Hotel Review - The Golf Hotel, Crail
Do Not Disturb Hotel Review
The Golf Hotel, Crail, Fife
Staycations are the way to go right now and with public transport use discouraged, where better than Fife, and its picturesque East Neuk. In the fishing village of Crail, the award-winning four star Golf Hotel has been serving up food, drink and a comfy bed to travellers for 300 years. In the past they arrived on foot and horseback – the old stables are now storage and cellars under the bar – then came car and bus, and now many are back on foot again as the Fife Coastal Path walking route comes into its own.
Parts of the Coastal Path are busier than others (Elie is a bit of a hotspot) but strike out along the path in both directions and you will be rewarded with peace to enjoy the shoreline and some of the country’s best wild swimming spots. When you need a place to rest the feet or put down the clubs – it’s not called The Golf Hotel for nothing, surrounded as it is by courses – this is the place to head for a friendly welcome that’s like the biggest of virtual hugs.
A 16th-century listed building, the Golf Hotel is steeped in history, with a timeline of landlords right up to the present day’s owner Graham Guthrie, his name modestly hidden behind the puggy machine that’s been moved to help social distancing in the public spaces. Catch Graham and he’ll regale you with stories of the inn’s past, from a previous landlord’s links with the Battle of Waterloo to the days when the cellars doubled as a morgue.
Government guidelines are in force with one metre social distancing, hand sanitisers and spaced out tables in the dining room. There was no vertical drinking latterly when the bar was open (and no, that didn’t mean you could go for horizontal, it means head for the newly-refurbished sheltered restaurant garden out the back where you can join walkers from the coastal path arriving for refreshments outside from a new winter menu that starts with sizzling bacon rolls from 8am and includes hearty mains including fish (Pittenweem) suppers, steak pie, daily homemade soups, sandwiches and snacks through to 9pm.
Budget or boutique?
Easy on the wallet with aeons of authentic atmosphere of which modern boutique hotels can only dream.
The five bedrooms looking over the sea or street below include singles, doubles and twins (parties of ten can be accommodated), all with compact en-suite shower rooms. Trays have tea and coffee and shortbread and there’s a TV and free wi-fi throughout. Best of all, the latest government guidelines mean you can enjoy alcohol delivered to your room which beats braving the elements to the nearest supermarket.
Wining and Dining
Listed in the CAMRA real ale and food guide since 2015, the Golf Hotel is onto a winner with its homemade food, serving up locally caught fresh seafood and locally sourced meat, alongside real ales and single malt whiskies.
The experience and skills of landlord Graham Guthrie, Jackie Thomson and the team show in the dishes produced by the kitchen, with special mention to the smoked haddock, salmon, spring onion and cheese fishcakes (Graham’s mum’s recipe) a rich mushroom stroganoff, homemade seafood chowder (GF) with smoked haddock, prawns, potato, spring onion and cream, followed by apple and raspberry crumble, and a hot breakfast that will put a spring in the step of carnivores and veggies all day.
Worth Getting Out of Bed For
Golf obviously, with wonderful courses old and new up and down the coast – Balcomie Links and Craighead in Crail, and another 50 within driving distance, and if you don’t want to chase a ball on your walk, the route along the coastal path is signposted all the way around Fife’s seaboard. Crail Pottery in the village is stacked with covetable handmade ceramics that you can see being made (best remove your rucksack before you browse the shelves outdoors) and there are multiple places where you can swim in the sea. If you’re a foodie Fife is your oyster, or lobster, with fresh seafood options ranging from Michelin star (The Cellar in Anstruther) to smokehouse (East Pier Smokehouse, St Monans) and shack (The Cheesy Toast Shack, Kingsbarns Golf Links) and the best fish and chips in the country. Head for Anstruther and the Scottish Fisheries Museum for the story of the Scottish fishing industry, its boats, harbours and communities, but remember to book ahead.
What more could you ask but for a glass of Talisker or pint of real ale to be delivered by the delightful staff – outside in the beer garden until 10pm is allowed. Or as you put your feet up in front of the TV (Sky Sports is a favourite) in the cosy upstairs residents' sitting room, the endlessly helpful and cheery staff are on hand to go the extra mile to bring you refreshments and snacks. Who says social distancing is all bad? There are cots available and a separate bathroom with baby changing facilities.
After a trek along the Coastal Path, round of golf or meander around Fife’s fishing towns and villages, the Golf Hotel is exactly the kind of coastal inn where you want to rock up. Drop in for a meal and you'll end up wanting to stay the night.
Prices £65 per person - dinner, bed and full Scottish breakfast, (January - December, £50). Please note a £20 deposit per person is required on booking.
The Golf Hotel, 4 High Street, Crail, KY10 3TD (01333450206, https://www.thegolfhotelcrail.com/