The trout are biting. The ferrets are racing. The golf caddies are assembled. And the scones are warming on the scone trolley, ready for a splendid Scottish afternoon tea. With 900 staff, from the kilted doormen to the gillies, whisky sommeliers to gundog trainers, The Gleneagles Hotel is a hive of activity. The tempo has quickened since Ennismore, a London-based investment and hospitality company, bought the 344-hectare country estate two years ago and completed a multimillion-pound refurbishment this northern summer.
Set in picturesque Perthshire, an hour's drive north-west of Edinburgh, Gleneagles has its own train station (six hours from London), Scotland's only two-starred restaurant (Andrew Fairlie), three championship golf courses, a falconry school, an equestrian arena, and a colourful history as a glamorous seat of country pursuits. It was labelled "the eighth wonder of the world" when it opened in 1924 and became a fixture on the British society calendar and the global golf circuit.
"Gleneagles has been more than a hotel for generations now," says manager Conor O'Leary. "Our job has been to respect that legacy and ensure its appeal and longevity for future generations." Plans include the development of a luxury camp nearby and a line of fine foods.
The hotel's 232 rooms and suites are filled with light and antiques; corridors, too, are lined with historical curios, custom lanterns and carpets woven in old Persian patterns. The transformation of public spaces by an A-list of British design studios includes the revival of the hotel's opulent American Bar with Art Deco-inspired furnishings and cocktails, an elegant afternoon-tea salon, The Glendevon, overlooking croquet lawns, the Parisian-style Birnam Brasserie and the lobby Century Bar, with a central illuminated cabinet of old and rare whiskies.
More than 20 outdoor pursuits are available, including country picnics via a new acquisition - a 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud
From £265 including breakfast. The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, gleneagles.com