The Elphinstone Hotel in Lanarkshire is a traditional coaching inn which is perfect for a cosy night in Scotland.
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I love visiting Scotland, but it takes me at least 5 hours to drive from my home in Shropshire, longer if I’m going to the Highlands. So I generally try to break my journey somewhere, either on the way up or when I’m heading back home.
On my last visit, I decided to break the journey home with a night in the Scottish Borders. I was invited to spend the night at the Elphinstone hotel in Biggar, Lanarkshire.
Mark was accompanying me on this trip, for his first visit to Scotland. And we both felt that this hotel was the perfect cosy place to stay for the night.
Read on to find out why…
A Historic Coaching Inn
The Elphinstone hotel is a traditional coaching inn that has been welcoming guests for around 400 years.
It is located in the town of Biggar in Lanarkshire, a popular stopping-off point for travellers throughout the centuries. We know that King James IV stopped in Biggar on several occasions during his reign. It’s possible that he stayed at the Elphinstone, but nobody knows for certain.
The hotel’s public bar now stands in the archway through which coaches would pass to the stables. This space also used to house the booking office for coaches.
The coat of arms which adorns the front wall of the hotel is that of the Elphinstone family who used to own the local estate. A plaque below the coat of arms pays tribute to the Polish military who set up camp locally after their escape from occupied France in World War II.
How to get to the Elphinstone Hotel, Biggar
Biggar is in the county of Lanarkshire, in the central Lowlands of Scotland, and it’s very easy to get to by car.
If you’re travelling up to Biggar from England, you’ll need to leave the M74 at Junction 13. The hotel is then around a 20 minute drive on the A702.
If you’re visiting Glasgow or Edinburgh before your stay at the Elphinstone, both of these cities are around an hour away by car.
It’s not particularly easy to get to the Elphinstone Hotel by public transport, as the nearest train station is a 30 minute bus journey away. If you do decide to travel this way, you need to head to the station at Lanark.
Our journey took us from Loch Earn in the Trossachs National Park to Biggar. We also stopped off to pay a visit to the Kelpies in Falkirk on the way.
We arrived in Biggar at around 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and headed inside to check in. The cosy inn immediately felt very welcoming, and we were soon heading up to take a look at our room.
A Room at the Elphinstone Hotel
The Elphinstone Hotel has 11 invididually decorated rooms, three of which are family rooms. We would be spending the night in one of the family rooms, and were immediately struck by how warm and cosy the room was on this cold winter’s day.
Our room had a king-size bed which was very comfortable, with soft pillows and a snug duvet. Standard rooms are available with either double or twin beds.
The room was decorated with warm autumnal tones with heavy curtains at the window. It was quite toasty, and the curtains would help to keep the chill of the night out. But just in case, there was some extra bedding in the large wardrobe.
The bright overhead lighting was complemented by side lights that gave the room a snug atmosphere in the evening. It felt like the kind of place you could squirrel yourself away in, on a cold winter’s evening. Perfect for our overnight stay!
The Elphinstone Hotel has free WiFi, with good signal strength throughout the hotel. Our room had a TV on the wall at the foot of the bed, and a well-stocked hospitality tray.
As I mentioned above, we were spending the night in one of the hotel’s three family rooms. This meant that our room was quite spacious, with a set of bunkbeds.
I think this is an excellent layout for a family room. I have often struggled to find a room which will accommodate myself and my two sons in single beds.
And the pristine bathroom had modern furnishings, a large heated towel rail and a powerful over-bath shower.
I was also happy to see that the Elphinstone provides large bottles of complimentary toiletries rather than individual miniatures.
After we’d finished settling into our room, we headed down to the bar to look around.
A look around the Elphinstone Hotel
The Elphinstone Hotel has two bars. The public bar offers a wide selection of drinks and also serves food. They have live music at the weekends as well as a large TV showing sports events, and this bar leads through to the terrace behind the hotel.
Mark and I settled down in the hotel’s lounge bar which has a cosy, traditional feel.
It’s a lovely place to enjoy a drink or order a meal from the hotel’s extensive menu.
Mark and I ordered a couple of glasses of wine, and chose a table near to the roaring open fire for maximum cosiness.
The lounge bar was quite busy during the afternoon. There were plenty of locals enjoying a meal and the festive atmosphere in the inn.
The hotel also has a restaurant where you can enjoy a wide range of locally sourced food.
After I’d caught up with emails and we’d finished our wine, Mark and I headed back to our cosy room to relax before dinner.
Coming soon: my review of dinner at the Elphinstone Hotel restaurant
A Hearty Breakfast
After an excellent night’s sleep at the Elphinstone hotel, Mark and I were looking forward to a good Scottish breakfast.
Breakfast was served in the hotel’s restaurant, and tea, coffee and toast was soon brought out to our table. A selection of miniature jars of jam and marmalade were already on the table, and menus soon appeared.
The only cooked option was the full Scottish breakfast, but a selection of cereals, fruit and yoghurt were also available.
The cooked breakfast was excellent quality, with local sausages and bacon. Square sausage, haggis and a potato scone were also included, and everything was cooked really well.
You can choose from poached, fried or scrambled eggs and more tea and coffee were brought over as we needed them.
Altogether it was a delicious start to the day and really set us up well for our long drive back down to Shropshire.
Things to do near the Elphinstone Hotel
The Elphinstone Hotel is an old coaching inn, and people have been breaking their journeys here for hundreds of years.
And Biggar is still a fantastic place to break a long journey up to Scotland, especially if you are planning to travel onwards to the Highlands or to major cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh or Dundee.
But the Scottish Borders are a beautiful destination in their own right, and although Biggar is quite a small town, there are two small museums that you may like to visit.
And there’s plenty to see within a short drive of the Elphinstone Hotel. We visited the Kelpies near Falkirk, and also paid a visit to the National Wallace Monument near Stirling. These are both around 1hr-1hr15min drive North of the hotel.
You might also like to visit Melrose Abbey, which is just over an hour East of the hotel. And if you love visiting gardens, Dawyck Botanic Garden is just 20 minutes away by car.
The Elphinstone Hotel is a wonderfully welcoming Scottish coaching inn. The staff are all incredibly friendly, the locally sourced food is delicious, and our room was warm, cosy and comfortable.
I would definitely book this hotel for an overnight stay on a longer journey. It’s only a few minutes’ drive from the motorway which would make it ideal if I’m travelling up to the North of Scotland.
And I think it would be perfect if you’re travelling with young children. The family room that Mark and I stayed in would have been great for us when the boys were younger.
It’s also a good place to stay if you’re looking somewhere to base yourself while you explore the Scottish Borders region.
Our visit was complimentary, but a night in a family room with breakfast would usually cost around £92 for two people. A standard double or twin room would cost £79 (£82 on Friday/Saturday nights).
The Elphinstone Hotel
145 High Street, Biggar, ML12 6DL
Tel: 01899 220044