The Fernhill Hotel was all my golfing buddie and I hoped it might be...and more.
We visited the day after the Open Championship ended at St Andrews, eager to discover if ever-ageing bones and muscles might emulate what we had witnessed on the Old Course. As if!
We were down to play two rounds over Dunskey, just a seven-minute walk up the hill from the Fernhill, which meant the car stayed at the hotel during our stay, and made visits to the 19th hole an altogether more alluring prospect.
Neither of us had played the Portpatrick layout before. What had brought us to this remote corner of Scotland was a newspaper advert that offered a daily rate of dinner, bed and breakfast, plus a free round of golf, for the princely sum of £74 per person per day.
Too good to be true? Absolutely not.
We were warmly welcomed on arrival by manager Ailsa, who could not have been a more helpful - and friendly host - during our stay.
Our room offering (No 34) had been upgraded, which brought stunning sea and harbour views, as well as fluffy bath robes and a flat-screen TV. It felt as if we had gone one up before our golf game had even started!
The hotel is perched on the cliffs above the village, but there is a short-cut walk down (just left as you look to sea) that will take you to "civilisation" in a matter of minutes.
A three-course dinner is served between 6.30 and 9.0, with last orders at 8.45. We were very happy with all that was placed before us, and felt spoiled for choice.
Breakfast, too, hit the spot. Full house, of course, is the Fernhill Grill, which sent we golfers away to work off our sausages, bacon, tattie scone and such on the delightful Dunskey layout so close to our hotel.
Purvey here was a match of the Fernhill (well done, Carolyn) and the 18 holes themselves just as tasty for first-time visitors.
Sea mists had closed the course the first morning we were there, but soon rolled back to reveal a tricky, little test that I could play happily again and again.
No two holes were the same and the plunging 13th a stunning "signature" offering that will live long in the memory.
Our welcome at the course was as warm as the weather that eventually brightened our mid-July day. No airs or graces here. Yes, Dunskey is smiles better.
But back to the Fernhill. The hotel has five rooms on the ground level with sun terraces, but try to avoid No 37 - right next to the boiler room that rumbles most of the night. Sleep will not come easy here.
Better views of sea and sky are gleaned on the level above anyway, where we were billeted during our stay.
To sum up, the Fernhill turned out to be a little gem that proves good, old-fashioned Scottish hospitality is alive and well in this outpost of Scotland. We will most certainly return.
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- Also Known As:
- Fernhill Hotel Portpatrick, Scotland
- Fernhill Portpatrick