THE stunning results of the multi-million-pound renovation of the Perthshire hotel bought by Andy Murray will be revealed today when it opens to paying customers.
Since the Wimbledon champion announced he had bought Cromlix Hotel, near his home town of Dunblane, for a reported £1.9 million last year, interest
has been expressed from places such as Russia, China, America, Canada, and Australia, as well as Europe and the rest of the UK.
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Before it had even opened it had featured in Russian Vogue's list of top venues to visit in 2014, been booked for exclusive use for the duration of the Ryder Cup
at Gleneagles in September and is almost full for Christmas
and New Year, when three-day packages start at £1800.
Murray will be flying to Italy this week to prepare for a Davis Cup quarter-final on Friday, but the Edwardian mansion opens for business today under the management of ICMI, which
also runs seven other luxury properties in Scotland.
Rather like the Wimbledon champion, Cromlix is not flashy or bling, although there are
signs of star quality. One of the rooms is named after Murray's friend Sir Alex Ferguson, while another is named after 007 star Sir Sean Connery.
The hotel is restrained and discreet, yet honed to deliver
a powerful hit of Scottish tradition mixed with a lightness of touch.
This is most evident in the new extended conservatory lounge bar and restaurant, which offers elevated
views across the extensive garden grounds and over two tennis courts in the purple
and green livery of Wimbledon. This is the only visible direct reference to Murray in the entire hotel.
His fiancee Kim Sears, pictured right with Murray, has been liaising with the Paris-based designer Kathleen Fraser in choosing the colour-scheme
for the hotel's interiors, which feature muted modern shades
of stone, grey-green and duck-
egg blue with highlights of red, silver and gold. Luxurious textured soft furnishings are mixed with Scots antiques, open fireplaces and state-of-the-art technology. The original chapel is also a highlight.
The 10 bedrooms and five suites are named after notable Scots both living and dead. They are the Inglis, named after Elsie Inglis, the Scots doctor and suffragist, and the Eden, after the family who owned Cromlix for four generations and still own much of the estate. There is also the Barrie, the Bowes-Lyon, the Bruce, the Burns, the Carnegie, the Connery, the Conan Doyle, the Ferguson, the Fleming, the Hoy, the Mackintosh, the Stewart and the Wallace.
Rooms are finished in high-end luxury furnishings, from feather pillows and thick Egyptian cotton bedsheets to hand-painted free-standing baths and televisions disguised as wall mirrors. Complimentary guest sweets are by local chocolatiers Cocoa Mountain; toileteries are by Arran Aromatics, in Cromlix's bespoke bergamot and ginger fragrance.
The all-important wow-factor is in the lounge bar, where pale blue wash walls feature gold hand-painted peacocks and blooms to re-create oriental chinoiserie. This leads to the main 35-cover Chez Roux restaurant, where the Edinburgh-based interior designer Ian Smith has chosen
a bright, intense colour palette of apple green and turquoise upholstery, teamed with pale walls and cream polished stone floors.
Diners can watch the chefs at work in the large open-plan finishing kitchen under the watchful eye of executive head chef Darin Campbell, who has been recruited from Glasgow's Bistro du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens.
The dining room also offers ringside views of the newly planted kitchen garden,
where a large range of edible flowers, herbs, beans, peas, salad greens and vegetables will be grown for inclusion on the
hotel's five reasonably-priced Chez Roux menus, ranging from a daily set lunch and dinner
from £26.50 per person, a three-course private dining menu from £25 to £80 per person, an a la carte, and lounge and bar menus. They have been devised by the legendary French chef Albert Roux.
There is a also a one-room Gate Lodge suite. Prices for bed and breakfast range from £250 to £595 in the high season.
Murray has not yet seen the finished hotel but he and Ms Sears will visit on April 23.
His mother Judy, who has overseen the renovation project, said: "It has been interesting for me to learn something that is nothing to do with tennis, and
a very different experience from hitting a wee yellow ball around between white lines. When
Andy and Kim see it, they will be bowled over."
CATE DEVINE'S REVIEW OF CROMLIX HOUSE
A Loch Awe pike mousse with squat lobster glaze, a Scottish seafood stew with cider and barley and a sharp-sweet citrus panacotta made for a delicious dinner courtesy of Chez Roux, who are behind the food at Andy Murray's new hotel.
For me, however, the best part of my visit as part of the media launch at Cromlix was breakfast. Served in the stunning new restaurant overlooking the garden grounds, kitchen garden and, yes, tennis courts, my companions ordered a selection of dishes from full traditional Scottish, with haggis and black pudding, to porridge brulee with whisky cream and free-range omelettes with herbs.
While we waited on the hot food, we munched on delicious aged Earl Grey prunes, vanilla-spiced apricots and poached pears. For my main course, however, I chose the French toast with fresh fruit, though I asked for the accompanying cream Chantilly to be withheld. As soon as I ordered, word went back to the kitchen for one "Pain perdu sans creme". A charming reminder that at Cromlix, the food is classical French - even if the menu of locally-sourced ingredients describes everything in English.
Elsewhere, the vibe is a blend of traditional and modern Scottish. I was given the smallest room in the entire hotel, The Wallace (from £250 B&B), which did still include a large bathroom with glazed walk-in shower. It felt spacious and cosy at the same time compared to some of the much bigger suites.
I slept soundly with my window open and woke to find the morning sun illuminating the wall of ancient trees that surrounded my room, enveloping me in the exquisite hush of sheer luxury. Sometimes small can be really beautiful.