It sounds simple enough:
you want to get away for a romantic weekend with your partner. You've secured the sitter (thank you, Grandma), but there's something to consider - you have a young toddler at home, so location suddenly becomes an important factor, unless you want to spend the weekend fretting that, should something happen, you are too far away to get to your child quickly because you're ensconced somewhere in the Highlands with no mobile reception. But still, you want that away-from-it-all-feeling.
We weren't sure it was possible to have both until we went to Mar Hall. Far enough away to make toddler tantrums seem a distant memory (ie 20 minutes from Glasgow) yet suitably isolated, to make you feel like you are in the country (set in a lush 240-acre estate overlooking the River Clyde), but still within a short driving distance of Grandma's should we need to return quickly, Mar Hall ticked all our boxes for a cheeky weekend getaway without the wee one. Given our intentions - we wanted a bit of romance, sure, but moreover, we were there for good food, good wine and a good night's sleep - Mar Hall was the perfect antidote to the city.
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It's got that whole grand-country-house thing going on (the decor is rich, lush), playing host as it does to many a star coming to town in Glasgow (we missed Beyonce by a week). And the reasons celebrities choose Mar Hall to stay rather than somewhere in the city are likely much the same as ours - privacy, yet close to civilisation; class; and facilities aplenty (golf and a spa offering Darphin treatments) - and on those fronts, Mar Hall doesn't disappoint. And the staff, oh the staff, they were wonderful. We literally couldn't fault them. But - there's always a but - while the food was well-intentioned and generously proportioned, it lacked slightly in consistency (I'm being pernickety here); and, for a Scottish hotel, it would be nice to see more craft beer offerings. That said, we would return to Mar Hall in a heartbeat, whether it be for romance or, indeed, just a good night's sleep.
Ali Howard was a guest of Mar Hall Golf and Spa Resort, Earl of Mar Estate, Bishopton. B&B costs from £205 per room. Visit marhall.com or call 0141 812 9999.