We recently enjoyed a dog friendly break at SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. The newly refurbished and relaunched 5 star hotel sits within 300 acres of gorgeous Borders countryside, and boasts a luxurious spa and championship golf course.
Day One – a dog friendly weekend break at Schloss Roxburghe, Kelso
Kelso is a bustling market town with a good selection of shops and eateries. It’s located where the rivers Tweed and Teviot meet. Kelso has a good selection of shops and eateries.
For history lover’s there’s Kelso Abbey which was founded by King David I in 1128. The ruins of Roxburgh Castle also date to the 1120s. Roxburgh Castle was once one of Scotland’s most important fortresses. It changed hands 13 times, during 450 years of war and border skirmishes between Scotland and England. The castle can be visited on a nice riverside walk that follows the course of the Teviot. Last but not least, there’s Floor Castle. The ancestral home of the Duke of Roxburgh is a must if you’re visiting Kelso, there’s loads to see and do there.
SCHLOSS Roxburghe hotel and spa, Kelso
SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel sits at the end of a tree-lined driveway. The main hotel building is a Scottish baronial mansion. A new wing behind it, houses a restaurant, spa and guest rooms. The baronial mansion (Sunlaws House) is Victorian. A stately home has stood on the site for centuries though. In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie spent a night at Sunlaws House as a guest of the then owner Lady Chatto.
The house and estate were later owned by the Duke of Roxburgh, before becoming a Destination Hyatt luxury hotel.
Check in and a hotel tour
When we arrived at the hotel to check-in, we were warmly welcomed and offered some orange blossom ice tea. Being a dog friendly hotel, the boy got lots of attention.
Our check-in was quick and efficient, and the hotel Concierge was soon showing us to our room, while giving us a guided tour of the hotel and facilities en route.
The hotel interior was stunning. Sunlaws House was every bit the grand mansion with ornate fireplaces and oil paintings. As we moved into the hotel’s new wing, the interior design was more modern and contemporary, but still very much country estate.
Dogs are welcome throughout SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel, with the exception of the a la carte restaurant (Sunlaws) and the spa. The boy would be able to join us for dinner and breakfast at the hotel bistro Charlie’s, as well as in the bar, guest lounges, hotel grounds, golf course and clubhouse.
Our Estate suite room
Our room was an Estate Suite, located in the hotel’s lovely new wing.
It was beautiful, spacious and chic with parquet flooring throughout and LOTS of storage space. We loved it.
We entered into a hallway with a WC, then through to a spacious lounge with plenty of comfy seating and a tall table with stylish, high-backed bar stools. There was a mini bar, coffee machine and well stocked hospitality tray.
We had a big balcony too, with a fab view of the hotel grounds.
Our bedroom was just off the lounge. It had an on trend turquoise and gold colour scheme. The focal point was a fabulous four poster bed, with gold voile drapes.
The boy had a fabulous bed too – a large leather affair he wasted no time in acquainting himself with.
Our en suite had a double sink, rainfall shower, toilet cubicle and a freestanding bath. Robes and slippers were supplied, and sumptuous toiletries from UK brand Molton Brown. Besides the usual shampoo, conditioner and body wash most hotels supply, there was face cream, lip balm and toothpaste. They’d thought of everything.
Time to relax
Once we’d unpacked, we headed outside to explore the hotel grounds. We didn’t get far after spotting a large swing, hanging from a tree on the hotel lawn. Adults should be encouraged to embrace their inner child as often as possible, so SCHLOSS Roxburghe scored top marks from me for the swing.
After tearing ourselves away from the swing, we pottered around the garden, then headed back to our room via the bar – for a wine and beer to sit and enjoy, before getting ready for dinner.
Dog friendly dining at Charlie’s, Schloss Roxburghe
At 7pm we headed downstairs with the boy for dinner. He was excited to be joining us and blazed a trail to Charlie’s. We arrived for dinner in record time, were greeted and shown to our table.
The restaurant was lovely inside. The lighting was subdued and the ambience relaxed – just how we like it.
Charlie’s menu was an unfussy and unpretentious fusion of Scottish and French bistro style fare. There was a doggy menu too.
The waiting staff were really attentive and took our orders as soon as we closed our menus. We ordered a starter and main course each, and drinks to have with dinner – wine for me, lager for Mr G and water for the boy.
We were given freshly-baked rolls and butter to graze on, while we waited for our food to arrive. You can usually tell how good a meal will be, based on the bread and butter that precedes it. My expectations for this meal were high.
