Celebrate the perfect storybook Christmas at Gleneagles in Scotland

Amidst the Scottish Highlands of Perthshire, this heritage luxury hotel, spa and golfing destination does Christmas right. Read about it now and put it in your wishlist for 2022!

Christmas is all about tradition and if you don’t have your own, Gleaneagles in Scotland has enough history and atmosphere to lend yours the holiday glamour and gravitas you want.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
You can expect a warm Christmas welcome!
Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Since it opened in 1924, the stately Gleneagles has been heralded as the ‘Riviera in the Highlands’. Throughout the 1900s, it was a fixture on the high society calendar: the London ‘season’ was followed by yachting at Cowes, polo at Deauville and golf and grouse shooting at Gleneagles.

It has witnessed some serious history in the making too, with Commonwealth leaders coming together here in 1977 to sign the Gleneagles Agreement against South Africa’s apartheid regime, and global heads of government gathering here for the G8 Summit in 2005!

No wonder then, that the sprawling property oozes atmosphere from every nook. Picture sweeping staircases, panelled corridors, grand hallways, and chandeliered chambers. Combine this with all the elements of contemporary luxury, including a modern gym, pool, and spa, and you’ll have some idea what to expect.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Classic yet contemporary interiors with classy Christmas decorations. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Once part of Diageo, Gleneagles was purchased by Sharan Pasricha, founder of Ennismore, a London-based owner and developer of unique hospitality properties and experiences, who is also behind The Hoxton chain, in 2015. It then underwent a major four-year restoration and renovation that has brought it to the top of its form once more.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Spacious drawing room in a suite. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.
Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The retro accents are elegant and evocative. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Accommodation is spread across eight different categories of bedrooms and suites that are tastefully decorated and thoughtfully appointed so that you can enjoy the creature comforts whether you’re an individual, a couple or a multi-generational family. They also have private lodges if you’re seeking a secluded celebration. Luxury bath products, robes and WiFi, king-sized beds and pillow menus, they’re a given at the Glen.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Cosy bedroom in muted tones. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

The Bob & Cloche beauty lodge has beauty rooms with a striking Art Deco design, ivory leather chairs, velvet chaise lounges, vintage drinks trollies, and bespoke, golden-framed mirrors. The nail bar, pedicure room, hair salon and treatment chambers are dressed in soft pastels and golds.

The spa treatments feature Gleneagles oil blends of Scottish botanicals, Dr Barbara Sturm’s skincare philosophy, and customised spa experiences by Tata Harper. Special events such as three-day retreats by much-loved naturopath and nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson make a visit to Gleneagles even more tempting.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The salon exhibits Art Deco elements. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Gleneagles also boasts a clutch of great restaurants and bars. Fine dining can be savoured at iconic and newly refurbished The Strathearn as well as in Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s only two Michelin starred restaurant, where the kitchen is led by Head Chef Stephen McLaughlin, renowned for creating menus that combine the very best in French and Scottish cooking. We hear you have to sampled their Home-Smoked Scottish Lobster with a Lime and Herb Butter to have truly lived.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin Stars, Andrew Fairlie is a sumptuous setting for a celebratory meal. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.
Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
A Garden Café that is fresh with light and plants. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

More casual dining options include the Mediterranean vibe of the Birnam Brasserie, stone-baked pizzas, and tandoori delicacies at The Dormy, cheery repasts at the light-filled Garden Café, and seasonal afternoon tea at The Glendevon.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Winter spells the advent of the Gleneagles Cream Tea in The Glendevon. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.
Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The American Bar has all the opulence of the 1920s speakeasies. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

The American Bar is a throwback to a typical 1920s cocktail lounge, the sophisticated Century Bar has more than 300 whiskies to choose from, the craft beer and gin bar called Auchterarder 70 is a hit with guests and locals alike for its comfortable seating, the al fresco Blue Bar outside The Dormy is a great place to warm up with a cigar and a dram, while you can wrap up in a cosy blanket to binge on bubbly on the terrace of The Garden Bar. Apart from these, there are several private dining and banquet spaces, each with a unique story and aesthetic, where you can host a special gathering.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The Parlour is one of the many spectacular spaces where you can host a grand table. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Putt naturally

Even before it started to operate as a hotel, Gleneagles made sporting history exactly a hundred years ago (1921) when it hosted the first international match between American and British professional golfers, in what is regarded as the precursor to The Ryder Cup. Today, with three championship golf courses (The King’s Course, their James Braid-designed masterpiece, The Queen’s Course, and a contemporary Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course) plus one nine-hole course, Gleneagles is one of greatest names in the world of golf and home to the PGA National Academy for Scotland.

