Choose a suitably foodie base for your weekend stay … perhaps the outstanding Horseshoe Restaurant with Rooms, a former coaching inn near Peebles now recognised as offering one of the best dining experiences in the Borders. Recommended by the Michelin Guide and the AA Restaurant Guide, the Horseshoe has just 10 tables in its restaurant, where the onus is on treating small numbers of guests VERY well indeed. And the wine list is as special as the food.
A nearby, and equally impressive, option is Cringletie House, a former Scottish baronial castle and now boutique hotel set in extensive grounds. Winner of the AA Hotel of the Year 2014, the restaurant at Cringletie offers another fabulous dining experience, while this innovative hotel is always coming up with imaginative offers and theme evenings – from BBQ Fridays to special Scottish nights of food and entertainment.
A third option, again nearby, is the Mercure Peebles Barony Castle Hotel, another grand building but which houses a modern hotel and a fabulous restaurant – the recently re-launched Thomson’s @ The Castle, after head chef William Thomson. The hotel is in a lovely setting, with 25 acres of gardens and woodland to explore and wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. Just don’t forget to visit the extraordinary Great Polish Map of Scotland tucked away in the grounds.
Love craft beers? Then be sure to visit the historic brewery at Traquair House, which last year celebrated a half-century of brewing on-site with the launch of Traquair 50 – a limited edition ale which at ABV9% is not to be taken lightly. While here, stop for lunch at Traquair House’s excellent 1745 Cottage Restaurant. Situated in the old walled garden, the restaurant has a great reputation for its delicious homemade dishes, plus tempting scones and other home baking.
For something completely different, head into Peebles to the renowned Cocoa Black Chocolate and Pastry School, home of UK World Chocolate Master Ruth Hinks who masterminded the creation of a scale model of the Flying Scotsman made entirely from chocolate to celebrate the re-opening of the Borders Railway in 2015. Budding chocolatiers and home-baking enthusiasts can book onto one of Ruth’s chocolate classes or pastry courses, while there’s also a fantastic coffee shop, chocolatier and patisserie downstairs.
You can also buy fantastic produce from the Peebles Local Food Market on the High Street, just in front of the Eastgate Theatre (Saturdays only). Run by PeeblesCAN, the market is open from 9am–3pm and features a rolling mix of stallholders, such as Crumbs Home Baking, Osso Restaurant and Let’s Go Against the Grain.
And if visiting during the annual Tweed Valley Forest Festival, head to Tweed Green in Peebles to sample some of the delights on offer at a mini food festival usually held over the opening weekend. This year’s festival saw a selection of local food producers and businesses come together to offer an array of food and drink to sample and purchase.
Finally, at the end of a busy foodie day, head back to the Horseshoe Inn or choose from the Tontine Hotel, Peebles Hydro Hotel – which will soon have its own on-site microbrewery – or one of the area’s other award-winning hotels, all serving delicious, locally-produced food.
Work up an appetite with a stroll along the Tweed (the Manor Sware circuit is highly recommended), followed by lunch at Osso on Peebles High Street - a multiple recipient of the prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand. If the weather is fine, you could even grab some supplies for a picnic from Coltman’s Deli & Kitchen, perhaps adding some chocolate goodies from Cocoa Black and a bottle of something for later from Villeneuve Wines? All can be found along the High Street in Peebles.
Finally, if looking to strike further afield, look no further than Whitmuir the Organic Place, a beautifully-located farm, with an excellent bakery and deli, restaurant and the wonderful Dancing Light Gallery. Visitors are welcome to look around the farm and visit the animals. Look out too for regular special events, talks and various cookery workshops.