For golfers, the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St. Andrews is all about location. It nestles up to the renowned 17th hole of the Old Course, where the world’s first golfers played in the early 1400s. (King James II of Scotland issued a ban on the sport in 1457, protesting that it distracted his archers from practicing.) Just being there, where the game got its start, is akin to a religious experience for true aficionados.
Built in 1968 in a boxy shape locals called the “chest of drawers,” the hotel has been renovated and improved over the decades with new wings that soften the cubical look and allow it to blend in better with the architecture of nearby St. Andrews.
Interiors are elegant, as you’d expect of a hotel commanding golf’s most hallowed location. (The AA five-star hotel lies on one side of the famous golf course.) Many of the 144 bedrooms and suites in the hotel were outfitted by renowned French designer Jacques Garcia. Rich upholstery fabrics, tufted traditional pieces, silk-lined walls, and private balconies with unbeatable views of the Old Course and St. Andrews contribute to a sense of old-world luxury and retreat.
The library presents an opportunity to relax in style after a round of golf.
When hunger pangs hit, guests can find immediate gratification without leaving the premises. They can partake of an award-winning afternoon tea or, for hardier fare, head for the cleverly named Road Hole restaurant, winner of three AA Rosette awards.
Through sculptural ironwork doors, the Road Hole restaurant seats guests so they can enjoy sweeping views of the Old Course.
The adjoining bar impresses whiskey aficionados from around the globe with 300 whiskeys available—including the hotel's own exclusive label malt, a Tullibardine, distilled in the Highlands.
The Sands Grill’s relaxed atmosphere makes it a good choice for families or those seeking casual dining.
The Sands Grill’s decoration is well-suited to a modern menu that specializes in Scottish seafood and steak.
The Jigger Inn features painted green banquettes cushioned with tartan.
The Jigger Inn’s name speaks for itself; the watering hole has earned a reputation as “the town’s best 19th hole.”
The Old Course Hotel Spa
Besides being a portal to the most special ground in golf, the hotel has another transporting draw with the Kohler Waters Spa, the first of its kind outside the U.S. Guests can opt for the spa’s signature Highland Fling (gotta love that name!) treatment or the soothing H2O Inspiration treatment—or, they can just enjoy the 20-meter pool or rooftop hot tub. As owner of the award-winning AA five-star Scottish resort, Kohler Co. offers the same sybaritic experience that’s brought fame to its American Club Resort in Wisconsin. So whether you’re a tired golfer or someone whose idea of “tee time” is shopping for T-shirts, the spa’s promise of nirvana is enough to merit a reservation at the resort.
Eleven golf courses near the hotel are easily accessible. The hotel’s own championship course, The Duke’s, has the distinction of being the only heath land course in St. Andrews and was voted one of the UK’s 100 best courses by Golf World magazine.
The Old Course Hotel is an hour’s drive from the Edinburgh Airport and only 15 minutes from Dundee Airport. Approaching from Glasgow, it’s less than a two-hour drive. To make a reservation, or for additional information, call +44(0) 1334 474371 or visit oldcoursehotel.co.uk. Be sure to ask about packages that include tee times on the Old Course.
Booking a round on the Old Course is a quirky process, but the hotel offers two special packages that guarantee tee times.
- Suite Golf: This three-night package guarantees not only a round on the Old Course but also a round on the New Course or the Jubilee Course and rounds on Kingsbarns and The Duke’s—the resort’s own championship course, host to this past summer’s European Amateur Championship. It also includes a dinner in the hotel’s Road Hole Restaurant and treatment in the Kohler Waters Spa.
- Winter Passport: As one of the UK’s driest golfing destinations, St. Andrews provides year-round golf. This package is available from October through the winter. Golfers can enjoy a minimum two-night stay that includes a guaranteed round on the Old Course and a choice of two rounds played on the other links courses in St. Andrews—either the New, Jubilee, Eden, or Strathtyrum. A dinner in the hotel’s award-winning Sands Grill restaurant is included, along with full access to the Kohler Waters Spa. (oldcoursehotel.co.uk)
For information and reservations on the Old Course, players are asked to call +44(0) 1334 466718 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography: Dominic Blackmore
Produced by Krissa Rossbund & Mick Schnepf