Slaley Hall: Gateway to… Edinburgh?

Slaley Hall is revelling in its new-found – and somewhat surprising – status as a gateway to Edinburgh.

Sitting in 1,000 acres of Northumberland moorland and forest, the QHotels resort is around two hours from the Scottish capital, yet feedback from overseas visitors suggests many are combining a stay at the Hexham venue with golf in the Edinburgh region.

With the likes of St Andrews just 90 minutes from Edinburgh it’s no surprise that overseas golfers use the historic city as a base for a golf break in the Home of Golf. But what has taken Slaley Hall officials unawares is the news that increasing numbers are staying at their four-star resort as part of a two-centre trip.

Slaley Hall’s head of golf, Jonny Mould, explained: “We carried out a feedback review meeting recently and were quite surprised to see the number of overseas guests who said their visit to Slaley Hall, was part of a two- or even three-centre golf break.

“The majority were heading north of the border to the Edinburgh and Fife regions. Some had come north from airports south of here – London, Birmingham; a few had flown into Newcastle; and one or two into Manchester or Liverpool. What they had in common was that Slaley Hall was one of a number of stopping-off points for them.

“It would seem the resort’s close proximity to the Scottish border finds favour with many as it means they can stay here and then jump in their hire car and be in Scotland in 45 minutes. And when you come from somewhere like the USA, a 45-minute drive feels like nothing …

“In future we’re hoping to be able to direct those visitors to the new golf packages available at our RBH properties in the Scottish capital, such as Courtyard by MarriottDoubletree by Hilton Edinburgh CityCourtyard by Marriott Edinburgh West, and Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh City.”

Managed by RBH, the UK’s leading independent hotel management company, Slaley Hall was voted ‘best golf hotel/resort in the north of England’ for the fourth successive year in the 2018 Today’s Golfer Travel Awards.

It is set in 1,000 acres of Northumberland moorland and forest. It is a magnificent four-star hotel in an elegant Edwardian mansion, with two challenging championship courses – the Hunting and the Priestman – which have played host to no fewer than 18 European Tour and European Senior Tour events.

The 7,000-yard, par-72 Hunting, designed by Dave Thomas, has lush sweeping fairways, streams, lakes, towering trees and banks of rhododendrons – but, aesthetics aside, it will catch out the unwary. Well-placed bunkers and tricky greens make this USGA standard course a real challenge. The quality of Slaley Hall’s elder layout is illustrated by the fact the course is often dubbed ‘The Augusta of the North’.

It recently swapped over front and back nines so members and visitors get to play the course in the same order as the professionals during championships. The former 10th hole now provides the start of the round which means the potentially card-wrecking ninth hole is now the last, in order to provide golfers with a more enjoyable and smoother start.

The Priestman course was designed by Neil Coles and opened in 1999. Beautifully maintained, the course has matured magnificently. It sits on the west side of the estate, with panoramic views of the Tyne Valley and some daunting water features, and wind can be a factor on a course which hosts regularly European seniors’ events.

As the largest golf resort operator in the UK, RBH manages nine championship and tournament golf courses across the UK, hosting events from the European Tour, European Seniors Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA.