During our recent stay at the Turnberry Hotel, I have to say that we didn’t want to leave, as we had the most glorious weather all the time we were there, which makes any holiday a fantastic experience. All in all, I have to say we truly enjoyed our stay there, and as we had bought a package deal, which was a really good bargain, it made it more enjoyable. Also the lady at the Hotel who made all the arrangements for our package, was so helpful and considerate, that the booking service was nothing short of excellent. Thank you Jill.
This is an older hotel, over one hundred years old, sort of in the old grand Edwardian hotel tradition like Gleneagles, also very golf orientated because of the attached wonderful courses. I’ve also been at Gleneagles, so I had a comparison to work with. Classed as a luxury hotel, the Turnberry has a lot of great amenities attached to it, but most of the clientele, at least when we were there, were golfers.
Years of being in the tourist trade, being at the receiving end most of the time in my job, I have gained vast knowledge in what people expect, what ticks them off, etc. When I go anywhere, the same training comes in to my expectations, even if I try and switch it off, so I always try to see it from not just my point of view and write a review accordingly.
As you turn into the sweeping drive, the hotel awaits you in a perfect setting on the hill, and you really do feel you are going somewhere special, because it’s a spectacular sight, with the clubhouse and golf course on your other side. We arrived on a perfect day, and the effect was nothing less that stunning.
Our arrival was met with a charming concierge in tartan trews, whose name I believe was Richard (apologies if not) There was also another concierge on duty at other times, equally nice and friendly called Robert. (Robert, if Moira ever wins that lottery, she’s coming back right away, and we will be following her)
That first day the concierge met our car and he escorted us to the front desk and waited till Lorna (?) could check us in and give us details of our stay, restaurants open, etc. She was charming and hospitable, and wanted to ensure we had everything we’d need. So, we had a very good first impression. Our bags were taken up by a lovely young man in a kilt, also charming and helpful. We had booked a deluxe room two floors up from the main floor, and it was large and spacious, the bathroom huge, and the view from all the windows could not be faulted, as all we saw was the front lawns, the golf course, the sand and sea beyond and a blue sky with not a cloud. We were hooked right there with just the view. The computer/tv monitor had a personal welcome message on it….nice touch. The room was large, with a king size bed, two armchairs, and table, desk, and a TV stand, cupboard, with coffee making, etc., and fridge underneath, but it was the view that held us. It was a little while later when we’d been on tour round the place, and came down to earth somewhat that we really took a good look at the room. It was big, much bigger than the Gleneagles room by far, but on closer inspection you could see some small things that a luxury hotel could have improved on. Yes the decoration was a bit smudged, marked and faded in spots, and the carpet definitely had seen better days, as it had some stains on, and a huge spot could be seen where at one time there must have been a huge piece of furniture, that left a “tide mark” all around it’s sides on the carpet, but overall, it was okay for the price we paid…….and it was spotlessly clean and very well laid out. The bed was a king size, good mattress, and pillows and quilt, and very comfy. However, the quilt in this wonderful weather we seemed to have brought with us, was very hot, even with all the windows open. Most hotels have a spare blanket along with pillows in the closet, but there wasn’t a blanket at Turnberry. It would have been nice and handy to have one, so you could get rid of the quilt and have a light cover if needed. I suppose you could ask for it, but frankly at three in the morning when you wake up roasting under the quilt, it’s not much of an option.
Tea and coffee available in the room, with kettle, etc., but no cookies, not even two little shortbread fingers…..tut tut, this is Scotland. Even the B&B’s we stayed in on the way up had a couple of biscuits to have with a cuppa’tea, and I did expect such a touch in this hotel. However, there are cutbacks going on everywhere, and this may be one of them. …..in fact the hotel is up for sale, so maybe that has something to do with cutting things back, but come on Turnberry, shortbread in the room with tea or coffee would be nice.
The Fridge is attached to a computer with instructions that if you take anything out, you pay, even if only to replace it for a while with things of your own, so we didn’t even try removing anything to cool down the wine we had with us, because there is no way we’d ever pay the prices in a mini bar. The fact that you couldn’t take anything out, even to put it back at the end of the stay was a big drawback for us because we always have a running order to bring back chocolate and fudge from Thornton’s Chocolate Cabins for our daughter (British chocolate tastes so much more creamier even Cadbury’s) and we usually use the room fridge to keep it cool. There are also no ice machines, at least we never saw any. You can of course, request ice, or anything else for that matter, but of course, it would respectfully mean tipping for the service.
