To be honest, there’s not a lot to Selkirk, so don’t expect a shopping metropolis with cinema complex and a multitude of eating-out venues. However, what it does have is the Philipburn Country House Hotel, and that’s reason enough to be in this town!
I was visiting for a belated birthday stay along with my other half and despite the weather forecast of the mini ‘Beast from the East’ biting back, off we duly trundled in the old charabanc down to the outskirts of this borders town.
The hotel is located off Linglie Road on a quiet and peaceful hillside setting, tucked away inside a forested grove, creating its own private haven of solitude.
Driving up the tree-lined road, the vista opened up and there sat, looking quite resplendent, the Best Western Plus Philipburn Hotel. There’s plenty of parking, including disabled bays and an electric vehicle charging point. The car park areas are all well lit at night, so for those who may have had a shandy or eight too many, or, like me, decided to sample the vast and quite expansive malts menu, are unlikely to ‘come a cropper’ on your after-dinner stroll.
Disabled access to the main hotel was excellent with no steps into reception, the lounge, bar or dining areas. Rooms in the hotel are on upper floors, however, the hotel does advertise that it can provide a disabled fully accessible room for guests who require it.
On arrival, we were very warmly welcomed by uniformed local staff at reception, who checked us in promptly, explained the details of breakfast times, made a reservation for dinner for us and then escorted us to our room, before showing us the free wifi password.
We had booked a standard double room, but upon being shown into room nine, the Roxburgh Suite, it was quite obvious this was no ‘standard’ room that I’ve ever encountered on my travels before. The room was a mezzanine style twin-level, with the lounge and bathroom on the ground floor and a King size bed on the upper floor, reached by a spiral staircase. Executive, stylish, upmarket and elegant doesn’t really do the room justice. The lounge area was fitted out with a two-seater settee, a single armchair both in suede leather, a very large flatscreen TV, a coffee table with a selection of guest information books, a side table with a complimentary refreshments tray and homemade shortbread biscuits. Also located on this level is the large bathroom containing an over-bath power shower, and did I mention that the said bath is a jacuzzi model? There were plenty of towels provided, shelving for toothbrushes etc by the sink along with a floor-standing cabinet for storage. The only extra I’d have liked to have seen would have been some towel hooks at the back of the shower screen. As it is, you’ll either have to leave your towel on the floor or pad across the floor dripping water to reach it. But believe me, this is no criticism, merely something the proprietors may care to consider for the future. The bedroom area is on the upper floor and is a large King Size bed, a dressing table with mirror, and, in our case, a small balcony overlooking the Koi pond and car park area. Just off this room is a hanging space wardrobe. From our point-of-view, there was nothing extra needed in the bedroom, and for someone who has trouble with hotel beds a lot of the time due to a previous back injury, I slept like a baby, albeit a rather large one! In short, unless you are the kind of person who stays at The Ritz, The Burj Al Arab or the Morgan Plaza you’ll have nothing to worry about with this room. If however, the former is your ‘normal’, then why on earth are you in Selkirk!
The main hotel has a lounge area with plenty of comfortable seating and a gas ‘living flame’ fire, a selection of books in the bookcases, and a huge selection of magazines to suit all tastes. Well, I say all tastes, but if you’re a ferret breeder, you may struggle! They even throw in daily papers for their guests. The bar area has a ‘snug’ attached where snack type meals may be eaten, as well as a comfortable lounge area with another fireplace. The dining area has ample capacity for all guests given there are only 20 rooms at this fine establishment.
One point of note was the finishings and attention to detail in all areas of the hotel. Nothing was out of place, clashed or was so garish that it required you to don your sunglasses. Everything had an air of refined old-elegance, allowing guests to relax and enjoy it.
We ate at the hotel on both nights, and whilst not an extensive menu, it was adequate, having been supplemented by a daily specials choice. I had no complaints about the food, and for those who follow my reports, will know I am not slow to criticise in this area. What flavours this element of my review is the fact that we stayed here in March at the tail end of winter, and were two of only six guests who were resident that weekend. Many other hotels would have been closed as it just wouldn’t have paid to remain open. The food choice, albeit limited, was perfectly fine, and what we had was well cooked, fresh and a good portion size. Not much more to add really.
Breakfast is a buffet style with all the usual options of cereals, preserves, bread, fruit, yoghurts, cakes, cold meats and cheeses, smoked salmon etc. Hot choices included scrambled eggs with oak-smoked salmon in a cream and chive sauce, kippers with lime marmalade, eggs any way you like them cooked, full Scottish breakfast, with, it must be said, a black pudding which rivalled Charley Macleod’s of Stornoway, and all orders are taken by a waitress at the table.
The second point of note was the professional, knowledgeable, helpful and downright friendly manner of all the staff. There was no doubt that those I encountered were enjoying their jobs and not just in it for the money, they all had time to chat, even the chambermaid, and were eager to learn more about us and to offer advice. There was no ‘falseness’ about it which I so often experience. To that end, kudos to the proprietors, who I also met and had an interesting discussion over the merits of being part of a ‘chain’ but remaining a privately-owned hotel, who obviously invest in the right staff for their hotel.
Would I stay again – absolutely, without a doubt, and hope that I might just have reason to be in the borders region on business in order that I can experience the Philipburn Country House Hotel once more.