Staycation: Rusacks St Andrews
by Helena Lang
Not into golf? No matter, this town is still a perfect weekend destination, especially if you stay at the Rusacks St Andrews hotel
Golf has been played at St Andrews for 600 years, but we’re not golfers, or golfing fans, so I wondered what else St Andrews might have to offer on a two-night mini-break in spring.
Our hotel, Rusacks St Andrews, is perfectly placed on the edge of the Old Course, with views across the famous links from our smart, tartan-festooned, comfortable room and from the restaurants and cocktail bar. The 19th-century building is justifiably proud of its location and heritage, with both traditional comfort and grandeur in its lobby and sitting room, and bright, modern glamour in 18, the destination rooftop restaurant and bar.
The restaurant is clearly the place to be, with guests, locals and plenty of well-heeled students following in the university footsteps of William and Kate. Sunday lunch here is a triumph. Wye Valley asparagus served with charred slivers of pink grapefruit and a dollop of truffle hollandaise kicked us off, followed by two serious slices of rare roast Aberdeen Angus beef, which came with a puffy Yorkshire, heaps of duck fat roast potatoes and tender roasted roots. The fruit-filled apple crumble was quickly smothered with thick dollops of Drambuie custard.
Award-winning chef Derek Johnstone and his kitchen keep their beef in industrial fridges that run the length of the restaurant lobby. Steaks are cooked on a state-of-the-art robata grill, and the sirloins we enjoyed the following evening were perfect, as were the Cumbrae oysters. The pretty rhubarb and meringue dessert that followed was a deliciously light dish to finish with.
Inspiration for what to do was easy. The coastline is visible from the hotel and in the distance we could see the waves rolling in while kite-surfers, dog walkers and hikers enjoyed West Sands beach, all looking like Antony Gormley statues in the distance. We wanted somewhere quieter, though, and the friendly hotel team recommended a short drive to Tentsmuir Nature Reserve (do take £2 in change with you for the car park). Here we took a long, beautiful walk along the beach to view the seal colony that has taken up residence on the furthermost point, before heading back through the atmospheric pine forest and replenishing our energy with delicious, sweet sauce-loaded crêpes from the cute Salt and Pine snack shack.
Foodies shouldn’t miss a stop off at the Balgove Farm Shop, where it’s tempting to spend a small fortune on local specialities, deli produce and gorgeous gifts and homewares. Lunch there was a lovely bowl of cauliflower and blue cheese soup with freshly made cheese and chutney sandwiches. Exploring the streets of this tiny town, we discovered the ruins of the once magnificent cathedral, the coastal castle, and the Wardlaw Museum, which explores the amazing art, history and science achievements of the university and the global impact it’s had. This smart, grey-stoned Scottish treasure should certainly make it on to your must-see mini-break list, and the team at Rusacks St Andrews will help you get into the swing of things – golf puns, caddies, clubs and tees reassuringly optional.
How to book
A stay at Rusacks St Andrews starts from £209 for a double room including breakfast. A three-course dinner at 18 starts from £50. For more information, visit marineandlawn.com/rusacksstandrews or call 01334 474321