Damon surprised me with a one night stay here for our anniversary. My family owns a caravan near St Andrews and we had booked dinner for 2 in the Road Hole Restaurant at the hotel. But unbeknownst to me Damon had added a stay on top of it to make it a complete experience. It’s safe to say it was one lovely surprise.
A Brief history of The hotel
The hotel isn’t actually as old as many people think. It was built in 1968 by a subsidiary of British Railways, British Transport Hotels Ltd. The hotel is now operated by Destination Kohler, a subsidiary of the US-based Kohler Company. You will see this brand name in the hotel in the Kohler Waters Spa. The hotel was built to overlook the 17th hole on the Old Course, the Road Hole, which also gives its name to the hotel’s restaurant on the 4th floor.
Getting There By Car
We were previously staying east of St Andrews so the easiest way to get there was by driving through the town centre, going west down North Street. North Street becomes Links Crescent which takes you straight onto the A91 out of St Andrews. The hotel is well-signposted off of the main roundabout before you leave the town.
There is free parking at the hotel for hotel guests.
If you stay in St Andrews you will realise that nearly everything is in walking distance. The town is extremely popular with tourists but it’s a nice compact size. The Old Course Hotel is based just west of the town centre, right next to the Old Course and the West Sands beach.
Since we visit St Andrews quite regularly I can use this as an opportunity to advise you on walking distances from the hotel to some of my top spots and restaurants.
*Himalayas Putting Course (750m or 9 min walk)
*St Andrews Links Clubhouse (900m or 11 min walk)
Topping & Company Booksellers (900m or 11 min walk)
Forgan’s (1100m or 14 min walk)
Fisher & Donaldson Bakery (1200m or 16 min walk)
Jannettas Gelateria (1500m or 19 min walk)
St Andrew’s Cathedral (1600m or 20 min walk)
*You can walk on or cut across the Old Course if it is closed, which happens almost every Sunday
The official check-in time is 3pm but we wandered in around 13:30 to go and have a look around. We were welcomed by the concierge when we went through the doors. He stored our bags and told us they would be put in our room when it was ready, a nice touch. The check in desks were to the right.
The reception area is traditionally decorated but it feels modern and clean. There is a nice seating area towards the back with a fireplace, armchairs, newspapers and a view of the old course.
After a wander around the hotel, we decided to relax with a drink in the Road Hole bar until the room was ready. I’ll talk in more detail about this in the dining section but if you’re looking for a place to relax, this bar with a view over the old course and the sea beyond that is the place to do it.
The Old Course has 144 rooms, 35 of which are suites. Eden Parkland rooms and suites face away from the Old Course. All of the other rooms are Old Course-facing.
We had an Old Course room with a king bed on the first floor. The room was clean and very well designed. The room felt spacious which was helped by the mirrored wall behind the bed. The style reflected the rest of the hotel, traditional but modern.
The two chairs situated next to the window overlooking the golf course was a nice addition.
The in-room facilities included a desk, TV, a mini bar and tea/coffee facilities. There was a range of teas/coffees available, plus shortbread. Robes, slippers and a good quality hairdryer were also included.
The free WiFi was fast and neither me nor Damon had any issues.
The bathroom was modern, well-designed and clean with a bath/shower combo.
A range of free Kohler Spa toiletries were supplied. These included face soap, cotton buds, hand/body lotion, bath gel and conditioner.
Golf and Tee Times
If you’re staying at the Old Course, there’s a high likelihood you’re here to golf. Here’s what you need to know.
You cannot be guaranteed a tee time on the Old Course unless you specially book the ‘Suite Golf’ package. But you can be guaranteed a tee time on the Hotel’s golf course, the Duke’s Course. Just contact the hotel in advance of your stay to make a booking.
This is where things have changed recently, and not for the better in our opinion. Previously, as hotel guests, you had complimentary access to the Kohler Waters Spa which includes a 20m pool, hydrotherapy pool and a roof top hot tub, amongst other things.
Since the opening of the Kohler Waters Leisure and Fitness Centre, the Kohler Waters Spa section is now an added extra. Whilst the leisure and fitness centre does include a 20m pool, indoor hot tub and a fitness studio, the area is lacking compared to the spa.
The rate is £40pp (£30pp if booked in advance) for up to 3 hours (10am to 7pm) but you can access this area for free before 10am and between 7pm and 9pm. I personally think this charging method is a mistake on the hotel’s part. I think paying guests should have access to either pool and non-paying guests should have to pay extra for the spa. I also think a lot of guests will just assume they have access to the spa as well.
We did have access to the spa as we booked before the rates were introduced. And if you do get in, the spa is a great experience. We even returned to the spa straight after we checked out on the Sunday. We stored out luggage with the concierge and relaxed by the pool for a few hours.
As nice as it was, we would not have paid anywhere near £30 or £40pp for it.
The Old Course hotel runs 6 separate bars and restaurants in or near the hotel. The Road Hole Restaurant and the Road Hole Bar are situated on the 4th floor of the hotel, offering stunning views over the Old Course and beyond.
Sands Restaurant, which also overlooks the Old Course, is based on the ground floor of the hotel. The Jigger Inn, built in the 1850’s is a separate building on the east side of the hotel. Hams Hame Pub & Grill is located next to the 18th green of the Old Course. And Duke’s Clubhouse can be found further away, south-west of St Andrews at The Duke’s golf course.
The Road Hole Bar - Drinks
We had some drinks here whilst we were waiting for the room to be ready. The views over the 17th hole are incredible. The bar, in reality, is probably best enjoyed by whisky aficionados since they offer over 300 whiskies from around the world. But neither me nor Damon are big alcohol fans. Damon had a Coca Cola (£2.50) and I had an Assam black tea (£4.00).
The drinks were quite expensive but given the setting, plus free nibbles, we felt the pricing was pretty fair.
This is the fine dining venue situated on the 4th floor.
We had pre-booked a window table a few weeks in advance and we were glad we did. You really don’t get tired of the view. Since this was a special occasion we went for a starter and main course followed by tea at the end.
I had the duck to start and Damon had the scallops. Both were delicious.
We both went all out and had 8oz Scottish Fillet Steaks with thick-cut chips and peppercorn sauce. Cooked to perfection.
As the sun went down, we finished our meal with a pot of breakfast tea.
The total bill came to £128.15. We expected the bill to be large for this meal so we took it on the chin and accepted it for what it was.
Saying that, always remember to check your final bill. I had already left the restaurant when I’d discovered we’d been charged £16 for 4 teas. The price was £4 each so we’d been overcharged by £8. I contacted the hotel, they were very apologetic and reimbursed me there are then.
Damon had booked breakfast as part of the stay. Since it was a Sunday, it was also available until late morning (11am).
We were seated at a window table and whilst the view was the same, stunning, we wish we would have taken sunglasses. Since the restaurant is east-facing, the sun was quite bright. We could have lowered the window blind but we put greater weight on the view than being slightly blinded.
There was a buffet and you could also order other items off of the menu. I enjoyed a full Scottish breakfast and Damon had pancakes.
For more information on food at the Old Course Hotel, you can check out this section of their website.
Conclusion and Scoring
Things to bear in mind include the spa pricing and your room selection (ie. Old Course or Eden Parkland facing). We had a wonderful stay in the Old Course Hotel and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to splash out a little on their trip to St Andrews.
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What are your thoughts on The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews? Let us know in the comments down below.