Down in the Scottish Borders, only thirty-odd miles from the centre of Edinburgh and a bit more from Glasgow, the Tinto House Hotel is an unassuming oasis of calm.
It’s the aim of hotel director, Brian Robinson, that all guests crossing the threshold of this long-established country house will find a home-from-home atmosphere and a warm welcome.
There is no doubt that we experienced both – as did the other people checking in shortly before us, and others having a drink in the foyer-bar area.
The 7 year old and I arrived in Symington on a rainy Sunday afternoon for an overnight stay. With fairly modest expectations: a room with a television (him) and a comfortable bed and a nice dinner cooked by someone else (me) there’s still always a frisson of concern that children (in a non-Disney/Legoland/theme park hotel) are tolerated rather than genuinely welcome. That worry vanished immediately – and if we had a brought a dog, that would have been welcome (in a dog-friendly room) too.
Originally opened in 1914, along the railway line and with the station at the foot of its driveway, Tinto House, appealed to guests seeking the ‘health-giving airs of South Lanarkshire’. The hotel remains surrounded by four acres of landscaped gardens, guaranteeing pleasant views and a real country atmosphere.
In 2015, the hotel re-opened following a two-year refurbishment, the refinement of which is ongoing. Standard and Superior bedrooms have the same facilities, it’s simply that the Standard rooms have not yet been fully upgraded. The public areas andÂ function rooms (all three of them) have all received attention ready for hotelÂ weddings, tribute nights, speciality dinner events (in November it’s a vegan evening) and its Christmas and Hogmanay programme.
Our room was pleasant and comfortable, with plenty of space and all those things that are either essential or extras depending on your viewpoint (hairdryer, iron, tea & coffee), and management intend to add a few more ‘frills’ as time goes on. The 7 year old, taking his reviewing role seriously, checked the surroundings in the manner of a Four In A Bed contestant, and approved everything (especially the large TV)Â except a lack of tissues.
The restaurant was quiet save for a large anniversary group in an adjacent area, and service was friendly and informal. The a la carte menu has a selection to please most palates: meat, fish, vegetarian options, and some â€˜favouritesâ€™ like fish and chips and burgers.
I started with a haggis and potato scone stack that was delightful to look at and to eat. My main course, of lamb chump was though, disappointing â€“ especially given the commitment to local produce â€“ the meat being vastly overcooked and without a sign of the promised sauce. However, I did enjoy the accompanying lentils and crispy kale.
The childrenâ€™s menu had all the usual â€˜plus chipsâ€™ options, which was a bit of a shame (â€˜boring,â€™ said this child) but I dare say he could have had a smaller portion of the main menu had we thought to ask. Dessert was a banoffee cheesecake, and meringue nest and ice-cream respectively. Breakfast, the next morning, was as expected; perfectly acceptable continental and full-Scottish combo.
Tinto House is a three star country house hotel and it definitely deserves its rating. Facilities are simple (if youâ€™re looking for a spa, or a gym, or childrenâ€™s activities, this is not the place â€“ yet; director, Brian, has plansâ€¦) but for a quiet, country weekend, with friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere, you canâ€™t really go wrong.
Dinner, B&B for two is from Â£98.00 in a Standard room and Â£138.00 in a Superior room.
There are three ground floor bedrooms (no lift to the upper floor) and all the function suites are accessible.
Tinto House Hotel, 44 Biggar Road, Symington, South Lanarkshire, ML12 6FT
Tel: 01899 308454 Email: email@example.com
For more information (and much better pictures!) go to www.tintohouse.com