The Auldgirth Inn - Review
The Auldgirth Inn has recently undergone a contemporary makeover while still retaining some of its original charm. This new chapter in its fascinating history has seen it transformed in to the kind of accommodation that feels more like a destination rather than part of a journey.
I recently stayed for the purposes of a review and although I think you should visit for the location, you should definitely stay for the food...
The Auldgirth Inn is only a 15 minute drive from the busy town of Dumfries and sits just off the main A76 road, yet it still has a country charm. Reachable in under 90 minutes from Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh, it is near enough for a short break, yet far enough to feel like a proper escape from the city.
There are some nice walks on the doorstep and I personally enjoyed a little stroll across the road to the picturesque old bridge. Fans of Robert Burns will be in their element as the poet spent the latter years of his life living in the area and being inspired by the scenery. Just over 2 miles away is Ellisland Farm where he lived for several years and wrote some of his finest work. In Dumfries itself you can follow a Burns trail which includes the house he spent his final years and eventually died in.
If you have been following me for a while, you will probably know my love for Dumfries and Galloway already. It is such an underrated but rewarding region and I have already written quite a few blog posts about things to do in the area which should give you plenty of ideas on how to fill your time.
I've no doubt that Rabbie would have enjoyed a few libations at The Auldgirth Inn, which would have been his local pub back in his days at Ellisland Farm. However, with 500 years of history under its belt, I'm sure the inn has also welcomed many an interesting traveller with a story to tell over the centuries.
The lounge is the perfect place to sit with a dram by the fire and let your imagination run wild about the previous guests that may have frequented the inn.
Until recently, the last major refurbishment of the inn was in 1804, and in 1971 Historic Environment Scotland gave the building a Category B listing. In the last couple of years it has undergone a modern face lift thanks to new owner Robert McAleese who has put Auldgirth firmly back on the local map.
I stayed in a Kingsize, en-suite bedroom which was spacious and tastefully furnished. The hotel decor has a modern, country feel and the accommodation is no exception. There is a definite deer and rabbit theme running throughout the inn, however it is a really charming finish and seems fitting for the location and style of property. The sloping floors and feature windows remind you that the building has some age to it and just add to the character.
A few extra touches like sleeping kits, fluffy bathrobes and a coffee pod machine made the overnight experience feel a bit more luxurious. However, there were a couple of minor housekeeping issues that did bring the otherwise high standards down slightly and I did make Robert aware of these. I can tell he is aiming for an above quality finish at every level from food to accommodation so I'm sure he would be on top on these straight away. I should also say that they didn't affect my stay and wouldn't stop me recommending The Auldgirth Inn or staying there again myself.
Of course, one of the most important parts of any stay is the comfiness of the bed. I can happily report that it passed my 'princess and a pea' sleep test with flying colours and I slept soundly right until my alarm clock noisily informed me it was time to get up.
I am always excited to have the option of a bath and walk-in shower, so was delighted to see both in my large en-suite. I do enjoy a relaxing soak at the end of the day and a reviving shower in the morning so it really is the best of both worlds for me.
Quality toiletries and fluffy warm towels on the heated radiator added to the comfortable stay, although I did feel there should have been a hook somewhere for hanging up the bathrobes, I guess you can't have everything!
I think it is fair to say that although the rooms are very nice, it is the restaurant that is the real star at The Auldgirth Inn. It has achieved 2 AA Rosettes for culinary excellence, won best Gastro Pub in Scotland last year and has also won best dining experience at the Prestige Hotel Awards in 2019. As you might have guessed with all those accolades, dinner and breakfast were the highlight of my stay. The food here is the reason this place should be on your list as a destination rather than just a stop off point on your journey.
The restaurant has a cosy yet modern and high end vibe, with the country theme carried through in to the dining room. From your table you can watch the Inn's highly skilled chefs, which include Robert himself, prepare everything to order in the kitchen.
The menu makes the most of local produce but adds a unique twist on ingredients and I had a hard time choosing my dishes, as did my mum. In the end we opted for the following -
For starters we had -
Scallops, apple and cucumber
Chicken liver pate, mango and chilli chutney
followed by mains of
Venison, stuffed gnocchi and braised shallot
Lamb saddle, courgette and basil puree
for desserts we both finished off with
Strawberry chantilly meringues - we probably should have ordered two different desserts for the sake of the review but honestly, it would probably have caused a meringue fight!
We both agreed the food was outstanding and the service was faultless, attentive but not too fussy. I could be all theatrical in my review, but quite simply the cooking here is pretty special and the menu is creative without being overly pretentious. If you are a foodie, you will love it, if you're not a foodie you will still love it.
Needless to say I was looking forward to my breakfast choices and wasn't disappointed with my smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs. It had an extra chilli kick which gave me the wake-up needed for my busy day ahead!
WOULD I RECOMMEND STAYING AT THE AULDGIRTH INN
I think you can guess that it is a YES from me but you MUST eat there too!
Check out The Auldgirth Inn's website for more details.
Disclaimer - As stated, I was invited to stay at The Auldgirth Inn for the purposes of a review and my opinions are based on my own experience. However, I always carry out additional independent research to ensure my own experience matches up with that of other guests. This way I feel I can confidently recommend featured accommodation to my readers.
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