For as long as I can remember I’ve been enamored of all things British, from Downing Street to
Downton Abbey. Nibbling a scone or sipping a single malt conjures images of spaniels and
shooting parties, of liveried footmen and libraries redolent of leather: an all-but-vanished era of
grandeur and privilege.
Happily for my romantic side, the fab, fabled Gleneagles Hotel, set amid 850 acres of glorious
Perthshire country, provides the kind of experience one nowadays expects only to find in
fiction. How prestigious and exclusive is the address? Gleneagles boasts its own train station,
which, as I decamp in the January mist, resembles something out of the Hitchcock classic, The
39 Steps. It’s a throwback to its origins as a palatial hotel built by the Caledonian Railway
Company in 1924, partly to service the existing golf courses, which opened five years earlier.
After an arduous journey, fraught with delays on the London-Glasgow train line, I’m grateful to
see Willie, the Gleneagles chauffeur, awaiting me at the station with a warm grin (but alas, no
warming flask). We pull up to Gleneagles in mere minutes. The main entrance is gratifyingly
imposing, but the welcome within utterly gracious. The hotel is sprawling, “only” 232
bedrooms including 26 suites, but it’s spread out over two wings. I’m staying in the more
modern annex that also houses the ESPA spa and Mediterranean restaurant Deseo, linked to the
main house by a luxurious retail arcade.