It’s been a while since our last Perthshire hotel break, so we were delighted when Murrayshall Country House Hotel invited us to stay overnight.
Scotland has been basking in a heatwave recently. A combination of high temperatures and humidity, have left the boy and I puggled (Scots for fatigued/drained/exhausted). Mr G takes the heat in his stride. Even visiting Marrakesh in the middle of summer didn’t slow him down.
This perthshire jaunt wouldn’t involve long rambles or hill walking. Instead, it’d be an opportunity for us to unwind and slow things down to a snail’s pace.
Branklyn Garden, Perth
We soon perfected the art of the gentle stroll at our first stop of the day, Branklyn Garden on the outskirts of Perth. The 2-acre hillside garden is a stunning oasis of calm at the foot of Kinnoull Hill. Entry to the garden costs £7.50 for adults, but as National Trust for Scotland members we got in free. Dogs on leads are welcome to join their humans in the garden too.
John and Dorothy Renton planted Branklyn Garden in the 1920s when they built their house on Kinnoull Hill. They wanted to fill the garden with rare and exotic plants from around the world, so used well-known plant hunters to source seeds.
The end result, was a magnificent green space, filled with an incredible array of plants and flowers. Visiting at the height of summer, we were lucky enough to see the garden in full-bloom and looking its best.
Branklyn Garden was a delight to explore. We followed meandering paths, enjoying the shade offered by the lush, greenery. I stopped frequently to admire one pretty flower after another.
Once we’d seen all there was to see in the garden, we visited Branklyn Garden’s tearoom for scones and raspberry lemonade.
Sitting in the sunshine with a cold drink and tasty scone, I was fully embracing and thoroughly enjoying the slower pace of travel. The boy seemed to be too. Mr G doesn’t do slow paced, but thankfully was indulging us.
Scone Palace, Scone
After leaving Branklyn Garden, we headed to Scone Palace for a potter in the grounds and some lunch. Our grounds only tickets cost £10 each. For £20 you can buy a ticket that includes a guided tour of the palace too.
Moot Hill and the Stone of Destiny
Once inside, our first port of call was Moot Hill – a raised area of turf opposite Scone Palace.
Moot Hill is one of Scotland’s most significant historic sites. It’s where Scotland’s kings were crowned, while sitting on the Stone of Destiny. That was until 1296, when Edward I of England stole the stone and took it to London. It remained there for 700-years, before returning to Scotland in 1996. It’s currently on display in Edinburgh Castle, along with the Scottish crown and crown jewels.
Some believe Edward stole a fake stone. They think the monks at Scone Abbey who looked after the stone, would’ve hidden it when they learned Edward was approaching with an army. I suppose we’ll never be 100% certain. I think if this was the case, the true stone would’ve been brought out of hiding when the Wars of Independence ended.
Today, a replica of the Stone of Destiny stands on Moot Hill.
After leaving Moot Hill, we wandered over to the Murray Star Maze. The maze was planted in 1991. There are 2,000 beech trees and a staggering 800 metres of path inside it.
Staggering is pretty much what I was doing, as we walked round and round the maze in sweltering heat. We reached a lovely statue of a water nymph in the middle of the maze twice. The second time much to our disgust.
And try as we might, we couldn’t seem to find our way onto a raised platform that spanned a section of the maze. We could see it, almost at every turn, yet reaching it eluded us.
By the time we left the Murray Star Maze we were hot, sweaty and looked like we’d been dragged through the beech hedges backwards.
It was time for lunch.
An al fresco lunch
We had an al fresco lunch on the palace lawn.
I had a baked potato with cheese and salad, while Mr G had his usual soup and sandwiches. I LOVE soup, but when it’s hotter than Hades outside, I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than eat it.
We finished with ice cream from local ice cream maker Joelato Gelato. It was Palace Mess flavour – a twist on the classic British dessert Eton Mess. It was lovely. The boy had a frozen treat too – Frozzys doggy yoghurt. He devoured it like he’d never seen food before.
We were enjoying our well-earned rest, when one of the palace’s resident peacocks strutted onto the lawn. Peacocks traditionally come from hot countries, but Scottish peacocks seem to be as ill-equipped to cope with heat as Scottish people.
After leaving Scone Palace, we drove the short distance to Murrayshall Country House Hotel, so we could sit in the hotel grounds before checking in.
Our Perthshire hotel break: Murrayshall Country House Hotel
The hotel and grounds
Murrayshall Country House Hotel is surrounded by 365 acres of breathtaking Perthshire countryside. It’s perfectly located for exploring Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and beyond.
The hotel grounds boast two golf courses, mature woodland and manicured lawns where you can sit and take in the view.
We sat by a fountain for a while, enjoying the cold spray from the water and watching fish swimming in the fountain basin. Then we found a bench in a nice shady spot.
