Take a look around the Stair Arms – a former coaching inn just a short drive outside Edinburgh
This feature refers to a visit made before the travel restrictions put in place to deal with the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and around the world. Please take into account the advice from your local government before planning travel and click here to see the current UK government advice regarding Covid-19
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Recently I was invited to stay at the Stair Arms, a former coaching inn on the road to Edinburgh which is nearly 200 years old.
I always love visiting Scotland, and a quick check of the diary showed that Mark was free as well. So we headed North for another weekend away.
Despite its traditional exterior, the Stair Arms proved to be a surprisingly modern hotel. But it also has a very traditionally warm Scottish atmosphere, and you can be sure of a friendly welcome from the staff.
So come and take a look around the Stair Arms:
How to get to the Stair Arms
As you might expect for a former coaching inn, the Stair Arms is very easy to find.
It sits on the A68 around 12 miles south-east of Edinburgh, which makes it an ideal resting place if you’re visiting Scotland’s capital city.
In fact, the Sheriffhall Park & Ride is just 10 minutes drive from the Stair Arms, which is a convenient way to travel to Edinburgh.
Mark and I arrived at the Stair Arms on a Sunday afternoon, our final stop on a long weekend in Scotland. We were looking forward to a relaxing evening before heading back south to Shropshire.
The hotel’s owner, Carolyn Ramsay greeted us in reception. There are six members of her family working at the hotel at the moment – her daughter, her son and daughter-in-law, and three of Carolyn’s granddaughters. It’s a real family enterprise!
After checking in, we were taken up the stairs and through the rabbits warren of corridors to our room.
A modern bedroom at the Stair Arms
For a hotel that is nearly 200 years old, the interior design of the Stair Arms is surprisingly modern. And that design is continued into the bedrooms.
All of the bedrooms have been remodelled and redecorated within the last four years. The style is fresh and modern with a distinctly Scottish touch.
Our room was spacious, with a large comfortable double bed, a dressing table and mirror, and a small seating area.
We had been put in one of the rooms at the rear of the hotel, which overlook the large garden. It was quiet when we were there, but I’m not sure if it would be busier in the warmer months.
As I mentioned, the room has a large comfortable double bed with crisp white bedlinen. There is high speed WiFi throughout the hotel, and the signal in our room was good.
Our room had a flat screen TV and a hospitality tray which was generously filled with a selection of tea and coffee plus a range of Borders biscuits.
And the large ensuite bathroom was also sleek and modern in design. There was a shower over the bath and complimentary Cole and Lewis toiletries.
I was surprised to find that the room didn’t have a hairdryer, as this seems like such a standard item in most hotel rooms.
But apart from that than that the room was a perfectly comfortable place to spend the night, and it was spotlessly clean.
Our stay was complimentary, but rooms start from around £75. I think that represents very good value for this standard of room.
Once I’d finished taking photographs of the room, I headed downstairs to meet up with Mark in the hotel’s bar for a drink.
Take a look around the hotel
It’s not just the bedrooms at the Stair Arms which have been refurbished. In the last four years, Carolyn Ramsay has undertaken a complete renovation and redecoration project throughout the hotel.
The reception area, bar and restaurant, and all of the 11 bedrooms have all been decorated in a fresh, modern style, in what must have been a mammoth project to plan.
The hotel’s function room has also been redecorated, but it was being set up for an event when I visited so I didn’t take photographs. The hotel is a great venue for weddings, and the lovely garden behind the hotel is perfect for photographs.
I found Mark down in the hotel’s bar. It’s clearly a popular place to meet up with friends and enjoy a drink or some lunch together.
There are plenty of comfortable chairs dotted around, and this part of the hotel is also dog-friendly so you can take your pooch along with you for lunch.
And if you have a sweet tooth, then you can indulge in some of the hotel’s fabulous home-made cakes. As well as squidgy brownies and cakes, there was even some tablet on offer when I visited!
And the cocktail bar is stocked with a range of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. Or you could have a very good cup of Illy coffee – that’s always a winner with me!
And the hotel has a large, airy restaurant where you can enjoy lunch or dinner. There are plenty of places to sit in this sleek, modern space.
We went to relax in our room for a while before heading back downstairs for dinner.
Coming Soon: my review of dinner at the Stair Arms
Breakfast at the Stair Arms, Pathhead
So after filling up on all of the delicious local produce at dinner, Mark and I both slept very well. Next morning we headed down to breakfast and to be honest, we were both still fairly full.
We were greeted and shown to our table. As usual, Mark ordered a pot of tea while I asked for a cup of coffee. A jug of orange juice and a range of cereals were laid out for us on the bar.
There’s a good range of options on the menu at the Stair Arms. You can choose to have a full Scottish breakfast, and there are versions available for vegans and vegetarians as well. Or you could go for a hot roll or croissant filled with your choice of bacon, sausage, black pudding and egg.
But I was really feeling very full, so I wanted something lighter, and opted to have poached egg on toast. The eggs were cooked perfectly, still runny in the middle, and a basket of toast was also brought out to go with the selection of jams and spreads on the table.
Mark’s choice was actually listed as one of the options to have before your cooked breakfast.
He’d gone for the porridge, which arrived with a little dish of heather honey and whisky alongside. It was a delicious and warming start to the day, and one that I plan to recreate at home!
After another cup of coffee, we headed upstairs to pack our bags and begin the drive back to Shropshire.
Things to do near the Stair Arms
As I mentioned earlier, the Stair Arms was originally a coaching inn on the road to Edinburgh.
And the hotel is perfectly located for visiting Scotland’s capital, with all of its gorgeous architecture and fascinating history.
If you like whisky, then you might enjoy a tour of the Glenkinchie distillery, which is just a 10 minutes away.
Lovers of history may wish to visit Rosslyn Chapel, which is around 25 minutes away from the Stair Arms. Or if you don’t mind driving a little further, you could visit the charming Dawyck Botanic Garden. It is just under an hour away from the hotel by car.
The Stair Arms: Our Verdict
We really enjoyed our stay at the Stair Arms. It’s a traditional coaching inn with a thoroughly modern outlook, and the quality of the service there was excellent. The hotel is family run, and it really has that kind of atmosphere.
Our room was fresh, sleek and modern in design. And although that missing hairdryer did seem to be a strange omission, it was quickly forgotten.
The Stair Arms is a good hotel to break your journey to Edinburgh and beyond, at a price that represents very good value.
The Stair Arms
A68, Pathhead EH37 5TX