In July this year, 290,000 people descended on the historic town of St Andrews on Scotland’s east coast for four days. The draw for the huge crowds was the staging of the 150e Open Championship on the city’s famous “Old Course”, a course generally referenced as the oldest golf course in the world. While precise details are lost in the mists of time, it is clear that golf, in its rudimentary form, has been played on the St Andrews links as far back as the 1400s. The course has been instrumental in the development of the sport of golf into the global phenomenon it is today.
On a dramatic final day of play at the 150e Open, Australian Cameron Smith produced an extraordinary round of 64 on the historic course, chaining five birdies in a row directly into the back nine. With Cameron Young, as well as third-round leader and former Open champion Rory McIlroy both consistently leading the leaderboard, the final holes became vitally important in determining who would become the champion golfer of the year. at 150e Open.
Anyone looking for victory at an Open at St Andrews must encounter one of the most difficult par 4s in championship golf – the famous ‘Road Hole’ at 17e. Cameron set off taking a perfect line, that line being a pass over the green replica railway sheds in the grounds of the Old Course Hotel. A peer at 17efollowed by a birdie on the 18the would see Smith pick up the win and hold the iconic burgundy jug aloft.
Each trip to 17e puts the Old Course Hotel front and center and the hotel itself has become an iconic backdrop for many images of the Old Course. The finest and most exclusive views of the Old Course and 150e Open also came from the suites and balconies of this large luxury hotel.
One of the most prestigious hotels in Europe, you cannot miss the Old Course Hotel when you arrive in St Andrews. The hotel was built and opened in 1968 on the site of the old St Andrews railway station. Nods to its heritage remain, with the original Stationmaster’s Lodge (now renamed ‘Jigger Inn’) part of the hotel, offering great pub food and drink just a short walk from the hotel. illustrious golf course turf.
While St Andrews lost its station and line following the infamous ‘Beeching Report’ and related line closures, British Railways have always seen the business opportunity of St Andrews as a world mecca for golf and, via its subsidiary, British Transport Hotels, proceeded to build a hotel that now offers some of the most exceptional views in the world of golf. The hotel that exists today has grown and evolved significantly since 1968 and has had a number of different owners, but since 2004 it has been owned by Kohler Co, one of the oldest and largest privately owned companies in the world. America, which has invested considerable sums in the expansion of the hotel and its facilities into one of the most renowned luxury resorts in the world.
I was back in St Andrews to visit the hotel, following the latest refurbishment, a project which included adding a brand new top floor to the existing hotel. The extension has been seamlessly integrated and the refurbishment leaves the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa St Andrews (to give it its full title), with 175 bedrooms including 35 suites, suites which offer stunning views of the Fife coastline .
Significant renovations over the past year included the introduction of a penthouse, new guest rooms, as well as revamped event spaces and a new 80-seat restaurant on the fourth floor, which launched in fall 2021. It offers meals all day. , serving international cuisine using locally sourced Scottish produce, as well as an extensive wine and cocktail list. With floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace, it is set to become St Andrews’ newest restaurant and bar with stunning views over the town and golf course. The penthouse, added on the fourth floor, is the only bedroom with a private elevator and balcony, outdoor seating and fire pit, with spectacular views of West Sands Beach and the golf course.
I wasn’t in the penthouse, but I was in a beautiful Old Course room on the second floor. These spacious rooms (which have a sitting area and a separate bedroom around the corner) offer the most spectacular views over the golf course and beyond to West Sands Beach and beyond. These rooms have a traditional luxury ambience, furnished in dark wood, marble and rich, deep colors. There’s a small bathroom just off the living room and then a huge bathroom off the bedroom, which includes a shower and a large whirlpool tub, perfect for soaking in to soothe tired muscles after a game. golf.
I loved standing on the balcony and watching the golfers play at the Old Course. These rooms truly offer one of the most magical views. When my alarm clock went off the next morning after a deep, restful night’s sleep in the incredibly comfortable bed, the room was still pitch dark, the light blocked by the heavy dark red velvet curtains. I took them off to be bowled over by the streaming sunlight and opened the doors and stepped out onto the balcony once more to enjoy the loveliest of mornings. I watched the greenkeepers perfecting the course ready for the first golfers of the day and admired the view of the beach and the sea, the water glistening in the distance.
