Murrayshall Estate – Review
By Richard Jones, January 2024
It’s already been a harsh winter, weather-wise, even by British standards.
But anyone who is brave enough to embrace the elements during the cold months up in Scotland will appreciate the glow you get with a hot chocolate or wee dram by one of warming fires.
As we headed up Murrayshall Estate’s tree-lined driveway, my wife Rachel and I and our two teenage daughters Isla and Evelyn, instantly felt at home – and even more so when the bewitching smell of smouldering log fires entered our nostrils in the entrance to the centuries-old main building.
A 10-minute drive from the city of Perth and close to Scone Palace, the former stately home of politician, army officer and country gentleman Lord Lynedoch is set on 375 acres of gloriously picturesque countryside and home to 40 rooms and suites.
Although it has many characteristics of a small family-run hotel, the professionalism of its staff and grandeur of its buildings tell another story.
“Airy and modern”
After being shown around, we were given the keys to our room for the next two nights, in one of the annexes, Balvaird House.
The hotel completed the refurbishment of 14 of their junior and deluxe suites in 2022 and we were lucky enough to rest our heads in one of its Lynedoch Suites, with views over the estate’s magnificent gardens.
With its own separate lounge and dining area, the light, airy and modern suite was a rare mix of boutique and luxurious.
For families like ours, the velvet and tartan-rich rooms provide plenty of room to spread out, while there is tea and Nespresso coffee-making facilities, Tunnock’s Caramel biscuits and complimentary bottles of water.
The suite’s best feature is the stunning naturally lit bathroom, with its rolltop bath, large walk-in power shower and fragrant Ishga bathroom products.
Once we’d settled in and freshened up, it was time to get ready for our first dinner reservation of the short break, at the two AA rosette-winning Eòlas (pronounced Olass), on Murrayshall’s west wing.
“Bountiful local produce”
Headed by star chef Craig Jackson, Eòlas has built up a reputation around Scotland for serving up the best modern, seasonal dishes which make the most of the bountiful local produce.
Food this good doesn’t tend to come cheap, although the nine-course tasting menu for £70pp represents good value.
However, we opted for two courses each from the main menu, with every plateful packed with flavour, colour and ingenuity.
Among the highlights were scallops in bouillabaisse sauce, the rare-breed belly pork with boudin noir terrine and chorizo, and succulent venison with diaphone potatoes.
The gluten-free options for Isla were also very impressive, with the chefs willing and able to adjust most of the dishes to suit her, which is not always the case.
After a good night’s sleep, the four of us headed to relaxed Cairns restaurant and bar for breakfast. Again, the food was of a very high-quality, and while there is a continental and hot buffet, bespoke eggs Benedict and smoked salmon mains can also be ordered to your table.
“A must for golfers”
Although Murrayshall’s buildings are beautiful, the grounds are even more so. Suitably fuelled, the four of us headed into the Scottish countryside for the day.
Evelyn and I were booked in for a round on Murrayshall’s 18-hole championship course, which has become a must for golfers visiting this part of Scotland.
Unfortunately, the winter storms had taken their toll and both that and the 10-hole Lynedoch Course were closed due to water logging.
Nevertheless, we called into the pro shop and still managed to get into the swing by hitting a couple of hundred balls from the mats at the driving range. Meanwhile, Rachel and Isla were booked in for a spa treatment at the gate house.
They both loved the 60-minute facial using luxury Scottish organic seaweed from Ishga designed to revitalise, repair and moisturise the skin, and were glowing when they came out.
“A number of walks”
For those feeling a bit more active, there are a number of walks to enjoy nearby, including the Red and Yellow-signposted routes which pass McDuff’s Monument and the Lynedoch obelisk and lead to views across Perth and the meandering River Tay, and the towering Cairngorms.
There’s also a chance you’ll see roe deer, red squirrels, beavers, cuckoos, woodpeckers, buzzards and red kites.
During the warmer months, the hotel can also arrange luxury picnics in their garden, as well as Glenturret distillery trips, kayaking along the Tay and paddle boarding.
For keen fisherman, the Cargill beat, also found on the Tay, offers some of the finest salmon fishing in the world.
Only a couple of miles from Murrayshall, Scone Palace is a must, with its glorious gardens where peacocks strut and there is a maze to stroll around.
During the early afternoon, the four of us had a drive down to Perth for a spot of lunch, a walk along the bank of the swollen river and a look around the Fair City’s shops.
“Murayshall’s future looks bright”
On our final night we headed back to Cairns, which, on an evening, serves up a casual menu of dishes such as Highland wagyu beef burgers and real ale battered fish. However, luckily for us, Thursday night was Sri Lankan curry night, and we devoured chef Sahan Wijesinghe’s beef rendang and blackened pork curries, lentil dhal, yellow rice, spicy chilli roti and chutney and poppadoms.
Looking ahead, Murrayshall’s future looks bright, as it aims to cement its reputation as one of Scotland’s leading country hotels and golf resorts.
The owners have recently had a £30million masterplan to expand its leisure and spa facilities approved by Perth & Kinross Council, meaning it will be able to host even more of its festive markets, creative workshops, fitness boot camps, and wine and whisky classes.
Although the weather could’ve easily played havoc with our December trip to Perthshire, it proved to be the perfect winter warmer.
The estate should be on any shortlist when visiting this part of Scotland, and whatever the time of year, you can have it all at Murrayshall.
Escape to Murrayshall this January from £99 per room per night, including full Scottish breakfast. For more information and to book, go to: murrayshall.co.uk