Reviewed by Caroline Murray
Carfraemill Lodge, in the Scottish Borders, is a beautiful 4* hotel just off the A68 heading towards Lauder. It lies 20 miles south of Edinburgh and takes approx. 30 minutes travelling by car.
On arriving at the hotel at around 4pm we were astounded by the sight of the hotel and its beautiful surroundings. Although set just off a main road, there are ample grounds with lots of private parking and lovely views if you enjoy a nice walk.
When entering the hotel I was surprised at how busy it was but we were still greeted quickly by the manager Susan who helped book us in for our overnight stay.
We were then shown to our room and WOW were we impressed… it was lovely. The room had a super king-sized bed which was piled high with pillows/cushions and a small teddy bear, which was available for purchase with a donation going to charity. There was a TV/DVD combi and a lovely pine wardrobe and dressing table. The bathroom was medium sized with a shower over the bath, along with some nice toiletries and the fluffiest towels you can imagine! There were the usual tea and coffee facilities, plus bottled water and the hotel’s homemade shortbread (a definite must have). After showing us how to work the shower, TV and heating we were left to unpack. We found the room to be clean and very practical with everything you could possibly need for an enjoyable stay. Our wonderful view of the countryside fields and wildlife added to the wow factor.
The hotel has 10 bedrooms that are located on the first floor, comprising of 6 double rooms, 2 twin room and 2 family rooms. Each room has its own unique decoration and style which was of a high standard giving every room its very own atmosphere. This made a pleasant change from the usual approach by most hotels of having identical rooms throughout. Also unlike most hotels the family rooms comprise of a large double room with an adjoining twin room containing bunk beds with space for a cot or fold down bed if required. This means that you can put the kids to bed and perhaps settle down to watch TV. The hotel also provide baby monitors should you even fancy having a drink downstairs or sit in “The Gallery” a small private room on the same floor as the bedrooms. This room is for guests’ use in the evening and the hotel provides books and games.
We had a pre-booked dinner reservation for 6pm in the bistro bar and were very happy that we had booked as all areas of the hotel were very busy (this included three separate birthday party celebrations). We were shown to our table next to the log burning fire it was in a nice intimate part of the restaurant and so cosy. We were given the menu which we found extensive with plenty of variety including locally sourced ingredients and also a separate specials menu, so it didn’t take us long to decide what we wanted to eat. I had the prawn cocktail for my starter whilst my friend had the lentil and ham soup both of which were delicious and good sized portions. Our main courses were of an equally high standard myself having the roast beef dinner and my friend having the steak pie and for desert although my friend only wanted a bowl of custard they were quite happy to organise that for him. I, of course, had to try out the sticky toffee pudding purely for review purposes! The food presentation and the service were excellent and the staff couldn’t be more helpful.
After our meal we had a few drinks in the bistro bar, the drink prices were really competitive and again service and choice was excellent. We then took a walk around the hotel checking out the venue and different available rooms for wedding and private functions. As well as a beautiful outdoor marque there is also another large function room together with a conservatory and the gallery for smaller meetings and conferences. All rooms beautifully decorated and very welcoming.
We then headed back to our room to settle down for the night. I called reception and requested a hot water bottle and extension cable as one downside to the room was that there were no plug sockets next to the bed. Someone arrived within minutes to accommodate my request. The bed was lovely and comfy and I had a lovely peaceful night sleep as there was no noise.
The following morning we had breakfast in Jo’s kitchen. This restaurant was decorated with an old farmhouse feel and is an ideal restaurant for families with young children with an area set out with toys and books to keep them entertained. There was again ample choice for everyone on the breakfast menu and we really enjoyed our meal.
Although, not on this stay, we did note that the hotel can arrange for shooting, fishing, golfing and other activities if you would like a more action packed stay.
One downside that I feel would need to be noted is that although the hotel provides disabled toilets and facilities downstairs there are no disabled rooms for overnight stay and all bedrooms are on the first floor and there is no lift.
Overall we had a wonderful stay at Carfraemill Lodge and would definitely return! I would like to give gratitude to the amazing staff who made our stay what it was. They couldn’t have been any more accommodating!
I would give the hotel a 4½/5 only because of the lack of disabled facilities.
For more information or to make a booking visit www.carfraemill.co.uk or telephone 01578 750750.