Being a city girl and a part of constant business day in day out, when I was given the chance to escape to the country for a night away I instantly grabbed the opportunity. So, where exactly would I be going? Tinto House Hotel is situated in Biggar, about an hour’s drive from Glasgow and just about the same from Edinburgh, and surrounded by five acres of “stunning gardens within the breathtaking countryside of the Scottish Borders”. After giving it a little look online I could only look forward to this traditional country house setting and the fact I’d be getting to experience this charming looking place. Even better, I was there to try out their new menu, which now has a wide variety of vegan options on it, so I was looking forward to trying out a vegan dish during my stay.
With about an hour’s train journey followed by a reasonably short bus journey, we arrived at the hotel, which was surrounded by nothing but greenery, and with the sun absolutely shining I could only wish I lived in a location as beautiful as this. As soon as we walked through the car park towards the hotel entrance, I just knew I was going to have a relaxing overnight stay. Upon stumbling to reception with our hands full of bags we were given a warm welcome, and it’s the simple things like this that leave a long-lasting great impression of the place. We were handed our room card and took the beautiful staircase up to the room. The staff were so welcoming and friendly, handing us our room card and we took the beautiful staircase up to the room. Tinto House was built in 1914, and with it being over a century old, I’m happy to see it’s not lost its traditional touches, despite it still adapting to the modern age. With the grand staircase with a chaise long perched at the last step, stained-glass windows, a penny farthing bicycle and a grandfather clock, these touches made it feel homely and only reminded you of how long this hotel has been around for.
Inside the hotel
Holding the card against the door to gain entry into what would be our room for the night, I didn’t know what to expect the room to look like after the delightful old-fashioned surprises such as the stained-glass windows or grandfather clock on the way up to the room. I was surprised in the best way possible, not wanting to move anything out of place as everything was so tidy and in order. The room was truly beautiful, with such lovely decor and furnishing making it both modern and stylish. With big windows allowing you to see the famous Tinto Hill in the background and the over stretching gardens of the hotel, the warm sunshine even decided to come out for a while, which made everything look all the more beautiful. With two plush chairs, a dressing table with tea and coffee making facilities, in addition to a flat screen TV attached to the wall, the room had all the necessities to make any stay pleasant.
You can’t stay at this hotel and not explore its incredible gardens, they’re beautiful and make you appreciate nature. We entered the gardens under a beautiful little archway that lit up at night time, and there was a little wishing well collecting money for charity. Under a number of trees was a pond with a number of little miniature bridges to walk over, and it was all so cute and petite, and hearing the noise of the water trickling into the pond was so soothing. You can tell I don’t hear noises like this a lot, it’s just constant car horns and noisy neighbours so to be surrounded by birds chirping away and the pond was lovely. Exploring the gardens was a good way of breaking up the time before dinner.
We had booked in for dinner at 7 o’clock but because the hotel was so busy with guests arriving, there was a bit of a wait before we were seated but the staff were very apologetic and took our orders in advance, so the wait was not an issue at all – the staff overcompensated for it. Once seated at our table, we were offered some homemade bread and on that day it happened to be peri peri bread (my kind of bread), it was absolutely delicious. I kind of wish I had gotten the recipe. I think it’s great they offer everyone some homemade bread and switch the flavours up all the time, it’s something I’ve never experienced at dinner at a hotel before, so this makes Tinto House stand out from the rest of them.
Our starter arrived in absolutely no time and since I was there to try out a vegan option from the menu I decided to go for a vegan starter, cumin roasted carrot, coriander and lentil falafel with red and black onion seed chutney. I’m trying to broaden my food horizons and in doing so I’ve been wanting to try vegan food for a while now so I was looking forward to this. Despite never trying falafel before, I knew that this was a twist on the usual type of falafel. When it arrived I couldn’t wait to tuck in, it was full of lots of unusual flavours but so tasty, I definitely need to try falafel more often. I’m quite a big meat eater so vegan dishes like this only made me realise that food can be just as tastier without a meat filling. Gillian went for the lentil soup, which looked really good and she thought it was a nice dish for starting off with.
For the main I went for a non-vegetarian option so that I could comment on both a vegan and meat option from the menu, we both went for the butter poached chicken breast with sprouting broccoli, garlic breadcrumbs, lemon butter potatoes and tarragon cream. Firstly, the presentation of this dish was lovely, although I may have messed it up and realised I still had to take a picture. Anyway, the more important thing was how it tasted, and this main was so delicious, the chicken was so nice with the tarragon cream sauce, and I loved the garlic breadcrumbs, these were a nice little added touch to the dish. Overall, the portion size was great and it was a really filling dish, which demonstrates that Tinto’s vegan and meat delicious are both as good as one another. The cheesy, bacon fries that were on the menu were somewhat tempting so we ordered these on the side and my goodness these were good, you can’t go wrong with some cheesy, bacon fries.
Dessert…the best part, well my favourite part of any meal anyway. It doesn’t matter how full I am, I always make some space for dessert, besides, it doesn’t go to the stomach, dessert goes straight to the heart, am I right? I ordered the homemade sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice-cream, and Gillian went for the dark belgian chocolate brownie with chantilly cream and berry compote. All I can say about mine was the size…when I saw it coming over to the table I thought no this can’t be my dessert, it even had the couple at the table beside us turning their heads. I without a doubt always have room left for dessert, but on this occasion and with the overly generous portion size the sticky toffee pudding was delicious but certainly defeated me. Sometimes you can get a sticky toffee pudding with very little sauce so it ends up being quite dry, but this pudding was so good and there was a perfect amount of sauce with it. Although I didn’t manage to eat it all, whilst typing up this post I wish I had, oh the regrets. Gillian loved her dessert, with the brownie being complimented with the berry compote, we both left the restaurant feeling full and satisfied after a great food-filled evening with great service.
After dinner we headed back to the room where the rain began to pour and the sound of it hitting off the window and the sound of the birds in the background making it the perfect, most cosiest little setting. This really would be the ideal getaway for a romantic weekend away. With a little bit of 24 hours in A&E on the television and some goodies, I lay in bed only wishing this room was my own.
The next morning waking up and looking out the windows to nothing but greenery still felt as good as it did the day before, I couldn’t get enough of the views. We headed down to the dining area for breakfast, with me ordering the full works: sausage, bacon, potato scone, fried egg, toast, beans and haggis (inner Scottish me was coming out – I do love a bit of haggis). Alongside this wonderful breakfast I had some tea and even a little glass of apple juice. The waiting time for breakfast was barely existent with our food coming out as quick as it had taken to get our orders, another good point about the hotel. The breakfast was well cooked and there was plenty of options, with cereals, fruits and yoghurts for those who either didn’t want a cooked breakfast, or fancied the best of both worlds. It’s true what they say, a good old cooked breakfast sets you up for the day.
I had an amazing stay at the Tinto House Hotel and it only made me want to return in the future, quite possibly for one of their tribute nights as I’ve heard great things about them. It was situated in a beautiful location, the staff were welcoming and friendly, the food was exceptional and the hotel itself as well as the rooms, provided both comfort and were modernly styled. I just want to say a massive thank you to Tinto House Hotel and Crimson Edge for allowing me the chance to review this wonderful place, I really appreciated getting out of the city for the night, not only did I get to review such a lovely place but got to see another side to the beautiful country, Scotland, that I live in. If I ever need a relaxing little break then Tinto House Hotel is the place for me, with one of the things on my to-do list being to climb Tinto Hill.