryside cocoon cannot be resisted.
It was a wet and dreary day outside, yet upon entering the hotel, the roaring fire, vibrant coloured reception area and warm welcome from the staff instantly made the day feel brighter. Seated at the antique-style reception desk, we were kindly offered a glass of fizz whilst we checked in which was a quick, efficient and friendly process. We arrived at the hotel earlier than the advised check-in time in the hope that we’d enjoy a game of tennis (the heavy rain put a stop to that!) so our room wasn’t quite ready. That’s no problem as the lovely receptionist took our bags and showed us around the rest of the hotel, which lived up to expectations in terms of vibe, décor and service.
This 15-bedroom boutique hotel has been brought to life with a stylish sense of modern aesthetics that contrasts yet complements traditional features. And this relaxed style can be attributed to the talents of Kim Murray, who was the creative force behind the hotel’s refurbishment.
One of the key features I noticed about Cromlix is the many public rooms in which guests can while away the hours; cosy up by the roaring fire, enjoy traditional board games in the drawing room, get lost in a book in the nook, enjoy a tipple in the bar or (and my personal favourite) pocket a few balls in the Billiard’s Room.
Every space within the historic home has been carefully designed to be useable and enjoyable in their own right, with an eclectic mix of books are thoughtfully placed on coffee tables throughout the hotel; a perfect example is the garden entrance hall which is home to a grand piano, Damien Hirst artwork, and a coffee table book of his works, which calls out to guests to ‘take a seat and take some time!’ And no matter where you settle in the hotel the soothing sound of the background music (which is from a playlist specifically created for Cromlix further sets the scene for guests to slow down and relax in their opulent surroundings.
Each of the 15 rooms are named after one of the plants or herbs grown on the 34-acre estate. Our home for the evening was Sorrel which was an exceptionally spacious room overlooking the driveway’s turning circle and out towards the beautiful countryside.
Our room presented a traditional design with a simple and elegant colour palette. Big windows let in the light whilst the heavy curtains add warmth and privacy, an ornate oak freestanding dressing table, super king-size sumptuous bed adorned with heavy blankets, freestanding double wardrobe (with ample clothes hangers, hairdryer, iron, and laundry bag) two bright bucket chairs and a wall mounted smart TV completed the bedroom furnishings.
The in-room coffee and tea station offered a great selection of herbal tea and Nespresso coffee pods to enjoy with a freshly baked slice of ‘Granny Erskine’ (Andy’s grandmother) shortbread – made using her original secret recipe.
Complimentary milk and water were available in the fridge and a selection of drinks and snacks from the pay-as-you-go mini bar.
Across a small landing (still within our room) the door opened to reveal a traditional-style bathroom with a lovely green, grey, and black colour scheme, which I really loved. The bath was large and the rain shower was powerful. MODM are the toiletries of choice, a natural ingredients wellness brand created by Edinburgh-based brother and sister team and they smelt absolutely divine.
Fluffy towels, robes and slippers embroidered with the Cromlix crest were nicely heated on the radiator.
A turndown service saw our room brought back to order with some naughty, but very nice Cranachan truffles thoughtfully placed on our pillows.
Sorrel was a delightful room to call our own for the next 24 hours.
Food and Drink
Before arriving at Cromlix, I’d given quite a bit of thought as to how the hotel would look and its ambience (delighted to say it lived up to expectations!) however, I’d not given the dining aspect much thought.
We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in the bar which has a lively atmosphere and overlooks the garden. A good selection of wines, beers, lagers, spirits and cocktails are on the menu, and I enjoyed a ‘Dark Stormy Night in Scotland’ which was prepared and presented with great attention to detail.
The restaurant is named The Glasshouse at Cromlix, aptly named after its structure and design boasting panoramic views across the gardens and estate. Led by Executive Head Chef Darin Campbell the menu is seasonal with many of the ingredients grown in the Cromlix kitchen garden. The open kitchen adds to the hustle and bustle of the restaurant’s energy.
The choices for starters and main courses were very much to our liking and it took us a while to make a final decision. Whilst we pondered the menu our waitress brought us a couple of very tasty canapes – we hoped the rest of the meal would meet such standards.
Starter 1: Crispy Gressingham Duck Pastilla with Baba Ghanoush and Medjool Dates
Starter 2: Pork and Pistachio Pate with Brioche, Golden Raisins, and Roasted Spiced Cauliflower
Main 1: West Coast Scottish Cod with Hand Dived Scallop, Aubergine Caponata, Sauce Bourride with a side of Seasonal Vegetables.
Main 2: Fillet Steak, aged for at least 28 days, Seasonal Vegetables, Salad, Peppercorn Sauce and hand-cut Chips.
Dessert 1: Valrhona Chocolate & Hazelnut Delice with Honey Ice-cream, Honeycomb and Cherry
Dessert 2: Home-made Almond Croissant, Roasted Stone Fruit and Crème Brule Ice-Cream
Each dish was absolutely delicious; the quality of the ingredients shone through, the combination of the flavours and textures were a delight on the pallet and the presentation was beautiful without being over-fussy. The portion sizes were plentiful too.
We were extremely impressed, and it is clear to see why the restaurant is so busy, not just with hotel guests but it is also a popular choice with people travelling just for the dining experience alone. The food was superb.
There is also a private dining room which is a wonderful spot to celebrate a special occasion, with the fine food from the Glasshouse Restaurant.
Breakfast was a fine affair too. A selection of fruits, cereal, homemade granola, yoghurts, and cheeses were on offer from the cold buffet. I could have stuffed myself with the poached pears, spiced apricots and granola but I tried to control myself as the hot dishes were equally as tempting with the Crème Brulé Porridge (whisky cream and demerara sugar) stealing the show. As if that wasn’t enough a basket of toast and pastries were also served. A true breakfast of champions!
The Kitchen Garden is located close to the main house of the hotel and guests can peek over the fence at the array of vegetables, herbs and spices growing or arrange a tour for more detailed insight. The hens wander freely and the bees buzz around their hives creating a wholesome feel to the grounds.
As to be expected there is a tennis court, with a practice wall, where guests can perfect their game and professional coaching sessions can also be arranged. There is also a new Pickleball court for a spot of fun paddle sports action.
Other activities include fishing on the estate loch, archery, falconry display walks, in-room spa treatments, walks around the estate (picnics can also be arranged), foraging, outdoor garden games, board games and a full-size billiard table.
During our stay we donned a pair of complimentary Barbour wellies and explored the estate, sadly it was a bit too wet for tennis, so we opted for a game of snooker instead in The Billiard Room. In keeping with the rest of the contemporary meets tradition décor that flows through the hotel, this room pops with colour and pattern whilst traditional Scottish furniture and artefacts adorn the walls (think stags heads, antique dresser and large windows showcasing stunning views of the Scottish countryside) and act as a reminder of the heritage of this country estate. We also liked the – jars of complimentary retro sweets. Nice touch!
The original Chapel still stands and is the only part of the building that fully withstood the effects of the fire that destroyed much of the original house in 1878. This chapel is frequently used for wedding services and celebrations by guests of the hotel.
We thoroughly enjoyed our overnight stay at Cromlix. It’s a place to completely relax and enjoy a slow pace in a picture-perfect romantic setting.
This property is included in our guide to the best hotels in Scotland
Address: Cromlix, Kinbuck, Stirling FK15 9JT