Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

On a rainy day in December, I’d prepared myself for disappointment. The coffee was poured and I was ready to spend a good few hours trying to find a dog-friendly holiday in Scotland for a week in January.  Surely I should be happy about heading off on a dog-friendly?? Well, yep, I was, but I always struggle with finding pawsome dog-friendly holidays!

For some reason when you click on that ‘pets allowed’ box, the self-catering accommodations that are available drastically reduce.  And then I get more and more frustrated at the quality of what’s on offer or the hike in prices for bringing your best furiend.  I don’t think I’ve met a dog owner who doesn’t find the whole process of booking a dog-friendly holiday difficult.

If you’ve also spent hours googling ideas for dog-friendly holidays in Scotland and found yourself here….. you are in luck!  Because this time, it was different.

I’d very quickly stumbled upon an Airbnb listing in the Scottish Borders.   After a good snoop around the Holiday Cottages Melrose website, in less than 30 minutes, I was all booked up.   Would Holiday Cottages Melrose live up to the stunning photography on their listing and be a dog-friendly haven?

 

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Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

 

Holiday Cottages Melrose:  Dog-Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders

 

Pre-Arrival

I really can’t fault the whole booking process and I was one awkward customer. Who’d have thought!?!?!?

Firstly, I was looking to minimise the number of weekends that I’d need to close the shop during my holiday, so I asked to arrive on a Thursday instead of their normal Friday. While the dates all looked free online I gave the office a call which was answered quickly.  Sarah in the office was so polite and helpful and got us all booked in really quickly.  An invoice appeared really quickly and I was able to make payment online. Done!

If you are less awkward than I was, then their website booking process is fab. You can see all four individual properties together with available dates and pricing. Super easy!

The irony was that I did have to change this back to Friday at short notice and I also asked to add a second dog on. Yep, my brother’s dog Harley, Millie’s twin, was allowed to join us.   Again Sarah was amazing and thankfully, as it was off season, she moved our trip by one day meaning we didn’t lose any of our holiday time!

A couple of days before arrival, I received another email from Sarah with the postcode and code to access a key lock.  This was perfect as I had an all-day event on the Friday and was unsure what time I’d get there. The website includes a guest information page HERE so I knew what to expect when I got there too.

In hindsight, the one thing that would really help pre-arrival, would be to include a  little map in that email showing the exact location of The Stables.   Don’t get me wrong, my Sat Nav took me directly to it BUT it also failed to tell me of a one-way street and that it’s better to access from one end of ‘The Loan’, especially on a winters night (via B6374 rather than B6360).  I was a little confused why I hadn’t seen the sign that was mentioned and I could have avoided this by checking out the map before I jumped into the car too.  But def would those little tips and a map would be helpful in pre-arrival comms.

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish B

 

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

 

The Stables Cottage

Around 2.5 hours from Carnoustie, we arrived at The Stables. It’s part of four individual properties in a brand new converted barn, just on the outskirts of Melrose.  The Smiddy, The Stables and They Byre all sleep up to four while The Granary sleeps up to 8. You can book them both individually or together too.

As we opened the door, we really weren’t disappointed.

For me, the biggest selling point of The Stables as a dog owner was the utility room that you accessed as soon you opened the door.  The perfect place to get off those winter muddy boots, dry paws and pop on DogRobes before letting Millie and Harley loose into the rest of The Stables.  With washing machine, dryer and sink, the owners have really thought about how each space would be used as much as how great it looks. Even just in that one room, the thought about coat hangers and chairs to sit to remove shoes was spot on!

After dumping everything out of the car into the utility room, it was time to explore the rest of The Stables.

Eeeeek……

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

The photos really don’t do The Stables justice.   You can just tell how much care and love has gone into each and every corner.

Personally, I just love how ‘non-matchy’ all the furniture and decor is.  There were so many great ‘statement pieces’ in each room. They really just helped gel each room together and I couldn’t even begin to try and pick a favourite.

While the kitchen, dining and living room area are all open plan, it still felt warm and cosy with the use of softer tones throughout.  Who couldn’t be comfy here!?!?

I love the mix of contemporary and traditional furniture and accessories

One of the bedrooms was en-suite with a shower and the second bathroom was just next door to a gorgeous main bathroom.  I quickly decided that having several baths would have to factor into my plans for the week. Well, it was a holiday after all and my kindle was at the ready with lots of new book downloads!

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)
(p.s the owners ask that dogs remain out of the bedrooms and off the furniture but we couldn’t resist one very quick photo with Millie)

Popping the fire on, we settled down for the night and I was so grateful for the welcome pack. One bottle of prosecco, some bread, milk, cheese, crisps and shortbread more than helped tide us over until we could get to the closest shops (several are within a ten-minute drive or you can arrange a delivery in advance).  Another thoughtful touch that made The Stables so much more welcoming.

After making the most of one very comfy bed we were greeted with a gorgeous sunrise and view from the secure garden and patio area.  Another massive tick for being dog-friendly.  During the warmer months, you can fold back the bi-fold doors and make the most of the BBQ and patio area without worrying about your dog going off on their own adventure.