The bathroom was also huge, and had lovely windows looking out. Big tub, toilet, washbasin, and a shower stall, and mass of tiled floor space, also a heated towel rail which dried socks and undies very quickly.
After quickly stashing the things in our room, we didn’t want to waste the day, so set off to explore the hotel and grounds. Main Bar looked very nice with lounging couches and tables, main restaurant was very well set up, both with their windows facing out to the view. All were comfy and convenient, with again that wonderful view. Down to the right of the hotel, via a walkway (which contrary to other reports, we didn’t find too inconvenient, not gloomy or cold) we found the lovely pool area, and down from this are the spa rooms. More on that later.
We then went over to the clubhouse to investigate there. Had a drink in the clubhouse bar, which has fabulous views, and comfy club chairs, but be prepared, like the main bar, and restaurant, to pay a hefty price for drinks, and meals. You do get a wonderful shortbread with coffee in the clubhouse, but the price of the coffee there means you should get a wonderful shortbread. The Turnberry, as a luxury hotel, has to attract a certain type of person and discourage another type, (for anyone having watched Keeping up Appearances – I could not see Hounslow being a welcome client here). But even so, the prices would discourage a few people not on expense accounts from eating and drinking there, and a lot of the clientele were corporate.
Then we set off to walk the beach, and walk it we did. There was not a cloud in the sky, but one thing to mention, and being a Scot I know this from old, is that even on a blistering hot day a short space from the coast, the moment you hit the beach, you may find you need a jacket……same goes for links golf courses. We walked the length of the beach to the light house, across the golf course, back on the road, past the archery region, trout fishing spot, past the lodges, back to the main hotel. Thought about stopping at the bar, but it was literally full of men, all taking about golf!! My husband is an avid golfer, but I felt at that point I didn’t need to hear power plays of everyone else’s game of the day, so we went upstairs, made our cuppa, sans shortbread (rectified that next day buying some in Girvan) and relaxed before getting ready for dinner. Best surprise, the piper who was there every night piping tunes just outside the main door, for about 15 minutes. Lovely touch.
One night we had the entire Maidens Pipe Band come up the drive at dusk, and pipe in front of the hotel. Magical moment I’ll never forget.
However, one major thing for me in getting ready for dinner, was that although we had this huge lovely bathroom, the sink, an original by the looks of things, stood way out about 18-20” from the wall, and above the sink, the wall was recessed about 10”. On that recessed wall was the huge mirror that was the only one you could use. So, if you wanted a shave or put on make up, you are over two feet from a mirror for something that needs close work. You can’t edge in further with your body, because the sink is in your way………so bring a make up mirror, or better still Turnberry, another suggestion is to put one in each bathroom.
One thing I do know in this trade, is that even folks that have money, don’t like to feel they are being ripped off, at least if they are paying for it themselves. Like many in the hotel, we looked at the hotel menu, and the price, and was not impressed. Only the one restaurant was open anyway, or else the club house, which is also a bit pricey considering, so we set off up the road to Wildings at Maidens, a hop, skip and jump away. It’s a nice restaurant, and service is good, but it’s a set menu. Three courses for the price. If you like fish and seafood, it’s for you. Did it wow me exactly, no it didn’t, or my husband, but it was good. After ordering wine and beer, we had the caesar salad, which although displayed wonderfully, I could not make out where it was like any caesar I’d had before. The lettuce had not been tossed in a bowl with the dressing, but a little dressing seemed to have been poured on the artistic salad creation. Couldn’t taste garlic, or lemon in the dressing, and no Caesar I’ve had before had tomato in it, so although this salad was okay, it wasn’t what we expected. I had a chicken dish, which was tasty, and my husband the fish……here’s where I said it didn’t wow me. A restaurant that specialises in fish in Scotland that considers themselves a good restaurant usually makes their own chips or French fries out of real potatoes, I don’t care how busy they are! Sticky toffee pudding for dessert finished us off. Can’t recall the price, but I know we ended up next night at Soutar Johny’s for a lot less, and we enjoyed it more. However, we didn’t have three courses, as we didn’t need three courses at Johnys, which made a difference price wise.
