February is traditionally the month of love… or so the greetings card companies want you to believe.

For those of us who’d rather avoid the cheesy teddy bears and cliched chocolates, the new Date & Dine package at the Dalmahoy Hotel near Edinburgh might be ideal.

Offering couples a chance to break from their everyday routine (without breaking the bank) the package includes an overnight stay in the hotel, a three course meal and a bottle of champagne on arrival.

The Dalmahoy certainly has an air of romance about it. Built in the 1720s, in the classically beautiful baronial style, the house was soon acquired by the Douglas family. George Douglas was in love with Mary, Queen of Scots –said to have been a visitor to Dalmahoy– and when she was later imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle, the Douglas family came to her aid. Like all tragic love stories, an unhappy ending followed as George was banished for concocting a plan to free her.


Hoping for a less dramatic, but equally romantic trip to The Dalmahoy, we jumped in the car and drove the short distance from Glasgow to the hotel, located near Ratho. We were swiftly checked in and had our bags taken for us to the room, one of the junior suites that occupies a corner turret of the hotel.

It was spacious and elegantly decorated, with a Rituals Ayurverda gift set left on the (super king-size) bed as part of the Date & Dine package. But before diving into the products, we headed to the Dalmahoy country club to try out the sauna, steam room and swimming pool. I must give particular mention to the changing rooms, which were impeccably clean and felt much more high-end than a lot of spas I’ve visited previously.

I enjoyed a luxurious shower using the Rituals products and then got ready to enjoy the other key draw of the Date & Dine package…a bottle of Moet champagne. The champagne is placed in your room, ready to enjoy at your leisure, and it was a real treat to drink something I usually only glance at enviously in the supermarket.

Somewhat squiffy from the champagne, we got ready for dinner. As part of the Date & Dine package guests get a three-course meal served in the Pentland Restaurant, where dishes include fresh produce from Dalmahoy’s very own kitchen garden. I opted for haggis croquettes to start while my partner chose the cured salmon. Given it was served with blini and caviar, I thought it would be a small portion of salmon – we were pleasantly surprised to see a huge chunk of fish come out, and even more pleased to discover how tasty it was.


For mains we opted for the chicken schnitzel and grilled sirloin steak. Both were delicious and filled us up to the extent we thought we couldn’t manage dessert… yet valiantly managed some nonetheless. The baked New York cheesecake was divine, and our delightful server Catherine was more than happy to adapt the chocolate mousse (ordinarily paired with pistachio cake) in order to cater to my nut allergy. Full marks all round.

After a few more drinks in the cosy cocktail bar, I flopped onto our huge bed and enjoyed one of the best nights’ sleep I’ve had in ages. Breakfast the next morning was hearty and filling and we checked out with plans to book a return stay as soon as we could. Who needs chocolates and flowers?