Andy Mossack visits the home of golf to stay at the iconic Fairmont St. Andrews resort and enjoys a picnic lunch on a coastal walk.
St. Andrews is the undisputed home of world golf and probably one of the most famous towns in Scotland. For a small town, there’s an awful lot going on, yet a few minutes drive along the coast, the 520-acre resort of Fairmont St. Andrews is a veritable oasis of tranquillity.
This is a huge slice of precious Fife coastland, and The Fairmont takes full advantage of it with two 18-hole golf courses and a 200-room hotel with a host of high-end amenities.
In my opinion, The Fairmont brand always lives up to expectations delivering top-drawer style and service, and The Fairmont St. Andrews is no exception. Starting life in 2001 as a purpose-built resort by US entrepreneur Don Panoz, the property has undergone three multi-million-pound refurbishments to finally bring it to what we see today. Pride of place has to go to the astonishing 80 ft-tall glass-topped atrium; a huge space dominated by ‘Zephyr’ a 60-metre-long shimmering light sculpture intended to represent the natural world coastline of east Scotland. Within this glorious space, there’s the lounge serving afternoon teas and the Squire restaurant for breakfast. These outlets are joined by La Cucina, a Mediterranean style menu open for dinner and Kittock’s Den for all-day dining.
But the Fairmont experience begins long before you find this space. Right at the front entrance, there’s an army of dapper-clad welcomers to whisk away bags and streamline your check-in. In no time at all, I was in my room and looking forward to a quiet coffee after a long drive down from Aberdeen.
It was a Fairmont View Room, a generous space with views of the golf course and sea. It’s a classic luxury-look contemporary interior, with a king bed, high thread linen and plenty of power outlets both US, European and USB.
My rest was short-lived however as I was back downstairs to meet my guide who was taking me for a walk along the Fife coastal path to St. Andrews and included a luxury backpack picnic lunch supplied by the hotel along the way. This new guest offering was a lovely concept in theory but lugging bottles of bubbly and a full silver service on your back might be quite tiring for many people.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed stopping for my picnic at the famous Rock and Spindle rock stack, an ancient sedimentary rock formation on the beach not far from town. A beach full of weird and wonderfully rugged geology unique to the area and a spectacular 3-hour walk from the hotel. Fortunately, the hotel provides a regular shuttle service to and from town, so you don’t have to trek back if you don’t feel like it.
Feeling fully virtuous after my hike, I was looking forward to my indulgent dinner at the St. Andrews Bar & Grill. It’s a short walk from the hotel as it’s part of the golfers’ clubhouse, perched on the clifftop with outstanding panoramic views of the courses and the coast. Despite the seafood bar and Josper grill, usually the markers of a very fancy restaurant, it was surprisingly informal and low key. But behind all that easy-going nature, a fantastic culinary journey lurked. A good example was our wine choice. Following our preference of Sauvignon Blanc particularly with seafood, we were very politely advised, by our extraordinarily attentive table server, to take the Picpoul de Pinet instead. “It would be a much better choice for your wife’s lobster.” And, indeed it was.
Out on the restaurant terrace, St. Andrews town lay in the distance, its ruined 12th-century cathedral provided a spectacular backdrop for a pre-dinner tipple.
Back in the restaurant, our starters were up. A trio of John Ross salmon for me; cured with whisky, lapsang tea and beetroot, plus capers, dill crème Fraiche and rocket (£9) and a belter of a Cullen skink (£9) for Mrs M. This was all going very well, and as a glorious sunset approached our main courses materialised.
My wife’s whole St Andrews Bay lobster with dill crème Fraiche and saffron butter was a total triumph. As for me, I can never overlook a Josper Grill opportunity and my 200g fillet did not disappoint. Perfectly cooked to order with sensational truffle and parmesan fries.
We took the short walk back to the hotel. It was late, but Scottish summer evenings seem to stay light forever and it was all rather magical.
The next morning, we took breakfast in The Squire at our COVID allotted time and spent coffee gazing up at Zephyr’s shimmering take on Fife’s natural world. It felt familiar and relaxing. A lot like The Fairmont I guess.
Coastal, sunset and food images (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about The Fairmont St. Andrews
The Fairmont St. Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8PN.
T: 01334 837000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rooms from £300 per night including breakfast.
Hotel amenities also include a pool, spa and fitness room which all operate COVID protocols so have to be booked in advance.Free parking.
Guided beach walk with luxury backpack picnic lunch £70pp