Whisky, Warlocks and Wow Factor Hotels…
Celebrating Robert Burns and the Best of Ayrshire
Will you raise a wee dram to Rabbie Burns this week? Here’s some of the best places you can go to toast his memory and learn more about Scotland’s own National Bard.
January is pretty long and dull, don’t you think? I’m always glad to see the back of it, despite my birthday falling on this bleak month. However, once it gets to the 25th, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and cause for celebration. On this day, Scots all over the world will gather to remember one of Scotland’s finest characters. They’ll be tucking into the traditional Burns’ supper of haggis, neeps and tatties perhaps washed down with a nip of whisky. Born in Alloway in Ayrshire on 25 January,1759, and to this day, Burns Suppers are held on Rabbie’s birthday and very often these are finely tuned affairs with well-rehearsed speakers reciting a poem or a singer or two performing some Burns classics, like Ae Fond Kiss, or A Red Red Rose.
If learning more about Robert Burns is something you’ve been thinking about, there are few key landmarks you can visit and places to stay in Ayrshire that are ideal for anyone on a mini Burns pilgrimage. Burns enthusiasts will love Ayrshire but history aside, it is just a beautiful place to visit. Granted, you’ll probably see it at its best in the spring and summer months when the sun is shining but if you don’t mind wrapping up, go now – the wild and rugged coastline is very dramatic when its windy and you’ll be able to return to your cosy hotel for a wee dram to warm you up.
This is truly the place to visit if you want a real insight into the life and works of Robert Burns. In the museum, you can find out just about everything there is to know about the man. It houses over 5,000 artefacts including some of his handwritten manuscripts. His works are now a key part of Scotland’s literary heritage, and rightly so. As a young girl, I was privileged to perform one or two of his songs when I was competing on the Burns competition circuit and how I tackled such complex words and melodies at such a tender age, I don’t know but I remember them bringing me great joy and even more so when I won one of the bigger contests, (circa 1980/1981) having sang my heart out with my rendition of The Rowan Tree. Just a bit of trivia!
As well as the fascinating content of the museum, you can also visit Burns’ Cottage, Alloway Kirk, the Burns Monument and Gardens. You can also follow in Tam O’Shanter’s footsteps over the cobblestoned Brig O’ Doon. This is the bridge Tam raced across on his horse, Meg, fleeing from the witches and warlocks he had seen through his drunken haze.
Legend has it that Burns himself liked a wee refreshment and was said to have lived a life of wine, women and song. Doesn’t make him a bad person.
Speaking of drink, if you’re looking to buy some good whisky on your visit, you must drop into A.D Rattray Whiskies of Distinction – possibly the friendliest and most helpful people you will ever buy a dram from!
A.D. Rattray have been bringing distinctive Scotch whiskies to the world for over 150 years and you can enjoy their whiskies when you visit their shop. A warm welcome awaits you at the A. D. Rattray Whisky Shop, where the knowledgeable team can guide you on your whisky journey, whether you’re a whisky-lover or you’re enjoying your first dram. Nose and taste exclusive whiskies in the private Tasting Room, personalise your own bottle in the atmospheric Cask Room or simply browse A. D. Rattray’s malts in the shop.
Places to stay in Ayrshire
If you’re wondering about the best places to stay in Ayrshire, you could try these recommendations of mine. Some are closer than others to the Burns attractions but the scenery across the region is so beautiful, an hour’s drive or so won’t be any real hardship and you get to see so much more of the area. Or, you could stay in one of the closer hotels to the Burns attractions and then journey deeper into the Ayrshire countryside for a longer, relaxing break where you can digest all that new Burns knowledge. Perhaps treat yourself to a book of his poems for your bedtime reading.
This lovely riverside hotel is super close to the Robert Burns Museum and possibly the best spot to stay in if you want to spend time in Alloway, exploring the story of Burns. The hotel offers luxurious accommodation, great food and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. I think Rabbie himself would have enjoyed a wee dram in here were he alive today.
This elegant hotel is close to Ayr town centre and beach front and ideal if you plan on going along to Ayr Races during your stay. The hotel also has a cosy yet stylish restaurant offering a tempting menu.
The delightful 5 star Glenapp Castle is a 17-bedroom luxurious castle hotel tucked away on the breath-taking Ayrshire coast. The castle is hidden away in 36 acres of stunning gardens and woodland. You might find yourself getting lost within the castle’s 36-acre estate, or escaping to the majestic countryside for long walks and beautiful views of Ailsa Craig. Sounds like a dreamy place to lap up the gorgeous surrounds of this special hotel.
Go on; treat yourself.
If you have plans to include some golf and leisure into your schedule, this is the place for you. Another 5-star dazzler, this hotel has a seriously impressive spa and swimming pool and the location is pretty special too. The views from this resort are reason enough to visit; you can see right over the fairways out to Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran.
“Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun
I will luve thee still, my dear
While the sands o’ life shall run”
Extract from A Red Red Rose by Robert Burns
I love travel. I’ve been fascinated by other countries and cultures since my first foreign trip in 1985 and I’ve had serious wanderlust ever since.I also love to write about where I’ve been and tripsology lets me indulge that passion. I’m thrilled to be a regular contributor and editor. When I’m not writing I also run my own PR and publicity company.