Travel: Gamefield, Crieff, Perthshire
Down a gear, up the hill, round the bend, and we've found five-star self-catering property Gamefield. Like saloon doors in slow-mo, its wooden gates swing open to let the car slide into the driveway.
Our upmarket homesteading for the weekend is just a five minute drive from the market town of Crieff, 30 minutes or so from Gleneagles and an hour from Edinburgh. Once a family residence, this modern building was designed by James Denholm architects, who were also responsible for part of the Crieff Hydro and Monachyle Mhor Hotel.
Beyond the grand marble-floored hallway, the heart of the space is probably the open-plan kitchen and living room, where an Aga and underfloor heating keeps things cosy and there are glam but relaxed furnishings. If the weather is being kind, the French windows onto the wooden verandah make for an easy flow from indoors to outdoors.
Across two floors, there are five double bedrooms, all individually designed, from the chinoiserie and dusty plum coloured fabrics of the ground floor boudoir, to the girly pink version upstairs, with mirrored dressing table. Prepare to fight over who gets the gigantic master bedroom, with a dressing area, massive bathroom and cow hide rug.
Should you be part of a grown-up group, the downstairs also features a smart living room, which is full of objets d’art, paintings and swanky lamps, and an impressive dining room with tall silver candelabra and a glass cabinet full of crystal.
As our group contained small children, we decided that these areas were look-but-don’t-touch zones. They didn’t mind, as there was lots for them to enjoy, including an outdoors ping-pong table, trike, a Sonos sound system in the kitchen (which resulted in plenty of impromptu dance sessions), and sledges (which we used on the grass slope, such is our commitment to Winter Olympics).
In lieu of fairies down the bottom of the garden, you’ll find a hot tub opposite a large summer house that features a wood burning stove to take the edge off the two metre long swimwear-clad sprint in the cold air.
Budget or boutique?
The latter, though its luxurious design is probably grander than boutique.
We were too slow to bag the master bedroom, so took a quiet room in one wing of the house. All are en-suite, apart from the ground floor bedroom, which has a shower and toilet across the hallway (oh, the hardship). The marshmallowy beds are unbelievably comfortable.
Wining and dining
Thanks to the Aga, a pantry full of crockery, two dining rooms and an outdoor picnic table, it’d almost be a sin to eat out. However, if you must, the best include Barley Bree (www.barleybree.com) in Muthill and Wilde Thyme at Glenturret distillery (www.wild-thyme.co.uk).
Worth getting out of bed for
There was loads of fun stuff in the vicinity to keep five children happy (ranging in age from one to eight). You’ll need a whole day to take in the wonders of Auchingarrich Wildlife Park (Comrie, 01764 679 469, www.auchingarrich.co.uk; adults £8.45, children £6.95). Their residents include angry geese, comedic lemurs, cheeky meerkats, a wobbly three-day old lamb and a sulky wild cat, among many other furry personalities. Also, you don’t have to be a resident at Crieff Hydro (01764 651 670, www.crieffhydro.com) to try its offerings, which include horse-riding (from £24.50pp, my eight-year-old niece went on a hack on an obliging pony called Opal) or their kitsch crazy golf with mini Scottish landmarks (from £2.50pp). I’m not ashamed of how much I enjoyed their Quad Pods (little cars pulled by a quad bike, £5 a whirl), which rollicked across their estate with whooping cargo (including me and my four-year-old niece). Fun.
The hamper that was left for us contained a bottle of prosecco, shortbread, cake, choccies and other snacks. Also, there’s additional “staff” accommodation in the form of the more basic Indie House at the front of Gamefield which sleeps a further four (£595 per week). Dogs are welcome in the main house (if they stay downstairs, in the more relaxed zone), and there is a kennel in the garage.
“Spacious and serene.”
• Gamefield, Ochtertyre Estate, Crieff, Perthshire (01764 650 303, www.gamefield.co.uk). Three nights starts from £1,956. Gamefield is available for three or seven nights arriving on a Friday or four nights arriving on a Monday. During the summer it’s seven nights arriving on a Saturday.