Late Checkout is TQE’s travel vertical. Whether you’re seeking an Eat Pray Love moment of your own or a wholesome family sojourn, we hope you embark on an adventure requisite of a late checkout below.
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You’ll find no shortage of picture-perfect destinations in the United Kingdom. From the quaint countryside inns in Oxfordshire, England, to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales, there’s an endless list of places to explore when you’re ready to venture beyond London’s city limits. But beyond the borders of England lies a country full of beauty, history, and some of the most scenic views in the world: Scotland.
If you’re planning a trip to the United Kingdom, you might be surprised to learn a trip from King’s Cross in London to Edinburgh is only about four hours away by rail. And while there’s so much to see and do in Edinburgh, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to grab a car and set out for the Scottish countryside in the Southern Highlands. Here, you’ll find a true paradise for adventure lovers and those who appreciate historic details and five-star luxury: Gleneagles.
A short 20-minute drive from Perth (or an hour from Edinburgh or Glasgow) takes you to the doorstep of the country estate and recent recipient of the World’s Best Hotels Art of Hospitality Award in 2023.
Nestled Away In A World Of Its Own
Founded in 1924, Gleneagles creates the perfect cozy escape for every traveler. Whether you’re eager to hit the world-class golf course, spend the afternoon indulging in a luxurious spa treatment, or immerse yourself in nature with a woodland walk, Gleneagles has something for everyone.
After a day of driving up from Oxfordshire, England, arriving at Gleneagles was a most welcoming sight. A doorman greeted us at the driveway and unloaded our luggage from the car before we parked in a private lot. During check-in, we received our keys and itinerary for our stay (more on this in a minute) and then made our way through the plush hallways to our room.
Every room at Gleneagles is steeped in high-quality fabrics, luxurious touches (the heated tile floor in the bathroom was nothing short of heavenly), and contemporary amenities – a pillow menu, bathrobe and slippers, and soaking tub, to name a few. We had an Estate Room in the Main House, one of the largest on the property, but even the smaller rooms are exceptionally spacious and feature all of the same amenities. Depending on your needs, bedrooms, suites, and family rooms are available.
We wanted to do as much as possible during our two-night stay, so I connected with the estate’s activity planners a couple of months in advance to reserve our spots to participate in some of the quintessential experiences of the United Kingdom. Our itinerary started with dinner at The Birnam, where we enjoyed the freshest focaccia bread and grilled steaks cooked over an open fire in the beautiful, dimly-lit dining room.
The next morning, our adventures at Gleneagles started with an Archery lesson and hot chocolate.
There’s a reason why the estate is referred to as a ‘glorious playground,’ and that’s because there’s so much to do during a stay. Each activity you sign up for comes with an expert guide and, depending on your excursion, can be done as a private party or with a small group. Having an expert guide means you don’t have to have any experience in the activity beforehand – want to try clay shooting or get a lesson in falconry? Maybe you want to hit the trails by foot, horse, or bike. Whatever you choose to do, there’s an opportunity for you to try it out.
Our day was filled with a variety of activities after archery. After lunch at the Garden Cafe, we went off to our falconry lesson, where we learned how to handle and call our falcon; we even got to do our own bit of foraging in the woods with our falcon.
Exploring the woods makes one a bit hungry, so we indulged in a little afternoon tea at The Century Bar, where I had the most delicious buttermilk scones and fresh clotted cream with jam. Next on the itinerary was a woodland guide walk with views of the surrounding valley and green rolling hills. Once we returned from the walk, we wandered around the property to explore the flower gardens and horse stables and peek at the majestic owls perched in the Owlry.
Dining at Gleneagles is next level and includes Scottish classics (like Haggis or fish and chips) and an assortment of high-quality dishes featuring cuisines worldwide. If you love Indian cuisine, The Dormy’s menu has just about anything you crave: tandoor chicken, curry, and Indian Sharing Feasts. On the property is Scotland’s only two-starred Michelin restaurant: Andrew Fairle. For the epicure, this is a must-visit.
We closed our stay at Gleneagles the following morning with a private clay shooting lesson – much harder than it looks! It was fun to try something new and experience such a lush, crisp outdoor setting. Leaving the estate was bittersweet – it was everything I wanted out of a Scotland retreat and was exactly what I pictured when planning a trip that would make me feel like Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral.
Venturing Out Beyond Gleneagles
After leaving Gleneagles, we ventured through Inverness and Loch Ness before heading to Edinburgh for our train back to London; visiting coffee shops, sampling scotch, walking through castles, exploring bookstores, and enjoying locally made products – Moo & Yoo from Edinburgh was the perfect treat for my skin – along the way.
The United Kingdom was the perfect escape from Los Angeles, and I know more visits are in my future.