If you ever feel like youâ€™re too busy and too stressed to even contemplate a weekend away, I have an easy solution: a night at The Golf Inn in the pretty coastal village of Gullane.
From the south-west side of Edinburgh it takes a mere 33 minutes on the bypass then onto the meandering, coast-hugging road to this little village which boasts a long golfing heritage.
There are a number of different ways of pronouncing it: Gullane, as in a seabird and a girlâ€™s name; or is it the more Scottish sounding Goolan or Gillan with a hard â€œgâ€?Â Whichever way you choose to say it, this is the perfect bolt-hole for weary forty-somethings who can find less than 24 hours in their busy schedules but desperately need some time to relax.
Arriving late on a cool-ish Saturday afternoon in spring, we felt slightly teenager-ish escaping our responsibilities as we checked in. Our room was through the beer garden at the back of the hotel and one of three en-suite bedrooms housed separately in Hazel Cottage (more of a modern bungalow than a quaint cottage, it still has charm and tranquillity).
Our room, the Royal Lytham, had French doors sliding open to a small but perfectly formed garden, complete with two garden chairs and a wrought iron circular table for al fresco refreshments.
Early May was still slightly too chilly to make full use of this little botanical beauty, but the full-blooming purple flowers, rambling roses and spring-fresh grass added to the feeling we were far from the commotion of our packed city lives, and in warmer weather this verdant corner of the world would, I imagine, instil relaxation very quickly.
The Royal Lytham had a purple theme: purple curtains, cushions, coasters and a throw, with the rest of the room decorated in muted tranquil shades. The twin pale grey velvet armchairs were a welcome addition allowing us to kick off our shoes and sit back while we enjoyed the treats left on the tea tray â€“ a melt-in-the-mouth macaroon each and a sugary yellow jelly.
The Scottish Fine Soaps Companyâ€™s miniature shampoos, conditioners and shower gels confirmed that The Golf Inn has real class â€“ it is the little things which make the lasting impression, after all. The two-use toothpaste tube and complimentary toothbrush instantly delighted this reviewer â€“ a good present for daughter staying overnight with her granddad. The entire bathroom and bedroom were scrupulously clean and interesting glass light panels fitted into the bathroom ceiling gave a Rennie Mackintosh touch.
Fluffy white bathrobes, a box of tissues, bottles of Highland Spring water and plenty of quality towels on the heated towel rail completed the home comforts and meant everything we needed was to hand. A small TV set was the only digital presence â€“ hallelujah!Â The bed was actually two single beds pushed together to create a giant sleeping space with crisp white sheets and plump pillows. I did a bit of night-time battle to free my feet from the overly tucked-in covers but was glad of the extra throw for warmth.
The lack of mini bar was not an issue – not when there is a sheltered beer garden a few strides away and a cosy bar with a superb choice of craft beer and gins a few steps further.
The village itself has enough to entertain for a weekend, or longer, with excellent cafes (German baker Falko has one of its shops here), a sports shop, beautician, high-end boutique, art gallery, well-stocked grocery store and an interesting church where renowned Scottish novelist Nigel Tranter is buried. We had time for a walk down to nearby Gullane Bents â€“ a wide sweep of beach and undulating sand dunes which provide hours of fun for dogs, children and the young at heart.
Iâ€™ve managed to get this far without too many mentions of golf: Gullane is home to Muirfield, which has hosted The Open Championship on numerous occasions, and there are several other world-class courses in and around the village. The Golf Inn understandably makes much of its link with the links with walls lined with photos of famous golfers and golfing images and rooms named after courses throughout the UK.
If golf isnâ€™t your thing, Gullane also sits on the John Muir Way, the 134 mile coast-to-coast path which opened fully from Helensburgh to Muirâ€™s birthplace Dunbar in 2014, marking the centenary of his death. There is a decent bus service which means walking part of the route, say to Aberlady or North Berwick, is possible within a day.
We headed north on Sunday morning following a nourishing breakfast (excellent choice from full Scottish to salmon and eggs, cereals, a good juice selection and yoghurts), and a civilised 11am checkout time.Â Aberlady is easily reached within a couple of hours by foot along the beach at Gullane, which connects to the Aberlady wildlife reserve â€“ no dogs allowed and barely another person for miles, but an abundance of wildlife.
Boarding the bus back to the city, I felt the stresses had seeped away, replaced by the bracing sea air of the East Coast and good memories of our little bolthole in gorgeous Gullane.
Next time: find out what a BBC Masterchef: The Professionals winner serves up for dinner at The Golf Inn.
Room rates: Â£150pn inclusive of breakfast and VAT.
The Golf Inn, Main Street, Gullane, East Lothian, EH31 2AB. Tel. 01620 843259.