Scotland's Kilspindie House Hotel is a worthy retreat after a day on East Lothian links such as Muirfield, Gullane and North Berwick.
ABERLADY, SCOTLAND - In Scotland, a golfer's accommodation tastes are often quite simple: a friendly pub, good food and a comfortable bed at a reasonable price.
In East Lothian just east of Edinburgh, keep an eye out for ducks along the A198 Coastal Route. If you see them, you've arrived at owner Malcom Duck's modest, welcoming and affordable Kilspindie House Hotel in Aberlady.
The house was built in 1638, and together with a neighboring school was converted into a hotel in 1970. Duck bought the property several years ago and has been steadily renovating and refurbishing guest rooms and facilities. Duck also brought his award-winning restaurant to this small village in East Lothian, just down the street from historic Kilspindie Golf Club and Craigielaw Golf Club.
Duck's vision for the inn is of a cozy, comfortable spot that caters to golfers' tastes (and if you meet Duck, you'll quickly learn he spends enough "research time" on the area's many golf courses to know those tastes). That makes good business sense given the wealth of golf courses close by, including the famed North Berwick, Muirfield and Gullane's three courses.
Golf course architect Tom Doak is a regular guest, staying here when overseeing progress on his design at the new Renaissance Club just a few minutes down the road.
"Kilspindie House was a home away from home for me while we worked on The Renaissance Club," said Doak. "A perfect small pub on the main floor, good food and a simple but comfortable bed. Who needs more when you are going to be out on the links until dark anyway?"
Duck is a member of Doak's Renaissance Club. While the course is currently private (open only to prospective members and guests of members), he can arrange a select amount of tee times for guests of the inn - something even many tour operators can't offer.
The beach is just a short walk away, and close by are such attractions as the Aberlady Bay bird sanctuary, the Glenkinchie whisky distillery and Scottish Seabird Centre.
If you manage to squeak into the Old Course in St. Andrews' daily ballot, it's just a 90-minute drive away.
Eating and drinking at Duck's Restaurant & Pub in the Kilspindie House Hotel
On busy nights the bustling little pub here is filled with locals and inn guests sitting shoulder to shoulder. Golf collectibles from around the world (and all sorts of little ducks) fill the walls. On tap you'll find Deuchars and Belhaven Best, among other beers; there are also more than 50 whiskys. The wine list is among the area's best, as Duck's previous restaurant in Edinburgh was a mainstay on the Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence list.
The food is delicious but affordable (you can have an appetizer and entree for under 20 pounds, easy). They've also got a side room just off the main restaurant and bar, should larger groups feel the need to get a little rowdy.
And for hospitality, here's a nice touch: If you're not staying at the Kilspindie House Hotel but are in nearby Gullane and want to have dinner or drinks, just call the inn and someone will pick you up and drive you back at evening's end.
It's a wonderful service, since the last thing you want to think about during your golf trip is navigating back home after a few pints.
Room rates vary but range between 35-75 pounds per person per night and include a full Scottish breakfast.