The Allan Ramsay Hotel was established in 1782 and named in honour of the celebrated Scots Poet Allan Ramsay. Nestled at the foot of the Pentland Hills, you would be forgiven for not being aware of this lovely hidden gem of a Hotel. However, upon driving into the little village of Carlops not a 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Penicuik, it immediately presents itself as a must visit location for any intrepid traveller.
This historic 18th Century inn is exactly as you might expect inside. Boasting one of the UK’s few remaining ‘penny bars’, that is – a bar top decorated with one penny coins, some dating back to Queen Victoria, it’s was a sight to behold over a relaxing ale or fine wine.
Popular with hillwalkers, the Hotel is ideally situated for those wishing to explore the Pentland hills, with ample guides and tutorials available both as part of the fixtures on a dedicated mural within the lounge and many associated pieces of pamphlet literature readily available in the foyer. Antique decorations, a small library, restaurant and real log fires add a rural Scottish charm that is hard to resist.
Our quaint cottage room situated above the restaurant was warm, clean and inviting. A spotless and fully working shower was a welcome surprise (so often not the case in areas of rural Scotland challenged by water pressure and financial issues) and our double bed was again spotless, clean and extremely comfortable.
The cream carpet was a bold choice of flooring, considering that these rooms may be frequented by hillwalkers, but large signs and recesses on the stairwell urging walkers to leave their boots behind seem to have served the owner Rosemary Brown well.
The odd noise from passing road traffic mostly disappeared towards the end of the evening and our nights sleep was uninterrupted until the following morning (apart from my snoring – apparently).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
We were advised by Rosemary the owner that most of the quality food served is sourced locally, despite financial pressures not to do so. In our opinion, this decision has paid off massively, and I can honestly say that the Allan Ramsay’s signature steak pie was THE finest I have ever enjoyed (devoured). Indeed, so proud are they of this gastronomic delight, that they bake their establishments initials “A R” into the pastry! Testimony indeed to this must taste dish!
Breakfast was served from 7.30am and we were delighted with a rousing strong coffee, home made jam and marmalade, smoked salmon and scrambled egg, and full Scottish breakfast. For those wishing to take a little taste of the Allan Ramsay away with them, free range eggs are available for sale at the reception (which I annoyingly forgot to purchase on departure!).
ABOUT THE AREA
A hillwalkers delight, The Pentland Hills are a range of hills to the south-west of Edinburgh, Scotland. The range is around 20 miles in length, and runs south west from Edinburgh towards Biggar and the upper Clydesdale, which makes the Allan Ramsay Hotel an ideal base, with a number of walks of varying difficulty starting in the village.
Further along the road, Penicuik town centre has a small cluster of shops and services as well as three bars on offer for the more curious. Penicuik is a town and former burgh in Midlothian, Scotland, lying on the west bank of the River North Esk. It lies on the A701 midway between Edinburgh and Peebles, east of the Pentland Hills. Additionally, in Penicuik itself the town boasts the historic Penicuik House, the shell of an impressive 18th century Palladian mansion. The estate has superb walks, as does the town in general, and a café.
The personal touch that the owner Rosemary and her Partner Kenny put on the place is undeniable, and nothing seemed too much trouble. Our server for our meal, Teigan was also extremely attentive throughout service. The relaxed atmosphere of this secluded countryside delight is ideal for unwinding and getting the city grit out of your system before returning to the 9-5.
All in all, the Allan Ramsay Hotel presents an affordable and convenient opportunity to really get away from it all. Hillwalker or not, you cannot help but be seduced by its rural charm. A rusty old red phone box outside, a reminder if any were needed, that this Hotel has endured the march of time mostly unscathed. Well worth a visit and easily accessible by car from Glasgow or Edinburgh in less than 1 hour.
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