Trigony House, Dumfriesshire
“Modest hotel, good food, lovely countryside”
Review by Fiona Duncan, published 1st March 2011.
Talk about contrasts. Last night found me drowning in modish luxury in a brand new town hotel. It was all very swish, although a degree in advanced technology would have been handy when it came to operating the shower controls, lighting and entertainment system. Even the guest information was on an iPod.
Today, at Trigony House, I find the guest information in an unwieldy folder – so yesterday. The hotel is unsung, familial, modest – very modest, I think, when I'm walking down blank corridors past the kitchen, office and broom cupboard to my room.
And it's Adam's commitment to proper cooking. "I give all my kitchen staff a copy of French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David; they don't read it, of course, but at least they know where I'm coming from. My view is that there are only about a dozen chefs in this country who can do complex food properly; the rest of us should stay simple."
The atmosphere in the bright, cosy sitting room and unfussy bar and restaurant, each with a glass-fronted wood-burning stove, is jovial and unpretentious and Adam's food (choose between bar and restaurant menu) is indeed uncomplicated, although not unsophisticated, and it bursts with taste.
And it's the couple's contentment, living and working in their "kind house", mildly Arts and Crafts, with a hall panelled in cherry wood and lovely views of both the Keir and Lowther Hills, that shines through. That, and their obvious enjoyment of the area in which they have settled.
Reading the wealth of suggestions in the information folder about what to do, and talking to Adam and Jan over a glass of wine, it's plain that they have taken care to present the rolling countryside of Nithsdale, with the Southern Uplands to the north and Solway coast to the south, as an area rich in interest, with much to discover.
If you want to fish for salmon and sea trout, you can do so for £25 a day on a beat of the Nith, and a ghillie can be organised, too. Falconry takes place in the hotel's grounds and the hills around; there's walking and cycling (the hotel has two bikes); craft shops and cheese makers; sculpture, secret gardens and hidden lochs.
And there are vintage cars. Martin Edgar provides them for guests, chauffeured or self-drive. The easy, empty country roads are perfect for them.
Off we toddled in a splendid pre-war, leather-scented Austin 14, the gentle countryside lightly cloaked in a beautiful hoar frost.
We tracked down the remote, entirely unsignposted ruins of Morton Castle, overlooking its loch; bought delicious Crannog cheese from Loch Arthur Creamery, manned by young people with learning disabilities; and lunched on haggis, neeps and tatties in the Laurie Arms at Haugh of Urr.
Drive the car yourself: it will be an adventure.
- Closeburn, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire (01848 331211;www.countryhousehotelscotland.com). Doubles from £105, including breakfast. Two nights' dinner, b & b plus vintage car £600. Access possible for guests with disabilities. Trains to Carlisle: 0871 977 4222;www.virgintrains.co.uk; to Dumfries: 08457 550033; www.scotrail.co.uk.
The Hotel Guru verdict
Unfussy. No 10 (£155) has a conservatory; No 7 (£105) some lovely elevated views
As in many Scottish hotels: friendly local helpers creating a homely atmosphere
A quiet house, good food, beautiful view, lots to do. What more do you want?
|Food and drink|
Sensible, tasty, homemade. Don't miss the local cheeses
|Value for money|
Again, as in many Scottish hotels: more expensive than I'd expect, though free phone calls are gener