Travel review: Peebles Hydro Hotel, Peebles

Call me old-fashioned, but I am a great admirer of tradition. And the Peebles Hydro hotel in The Borders of Scotland is oozing with the quaintness of yester-year.

By Rebecca Hay
Monday, 7th July 2014, 2:00 pm
Peebles Hydro Hotel
Peebles Hydro Hotel

The majestic hotel has just been acquired by the team at Crieff Hydro, whose reputation for class is well-known. And they have been sprinkling their magic in a bid to make Peebles just as successful as Crieff.

It’s work in progress as the hotel is in need of modernising, but the foundations are there and the sheer beauty of the building inside and out means the average guest will be prepared to wait a little while for everything to slot into place.

With husband Kenny and children Ruaridh (7) and Flora (4) in tow, I headed to Peebles to celebrate the town’s Beltane Festival. It’s an annual event which sees the town close its high street, served by traditional shops, ready for a party!

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And the Peebles Hydro is a handy base as its only a stone’s throw from the town. As you make your way to the top of the sweeping drive you are given a wonderful panoramic view of the Tweed Valley. The rooms are spacious and well equipped with all the mod cons needed and the impressive dining hall serves up local produce for both dinner and breakfast. This is a big hotel and there are plenty of lounges and bars to seek solace and drink fine wines while enjoying the spectacular view.

Families can benefit from two hours of free childcare and a special high tea for the little ones. And outside there is much to explore and do, with tennis courts, adventure playgrounds and even a giant chess board. Inside there is a lovely old-fashioned spa, complete with a relaxing pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.

It took a while to tear ourselves away from the hotel, but we had the festival to entice us, so off we went to bag our spot! After all the festival is all about tradition and was started many moons ago to mark the return of the summer, with the lighting of fires. The festival is held throughout The Border towns and Peebles celebrates with a week of events from concerts to fun activities.

The week ends with the parade through the town and the Riding of the Marches which sees horsemen and women lead a snake of floats through the high street. These included the newly crowned Beltane queen, this year the honour went to youngster Alice Bryce, who clearly revelled in the attention, along with accompanying cornet players.

The floats ranged from themes such as the World Cup to the Minions of Despicable Me fame and part of the tradition dictates that the crowd throw sweets at the floats which are crammed full of excited children. Red and white bunting covers the town and everyone really gets into the spirit of having some fun!

After a spot of culture, there was plenty of other activities to do too. The area boasts many attractions from botanic gardens to stately homes. The emphasis is also on outdoor pleasure and Ruaridh and Flora loved the mountain biking trails at the nearby Glentress Forest.

And if that adventure wasn’t enough, the children were then treated to some more outside fun at the sister hotel Crieff Hydro.

This lovely former Victorian spa has been transformed into a luxury hotel, which boasts “calm, not chaos!’’ Families are welcomed at this establishment and there are a range of activities on offer for all age groups.

For littleones like Flora, there are gently pedal boats, an exciting quad pod, where a quad bike takes a train of youngsters around the woodland and a crazy golf course boasting miniature Edinburgh Castles and other Scottish landmarks.

Ruaridh had the chance to try out the hotel’s newest activity, Aloft!. This woodland adventure features three courses of varying toughness. Ruaridh is a bit small for the hardest, but thanks to the patience of his instructor, he managed with aplomb to tackle the Turret Trail Challenge, which saw him climb up to eight metres, race along rope bridges and swing like a monkey from one bit to the other, finishing with the ultimate adrenaline drive, a 170m zip wire, which he flew down, thanks to a combination of his small height and weight!

Tradition and top class outdoor fun, what more can a family ask for?!

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