My mum and I love programmes like Four in a Bed and Hotel Inspector, so I guess it’s only natural that I also love visiting new hotels. Reviewing hotels is definitely one of my favourite “blogger perks”, and I always love being able to share these perks with my friends and family, too. My mum and I were originally supposed to head down to visit the Elphinstone Hotel in Biggar earlier this year, but when my dad’s health issues came to light we had to postpone for a couple of months. Instead, we ended up taking our trip to Biggar to review the Elphinstone Hotel at the start of this month, making it a welcome end to both of our summers.
Biggar sits right on the edge of the Clyde Valley and The Borders, making it a great base for exploring some of the beautiful tourist attractions on offer in both areas. It’s about an hour’s drive from Glasgow and the same from Edinburgh, so it’s not too far to travel and the route is very scenic – winding through the countryside with great views over the hills. Nearby, you’ll find plenty of botanic gardens, museums and country estates, as well as long walks, waterfalls and cycle paths aplenty.
We arrived in Biggar at about 4pm on a Saturday afternoon and checked in to the Elphinstone Hotel before heading out for a wander around the town before getting ready for dinner. It’s a quiet little town, but it has some lovely independent shops and charity shops to peruse – another favourite activity for me and my mum. I could have happily spent a whole day browsing their local bookshop. Things were closing up as we wandered, so we didn’t have time to stop in every shop, but we wandered the length of the town to see what was on offer. Alongside the shops, there were some little museums to pop your head into, as well as a puppet theatre.
After meandering our way around the streets of Biggar, we headed back to the hotel for a cup of tea and a rest before dinner. The hotel sits right on the main street and is housed in a former coaching inn. The Elphinstone Hotel is a family run business, with 11 bedrooms, a bar, a restaurant and a spacious beer garden. It might look small from the front, but the hotel itself is actually a bit of a maze and spreads right back from the main street. I was amazed at the sheer size of the place.
My mum and I were given one of the spacious family rooms, and ours was situated right at the back of the hotel. The room had a big comfy double bed, which I was delighted to find had a full mattress instead of two singles – a pet peeve of mine, and a set of bunk beds. Each bed had its own TV screen, which was a nice touch. Our room had a full ensuite, with a bath, plenty of storage, a hairdryer, a seating area and a tea and coffee station – with accompanying biscuits. It was nice and clean, passing all of my mum’s meticulous Four in a Bed style dust tests.
The Elphinstone Hotel has a sprawling restaurant area on the ground floor, and when we sat down for dinner at 6.30 on a Saturday night it was clear to see that it’s a popular spot. The restaurant was bustling with diners and parties, with both hotel guests and locals stopping in for a taste of their menu.
There’s no denying that the menu is packed full of options for all palates – with countless options to pick from. The Elphinstone Hotel pride themselves on their use of local suppliers wherever possible, even down to the gin, with a local Biggar Gin available to try. I can confirm that it is delicious, particularly with an elderflower tonic, but damn it is strong. I’m also a lightweight, so that may cloud my judgement slightly…
One thing that really stood out to me from our visit to The Elphinstone Hotel was the quality of food on offer. I started my meal with fried brie, a firm favourite of mine which came in a generous portion with delicious cranberry sauce on the side. My mum, being able to escape the complaints of my dad and his dislike of fish, opted for the Cullen Skink. For mains, I had the spinach, walnut and ricotta cannelloni in a rich tomato sauce. My mum’s choice was the Elphinstone Salad, which was packed with poached chicken, ham, pate, prawn marie rose, cheese and coleslaw.
Both meals were absolutely delicious, packed with flavour and really filling – but the dessert was the cherry on top. I was suckered in by the special brownie served with local ice cream for the evening, which did not disappoint. It was delightfully rich and fudgy, and the portion was so big that I couldn’t even get close to finishing it. That’s unlike me! My mum decided on the banoffee pie which disappeared in a matter of seconds – that’s always a sign of a good meal.
The bar area had live music from 9pm, but we were so stuffed after our meal that we decided to head up for an early night and catch a movie in bed instead. There was a bit of noise from the bar in our room, but nothing too distracting and we both still managed to fall asleep in the very comfy beds without any issues.
Once we’d had our beauty sleep, we headed back downstairs to the restaurant to check out the breakfast selection. Breakfast is served buffet style, with your standard fare of cooked items, alongside a selection of cereals, yoghurt and juices. I don’t often eat a cooked breakfast, but I had to make an exception for this one, as it had received rave reviews in the TripAdvisor listings I’d trawled before our visit. Those reviews are well deserved, I’d say, with delicious sausages and perfectly cooked eggs being a highlight.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Elphinstone Hotel, or from Biggar for that matter, but I was charmed. Sure, the decor is a bit dated – red carpets aren’t my favourite – but the service was impeccably friendly from start to finish and the food was top quality. It’s a cosy wee spot, and one I’d definitely visit again on my next trip to the area.