Breakfast at the Turnberry was great. It was actually too much some days for us, but we managed to struggle through it!! The setting is nice, and for the most part the service okay, although some mornings I felt we’d been forgotten. If there wasn’t a golf tee time, it wouldn’t bother us, but folks should allow time for your hot breakfast to be cooked and staff to realise you haven’t had tea or coffee yet, and they have to go make it. There are juices, cereal, fruit, yogurt to start. We got the oatmeal, with brown sugar and real pouring cream, totally decadent, but delish. Coffee and tea, are brought at the same time as the toast. Usual cold toast, as in all UK resorts, so North American’s don’t expect hot buttered toast. It’s not the norm in the UK. Lots of pastries, etc., also. And of course, the hot breakfast you order, so you can’t really go hungry. One thing I will mention, that someone remarked on, and that was someone who said he was a Scot, and felt he was treated as an outsider in this hotel, and that they focussed more on the American clients. I’m a Scot, with an accent that comes back the moment I talk to someone in Scotland, and that included the staff at the Turnberry. If anything, at least with the Scots staff in all areas of this hotel, I felt it was a bonus for me, and never felt like I was ignored in favour of Americans because of it.
After breakfast my husband was set to play golf early and when he left I went to the pool for a swim and relax before my spa treatment. The pool was empty when I got there. Later I was joined by a local lady, who paid for a membership for the recreation facility, so we had a good natter as we relaxed in the hot tub. A group of ladies then came in and joined us, a bit the worse for a hangover or two (ladies getaway stay) and they were remarking “this must be the place to meet men, as there are few women here and the bar gets full of them” to which I replied “the men here, judging by the conversations I’ve heard seem to be interested in one thing only, Golf!”
The spa and the treatment there was excellent, and both times I had massages – Swedish and Muscle Relaxing. Went back to the pool area wrapped in robe feeling wonderful and sat in the lounger and read…..but the sun was pouring in and it got way too hot. It was only the day before leaving that I found out that there is an outside patio above the pool that can be opened. Wish I’d know that, as there are really no places to lounge on the grounds, and it would have been great to find a spot to read more comfortably than a bench seat, out in the open air. Would suggest a few more lounge type chairs on the lawn outside the pool area, which would not make the main hotel untidy looking, but still provide a service need.
That afternoon, we headed out to Girvan, and had a blustery walk on the beach (temperature of the sea wind vs. the car park surprised us) and out the end of the harbour area, then into town where we found a reasonably priced café and value supermarket with lots of cookie/biscuit selections to go with our tea. Girvan is a very short drive down the coast. In fact, just outside of Turnberry, on the road to Girvan is a farm type market, which has a snack type restaurant that seemed to be busy, so thoughts for a quick lunch or snack, as opposed to the club house.
Next day we set off early after breakfast to Culzean Castle, and again the weather was wonderful. Frankly I could not believe that we had arrived in England the week before in glorious weather, which had stayed with us all the way. Walked all round the grounds at Culzean, had ice cream, and simply toured around the countryside, ending up at Ayr. Parked in Ayr and walked the beach there, then found a café for a bite to eat and visited the town. As we went in I noticed a lot of hotel restaurants offering early dinner special meals, at good prices. On the way back we went through Alloway, where Rabbie Burns was born. Made it back at the hotel in time for a cuppa, with our shortbread, and listening to the piper, and then off to Soutar Johny’s in Kirkoswold. Loved this place. It’s just been renovated, and it’s really nice. It’s also just opposite the old churchyard, which we explored. It was lovely and quiet when we first sat down to dinner, with other couples doing much the same, then a mini bus arrived from Turnberry, with about 18 mostly American Golfers, not young guys, but boy did they take the place over a little too much, and it was a bit inconsiderate as they were really pushy and loud, especially as they sat on opposite sides of the restaurant. Because of their table locations they kept shouting at each other, changing their minds with the orders and drinks, and drove the waitresses mad. You could tell by their faces they were trying to keep their cool. I give them credit that they did, and as they kind of spoiled the atmosphere and took over, we left before dessert that night. Next time we visited it was much better without the noisy crowd. I think the biggest sin though was when they asked for Glenmorangie on ice! You could feel the air change when this announcement was made. I don’t know a Scot who has good whisky on or watered down with ice, so I could tell by the local bar and wait staff that this was the last straw. As we left we told the waitress to just think they’d be so addled they’d leave a hefty tip, hopefully.