Our starters arrived quickly and we wasted no time getting stuck into them. Mine was smoked chicken terrine with piccalilli, charred gem lettuce and brioche. It was delicious. The chicken was so tender and the lightly smoked flavour, contrasted beautifully with the tangy piccalilli.
Mr G had whisky cured salmon with a cucumber and mint salad. It was served with a Bloody Mary clear consommé in a shot glass. He loved the salmon, but being a spice wimp the consommé was too hot for his palate. I love a little heat and I ADORED the Bloody Mary consommé.
Main courses for all
Our main courses followed soon after our starters and they were delicious too. Mine was wild mushroom and tarragon strudel, with charred leeks and truffle butter sauce. The filo pastry was light and the mushroom filling was finely minced and flavoursome.
Mr G had fillet of hake with pea and asparagus risotto, tomato and chive butter for his main. He devoured it in record time.
The boy had ‘barking beef’ – which was a 6oz flat iron steak with broccoli, mash and gravy. From the speed he ate it (steak first, then veggies), it’s safe to say he enjoyed it.
We finished with a heavenly banana and ginger cheesecake, with stem ginger and caramelised banana. It was a deconstructed version of a traditional cheesecake, consisting of a combination of textures and flavours, that probably shouldn’t have worked together, but did, beautifully.
Our dining experience at Charlie’s had been first class. Sharing it with the boy made it even more special.
Relaxing vibes before bed
After dinner, we went for a wander in the hotel grounds.
The gentle sound of spa music led us to the outdoor pool. It was closed for the evening, but it was lit up and looked so inviting, with steam gently floating into the cold night air.
We’d make full use of the pool in the morning, but for now, it was time for bed.
We arrived back at our room to find the bed turned down ready for us to slip into it – and that’s just what we did.
Day Two: a dog friendly break at Schloss Roxburghe, Kelso
We woke the next morning, looking forward to paying Charlie’s another visit – this time for breakfast. After getting ready, we headed downstairs. The boy led at a blistering pace and delivered us right to the door of Charlie’s.
Starting the day with a Dog friendly breakfast at Charlie’s
After choosing a table for breakfast, we ordered coffees – flat white for me and cappuccino for Mr G.
We had a choice of Continental buffet or full Scottish buffet for breakfast. Additional hot items such as porridge and eggs royale could be cooked to order too.
I love a Continental buffet and this one was amazing. There was lots to choose from – much of it locally sourced. I liked and wanted much of it, but showed restraint and had some lovely bread, cheese and salami. Showing restraint meant I could sample the hot buffet too. It was equally delicious.
Mr G never passes up the opportunity to have porridge. He had a hearty bowl of it, which came served with berries, followed by pastries from the Continental buffet.
Buffet breakfasts are sometimes a let down. Not this one – it was excellent and up there with the best we’ve eaten on our travels.
Exploring the grounds at Schloss Roxburghe
After breakfast, we went for a wander in the hotel grounds. It was nice not to be rushing off to explore straight after breakfast. We wanted to make the most of our time at SCHLOSS Roxburghe, which meant slowing down for a change.
It was a lovely autumnal morning. Although the hotel was busy, we had the grounds all to ourselves. We strolled through mature woodland and found a pretty little loch hidden in the trees. A pair of swans slipped into the water after we arrived and glided effortlessly by. We stopped to watch them for a while. It was an idyllic scene.
Spa time for the humans
Now, it was pamper time. We popped a ‘dog in room’ sign on our room door, left the boy snoozing, happily in his huge bed and headed to the spa.
When we arrived, we were given towels and a run down of where everything was. We headed straight for the glass-fronted relaxation room, which had a view of the hotel grounds and pool. Calming spa music was playing and the smell of scented oils filled the air. It was the ultimate chill out zone and I instantly felt relaxed.
We chose a double day bed and loafed on it like sultans for a bit, before venturing outside to the heated pool. The pool was accessed directly from the relaxation room, down a set of watery steps and through a sliding door at the bottom. It was the perfect temperature, and so much nicer than an indoor pool with harsh fluorescent lighting and a pungent chemical smell.
After a leisurely morning swim, we visited the sauna and alternated sitting in it, with dips in the cold water plunge pool. I love cold water and was buzzing with energy after a dip or two. Mr G isn’t a fan, but he partook and dare I say seemed to enjoy it.
Before heading back inside for some fruit tea, we enjoyed a soak in the hot tub.
It had been a lovely, zen start to the day.
Now, we were ready for a spot of exploring.
