GOLF. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Four words that sum up my mantra for life.
When my wife Isla came up with the idea of traveling to the golfing paradise of AyrshireI didn’t have to think long about an overnight stay.
Our mini-retreat destination was the Old Loans Inn, just a short par 5 course from the famous golf town of Troon.
The Old Loans Inn is one of three hotels in the area owned by SimpsInns. This is a former country inn that has been tastefully converted into a cozy and comfortable 20 room boutique hotel and restaurant.
There is a real golf theme throughout, from the mix of memorabilia and photographs lining the walls of the restaurant and bar to the bedrooms, each taking their name from one of the many quality courses on the doorstep.
Dundonald Links, on the outskirts of Irvine, was our chosen course out of SimpsInns’ three Stay & Play packages. Gailes Links and Western Gailes, both of which have hosted a number of prestigious professional and amateur eventsare the others and just a seven iron away.
Thanks to a £25million refurbishment, Dundonald Links has come a long way since being taken over by Loch Lomond in 2003 to offer its members a place to play in the winter.
Designed by renowned American architect Kyle Phillips, the already excellent layout has only a few minor flaws here and there.
The second hole is a nice dog leg par 4 to the right onto an elevated green. The third and 14th are classic risk-reward par-fives, while the devilish 16th — a strong par-4 that stretches from the tips to 470 yards — is well deserving of its Stroke Index 1 status.
After a quick refreshment on the 19th, we made the short journey to the Gailes Hotel to eat at the Si! to play R’n’R. Spa.
Guests of the Old Loans Inn and its sister hotel Waterside in West Kilbride have full access to the facilities which include a luxurious thermal suite.
Choose from a bespoke vitality pool, traditional wood paneled sauna and invigorating atmosphereSpace to relieve the stress and strain of a frustrating day on the golf course.
It is claimed this heat andExperience “calms the mind and invigorates the senses.” Maybe so, but I can also vouch that it really whets the appetite.
With rumbling bellies we retired to the Old Loans Inn, where manager Gordon and his team look forward to the warmest of welcomes.
Once settled into our room, a spacious double room with views of Arran in the distance, we were quickly back and off to dinner in no time.
The choice on the menu is eclectic, with a fair share of traditional Scottish, Mediterranean and Far Eastern flavours, all at fair prices.
I ordered the dish of the day which featured crab and chorizo croquettes, followed by a surf ‘n’ turf consisting of a tender 7-ounce fillet steak with garlic tiger prawns.
My wife chose the garlic and parsley baked bread to share and then the crunchy halloumi burger with mashed avocado.
Everything was cooked to perfection and promptly served by the attentive staff. There is also a good selection of wines to go with any dish you choose.
For dessert we were drawn to the mighty Millionaire Sundae, but even with two spoons we couldn’t get to the bottom.
SIMPSINNS ‘Stay & Play’ golf packages to enjoy at any of their three hotels in Ayrshire.
These are the Gailes Hotel & Spa (Irvine), the Old Loans Inn (Troon) and the Waterside Hotel (West Kilbride) – including overnight dining, B&B accommodation and the opportunity to play at one of three links courses: Dundonald Links, Gailes Links and Western Gailes, 60 ball basket at Ayrshire’s only Top Tracer driving range and a complimentary drink at GG’s Sports Lounge.
Costs from £210 per person per night. See simpsinns.com
The Old Loans Inn was recently voted Best Small Hotel in Scottish Golf Tourism 2023.
It’s easy to see why it’s such a hit with like-minded people who know Mark Twain was talking nonsense when he said golf was a rotten walk.