The Best of the Best 2003: International Golf Resorts - Greywalls

  • James Y. Bartlett

A golfer making a pilgrimage to Scotland will find no shortage of outstanding accommodations. There are the Edwardian grandiosities of Gleneagles and Turnberry, the modern resort hotels in St. Andrews, and homey B and B’s throughout the country. However, our favorite place to stay is the unassuming Greywalls Hotel in Gullane. This quaint, 23-room country house derives most of its cachet from its location: Just over the gray stone wall in back of the house is the ninth hole of the famous Muirfield links, a regular host of the British Open since 1892. Take away Muirfield, and Greywalls, with its chintz-laden bedrooms, welcoming public rooms, and top-shelf cuisine, would still be worth a visit. Besides, the neighborhood includes at least a dozen other challenging courses.

Greywalls, which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built in 1901, is faced with honey-colored stone from the local Rattlebags Quarry. Formal walled gardens surround the crescent-shaped home, which has been owned by the Weaver family since 1924. In 1948, the Weavers converted it into one of the first country house hotels in Great Britain.

 

The inn’s enveloping warmth is perhaps its most appealing quality for travelers far from home. One or two house cats are usually curled up in front of the hearth in the book-lined library. Pictures of the Weaver family decorate the walls, along with signed photos of the many golfing greats who, through the years, have made Greywalls their home base during one of the British Opens staged over the wall at Muirfield.

Before he became Edward VII, the prince of Wales enjoyed staying at Greywalls. He was so enamored with gazing across the links and out to the Firth of Forth that the Weavers built him a special bathroom that offered him this view. Today this suite is called the King’s Loo, and the view from the loo remains sublime.

Although Greywalls is within a chip shot of Muirfield, booking a room is no guarantee of a tee time at one of the most exclusive courses in Scotland. Famously finicky about visitors, Muirfield insists on proper introductions and protocol. But being a Greywalls guest is certainly an indication of your worthiness.

Still, it would not be a tragedy if you were to strike out with the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, as Muirfield is formally known. Just down the road to the west are three fine links courses at Gullane. To the east, the old seaside course at North Berwick is usually accessible, offering visiting golfers a crack at the original Redan hole and the opportunity to pitch over stone walls onto the tiniest of greens. In fact, you can count on finding at least a dozen worthy golf venues throughout East Lothian, along the sea and in the bosky interior of the Lammermuir Hills.

Certainly, there are larger and posher places to stay in Scotland, but none can match the genuine Scottish hospitality and genteel grace of Greywalls.

Greywalls, +44.1620.842144, www.greywalls.co.uk

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