Looking for places to stay in St Andrews? Want a boutique hotel in Fife? Read our hotel review, and check out more places to eat in Fife here…
Kinnettles Hotel in a nutshell
This staid, stone hotel was revamped into a boutique bolthole in 2017. Now it has a star chef in its kitchen. In April, 2018 Masterchef The Professionals finalist Dean Banks moved in and launched his first restaurant, Haar.
Small, friendly and understated. St Andrews’ historic heart has four parallel prongs: Market Street is the bustling main drag, South Street promises wide, tree-lined gentility, The Scores has sea views and North Street is low-key and unassuming. In a 19th-century building on North Street, Kinettles hasn’t bagged the best location in town but it has set itself apart from the city’s mixed bag of golf resorts and guesthouses with its star attraction, a destination restaurant.
Which room should I book at Kinnettles Hotel?
The nine bedrooms don’t come with numbers or names on the doors, to make it feel more like a home, but this can be confusing; you need to have your brain in gear when you’re shown upstairs. Check into room 3, a corner suite, if you want a sumptuous soak; it’s the only room with a bath, a freestanding roll top tub stocked with delicious ESPA toiletries (heady bergamot, jasmine and a hint of cedarwood). An interior designer was drafted in for the revamp and the rooms offer luxurious, five-star comfort (dreamy beds and soft linen, fluffy gowns and slippers to pad around in) but nothing to make you gasp, design-wise. Think warm wood and crushed velvet, a touch of tweed in a muted colour palette of champagne and silver and a smattering of framed black and white golfing photographs.
The food and drink
Dean Banks comes from Arbroath, on Scotland’s north-east coast, and the restaurant’s name Haar (a Scottish mist that rolls in off the sea) is a nod to the seaside location. Design-wise it’s moody and modern with a mid-century vibe. Think tawny, tarnished tiles, the muted colours of a stormy sea, grey leather chairs, bare wooden tables and abstract artworks.
The à la carte menu focuses on sharing dishes, small and large, while a six-course tasting menu steals some of its stars. Dishes mix up local, seasonal ingredients (Dean is keen to keep Scottish seafood in Scotland and champions local producers) with Asian culinary influences gleaned from his travels (think Fife rare-breed pork belly with kimchi puree or vividly spiced octopus on a tangy bed of citrus barley, with a burnt tomato puree and coriander oil).
The Smoking Arbroath Smokie is a work of genius, the traditional smoked haddock from Dean’s hometown reimagined in three ways. A feather-light creamy mousse is topped with tender flakes of fish and foam served under a cloche swirling with smoke. Even the bread is a showstopper: an oven-warm loaf of corn bread, smeared with lightly whipped farm butter sprinkled with sea salt and dulse seaweed from the artisan Scottish Butter Company in Arbroath.
It’s also worth hitting the Haar Bar for one of the signature cocktails (which change nightly, like menu specials). If they’re on try an Espresso Haartini (Arbikie Haar vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso and sugar) or a Mary Queen of Scots (Uwa Reposado, Darnley’s Gin, clove and cinnamon syrup, mint and lime).
There’s a bijou breakfast buffet, prettily presented with Katy Rodgers Scottish farm yoghurts topped with compote (gooseberry, rhubarb or raspberry) and moreish pastries. The usual Scottish suspects are cooked to order – porridge, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – while the Full Scottish features crumbly discs of haggis instead of traditional black pudding.
What else can foodies do?
A medieval university town, and the historic home of golf, St Andrews has recently become a culinary hotspot with gastronomic grazing round every corner. Meander down South Street to legendary gelateria Jannettas to pick up a cone of mint choc chip or Scottish favourites, cranachan or tablet (fudge), then head to the beach – either the cute curve of East Sands or the endless sweep of West Sands. In a contemporary glass box on the rocks overlooking the beach is the Seafood Ristorante where you can feast on Loch Etive sea trout and East Neuk crab with nori, cucumber and green apple. Or head back into town for fish and chips – or an Arbroath Smokie – from Tail End, owned by Arbroath fish merchants G & A Spink. And don’t leave town without a box of justifiably famous fudge doughnuts from Fisher and Donaldson.
Is it family friendly?
This is a small, town-centre boutique hotel so it’s not an obvious family destination, but children under six are accommodated free in their parents’ room. Children from 6-12 are charged £50 per night.
Try a gin and soda rather than tonic. Arbroath-based (of course) field-to-bottle Arbikie Highland Estate’s AK’S Gin is flavoured with honey, black pepper and cardamom which shines with a milder mixer.
Words by Lucy Gillmore