The main hotel building at Murrayshall Country House Hotel is a country mansion (Murrayshall House) which dates back to 1664. It was originally the home of Sir Andrew Murray – not that one. The direct descendants of Murrayshall Sir Andrew Murray live in Scone Palace.
At 3pm we headed inside to check in. The boy was excited. He loves hotel stays – we’re also quite fond of them.
Check-in was friendly and efficient. We were given our room key, a goodie bag for the boy and within a couple of minutes were settling into our room.
Murrayshall charge a £10 fee for four-legged guests. Besides a goodie bag, a doggy bed and bowls are also provided.
Dogs can stay in the hotel’s Fairway suites and are allowed inside the hotel library, bars and throughout the grounds.
Our room – Fairway Suite
Our room was located in a villa style apartment at the side of the main hotel building. It was a one bedroom suite with a huge lounge, bedroom and an en suite bathroom with a bath and shower. The complimentary toiletries were by Scottish Fine Soaps. A big plus, as I like to see local businesses supporting each other.
When I say the lounge was huge, I mean HUGE. We had two settees, an armchair with footstool, TV, dining table and chairs, plus a fridge and microwave oven. It was like a self-contained flat. Perfect for a comfortable hotel break in Perthshire.
The suite was lovely and light. The lounge looked onto a golf course and the bedroom woodland.
Once we’d unpacked, Mr G headed over to the bar to get us a cold refreshment each.
When he returned, we lay on a settee each with our drinks and loafed like sultans.
I’d thrown the windows wide open, to let in what little breeze there was. It felt like we were in the scene in The Great Gatsby, when Nick visits his cousin Daisy’s house on a scorching hot day.
In this heat every extra gesture was an affront to the common store of life.
Dinner – Lynedoch Brasserie
At 7:30pm with glad rags donned, we headed to the hotel’s Lynedoch Brasserie for dinner.
We were seated at a table with a pretty view. Better still it was next to an open exterior door, which allowed a gentle breeze to reach me. Without that breeze I’d probably have spontaneously combusted during dinner.
Before looking at the menu we ordered drinks. Priorities and all that. Most importantly, a large jug of iced water. And to go with dinner – champagne on ice.
There were several starters on the menu that sounded amazing, but in the end Mr G chose Scottish smoked salmon served with shallots, capers, lemon and caviar.
Champagne and caviar. He really was living like a lord. The grand surroundings were clearly rubbing off on him. His starter looked delicious and he confirmed that it was. He gave me a teeny taste of the caviar. That’s love for you.
My starter was also delicious. I had a coronation chicken terrine with spiced mango chutney, spring onion and coriander salad and almond granola. The chicken was melt in the mouth tender and the chutney added a lovely fruity flavour to the dish.
For main course, Mr G stuck with fish. He had Gigha halibut ‘Cullen Skink’ served with buttered leeks, mash and Arbroath Smokie gratin. He polished it off in record time and raved about it afterwards.
I had a veggie main course. It was a spiced potato cake, served with puffed rice, curried cauliflower purée and roast florets. The combination of textures worked really well together, as did the flavours. It was a definite winner.
For dessert we shared a platter of delicious Scottish cheeses.
Breakfast – Lynedoch Brasserie at Murrayshall
We slept brilliantly at Murrayshall Country House Hotel. The bed was really comfy and with the bedroom window open, the room was the ideal temperature for sleeping. Our bedroom at home is ludicrously hot during the summer months, so it was a welcome relief to escape it for a night.
After our delicious dinner the night before, we were looking forward to returning to Lynedoch Brasserie for breakfast.
We were seated at another lovely window table with a view.
We started with fruit juice, toast, jam and wonderful creamy butter. I had my usual ‘wake me up’ cafetière of coffee. Normally, Mr G would’ve joined me. He’s turned into a tea Jenny recently, so had a pot of breakfast tea instead. In Scotland we call people who drink lots of tea, tea Jennies.
One thing that hasn’t changed though, is his love of fish. He tucked into smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Both the salmon and eggs met with his approval. His scrambled egg barometer is set extremely high, so this was praise indeed.
I had bacon (cooked to crispy perfection), tomato and mushrooms. After polishing off the tomato and mushrooms, I made myself a nice bacon butty and all was good with the world.
Breakfast had set us up nicely for the day ahead.
Sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Murrayshall Country House Hotel. Our Perthshire hotel break had been short, but thoroughly enjoyable. A beautiful old hotel, in a gorgeous rural setting with comfortable rooms, friendly staff and great food – Murrayshall is an absolute gem.
We stayed at Murrayshall Country House Hotel on a complimentary dinner, bed and breakfast basis, however all opinions are my own.