I spent a night as a guest of the 3-star Tinto Hotel located in the heart of Southern Lanarkshire near the small town of Biggar. The Borders of Scotland are often overlooked by people who concentrate on the Highlands but this area, which includes the Southern Uplands, has some stunning and spectacular scenery itself and a wealth of historic and cultural sites to visit.
At the moment the hotel is being upgraded to a four star room by room. Consequently not all the rooms have a walk in shower and some still need you to step into the bath. So if you have mobility problems you are advised to contact the hotel first with your preference.
The hotel is very welcoming, and all the staff members exude a friendly, professional image from the moment you arrive. Most of the hotel’s rooms are located on the first floor although three ground floor rooms, one with a walk in shower, are also available.
Built in 1913 as a railway hotel there is no gym, pool, jacuzzi, sauna or huge screens to watch sport. However the hotel is really an ideal place to spend a two or three night midweek stay exploring this fascinating area.
Much of the original decor remains including the sweeping staircase and wonderful stained glass on the landing. Also the wooden and brass letter box for guest’s mail and to my mind the best of the wooden telephone kiosks inside the lobby named for ‘Guests’ and ‘Public’ use.
I keep using the word hotel but Brian the very helpful manager was at pains to tell me they really prefer to be known as a home from home where people can come and stay in a relaxing surroundings. There is five-acre garden area for you stroll in and take a beer overlooking the hills and dog friendly rooms are available.
The beauty of this hotel is that you are under an hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow with all their attractions, the border towns such a Peebles and Selkirk await you and even the magnificent sculptures of the Kelpies and The Falkirk Wheel are with easy reach.
I would also strongly advise you to buy an ordnance survey map and explore the local hills. The small and in some cases very narrow roads that criss-cross them have bubbling streams full of upland birds such as dippers and whinchats of and most time the the only evidence of people you’ll see are the numbered sheep grudgingly moving out of your way.
These roads are very narrow but the views they offer are staggering. We found one that had three lakes and a zigzag bend road that plummeted down to a long finger like lake below that would not have been out of place in the Alps.
Our evening meal was delightful. Well-presented and tasting really good. Being in Scotland, I went for the haggis starter and I was not disappointed.
You are not going to get five star luxury from this hotel but what you will get is a midweek stay at a place that is well positioned now, as a cost effective alternative to high priced country house hotels.
It is also positioned to explore the heritage, history and scenery of a part of a Scotland that is not really that well known. I’d go quick before that changes.