SimpsInns Stay & Play Golf Breaks: The Waterside Hotel & The Gailes Hotel, Ayrshire – Review
By Richard Jones, July 2023
When you go on holiday with your partner or your family, it’s wise to show a level of compromise. Whatever break you book, and however much you plan, it’s virtually impossible to keep everyone happy all of time.
For example, while I like to be active and do a bit of sport when I’m away, my wife Rachel prefers to relax. Therefore, we often try to do a mix of both.
Last weekend, we headed to Ayrshire for a trip that sounded like a dream ticket – I was booked in for a round of world-class golf (a treat for me), while we were scheduled for an evening in a luxurious spa (Rachel’s). And as well as those two activities, we stayed at two special hotels surrounded by beautiful coastal Scottish scenery and devoured some amazing food and drink.
The two-night stay was an example of SimpsInns’ ‘Stay & Play’ golf breaks across the Ayrshire hospitality group’s three venues, and our first destination was the stunning The Waterside Hotel in Seamill. Set on a gorgeous stretch of coastline, close to Craft Town Scotland and Portencross Castle, it has breathtaking views to the Isle of Arran across the Firth of Clyde.
“Pride in its food”
On arrival, the first thing I noticed was the Waterside’s New England-style nautical decor and similarities to guest houses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. With the recent great weather on the west coast, there were plenty of folks relaxing with a drink on the sun terrace and watching campers playing on the beach or braving the cool waters.
Rachel and I spent a night in a comfortable deluxe room, complete with complimentary toiletries, tea and coffee-making facilities and flat-screen TV.
As part of the SimpsInns group, the Scotch Beef Club, and a supporter of Taste Ayrshire, The Waterside clearly takes great pride in its food and beverage offerings, with local fresh produce at the centre of its menus.
For what is such a homely and casual place, there was a huge choice of starters and mains. I opted for a bowl of hot seafood chowder followed by a succulent 7oz fillet steak, while Rachel went for the watermelon and feta salad and pan-seared salmon. All four were delicious.
We were were up early the next morning and headed straight down for breakfast in the restaurant. Again, there was an extensive selection, with a continental buffet and a hot menu including scrambled eggs and salmon and a full Scottish breakfast with Robertson’s bacon, sausage and haggis.
You are also spoiled for choice, golf-wise, on the Ayrshire coast, with Western Gailes, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Prestwick all within a short drive. Dundonald Links is up there with the best of them and will host the Women’s Scottish Open for the second year running in August.
Rachel has never played golf before and turned down the chance to hit a few balls this time. However, she did have fun driving the buggy around, inputting scores on the touch screen and chuckling at her husband’s shanks and slices.
Although Dundonald Links doesn’t play directly along the coast, as you bounce along the contoured fairways and onto the greens, it sure feels like a links course, and there are plenty of tricky pot bunkers and burns to challenge all levels.
Between the ninth and 10th is The Bothy, a great place to pick up a drink or bite to eat, while after the round, the Canny Crow restaurant serves up seasonal culinary delights.
After leaving Dundonald Links, we had a stroll on the seafront in Irvine, a former haunt of Robert Burns. We made a beeline for The Ship Inn gastro pub where we had fish and chips and a pint, before heading to The Gailes Hotel, a couple of minutes up the A78. Despite being owned by the same company, the Gailes has much more of a country club vibe than the Waterside.
Once we’d checked into one of their 42 rooms with views over the golf course and driving range, it was time to collect our fluffy robes and slippers at Si!, the spa which has recently undergone a £2million makeover.
After relaxing in the the Thermal Suite’s sauna, steam room and vitality pool, we sank into the outdoor hot tub and flopped onto the sun loungers next to the fire pit. We were also booked in for an ESPA Golfer’s Tonic, a soothing treatment focusing on the back, shoulders, head and feet.
Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, Rachel and I then spent the rest of evening eating dinner and drinking cocktails at the Gailes’ Coast restaurant.
I had crispy lemon tempura chicken with dressed salad followed by a puff pastry pie teeming with braised beef and gravy. Rachel opted for the lentil soup and salmon en croute with mashed potato.
Then for dessert, we indulged in sticky toffee pudding and cheesecake.
“Give it a go”
Following our weekend in Ayrshire, Rachel and I returned home refreshed and rejuvenated – and both pleased that we’d tried something out of our comfort zones.
Although I haven’t quite talked Rachel into taking up golf yet, I’m optimistic that the morning on Dundonald Links may have convinced her to give it a go soon.
Meanwhile, I must admit that I really enjoyed my time at Si! Spa.
Although I’m not an avid spa goer, I can see why it’s one of Rachel’s favourite ways to relax on holiday, and I’m sure my arm can be twisted to join her again.
SimpsInns’ ‘Stay & Play’ packages start from £210 per night based on two people sharing a room at The Waterside Hotel, West Kilbride, The Gailes Hotel or Spa, Irvine, and Old Loans Inn, Troon. The offer includes bed and breakfast, a three-course dinner, the option of three world-class Ayrshire links courses (Western Gailes, Dundonald Links or Gailes Links), a basket of 60 balls at Ayrshire’s only Top Tracer driving range, and complimentary drink at GG’s Sports Lounge.
For more information about SimpsInns ‘Stay & Play’ golf breaks, visit simpsinns.com/golf, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01294 204040