SUPERB food and luxurious surroundings await in the glorious Parklands Hotel, hidden away in unremarkable Perth.
Sunshine and a feeling of grandeur were strong enough to stave off any misgivings on the approach to the city centre getaway.
I’d never been into Perth before, despite frequently using the Broxden roundabout on my way north and south of the border, usually to see my partner Rosie, from Yorkshire, who came with me and revealed a similar lack of experience of Scotland’s newest city.
As fresh as the luxurious throw and cushions on the generous bed, we set about exploring the hotel and its stunning surroundings.
The old house is set above a sprawling landscaped garden and patio, complete with decking, tables and chairs laid before it.
A gate separates the hotel from the city’s expansive South Inch park, and the train station, although you wouldn’t know it to listen, is barely a minute’s walk away.
Attached to the house is a conservatory, and this is where the magic happened. Parklands’ magicians are chefs, and, my, do they want to feed you. We dined the first night in the hotel itself, at bistro No 1 The Bank. This restaurant is open seven days a week, and offers a varied menu of breakfast, lunch and evening meals. Partner, or Rosie, as she prefers, was the more adventurous, starting with chicken liver pate before moving on to a whole steamed sea bream with soy and ginger. I opted for smoked salmon and prawn cocktail, and a scotch beef burger with foie gras, rounded off with a rhubarb granita.
Washed down with a bottle of red, this meal was just what was needed after the draining drive down the East coast.
Hours later and it was time – still full up – to stagger downstairs for breakfast. This is what I had been looking forward to most. Weekday breakfast usually consists of hurried cereal or cold pizza, if occasion allows.
But No 1 The Bank served up a hearty Scots breakfast for myself, complete with two grilled tomatoes and a disk of haggis. We both began the meal with fruit, chosen from the wide selection, and Rosie followed this up with a well presented, generous portion of porridge.
Perth itself has a typical city centre – not much to report, so we headed off to historic Scone Palace instead.
Scotland’s ancient crowning palace has extensive gardens, yet surprisingly little to offer in the building itself, apart from scones (pronounced, between the two of us in three different ways), which made it seem like time to eat again.
And we were in for something special. At 63 Tay Street, under ten minutes’ from the hotel.
This restaurant, also run by Parklands, offers award-winning cuisine from chef Graeme Pallister, from Tuesday to Saturday, lunch from Wednesday to Saturday, and the menu is also available at 63@Parklands, which is a restaurant in the hotel itself, from Thursday to Monday.
We had twelve courses between us that evening. After an orange granita pallet cleanser (me neither, but it tasted superb) and amuse bouche (ham soup with smoked pork), I got stuck in to a fillet of Shetland cod, while Rosie enjoyed beef rib-eye salad with wild horseradish. A creme brulee and rhubarb broth followed, as well as some stunning starters.
Hotel owner and gent Scott Edwards made us feel incredibly welcome, and the whole experience was great.
Had we been there longer we may have made use of the DVD player, iPod dock, digital radio, wireless broadband and freesat TV at the disposal of hotel guests.
However, given Perth’s proximity to Inverness and the Highlands, it seems likely your stay in Parklands will be devoted to eating and enjoying the holiday.
As it happened, the superb dining kept us occupied, and, after a long discussion on the road up the A9, we came to the conclusion that the pricing of the room and meals, when booked together, are very reasonable for what you get.
The comfortable room was shaded only by the superb standard of food to be enjoyed at the hotel’s two impressive restaurants. So fabulous is Parklands that you’ll never forget your trip to forgettable Perth.