There aren’t many golf resorts where you’ll have the chance to spot dolphins being their playful selves in an adjacent bay while savouring a delectable dinner as the sun sets over the sea. But even if no bottle-nosed mammals emerge from the depths, you’re in for a treat at the large and luxurious Fairmont St Andrews.
Any hotel would have to have a good excuse for a whopping 520-acre estate, and the five-star Fairmont certainly does. Its two on-site golf courses, The Torrance and The Kittocks, are revered not only across the region, but even across the seas: hence, it’s no surprise the resort does an excellent job at catering to American tourists, who arrive in flocks to play their favourite game (don’t pretend like it’s a sport!) on the Fairmont’s miniature version of Tuscany’s rolling hills right here on the eastern shore of Scotland.
Thanks to it’s U-shaped layout and impressive proportions, the whole property does, in fact, resemble many you’ll find in the States, which means American visitors will feel familiar with the place from the moment they check in. Since we’re not from across the pond, however, we took some time exploring the resort, eventually ordering a glass of bubbly and sitting down in the light-flooded, grand atrium with views of the blue sky above. We hear they serve a fully-fledged British afternoon tea in the atrium, too, but we’d just filled up on snacks from our in-room mini-bar – you can’t have it all!
Speaking of our room, we opted for a Deluxe King, which offered a comfortable chaise lounge, a desk that had CEO written all over it (figuratively speaking, that is), and a built-in wardrobe generous enough to accommodate an entire season of golf outfits plus a suitcase full of Tiger Woods memorabilia. With a space this large, we didn’t see a need to upgrade to a suite. What’s more important is that you ask for a room in the South Wing, which affords sweeping sunset views over the nearby coastline, a spectacle that’s especially magical during Scotland’s long summer nights, when glimmers of orange light dance on the horizon well past 11pm.
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|While you’re Out There|
|What places the Fairmont St Andrews ahead of its competitors in town is its forward-thinking offering of bespoke experiences – we cannot recommend the guided coastal walk with local marine archaeologist Neil Cunningham Dobson enough. Not only is Neil an enthusiastic guide and conversationalist, but he also knows all the most picturesque spots along the famous Fife Coastal Path. Pair that with the hotel’s luxury picnic hamper (including a bottle of their finest bubbly), and you’re in for a day to remember… and, if you want, an impromptu photoshoot.|
Vistas aside, our Deluxe King featured a champagne colour scheme with dark wood furniture accents and warm lights throughout. There were understated tributes to Scottish aesthetics, like a beige tartan pattern carpet, but much like the rest of the hotel, we never felt hit in the face with a bagpipe or a whisky casket. That said, if you’re looking for a more traditional setting, you won’t find it here. The somewhat outdated art on our room also didn’t quite hit the spot for us, although it’s easy to forgive a little misstep when soaking away in a generous bathtub with personalised Le Labo toiletries (oh, the joy of seeing one’s name in print!). To our delight, our stylish, monochrome bathroom seemed to have undergone a fairly recent makeover, which gave it the high-gloss and ultra-luxe feel we know from other Fairmont properties.
Similarly, the resort’s flagship Bar & Grill restaurant, set in a smaller building right on the coast, was polished to the max and served up a delightful culinary offering courtesy of head chef Allwyn Dias, who – to give you an idea of his gastronomic skills – transferred here from London’s Savoy. There should be more vegan-friendly options on the menu, we’d argue, as one plant-based dish for each course isn’t really an option at all. But then again, you could always head to the hotel’s other eateries for more of a choice. We enjoyed the family-friendly La Cucina, where Italian classics are done well, and our waiter Bruce looked after us with a genuine sense of Great Scottish hospitality that nearly made us feel like celebrities (you must ask for him, he’s a delight!).
When it comes down to it, the Fairmont St Andrews offers a wide range of conveniences: there are hourly drop-offs and pick-ups from town, state-of-the-art gym and spa areas and a multitude of dining options that cater to every imaginable taste. Does it feel a little corporate? Well, yes. But unless you’re looking for a British manor experience with creaking floors and carved banisters, we don’t see why anyone would mind. The resort’s ambition is to serve as a gateway to some of the world’s most sought-after golf courses while keeping those not keen on the game happy and entertained in a luxurious, modern environment. If you ask us, it does this very well.
Photography courtesy of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and by Neil Cunningham Dobson