Fine dining, stunning views, local charm… St Andrews has it all in abundance, finds Janelle Butterfield on a visit to the famous meeting place of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Perched on the North Sea coast an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, St Andrews has long been a popular destination. As the birthplace of golf, home to one of the country’s top universities and the meeting place of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit this highland haven.
With the university first established in 1413, the architecture here is an eclectic mix of old and new with some buildings dating as far back as the 13th century. Yet with over 7,000 students passing through each year, the small town is as buzzing as ever – and while not all undergraduates find themselves a royal suitor, after a bracing seafront stroll or a hot toddy by the fire, it’s easy to see why it can ignite sparks both old and new.
A stone’s throw from the beach sits our home for the weekend, the newly opened Hotel Du Vin, where the décor of dark furniture, tartan prints and gentle lighting leaves us in no doubt we’ve arrived in bonnie Scotland.
Once settled in with a whiskey and shortbread, and the kind of sleep that can only be found miles from anywhere, it’s onto the world-famous golf course to be put through our paces. A Mecca for golfers, fans come from across the globe to putt on these flatlands, and visitors can warm up on the driving range or try their hand on one of the seven public golf courses.
Those opting for a more relaxed approach might amble along the cobbled lanes taking in the architecture or browsing the boutique shops. It’s the perfect way to pass an afternoon. Head to the cathedral, a once-colossal Catholic Church that took more than a century to build, where the ruins still stand since the 12th century, or drive to the neighbouring village of Crail for the picturesque old fishing harbour and cliff-side strolls.
Working up an appetite here isn’t difficult. Food-lovers can find ‘the best fish and chips in Britain’ (as voted in 2009) in nearby Anstruther or join the queues at Jeanetta’s gelatari – a St Andrews’ stalwart – for ice cream that’s fit for a King. Built into the craggy coastline sits the AA Rosette-awarded Seafood Restaurant, serving locally-sourced fish alongside wall to ceiling views across the bay.
Back at Hotel Du Vin the food doesn’t disappoint. The team use local produce for their French-inspired menu of fish starters, juicy steaks and classic desserts from crème brulee to tarte tatin, while the homemade shortbread is crumble-in-your-mouth good.
While for most of us it might not guarantee a Prince, a stay in St Andrews will sure leave you feeling like royalty.
Accommodating at Hotel du Vin St Andrews starts at £169, with dinner, bed and breakfast. To book, see hotelduvin.com or call 0844 748 9269. To learn more about The Golf Academy at St Andrews Links Trust, see standrews.com