What do you do when you’re at a hotel renowned for its golf course when you’re not a golfer? In the case of St Andrews, the answer is really quite a lot…

While the Fairmont St Andrews has some rather obvious appeal to a particular type of enthusiast, there is much more to the hotel than the golf course. While it’s also the perfect spot from which to explore the charming town of St Andrews (and a little more on that later), there’s more than enough to enjoy without ever leaving the grounds.

The food options, as you’d expect from somewhere with access to the famed “Scottish larder”, are excellent. The St Andrews Bar and Grill celebrates that larder and surroundings to great effect, from the water – the seafood bar features fresh lobster from St Andrews Bay – to the land, with the freshest and finest of Scottish ingredients and produce. The restaurant’s Josper, the celebrated Spanish brand of charcoal grills, also gets the most out of the large selection of Scottish steaks. Starters of Barbary Duck and Crail Crab Salad were excellent, the initial reaction to what appeared small portion sizes rapidly quashed by flavour and freshness of the mouthwatering ingredients at those dishes’ core.

With the sun setting across the Bay and St Andrews town, the setting became romantic, with views as fine as the dining, from the sheer beefy perfection of Chateaubriand (alongside a tremendous Malbec) to the “caramel banana” confection recommended by the excellent staff.

The hotel also contains an Italian eatery, billed as the “heart of the resort”, perhaps because of its energy and family-friendly nature, an amiable, casual surprise in a hotel of this stature, and recommended for the antipasti and gourmet pizza. Should you need a break from families – yours or other people’s – the Cocktail Terrace, at the grand entrance of the hotel, is a fine escape. The list ticks all the expected boxes, but the Kristy’s Garden would be highly recommended as a summer refresher. 

If you need to unwind beyond the capabilities of the cocktails, the Spa is everything you would expect from a hotel of this stature: spacious hot tubs, steam room and sauna, and the full body massage, at the hands of a thorough, highly experienced and friendly masseuse was everything it needed to be. The Covid measures were also precisely observed, adding to the feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.

Beyond the hotel, there are many, many pleasures to be found in St Andrews. The 5km sea walk, from the Fairmont to St Andrews is recommended, and worth the sore legs (if only as that justifies more spa time). The views are spectacular, as the path meanders between the sea and rocks.

While there, the ruins of the city’s castle, at the north of St Andrews, is also worth a look, particularly with the the audio tours available. For something less historical, and further justification of the sea walk, there’s also Janetta’s Gelateria, the world famous ice cream shop in a town with an entirely justifiable reputation for good food. Oh, and there’s golf too. Should you need it…