These 54 holes and extensive practise facilities, including driving range, short game area and two putting areas, offer a world-class golfing experience to a broad spectrum of enthusiasts, from novices through to the finest players in the world.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Gleneagles is famous for having Scotland’s three best golf courses. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Festivities at Gleneagles

They really pull all out all the stops when it comes to the festive season. From brisk trail walks, ice skating and countryside adventures by day, to roaring log fires and decadent dining by night, the festive season transforms Gleneagles into a magical winter hideaway and a cosy home from home.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Snow makes it even more magical. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

They say that over the festive season, the Gleneagles team cracks open nearly 5,000 bottles of Champagne, prepares over 3,500 mince pies, and the pastry chefs whip their way through 1.5 tonnes of sugar and two tonnes of chocolate, to fill the hotel with seasonal cheer and help create memories that they hope will last a lifetime.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The celebrations are already afoot! Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

The lead up to Christmas starts with the famous Gleneagles Cream Tea, a high tea of pastries and savouries served in Glendevon. Apart from the towering Christmas tree outside, which takes thousands of lights and a whole week to decorate, and the luxury wining and dining (there’s definitely a lot of that!), the hotel has several experiences that you can indulge in.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The famous Gleneagles Christmas tree. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Kids can visit and pet Santa’s reindeer near Laich Loch on the hotel grounds, join Henry, the resident Labrador, on a bracing walk around the estate, and have a chance to groom and tack up a pony, cuddle and have a riding lesson too on an Own a Pony Afternoon, where even grownups can meet the equine family at The Stables, get to know their food habits and different personalities, and how the equestrian team looks after them.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
The Own a Pony Afternoon is a very popular feature among kids. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Children can also learn how to climb a tree, master a Jacob’s ladder, and do a 100-metre zip wire back down (all with a harness and ropes) in the Trail Yard or enjoy a Christmassy art and craft session indoors. They can have fun building gingerbread houses, take part in an outdoor treasure hunt, watch a Christmas pantomime, receive gifts from Santa, and then end the evening toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate. The festive fun for all continues on ice, where you can learn from former Olympic coaches and also watch European and World Championship skaters perform.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Making the gingerbread house is a labour of love. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Other opportunities for family bonding include a green screen photo booth, screenings of family movies in the parlour, an omelette challenge in the scullery, and fireworks on the lawn. Adults can indulge in tastings of rare malts and Scotch whiskies, wine cellar tours with their sommeliers, a Champagne reception, elegant Christmas Eve dinner, traditional Christmas Day lunch, Boxing Day clay pigeon shoot, cosy Curry Night, and a celebratory Boxing Day dinner. And if that isn’t enough, there’s always Hogmanay, where you can bid the old year goodbye and ring in 2022 in true Scottish luxury!

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Charming fireplaces with log fires bring storybook winters alive. Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

Activities abound

Beyond the Christmas themed fun, there’s a lot more that you can do too. Even if you aren’t a pro, you’re welcome to perfect your Golf swing with a basic video analysis using GASP software. You can learn Tennis with an instructor, shooting with an interactive simulator at The Shooting Lodge, and using a high-powered, precision telescopic air rifle at The Shooting School.

You can even have a chance to know more about the world of performance with a professional coaching your dancing, singing and comedy skills at the Gleneagles Talent Academy. Their complimentary adventures include gym and pool access, visits to the aqua thermal suite, Pashley bikes on which you can explore the countryside and a pitch and putt space.

Christmas, gleneagles, scotland, ennismore, uk travel, uk
Taste of a Scottish Christmas! Image: Courtesy Gleneagles.

A singular malt

And if you’ve joked during your stay that you’d like to bottle up this Christmas spirit and take it home with you, you actually can! Gleneagles has worked closely with Bob Dalgarno, the Whisky Maker over at their neighbour The Glenturret, regarded as Scotland’s oldest working distillery (it was established in 1763!), to create a special 11-year-old single malt.

With a focus on their shared locality and bringing alive the true spirit of what they both represent — Scottish at heart, exceptional quality, and unstuffy luxury — The Glenturret produces 750 bottles of this special limited-edition whisky a year. It has sweet tasting notes of toffee, cinnamon, and vanilla alongside aromatic flavours of dark spice, rich fruit cake and warm ginger, reminiscent of fireside evenings at Gleneagles. Sounds like Christmas in a bottle alright!

Read more.

Where to go this December: 25 Christmas getaways around the world!

The most magical Christmas markets in Europe!

Christmas movies of 2021 that will make you want to travel!