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Lennoxlove House  

Lennoxlove House - Scotland Isis Basnayaka presents the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton

Lennoxlove House, the East Lothian Scotland estate of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton has been renovated to offer an exclusive stately residence to private guests; so when given the chance to explore the estate in Scotland I jumped at the opportunity of experiencing high living, great activities and fine cuisine with stunning views.

Journey
My journey started with a BA flight to Edinburgh, a chance to see how the airline was faring given the recent media coverage.
The catering left much to be desired, the English breakfast looked unappealing and tasted exactly like it looked. A significant delay on the runway made me momentarily think I was on a budget airline. Upon arrival, I was relieved to discover that Lennoxlove have their own helipad. BA redeemed themselves though on the return leg, the staff were friendly and the Thai chicken salad was full of flavour. The journey felt like a quick trip across London.

First Impressions
The striking Lennoxlove house is a 20 mile drive from the airport. Secluded luxury greets you on arrival with acres of parkland as you step out of the car into the quiet surroundings with the beautiful view of the hills in the distance.

Art & History
Lennoxlove House provides an inspiring past that is intertwined with Scotland’s rich, vibrant and at times violent history. The house holds a remarkable collection of art, political and historical artefacts of Hamilton, Maitland and Blantyre families.
The extensive art collection holds Van Dyck, Kneller, Raeburn and Gaudi. Having only been aware of Gaudi’s mosaic pieces I was drawn to the portrait by him of the fourteenth Duke of Hamilton. The portrait was surrounded by iconic moments in his life, such as being the first pilot to fly over Everest. There are so many beautiful pieces that it is almost too hard to pick a choice few. My favourite was Mary Queen of Scot’s death mask and the sapphire ring which she bequeathed to the Duke of Hamilton on her death. An exceptionally exquisite piece was the eight hundred year old four poster bed made out of dark wood; this was the bed used by the late Queen Mother when she visited!

The House
The house has been lovingly restored and brought into the present day while staying true to its original architecture and design. I was surrounded by sumptuous understated luxury. At Lennoxlove guests are able to access and use any part of the house. The blue sitting room holds a Chopin piano which is adorned with numerous family photos. Open the double doors of each room and you can see through the length of the house, an early French design feature. On display throughout the house are gowns worn at significant events and objects such as the map Rudolph Hess used when flying solo from Germany for a supposedly rumoured meeting with the Duke of Hamilton. I was constantly reminded of the importance of the house and the people who lived in it.
While touring the house, the great hall was left out so that when entering we would find it in all its glory. We were not disappointed. The space felt magical bathed in candle light, living up to what you would imagine a great hall to be like. The dining room was elegantly laid with a modern feel and blended in effortlessly with the original imposing exposed stonework.

What to expect
All bedrooms are unique and are complemented with antiques from the Hamilton collection. Each room is provided with a wee dram of Lennoxlove whiskey. All the rooms are fully equipped with a king sized bed, high speed internet and a flat screen television which manage to blend in with the style of a stately home.
The bathrooms are extremely spacious and light. Guests can extravagantly experience a bath in the claw-footed bathtub with views of the grounds. Luxuriating with the Penhaligon toiletries was pure pleasure!
As Lennoxlove is to be treated as a home there is no room service but a butler’s pantry is available and fully stocked for late night snacks.

Interestingly...
This is the historic house where the late Queen Mother visited any if you choose the Lady’s Bower room, you will be sleeping in Mary Queen of Scot’s 16th century bed!
I stayed in the Duke and Duchess rooms. Adjoining the two bedrooms was a living area which must have once been a nursery or playroom as there were worn and well-thumbed children’s books in the bookcases. While exploring the rooms what I thought was a cupboard in the Duke’s room was in fact a historic toilet – thankfully there was a sign stating it was not for use!

Catering
The gourmet cuisine served at the estate was provided by Heritage Portfolio one of Scotland’s premier caterers. Their clients include the Queen. The cold buffet held a delectable choice of cold meat and fish. The smoked salmon was such a pleasure and the cold beef was perfectly pink. The freshly made sauces held the right tanginess.
Our dinner exquisite was succulent monkfish and capers which complemented it beautifully. The dessert came in two parts; the first, mixed berries with alcoholic elderflower cordial and the second, a chocolate covered ice cream ball – both were delightful. A wonderful end to a fantastic dining experience set in a stunning space, eating fine cuisine and having great conversation.
Breakfast exceeded my expectations. They serve both continental, English and Scottish breakfast. The choices were mouth-watering and I wished that I could have managed a little of everything! Other guests had ordered the full English and Scottish breakfasts. I had food envy for a moment until my scrambled eggs with salmon arrived. It tasted perfect and the portions were more than ample.
Service
The staff at Lennoxlove are a close knit family – they are there to look after your every need. The staff have intimate knowledge and provide you with stories to the photos and ornaments. They made it the exceptional visit it was. You will interact with the same staff throughout which is important when in stately surroundings where you could so easily feel daunted. They really do provide the “home comfort feeling” on which the house prides itself.

Activities
Scotland is known for golf. The house is connected to the exclusive Renaissance golf club. The Renaissance are neighbours to the world renowned Muirfield golf course and hold stunning views of Firth of Forth and the City of Edinburgh. Nick Faldo and Jay Hass have endorsed the up and coming golf club. Renaissance prides itself on not having tee off times. A certain handicap is required to guarantee the perfect golf experience. By staying at Lennoxlove you may use the course via invitation.
If you are not a golf fan, Maxmillion Adventures provide quad biking, off-road driving and clay pigeon shooting. The guys looking after us were great. We could partake in every event – even the off road driving where two of us had never driven! Not only was the guide really patient with us but they gave us open rein, though thankfully they had the ability to stop us at any moment!
After having such a fantastic time in the Landrover I could not wait to get on the quad bikes. The previous group return mud sodden we thought it best to wear the protective gear. We went down steep slopes (well they were to me!) and splashed through the stream before heading back to the house at speed. A fantastic afternoon!

CONCLUSION
Lennoxlove House is an estate which you will not want to leave. There is so much to do whether it be exploring the grounds, playing a round of golf on a soon to be world renowned golf course or just enjoying the art and history. The house provides a small glimpse of what it must have been like growing up here. You get the sense of a home which for generations partook in dinners, birthdays and Christmases. It would have been a shame if the house had stayed as personal estate. I felt privileged to be able to experience some of the Scottish magic it holds.

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© Executive Traveller 2003