Hello dear reader,
Mr Vohn and I were recently invited to stay at Duck’s at Kilspindie House in Aberlady, a delightful coastal village just to the East of Edinburgh. Kilspindie House was originally built in 1638 and, although modernised throughout, still retains some period features and that feeling of having stepped back in time.
There are several pretty outdoor sitting areas: a large area in front of the hotel, a small area at the back and a lovely central courtyard, all suitable for al-fresco dining or drinks, surrounded by flowerbeds which are starting to look beautiful with their summer perennials. We sat out in the courtyard after dinner and were even offered blankets for our knees, such is the warmth and thoughtfulness of the service at Duck’s. One of the owners joined us for a chat and I discovered the origins of the name of the hotel – Duck’s seemed such a strange name to choose. It turns out that owners Fiona and Malcolm are actually Mr and Mrs Duck – aha – it all makes sense now – Duck is their surname!
They are The Duck’s at Kilspindie House!
Our room is an en-suite double and is a decent size. It required a bit of airing when we first walked in but once the window had been open for a few minutes, it was fine. Airing the rooms perhaps needs to be added to someone’s list of morning tasks.
The bed is a good size – wider than a double but does look suspiciously lumpy. Concerned, I sit on it but am delighted to find a firmish and very comfortable mattress. It turns out that the lumpy-look is the down-filled duvet which is actually as light as a feather!
The decor is fresh and clean with lovely reproduction furniture in keeping with the history of the house.
It is wonderful to have a proper dressing table…
…and nice to have a full-length mirror in addition to the dressing table’s half-length mirror!
Mr Vohn is delighted to find that the flatscreen TV has more channels than we do at home, so makes us cuppas and settles down to watch. Saucers or coasters for tea and coffee would be a good addition as I worry about leaving a stain.
I test out the free wi-fi whilst enjoying my cuppa and find it is a surprisingly decent speed.
The bathroom is quite basic and old-fashioned but is perfectly adequate.
I am delighted to find a bath and a shower, as so many en-suites have one or the other.
I immediately fill up the bath with wonderfully hot water and take a long soak. The toiletries provided are very pleasant and, I am amazed to find, suitable for very sensitive skin like mine. This is most unusual as I normally have to avoid such things in hotels. It is a thoughtful touch! Many more toiletry items are available from reception should you want them.
The soft massive king-sized bath sheets are wonderful and I wrap myself up and snooze on the very comfortable bed.
I’m sad that there’s no rubber duck in the bathroom to fit in with the duck theme from the hotel’s name. However this is more than made up for throughout the rest of the hotel which is a treasure trove of ducks hiding all over the place. I’m struck by what a fun treasure hunt it would be to find them all & when I mention this to one of the owners, it turns out previous guests have already had lots of fun doing this. Here’s a selection of a few of the duckies I found…
I happened to remark upon one particular duck in the hotel bar, as I love carved wood and this one looked so tall and elegant for a duck…
It turned out to not only be a beautiful duck but a game too! It is the putting duck and, if you get yourself to the hotel bar for last orders, you may get to have a go yourself! I don’t want to give the game away but ladies, don’t wear your heels – you’ll need to stand on a bar stool!
Speaking of putting, the other theme to be found throughout the hotel is golf. This coastline in East Lothian is known as “Scotland’s Golf Coast” and there are an amazing 19 golf courses, many of them championship courses, within 15 minutes of the hotel! The nearby town of Musselburgh has one of the oldest courses in the world, where golf has been played since 1672!
Golf-mad owner Malcolm has even designed special golfing packages at the hotel and can make all the arrangements for you including caddies, green fees and equipment. He has his own special guide to all the local courses, including information on all the latest tournaments and local golfing news – check it out on the Duck’s website.
If golfing is not your thing, fear not – there are a million and one other things to do in the local area. The UK’s oldest nature reserve is here along with Sites of Special Scientific Interest for geology, ornithology and botany. Scotland’s National Museum of Flight is nearby and very proud to have Concorde on display, not to mention an amazing collection of fighter jets. There are also sandy beaches, historic castles and historic towns with lovely shopping areas. The hotel itself is also packed full of games and books to while away a few hours.
Of course, one of the most important things to do here is to dine – Duck’s is after all called “a restaurant with rooms” – so it is the restaurant that is highlighted as outstanding.
The restaurant is unfortunately closed whilst we are visiting but I am granted the honour of being allowed a sneak preview, as it is all set up ready for its grand re-opening later in the week. It is an intimate dining room with space for ten tables and a traditional open fire-place. The restaurant was previously awarded 2 AA rosettes, and the plan is that the new restaurant will be of a much higher level of dining, so you can expect great things from the newly designed menu.
The side plates, by the fabulous Emma Bridgewater, are such a lovely touch, staying on-trend with the duck-theme!
As the restaurant was closed, we were invited to dine in Donald’s bistro – more on that in a later article. If the bistro menu is anything to go by, the new restaurant menu is going to be spectacular!
I had a fantastic nights sleep. The bed was exceptionally comfortable and it was a luxurious treat to sleep under a down-filled duvet, warm and soft but so light and gentle on my aching joints.
So to breakfast. Breakfast is served just off the courtyard in a lovely area full of natural light – such a great way to start the day. This is where they also serve teas and coffees throughout the day. The usual offering of cereal, toast and fruit juice is available. It is also lovely to see a full and varied fruit bowl, which we are invited to help ourselves to.
The breakfast menu is fantastic with a wide variety to chose from, including continental meats and cheeses, granola, yoghurts, fruit salad, porridge and pancakes. You can have your eggs scrambled with smoked salmon or as Eggs Benedict, Royale or Florentine. I dither over my decision and Mr Vohn laughs at me, knowing that I will end up ordering the traditional Scottish cooked breakfast which, of course, I do! Even here there are options and additional offerings and we can have our choice of eggs and the option of black pudding or haggis. The toast arrives and it is exceptional and we end up ordering a second rack! The coffee is good and I manage to drink nearly two pots of it by myself!
Breakfast arrives and it looks stunning. So sorry – I was too busy munching to remember to take a photo – imagine a fabulous array of grilled and fried items! The dish is given height with a strategically placed potato rosti and, although nice for a change, both Mr Vohn and I end up lamenting that a potato scone would have been better! I guess we are just very traditional at heart when it comes to breakfasting! It was all delicious and Mr Vohn was particularly impressed by the haggis and black pudding – yes, he was kindly offered both and jumped at the chance! I particularly liked the sausages, which is unusual for me as I’m more of a bacon-girl. They were so good I asked about the suppliers and it turns out they come from one of the great estates of Scotland, the Buccleuch Estate. This is food-sourcing of the highest quality!
On the front on the breakfast menu is a photo of Malcolm’s dad – check out his first name – yes he was the original Donald Duck! There is even a birth certificate in the hotel bar to prove it!
Malcolm and Fiona have been at Ducks for ten years this week and are loving the challenge of developing it whilst still retaining the traditional character. They have transformed Kilspindie House into a joyful place to stay filled with charm, character and warmth. There are many more plans and ideas on the way. Happy anniversary Malcolm & Fiona – keep up the great work!
Here’s a little slide-show video of some of the ducks at Ducks at Kilspindie House.
Vohn & Mr Vohn stayed as guests of Duck’s at Kilspindie House for dinner, bed and breakfast.
All opinions are our own and honest and Vohn was not asked to write a positive review.
Duck’s at Kilspindie House
Aberlady, East Lothian