Hello, readers. I hope everyone is well. Today we are going to hang out in my favorite city – Edinburgh. I booked us a champagne afternoon tea at the luxurious Prestonfield House. So touch up your lips, ladies. Men, grab your wallets. A warm welcome, fine dining, and hospitality awaits!
When Mr. C and I travel to Scotland (or anywhere for more than three nights), we prefer to rent a private residence rather than stay in a hotel. It not only gives us the experience of living like locals, but it’s so much more pleasant and economical. A rental provides all the amenities of home – a laundry facility, plenty of room to spread out, and perhaps best of all – a fully equipped kitchen.
While we do enjoy eating lunches out on days of sight-seeing, we eat in for every breakfast and usually every dinner. We save a good bit of money that way, and it also gives us a chance to explore the local fresh food offerings, whether from Tesco or one of the wonderful farm shops.
That said, we do make an exception for one or two extra special dining experiences. It is part of what makes a vacation fun, after all. On our trip to Scotland this past year – upon recommendation – we chose historic Prestonfield House for that experience and booked a champagne afternoon tea.
Founded in 1150 and called Priestfield until the late 17th century, the stately home sits on the former site of a wealthy Cistercian monastery. Priestfield changed hands several times over the centuries. Some of its former residents include The Earl of Carrick (son of King Robert II), the powerful Wardlaw family, Walter Chepman (printer to King James IV), the Hamilton family, and Sir Robert Murray.
Sir James Dick, a Lord Provost of Edinburgh, purchased the land and estate in 1677. Sir James happened to be a Catholic during the ascendancy of Protestantism, and shortly after his acquisition, an anti-Catholic student protest resulted in the burning down of the original Priestfield house. Following that event, Sir James enlisted the king’s architect, Sir William Bruce, to design a lavish replacement, and he changed the estate’s name to Prestonfield.
Today, this beautiful home, which sits only about five minutes from Edinburgh’s city center, is a luxurious five-star hotel with 23 rooms. It boasts an opulent restaurant called Rhubarb and contains exquisitely decorated private meeting spaces. Over the decades, Prestonfield has welcomed dignitaries, writers, artists, and celebrities alike. Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Elton John, and Sean Connery are just a few of the folks who have visited. And now me and Mr. C!
Though we did not spend the night or dine in the restaurant, we did thoroughly enjoy our splendid afternoon tea in the ornate Tapestry Room. Our servers were very kind and attentive; the food, tea, and glass of Billecart-Salmon Champagne were delicious. For a couple of hours, I kind of felt like Lady Wendy. I think I could get used to that!
I will close today by sharing a poem about Prestonfield House, written by the one and only Benjamin Franklin. See you next time, friends.