Food and drink
Aperitif was served at the Road Hole bar on the fourth floor, where I enjoyed a refreshing golf gin and tonic from Eden Mill, the contemporary brand of Scottish gin and single malt whiskey that is building a stunning new distillery on the banks of the river. Eden. overlooking St Andrews. The bar benefits from floor-to-ceiling windows that maximize the views.
Dinner was in the newly opened Swilcan Loft. This is a brand new restaurant, created from the vacant rooftop space of the hotel before the renovation. Entering the Swilcan Loft is a breathtaking experience. It’s completely enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass windows and the late summer evening allowed me to watch a majestic sunset, the view including the famous Swilcan Bridge (hence the restaurant’s name), as well than watching the 18e fairway and towards the famous clubhouse of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews and the large and striking red sandstone building, known as the Hamilton Grand.
The Hamilton Grand, which in its history has been a hotel, Royal Air Force training headquarters and even student accommodation, is also owned by Kohler Co and has been painstakingly restored and transformed into a magnificent apartment building. luxury apartments, whose owners have the benefit of spa access, priority meals and housekeeping services from the Old Course Hotel.
Dinner started with teriyaki salmon from Loch Duart with wasabi mayonnaise and pickled cucumber. It was melt-in-your-mouth salmon, an absolutely divine taste experience. I followed the salmon with the Scotch Black Isle beef rib eye and finished with a lemon tart dessert with Fife raspberries and raspberry sorbet.
The hotel focuses on sourcing its food from Scotland and as many local producers as possible. There is an excellent cocktail and wine list, I enjoyed the ribeye alongside a sumptuous South African pinotage. Dinner was a delight.
While the Swilcan Loft is the hotel’s new signature restaurant, it’s just one of three dining options within the hotel itself. Also on the fourth floor is the Road Hole restaurant awarded 3 AA rosettes. This is also where breakfast is served. On the ground floor of the hotel is the brasserie-style Sands Café and Bar, also a dog-friendly environment!
The hotel also has the Ham’s Hame sports bar and the Jigger Inn. Ham’s Hame is a short walk from the hotel along the fairway and green of 18e of the Old Course. Located at the bottom of the Hamilton Grand, it’s a casual and informal restaurant where you can also watch sports on big TV screens. The Jigger Inn is next door to the hotel and the Kohler Waters Spa Cafe offers healthy meals for lunch. Traditional afternoon tea is also available in the conservatory. You are certainly never short of choices to eat.
While The Old Course Hotel overlooks the most famous of golf courses and specific golf packages can include a round on the Old Course itself, the hotel also has its own golf course, known as The Dukes. The Dukes is unusual in that it is a moorland course, a short drive from the link courses for which St Andrews is renowned. The Dukes in St Andrews is very long and very good. Large greens, massive oversized bunkers, everything is impeccably laid out. It can extend over nearly 8,000 meters. But it can be played at much more manageable numbers.
The Dukes, originally designed by five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, although modified and remodeled since, is an elevated course, it is high above the city, facilitating views that incorporate the view of the town of St Andrews and another major Open Championship venue, Carnoustie. Play here and blend your links-land trip with this brilliant inland beast, from where you can admire the city’s ancient courses and better understand the geography of golf’s most treasured coastline. The clubhouse and workout facilities are second to none.
The hotel’s ‘Ultimate Old Course Package’ includes seven nights’ accommodation and five rounds of golf, including The Old Course, The Dukes and Carnoustie. With prices starting at £13,100, it’s designed to create the most memorable golfing experiences.
The luxury resort also includes the Kohler Waters spa and fitness center. After a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2018, the Kohler Waters Spa has expanded to 2,300 square meters and includes 13 treatment rooms, a 20-meter pool, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room, and steam room. plunge pool, as well as a gym and fitness center.
In a word
Experiencing the Old Course Hotel is a real treat. The warmest of welcomes awaits you at this five star hotel where the staff go out of their way to make your stay as memorable as possible. For the golf enthusiast, there is probably no better luxury accommodation in the world. However, you don’t have to be a golfer to love a stay here, as it’s also quite simply one of the finest luxury hotels.
Eden rooms at the Old Course Hotel start at £306 for double occupancy. Visit their website for special packages which may include golf.
Address: The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, Old Station Road, St Andrews, Scotland, KY16 9SP
Call: 01334 474 371