Soutar Johnys is great for dinner or lunch. Their menu is on the web, and we had the Cajun chicken (actually when the golf crew arrived, they smelled it and wanted to order it, and a few did) and I had a curry dish. The next time we ate there at lunch, I had macaroni and cheese, which was delicious and very filling. The prices are reasonable, and the food was good, as was the service we received, and it’s just down the road a short distance.
Next day, golf again for hubbie, and spa and pool for me, equally as good as the first time. Bye the way, the golf per round is pricey, even for this place. I believe it is 140 pounds sterling if you are a resident of the hotel.
We had arranged for a cousin and her husband to come and visit us, so we could have a drink in the clubhouse, and then afternoon tea. This was the one time that my comparison to Gleneagles came short in my opinion. The afternoon tea was in no way as good as Gleneagles, although just as highly priced at 17 pounds sterling. We had a nice spot in the bar, on sofas backing to the window and the view. Only one person at the bar who was doing everything, serving bar and doing the teas, so perhaps she was too busy to follow up.
Afternoon tea came - tea in pots, small sandwiches on the bottom level of a cake tier type tray, scones in centre, and pastries on top, with a little container of cream for the scones. Sandwiches were few, which was okay to begin with, but when we’d finished our choice at Gleneagles, and they realised that perhaps we were not into salmon, but liked the cucumber, so they asked us if we wanted more of the cucumber made up. Same went for scones, or the fact we ran out of cream, or if we’d like more hot water for the tea, or more jam, or even did the men want a whisky added to their tea. Didn’t happen at Turnberry. We got the trays, the tea, and that was it. But, as I said, there was only one member on staff for the entire bar area, so maybe she simply didn’t have time to check back.
Our guests, being polite, didn’t comment, just thanked us for the tea, but both my husband and I were disappointed in the service for the price, which quite honestly is overpriced, even considering the couches and view are included, and would not have considered having it again, were we staying longer. We’d probably drive to find a little tea house in Girvan or even closer next time we stayed, and we would return to Turnberry because we didn’t want to leave when the time came.
The Turnberry for us was a fabulous experience, and as we got up on the last morning and looked out again at another cloudless blue sky over the golf course, we wanted to stay and enjoy it.
The only things we found we were not keen on were the following:
Décor of the rooms needed refreshing and carpet, and that included the main stair carpet leading to other floors, bad impression for a luxury hotel.
Fridge items couldn’t be removed for personal use.
Housekeeping carts in the hallways all day, in fact every day we stayed there, almost always outside our room. Tacky! For an hour maybe, or if they were doing your room, but not in the same place all the time.
Need for a shaving/make up mirror in the bathrooms, at least the one we were in, as the mirror is simply too far away to be useful.
Afternoon tea, overpriced for what it was, same with drinks at the bar – some way too steep. One martini I had was 9.50 sterling, and it wasn’t the most expensive.
Extra blanket choice, when really warm in the room and you want to remove quilt but not freeze with just a sheet.
Things we thoroughly enjoyed:
Room with that view, and the location.
Robes and slippers were included with our room.
Pool and spa (and patio uptop, now I know where I could relax and lounge outside)
Concierges who were totally wonderful, as was main desk, spa staff, and service staff in clubhouse. Within easy reach of nearby places to visit (for non golfers) airports, and ferry to Ireland.
Would we stay again – darn tooting we would, especially if blessed with the good weather we had.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled within an 800 acre estate with views overlooking the rugged Ayrshire coastline, Trump Turnberry Resort is an enchanting destination. Trump Turnberry is the world's original golf resort with over a century of hospitality and tradition. It is scene of some of the most memorable moments in Open history, the championship Ailsa course is a legend in the game. Complimented by The Turnberry Performance Academy, an outstanding teaching facility offering a holistic approach to the game of golf; Trump Turnberry Resort is one of the most magnificent destinations for golf breaks in Scotland. With a range of outstanding accommodation, championship golf, a relaxing ESPA spa, six restaurants & bars and thrilling outdoor pursuits at Turnberry Adventures, Trump Turnberry Resort boasts a myriad of activities for travelers, golfers and families. The resort enjoys a spectacular coastal setting with breathtaking views of the Isle of Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Irish Sea. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scotland Hotel Turnberry
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- Trump Turnberry, A Luxury Collection Resort, Scotland