ACCOMMODATION REVIEW : Stair Arms, Pathhead

I love staying at a hotel. I love the escape from the every day and getting away from it all. It always feels like a mini break even when its 15 minutes outside Edinburgh in Midlothian.

Mr TS and I escaped the city for a mid week night away to the Stair Arms Hotel near Pathhead.

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The Stair Arms is a small family owned and managed hotel, promising a warm Scottish welcome. They have just undergone a fresh refurbishment turning it from ye olde and tired charm to modern, chic and fresh looking.

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There are twelve bedrooms with en suites. Included in the twelve bedrooms is one family room, which can sleep up to four guests and there are two suites available for that special occasion. The hotel is also dog friendly. We were in Room 11, one of the rooms at the back of the hotel with views over the garden.

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The revamp covers the entire hotel; all the rooms, bathrooms, reception area, dining room and recently finished the, function suite.

It’s all a very calm and fresh colour palette ranging from steely greys and deep blues to warm beiges, taupes, creams and hints of gold. There are splashes of beige tartan and a nice play on textures across flooring, bedding and soft furnishings.

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The room was large and comfortable and equipped with a nice dressing table/desk/tea and coffee station. There are some nice touches like a ‘bible’ of things to see and do in and around the area and Edinburgh, ample biscuits (always a nice touch) and a flat screen TV (unfortunately ours didn’t work but I am assured that it got fixed the following day).

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After the hustle and bustle of Stockbridge, it was lovely to escape to the ‘country’ and look out over their gardens and the fields beyond listening to almost deafening yet delightful birdsong.

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There was a thunderstorm approaching that afternoon, so the room was stiflingly hot and with no air-conditioning nor fan, it was a little unbearable. Luckily a full ice bucket and a bottle of chilled wine helped us relax into the late afternoon early evening.

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The reception/foyer area is most welcoming and carried through to the welcome welcome when you arrive. The Stair Arms Hotel is an original Coaching Inn, commissioned in 1831 by Lord and Lady stair of the Oxenfoord Estate. For the last 25 years it has been family run and managed by the Ramsay family.

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That evening we made out way down to dinner. The dining room is revamped in much the same manor. It’s pretty and inviting, although I would hide the ice cream unit at the entrance.

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We were greeted by the owner and shown an intimate table by a window.

Two menus to choose from, the A La Carte and the Specials menu. Both menus are Scottish ingredients led like the Low and Slow Borders’s Beef used for the Roast, East Coast IPA beer battered haddock and Glenkinchie whisky for the sauce that accompanies the Haggis bonbons.

The menus are good old fashioned pub grub with a nod to the 1970’s. Prawn Marie Rose, Breaded Brie, Battered Mushrooms, Coronation Chicken Salad and Breaded Scampi evokes a sense of nostalgia which if cooked well is comforting and provides a sense of home and the homemade which would sit perfectly in a place like this.

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Starters - Chef’s Chicken and Cognac Pate served with salad leaves, oatcakes and Cumberland sauce. The pate was very creamy, quite bland and almost tasteless. It needed required some decent seasoning.

There were another 3 diners tucking into this pate, and they thoroughly enjoyed it, clearing their plates.

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Starter - Cullen Skin made with potato, cream and smoked Haddock. This was quite nice. It was slightly powdery but contained a decent amount of Haddock. It was a large bowl and served super hot.

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Main - Fresh Haddock coated in batter served with coleslaw, salad and a homemade tartare sauce. Unfortunately the batter was soggy but the fish fillet was flaky although slightly overcooked. I was hungry so ate the fish minus the batter. The coleslaw was delicious though - crunchy and creamy as it should be with a nice little tart kick; and the tartare sauce thick and tangy which went well with the fish.

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Mains - Low and Slow Borders Roast Beef served with homemade Yorkshire puddings, dripping roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and pan gravy. The veggie parcel presentation was certainly interesting! A nice enough dish but they missed the mark again when it came to seasoning. The Yorkie was decent although slightly flat and there was so much gravy it drowned out the possibly lovely slices of roast beef. Perhaps a gravy boat on the side might be best.

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Side - Chips . Fabulous. Beautifully crispy, crunchy and hot and fluffy on the inside.

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Dessert - Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream. This was lovely. Soft and sweet sponge served with a decent sized pot of warm toffee sauce.

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Dessert - Chocolate Sundae. One scoop of this and you’re transported back to being 10 years old again. It was filled to the brim with vanilla ice cream, with swirls of chocolate sauce and topped with squirty cream.

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Sleep was most welcome and the beds are very comfy. The hotel is very quiet so once you get use to the silence, you’ll have a decent nights sleep.

Breakfast in the morning is served back in the dining room.

Bright yellow roses, sunshine and tea greeted me and set me up for the morning ahead and the back to work slog.

Breakfast is a simple affair with a full Scottish breakfast available, or a variety of egg options, filled rolls or cereals. I went for a fried egg and toast. Simple and just perfect.

The Stair Arms is a family run hotel and has been in the same family for over 26 years. It has a certain charm about it that immediately puts you at ease. The staff are super friendly, and will help you in any which way they can. Service is friendly happy-go-lucky but it does take a while so be prepared to sit back and relax.

The hotel is not the Ritz but for the price you pay (£55pppn including breakfast) you really cant go wrong. The refurb has certainly given it a modern feel but I feel they need to carry that through into the food and the service to elevate this hotel to the next level.

However, If you are after some decent pub grub in a pretty setting and want somewhere clean and fresh to lay your head, where the staff friendly and genuine, then the Stair Arms is an ideal hotel for an overnight stay.

Stair Arms, Pathhead, EH37 5TX.

Tel : 01875 320277 https://www.facebook.com/TheStairArmsHotel/