The relaunch of The Strathearn marks one of the final strands in a four-year investment programme that has transformed the Gleneagles Hotel.
Set beneath the Ochil Hills, in the heart of Perthshire, Gleneagles has become one of Scotland’s most iconic and best-loved hotels since opening in June 1924. In order to maintain this level of prestige, new owners, Ennismore, have initiated a multi-million pound refurbishment programme, which has seen the property’s public spaces and guest rooms reinvisaged by a host of prestigious design names.
The latest of these modifications, and one of the most important, is the re-design of the The Strathearn. Originally known as ‘the Dining Room’, the restaurant has played host to many a decadent dining event, and is one of the hallmarks of the Gleneagles experience.
The restaurant’s refurbishment has been undertaken by Ennismore Design Studio, whose innate understanding of the brand has proved a real asset.
“The Strathearn’s new look harks back to the golden age of railway travel, when glamorous Londoners enjoyed opulent train journeys to Gleneagles for a summer season of country pursuits”
“I head up the interior design team at Ennismore, Gleneagles’ parent company,” explains Charlie North, design director, Ennismore. “Our interior design team has been rapidly growing since 2015, allowing us to hold more control over interior design projects across our brands.
“The main advantage of this is our close relationship with the brand, graphics and operations teams, and understanding the spaces we’re enhancing and how they are used.
“When you live and breathe those spaces every day, you gain unique insight into their history, quirks and character; how they work or look at different times of day, and how they make the guest feel. It’s a huge privilege to have that kind of insight, and even more rewarding when you see the finished transformation.”
The framing intention of Ennismore’s investment programmes has been to enhance, rather than to alter the feel of this historical property. Careful attention has thus been paid to preserving its design spirit, whilst chanelling the local landscape and the essence of its halcyon days within its reinvigorated interiors.
As a Grade I Listed structure, of course, there could be no significant reconfiguration of the architecture. The only exception was the demolition of the existing 1970s conservatory to make way for a striking new orangery, which was custom designed to ensure its harmony with the rest of the building.
Another key addition to the restaurant is a new kitchen-style breakfast servery, named The Scullery. Doubling up as an occasional private dining space, The Scullery breathes new life into the area that formerly housed Gleneagles’ kitchen in the 1920s.
“For a traditional, iconic and beautiful property like Gleneagles, the most sensitive approach is to make the most of what is already there and turn up the dial on the best bits,” affirms Charlie. “By elevating The Strathearn’s elegant décor, sense of history and glamour, the team has raised the stakes in fine dining and created something unforgettable.
“First and foremost, we want people to feel at ease as soon as they come through the door, but we also want them to feel a tremendous sense of occasion – a place where they can dress to the nines for a celebration, lively conversation and incredible food and service.”
“By elevating The Strathearn’s elegant décor, sense of history and glamour, the team has raised the stakes in fine dining and created something unforgettable”
The Strathearn’s new look harks back to the golden age of railway travel, when glamorous Londoners enjoyed opulent train journeys to Gleneagles for a summer season of country pursuits. The hotel was in fact built by the former Caledonian Railway Company, and profited from its own railway station just moments away.
Mealtimes at The Strathearn are to be a decadent affair, with traditional gueridon service from bespoke dining trollies. This sense of glamour and theatre is echoed in the selection of furnishings, with luxurious velvelts, fringes and trims, and swag and tail curtains in gold and silver hues.
Hand-painted wallpapers depicting birds in flight and local botanicals celebrate the wonderful landscape and wildlife of Perthshire, while a bespoke selection of artwork references bespoke classical paintings with a twist.
“The design celebrates that elegant spirit through a setting that evokes the theatre of the outdoors and the beautiful flora and fauna of Scotland,” explains Charlie.
“To visualise those themes and bring the history to life in The Strathearn, we took elements from the dining cart and the rolling landscape, blending them into three surrealistic still-life murals. A miniature train chugs through watermelon tunnels and passes over valleys of salmon, showcasing a sense of fun and elegance.”
Despite The Strathearn’s visual transformation, Ennismore Design Studio has made every effort to ensure continuity with the heritage of the property. The custom chandeliers and wall sconces, for example, chime perfectly with the age of the property, while a new stage for musical performances complements the elegance and drama of the rich décor.
“We retained all the existing panel details on the walls and worked closely with Historic Scotland in applying new plaster mouldings to embellish the room, adding an extra layer of glamour, and still in keeping with the original period and character of the building,” adds Charlie.
Indeed, the care and consideration with which Ennismore Design Studio have approached The Strathearn is symptomatic of Ennismore’s broader guardianship of Gleneagles’ distinctive offering. As renovations come to a close, the hotel’s global appeal as one of Scotland’s best-loved and most desirable hospitality destinations has surely been safeguarded for many years to come.