An afternoon in Northumberland
Northumberland is a stone’s throw away from Kelso, so we decided to spend the afternoon in England, exploring in and around Etal – a 30 minute drive away.
Etal is one of my favourite villages in the UK. It’s quintessentially English, with thatched cottages and a village pub called The Black Bull.
The Lavender Tearoom: Etal, Northumberland
Etal post office doubles as a tearoom, and the garden is dog friendly. We decided to have lunch there as it’s such a pretty spot and the food is good too.
After polishing off homemade soup, sandwiches, scones and coffee for lunch, we were ready for a potter.
Etal Castle: Etal, Northumberland
Our next stop was Etal Castle, a two-minute walk from the tearoom. The castle is managed by English Heritage and is dog friendly. Etal Castle was built in the mid-14th century as a defensive site to deter Scots raiders. The Scots apparently didn’t receive that memo, as egged on by the French in retaliation for England attacking France, King James IV invaded England in 1513 and the Scots attacked and captured Etal Castle.
This time us Scots arrived peacefully, and finding the castle door open walked right in.
Heatherslaw Light Railway: Etal, Northumberland
Next, we decided to go for a ride on Heatherslaw Light Railway, which is dog friendly. The railway runs along a two-mile stretch of track between Etal and Heatherslaw Corn Mill, near Ford.
Return tickets cost £9 for adults and dogs travel free. It takes around 20 minutes to travel between Etal and Heatherslaw. Trains run hourly during high season.
We loved our trip on the train. It was scenic, and a laid-back way to enjoy the countryside. We saw a deer on both legs of the trip too – which was an unexpected bonus.
Duddo Five Stones: Duddo, Northumberland
We love visiting stone circles on our travels around Scotland, so it’s hardly a surprise that we seek them out in England too.
Duddo Five Stones are located not far from Etal, beside Duddo village. They’re reached by following a right of way across farmland. It’s a peaceful walk that takes around an hour to complete (there and back).
There’s something incredibly atmospheric about this 4,000-year-old Neolithic monument. Both times I’ve visited, it had the feel of a thin place. I’ve only truly felt that in one other place. Unst in Shetland – the most northerly, inhabited place in Britain.
Flodden Battlefield, Branxton
Our final stop in Northumberland, was at the place King James IV’s invasion of England ended catastrophically on 9th September 1513.
The Battle of Flodden was fought on Branxton Moor, between the Scots army (circa 40,000 men) led by King James IV and the English army (circa 30,000 men) led by the Earl of Surrey. It was a devastating defeat for the Scots, resulting in 10,000 casualties. Amongst the dead lay King James IV and 9 Scottish earls, 13 barons, 5 heirs to titles, 3 bishops and 2 abbots.
English losses stood at around 1,500 men.
Today, a memorial cross honouring the dead stands on Piper’s Hill overlooking the battlefield. Paths skirt round the fringes of it, and at strategic points, information boards bring the horrors of medieval warfare to life.
Flodden Battlefield is a melancholy place that keeps drawing me back.
Another relaxing night at SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel
We drove back to SCHLOSS Roxburghe via Coldstream, where we stopped for fish and chips at the first and last fish and chip shop in Scotland.
Later, we chilled in our lovely room with our PJs on and fab cocktails from the bar.
Day Three – a dog friendly break at Schloss Roxburghe, Kelso
We woke the next morning to the first frost of the season – winter was approaching.
After another awesome breakfast at Charlie’s, it was time to say goodbye to our gorgeous room and check out.
We’d had an amazing stay at SCHLOSS Roxburghe and would really miss the place – but it wasn’t a complete goodbye, quite yet.
Playing a(round) SCHLOSS Roxburghe championship golf course
Mr G was booked to play a round of golf at SCHLOSS Roxburghe’s championship course. The boy and I would accompany him for the walk.
Here’s what Mr G had to say about the course.
“It was a frosty start, but the course was still in great condition and I loved the whole experience.
It’s quite long, so you’ve got to be good off the tee. Fortunately, my driving was in working order for a change.
There are lots of well-positioned bunkers to catch slightly awry shots and plenty of them are substantial in size and height. I liked that, as if you find a bunker, it should be a test to get out.
For me, my favourite hole was the 14th, as it has the River Teviot running alongside it and the impressive viaduct behind the green. Very picturesque.”
He was right about the 14th hole – the view was beautiful. Although not a golfer, I enjoyed walking round the course. It was a nice end to our stay at SCHLOSS Roxburghe – and the boy loved it too.
Our stay at Schloss Roxburghe was a paid partnership with the hotel, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time …