One of the things I missed during lockdown were date nights with Mr G. Enjoying a meal, a few drinks and a good blether, is one of our favourite ways to spend quality time together. Earlier this month we had our first post lockdown date night on a hotel break in Fife. The hotel was Garvock House Hotel – a four star, family run hotel, located in the leafy suburbs of the historic town of Dunfermline.
It takes under 30 minutes to reach Dunfermline from Edinburgh. The town is a good alternative to Edinburgh for tourists. Visitor accommodation is cheaper and Dunfermline doesn’t get overcrowded in high season like Edinburgh. The Fife town has a direct rail link to Scotland’s capital, so it’s quick and easy to reach the heart of Auld Reekie for a spot of sightseeing – AND you get to cross the iconic Forth Bridge.
Dunfermline is also a good central base for exploring Scotland more widely.
A hotel break in Fife – Garvock House Hotel
Our drive to Dunfermline was wet and miserable, but we were immediately cheered when we pulled up outside an elegant Georgian mansion, surrounded by a large, well-tended garden.
Our first impressions of Garvock House Hotel were good. It looked like a lovely place to indulge in some relaxation, good food and wine.
Inside, we were greeted with a warm welcome and shown to our first floor room.
Our Deluxe Double Room
Our room was a huge, deluxe double with a lounge area. The room boasted period features, including a high ceiling and three large windows, which made it light and airy inside. It was decorated in neutral tones, with antique style furniture giving a nod to the hotel’s Georgian origin. There were fresh flowers too, which was a nice, decorative touch.
The en suite was spacious and had a shower cubicle and bath – my favourite hotel combo. I love a bath for a long soak after a busy day and a shower to waken me up in the morning.
We were delighted with our room.
As was the boy, who found a comfortable dog bed, treats, a toy and bowl waiting in the room for him. Garvock House Hotel charge £20 per stay for dogs, but it’s worth every penny, as they receive the red carpet treatment.
After unpacking, we headed downstairs to the bar to treat ourselves to a nice cold beer and wine. It would be our first afternoon tipple in a bar since mid-March.
En route we bumped into Henry, Head of PR at Garvock House Hotel. Henry is the son of hotel owners Pamela and Rui Fernandes.
Just when we thought we couldn’t love the hotel any more.
Every hotel needs a head of PR (Paw-lick Relations) like Henry.
We toyed with the idea of putting the boy to work as a waiter, but thought better of it, knowing the food would never make it from kitchen to table with him around.
Inside the bar, we ordered drinks and sat at a table by the window. Ambient lighting and mellow music gave the bar a nice relaxed vibe.
It was lovely to sit in a bar again and have a drink. Something we once took for granted, now felt like a novelty.
Drinks finished, we headed back to our room to chill, before getting ready for dinner.
Dinner at Garvock House Hotel
At 7:30pm we left the boy snoozing in his bed and went downstairs for dinner.
We’d heard good things about the food at Garvock House Hotel, so were looking forward to dining there.
We were seated in the Rosemalen Suite – a large room with oak panelling, an ornate fireplace, antique mirrors and cornicing – the height of Georgian chic and the perfect setting for a date night dinner.
It was a rainy Wednesday evening, but the restaurant was busy. It was good to see people out and about enjoying themselves again, while supporting the Scottish hospitality industry after a difficult few months.
We ordered drinks and perused the menu – everything sounded delicious. It was a difficult decision, but after humming and hawing we chose a starter and main course each.
We nibbled on homemade bread and butter as we waited for our starters to arrive. If the rest of our meal was as tasty as the bread, we’d be in for a real treat.
Two well chosen starters
For starter I tucked into oatmeal crusted haggis bon bons, turnip puree, straw potatoes, whisky and onion cream. It was rich and full of flavour – I was delighted with my choice.
Fish loving Mr G’s starter was a smoked trout, smoked salmon and mackerel mousse with lemon, caper and parsley dressing.
To say he raved about it would be an understatement – it had him in raptures.
Two delicious mains
I went veggie for my main course. I’d been tempted by a chicken dish, but opted for primavera risotto verde, pea shoot salad, crispy emoki mushrooms.
Again, I was happy with my choice. I loved the texture of the crispy mushrooms.
Mr G stuck with fish for his main course. He had panko breaded monkfish, minted pea puree, double cooked chunky chips, tartare vinaigrette.
It was polished off in record time, pea puree and all. He consider peas the spawn of the devil and NEVER eats them, so I couldn’t quite take in what I’d just witnessed.
A hat trick of fantastic courses
Two mouthwatering courses down, we were confident dessert would be good.
It was better than good – it was fantastic.
I’m no fan of rhubarb, but ordered rhubarb creme brûlée, rhubarb compote and shortbread rounds. It was rich, creamy and oh, so tasty. I tried to make it last, so I could savour it, but failed miserably.
Mr G was equally enthralled by his dessert, which was salted caramel, banana and vanilla ice cream, glazed bananas and toffee sauce.
Dinner at Garvock House Hotel had more than lived up to our expectations and the service throughout was fantastic.
Coffee and a nightcap before bed
After dinner, we collected the boy from our room and retired to the bar for a coffee.
