Situated in the heart of Scotland in Perthshire’s rolling hills and glens, the Gleneagles Hotel is located only an hour away from both Glasgow and Edinburgh International Airports. It’s the perfect central destination from which to explore the region’s awe-inspiring scenery from the glens, forests, rugged moors, and fast-flowing rivers to cascading waterfalls.
The five-star Gleneagles Hotel has 232 sumptuous bedrooms, including 27 suites, while also offering the uniqueness of an intimate hotel. Traditional or modern interiors, many with fine, open views over the grounds are available. For added luxury the suites and estate rooms are lavish and spacious.
A two Michelin-starred restaurant headlines Gleneagles’ dining experience. Andrew Fairlie is one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs, and his restaurant is simply outstanding. The theme of fine Scottish cuisine continues at The Strathearn, billed as one of the last bastions of first-class Highland dining, while the Birnam Brasserie is Gleneagles’ newest restaurant, which offers less formal all-day dining. The Dormy Restaurant overlooks the 1st hole of the Queen’s course and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Auchterarder 70 offers local craft beers and nibbles to share with family and friends. The 1920s-themed American Bar is simply a must-visit and it would be rude not to enjoy a tipple in the Century Bar, where there are more than 120 single malts from which to choose.
Many Gleneagles visitors will simply never tire of the extensive facilities on offer onsite, but there are many local attractions to complement the experience, including the Blair Atholl Estate & Castle which is set in highland Perthshire about an hour to the north of Gleneagles. Stirling Castle is around 20 minutes away and it’s one of the largest and most historically important castles in Scotland. Scone and Linlithgow Palaces are within easy reach, the latter 15th century palace was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots and it’s said to be haunted by her mother. Many distilleries are within easy reach and Dalwhinnie, for example, is one of the highest distilleries in the country where clear snowmelt water is used to create a warming malt whisky. The distillery is a drive north from Gleneagles, towards Inverness, through some spectacular highland scenery.
Apart from the golf, Gleneagles is the ultimate outdoor pursuit playground where there’s a plethora of shooting activites, off-road Land Rover driving, a falconry school, a gundog school (the first of its kind in the world), a dedicated archery range and outstanding fishing in the estate’s trout lochs. The equestrian centre is one of the best in Scotland where 26 horses and three instructors are on hand to cater for every riding lover. Nine tennis courts, including four indoor, are available for hire along with bicycles for those wishing to explore the estate in a more genteel manner. For the less outdoor-orientated there are two indoor swimming pools (one adult-only) and one heated outdoor pool supplemented by a bubble pool and thermal suite. The recently refurbished Health Club enjoys separate adult and family areas including a well-equipped gym.
In 1908, the idea for Gleneagles came to Donald Matheson, General Manager of the Caledonian Railway Company. He had a dream to build a “Palace in the Glens” which would attract noble and wealthy railway travellers. Matheson commissioned James Braid (the five-time Open Champion) to design the King’s and Queen’s courses, assisted by Major C.K. Hutchison and Matheson himself. Both courses opened in the hotel grounds in 1919.
The hotel opened in 1924 and it was described as “a Riviera in the Highlands” and “the eighth wonder of the world”. Today, this glorious 5-star hotel remains world-class and in 2005 hosted the G8 summit of world leaders and of course the Ryder Cup in 2014, which was played on the third course at the property, the PGA Centenary, designed by Jack Nicklaus, who described the rolling moorland as “the finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with”.
In addition to the golf, the 850-acre Gleneagles estate offers a smorgasbord of country pursuits that are complemented by an award-winning spa, all within an hour of Glasgow and Edinburgh. And you can still arrive at the Gleneagles station by train – direct from London in just five hours nowadays.
The golf at Gleneagles is widely considered to be the best that moorland can offer and the King’s course is surely the best moorland track in the world. The sweeping views of the Ochil Hills, the peaks of Ben Vorlich and the Trossachs are simply ravishing. The holes blend perfectly into the landscape. The springy fairways wind their way through punishing rough, strewn with heather and gorse. Many mature pines, silver birch and rowan provide natural amphitheatres on a number of the holes.
The Queen’s course, while significantly shorter in length than the King’s, is the pretty little sister at Gleneagles. The holes are set within an all-together softer landscape and while the recently renovated Queen’s may not be the most challenging course on the estate, it’s stunningly beautiful and should not be missed.
While everyone still vividly remembers the 2014 Ryder Cup (staged on Jack’s new course), the King’s course hosted the first informal Ryder Cup match between Great Britain and the USA in 1921. No half points were awarded for this fledgling event and a strong British team that included James Braid won the competition 9 points to 3.
A number of other important events have been played over the King’s course, including the Curtis Cup, Dunhill Trophy, Scottish Open and the WPGA Championship of Europe. Lee Trevino, standing on the 1st tee of the King’s course, remarked: “If heaven is as good as this, I sure hope they have some tee times left”.
Here are a few review comments from golfers who’ve played the Britain & Ireland Top 100 ranked King’s course:
“Great experience and some legendary, epic holes. You definitely feel that you are playing golf at a very special place.”
“Have played Turnberry, Troon, Western Gailes and North Berwick. In my opinion this course beats them all. Has everything you want in a golf course.”
“What a gorgeous golf course...played on a windy fall day with sunshine & unlimited visibility, one Kodak moment after the other. Definitely one of THE most impressive courses I've had the privilege of playing here in the UK”
“Combine it with the shorter Queen’s course and Gleneagles offers one of the best 36-hole configurations in all of Scotland.”
“It really must be Braid’s masterpiece and in my opinion the world’s finest moorland course.”Read all Gleneagles King’s course reviews