Being welcomed as old friends. That’s how it feels when ringing the bell at Letham House Hotel and lady of the house Barbarba opens the door. This white-stucco house dates back to the 17th century and is located just outside the medieval village of Haddington in Scotland. At the end of a secluded driveway. And yes, we drove by again as we overlooked the entrance in the lush green surroundings. Looking for privacy? This lovely place will certainly do.
Letham House Hotel
A great influence to an inspiring road trip is the places we stay overnight, Letham House in Haddington certainly contributes to this. A cozy historic place in Scotland’s beautiful countryside, just 20 min. from Edinburgh on extensive grounds and with Scottish gardens.
Love it when we discover new places, the ones that as soon as you step over the threshold you immediately know this will be the first of many a visit. This is the place where you can get away from meetings and the hustle and bustle of city life, the perfect spot to put your mobile on flightmodus to reduce stress to zero. Uh, or attempt to this. I’ll manage only a few hours without wi-fi. Which is strong throughout the house, by the way.
A (bath) room with a view
Oh my, do I love a large en-suite bathroom! With curtains! And a view of the lovely garden with huge red beeches. The bath-on-legs is the ultimate retreat to give those muscles some rest after a tough round of Scottish links golf. Many great courses are within 30 min. reach of the hotel, Letham House is therefore a perfect base for exploring the fairways of Scotland.
The luxury amenities (large bottles) are by British brand Cole & Lewis, made in the UK from botanical ingredients and are paraben free. Did I mention the large white marble shower and fireplace?
A (bed) room with a view
Having spent two years carefully restoring Letham House, Barbara and Chris – who say the house brought them together, they even got married in the garden. Romantic or what? – brought the standard of each individual suite and public rooms to a luxurious level in countryside, manor house style.
The interior is done by Barbara with sumptuous fabrics, roaring fires and beautiful antiques. Our large bedroom (Room Botanical) had a kingsize bed with the softest bed linen of fine Egyptian cotton decorated with lace. Very refined. As customary in the UK, every room has tea and coffee-making facilities wíth shortbread. One of mr. B’s favorites. I loved the Downton Abbey style daybed sofa.
Breakfast or dinner at Letham House
Breakfast is served in the dining room on the ground floor. On sunny Summer days it might be outside on the terrace. The large dining table is a community table, so guests might mingle over scrambled eggs. I like to meet new people and talk about different cultures and exchange travel tips.
From young couples from Edinburgh, who saved up for a romantic night for two in this secluded house, to recurrent business men both find their way to this manor house. Many a strategic plan or final take over is made on one of the benches under the gigantic trees in the garden. Or what about the likes of Rowan Atkinson ( the other mr. B) who also joined the community breakfast table with his wife during their stay.
The table set with selection of finest Scottish produce, Wilkin & Sons scottish heather honey, home-made marmalade and eggs any style from the hens in the garden. As organic as it gets. As is the Whole Earth organic peanut butter. You’ll find fresh orange juice, fresh fruit salad and a selection of cereals on the – antique – buffet.
Barbara is a dedicated chef and cooks about three times a week for guests. Order in advance, a 3 course meal will cost 35 £.
What to do in Haddington
Haddington is the medieval village around the corner, lying on the bend of the River Tyne. Friendly and typical Scottish. Hanging baskets everywhere. This is a small town where chain brand stores are not represented. The historic town centre is one of the best preserved in Scotland.
Walk through the picturesque village and over the bridge on the river Tyne, turn right, keep walking and cross the ancient footbridge back again. The large cathedral on your left is St. Mary’s Parish Church and dates back to the 14th century. The pretty St Mary’s Pleasance Garden is straight ahead. Stop for lunch in High Street at Hilary’s Deli.
What to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is just about 20 minutes away from Letham House, a great city and capital of Scotland. It’s diverse, ancient and temporary at the same time. An Unesco World Heritage Site with lots of large green areas. Divided in New Town and Old Town with the famous Castle as landmark.
Edinburgh is perfect to visit for a day or an afternoon. Take a stroll around George Street to end up around lunchtime at The Printing Press. Try to conquer a table overlooking the street. Lunching and people watching do go well together.
After lunch walk towards Queen Street Gardens – watch the views! – where you’ll also find the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. A must visit. Not only for the collection but also for the building and library. We just missed the latest exhibition Facing the World, self portraits from Rembrandt to AiWeiWei. From July 16 till October 16 2016. Good reason to come back soon!
Need a new sporran? Talk to Chris
First of all they don’t come more Scottish than mr. “please call me Chris” Sharman does. Think Harris tweed, black labrador and Range Rover. This friendly gentleman really is a jack-of-all-trades. Not only the heavy-duty gardening is on his to do list but he is also a very skilled leather worker. A real craftsman. He makes the most beautiful sporrans.
Sporran? That’s the furry pouch that performs the same function as a pocket on the traditional Scottish Highland dress, the kilt. Which is pocketless. The sporran is worn on a leather chain. You’ll find a showcase when entering the room that leads to the garden. Don’t forget to take a look!
There is something about this place from a different era. Energy wise. A sense of history can certainly be felt here. Tranquility and detachment from the busy and hectic outside world, immediately overcomes you. Life is good at Letham House, a home away from home. Which can also be booked for exclusive use. In case of a celebration.
Can’t wait ’till next years Scottish golfing trip, back to East-Lothian it will be. Same bathroom-with-a-view, please.
Letham House Hotel