Good food always makes us sleepy, so after finishing our coffees, we took the boy outside for his last walk of the day.
From outside, the hotel looked really cosy, with a warm glow radiating from the windows.
The rain had stopped and the forecast promised sunshine the following day – yippee.
Back indoors, we decided to order a nightcap to take upstairs to our room.
Over dinner I’d discovered the hotel had an extensive cocktail list. And what better way to round off a fun date night, than with a piña colada.
The taste of summer in a glass. We slept soundly after drinking our cocktails. Alcohol and a super comfortable bed will often have that effect.
Breakfast at Garvock House Hotel
We woke the next morning looking forward to breakfast.
Normally, the hotel offer a hot and cold breakfast buffet, but post Covid, breakfast is cooked to order from an extensive menu.
We started with coffee, toast and fruit.
Next, I had avocado on toast with bacon and poached eggs. It was cooked to perfection.
Mr G had his old breakfast favourite, eggs royale. With fish on the menu, you didn’t think he’d choose anything else did you?
It was nearly time to say goodbye to Pamela, Rui and their fantastic team at Garvock House Hotel. We had time to take the boy for a potter in the hotel garden first.
The hotel grounds are beautiful, with lots of leafy nooks and crannies where guests can sit and relax.
Our hotel break in Fife had flown by far too quickly. We’d enjoyed every minute of our time at Garvock House Hotel.
There were many highlights – great food, lovely staff, a beautiful room, spending the night in a Georgian mansion, but if pushed to choose the best thing about our stay, it would have to be meeting Henry – the most adorable hotel PR in all of Scotland.
We were delighted when he appeared to wave us off.
Exploring Dunfermline‘s Heritage Quarter
It was a beautiful, sunny morning, so we decided to stay in Dunfermline for a wander round the Heritage Quarter, before heading home.
Dunfermline town centre is compact and easy to explore on foot. There are a good variety of shops and eateries, both independent and chain.
It’s history that Dunfermline is best known for though. The town is intrinsically linked to the history of Scotland. There’s history at every turn, which makes the town a history lover’s dream.
We started our jaunt round the Heritage Quarter in the cemetery of Dunfermline Abbey. Saint Margaret (Queen Margaret), wife of King Malcolm III is buried in the cemetery. Her ornate tomb attracted religious pilgrims for many years, until it was destroyed during the Reformation.
William Wallace’s mother is said to be buried in the cemetery too.
And inside the abbey, in a beautiful gold tomb, lies one of Scotland’s greatest heroes – Robert the Bruce.
With the abbey still closed due to lockdown, we enjoyed a quiet stroll round the outside, noticing small details we’d probably have missed before.
Leaving the abbey grounds, we crossed the street and wandered into Pittencrieff park.
Dunfermline’s most famous son, Andrew Carnegie, gifted the park to the town.
It’s a beautiful, green space, loved by locals and visitors alike.
The park is home to a whole host of wildlife, including the tamest and most well-fed squirrels in Scotland.
Malcolm Canmore’s Tower
Just inside the park, we arrived at the scant remains of Malcolm Canmore’s Tower.
Malcolm was the son of King Duncan I of Macbeth fame. He ruled Scotland as King Malcolm III from 1058 to 1093. It’s believed Malcolm lived in the tower with his queen, Margaret (Saint Margaret).
The name Dunfermline translates as ‘fortress by the crooked stream’.
Tower Burn and Lower Glen
The crooked stream or Tower Burn, flows through the Lower Glen – a gorgeous, leafy part of the park, with ancient trees, a bubbling burn, waterfalls, picturesque bridges, a Japanese style summer house and rock garden.
It looks like an enchanted fairy glen.
On a hot August morning, the cool shade of the lower glen offered a welcome escape from the sun.
Deep in the glen, by the side of Tower Burn, is a 13th century spa well known as Wallace’s Well. Local legend says William Wallace stopped to drink from the well, when he was hiding from the English. He may indeed have, but the well was originally known as well of spaw (spa). Over time it’s possible the name became corrupted to Wallace spa (well).
Pittencrieff House & The Laird’s Garden
Pittencrieff Park is also home to Pittencrieff House – a 17th century mansion, which was built using stone from Dunfermline Palace. The ruins of Dunfermline Palace stand behind Pittencrieff House on the opposite side of Tower Burn.
The house, which was built by Sir Alexander Clark of Pittencrieff is now a museum.
Next to Pittencrieff House is a formal garden, which was once the kitchen garden and orchard for the house.
Today, it’s a riot of colourful flowers and a popular place to sit and relax.
Leaving Pittencrieff Park, we wandered back towards the town centre.
Passing Abbot House, we noticed the garden gate was open, so snuck in for a nosey. The 15th century house, built by the abbots of Dunfermline, has been closed since 2015. It’s currently undergoing renovations which will see it reopen to the public.
Although the house has been closed for a number of years, it’s small, herb garden has been lovingly looked after.
It’s beautiful and like stepping back in time.
It was the perfect place to end our tour of Dunfermline’s Heritage Quarter and hotel break in Fife.
We stayed at Garvock House Hotel on a complimentary dinner, bed and breakfast basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time …