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)
Who wouldn’t love this view of Eildon Hills every day?

 

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)
Those gorgeous bi-fold doors, secure raised patio and garden.

 

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)
Harley def gave the view of Eildon Hills one massive paws up each day!

 

Key Info:

  • All rooms are on one floor (ground level)
  • Freeview, DVD player, books and games
  • Bioethanol fire with living flame
  • Fully equipped kitchen with oven, hob, microwave, fridge and freezer
  • Full set of cooking utensils, crockery and glasses (I really could not spot a single thing that they hadn’t’ thought of!).
  • Dining space with seating for four
  • BBQ and outdoor patio set with cushions
  • Bike Storage
  • 1 Double bedroom with a superking bed.
  • 1 Double bedroom which can be set up as a superking bed or twin beds.  Ensuite bathroom with shower.
  • Utility room with sink, storage, washing machine and dryer.
  • Fantastic wifi (we def tested it by doing some work during the week!)
  • Parking for two cars
  • Outdoor tap (for washing off those mucky paws!)

 

The Local Area

One of the main reasons, I loved that we found The Stables was due to its location.  Normally we would have headed north in January, so it was a first trip to the Scottish Borders for us. While the plans were to relax, catch up on sleep and do the odd little bit of work (thanks to the fab wifi). Our plans also included going on a few adventures with Harley and Millie of course!

While Melrose has some fantastic shops and restaurants, it was a week of getting outdoors and we weren’t disappointed.   There were some brochures in The Stables that were more than helpful including a copy of this online local walks guide.

As with most walking guides, they weren’t all suitable for off lead walking but we did do parts of some of those walks and it was more than helpful to find some ideas.

As you’d expect, while Tweedbank rail station is around 15-minute drive, you will need a car to get around. But we were blessed with some fantastic sunny days, even if a tad cold, and managed to cover a lot of stunning walks and local attractions:

  • Gattonside Walk (from the online guide on page 14 starting at point 4 which is just a minutes walk from The Stables).  Stunning views (but well.. I’m going to say this a lot!).

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

 

  • Yair Hill Forest – a slightly longer drive to Yair HIll Forest but great for two spaniels who love woodland! Be prepared for a steep walk uphill but well… those views!  A quiet location with the odd walker and some off-road bikes but we spent a good couple of hours out exploring Yair Hill.

 

  • The Leaderfoot Viaduct – well we couldn’t visit Melrose without stopping by these famous bridges. We spotted that there is a really convenient free car park just at the foot of those bridges and you if you turn left you can walk all the way back to Melrose taking in the Roman settlement of Trimontium. You could fit in a little visit to Melrose Abbey too.

Leaderfoot Viaduct Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

 

Melrose Abbey Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

  • Alternatively, you can turn right at Leaderfoot Viaduct and make your way to Scott’s View.  The lookout was known to be one of Sir Walter Scott’s favourite places to come and reflect. We were so so lucky with the weather and you’d never have guessed it was -2 degrees C when I took this photo! So many great walks around this spot!

Scotts Views Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

  • A little drive away and we accidentally found Thornillee (while on route to Yair Hill Forest).  One of the folk tales collected by Sir Walter Scott in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders tells of Muckle Mou’d (big mouthed) Meg, the notoriously ugly daughter of the Murray family. You’ll find out how she found true love from interpretation panels near the car park – a lovely romantic story!  Make sure you have sturdy shoes on as it is all uphill and a well-known mountain biking area. I have to say that this was the walk that Millie and Harley seemed to enjoy the most! They literally ran and ran and ran through the woodland until we reached more stunning views!

Thornilee Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)

 

  • These hills seem to laugh at me for the first half of the week as if to say… go on, try me! So we did ;0) Yep.. it’s the Eildon Hills that we could see from The Stables.  Be prepared to soak those muscles after this and have some very tired dogs!!

 

Who’s Going to Love It?

Are you searching for nightlife, with everything right on your doorstep with lots of hustle and bustle?  Well, this is probably isn’t the best choice of holiday accommodation for you.

However, Holiday Cottages Melrose is somewhere that you can escape to. Whether you plan to down tools and not move from the sofa for a week (honestly, I think it’s possible given how well kitted out it is), or someone who prefers to spend their holiday outdoors, then it’s perfect.

I can see why families and couples would both love The Stables given its flexibility of space.  Given the high standard of decor, it would be ideal for special occasions!

For me, this was an ideal dog-friendly holiday. It’s so rare in the UK to not feel like a second-class citizen because you have a dog and I’m so pleased to have found another self-catering provider that has got it right.

 

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)
Millie and Harley having fun, on wet day, in a little wood near Melrose Abbey

Pricing and Availability

My week’s break (Friday to Friday) during the second week of January cost £510.75 and I was an extra £20 per dog.  A week in August at The Stables, will cost £787.50.

As a fairly new development, I can’t see it taking long before the word gets out and just from the guest book, I can see that they have returning guests already.   Be quick and you’ll be able to secure a summer date as their 2018 dates are now on sale!

Millie certainly didn’t ‘want to leave!

Dog Friendly Holiday in the Scottish Borders: Holiday Cottages Melrose (Reviewed)
Millie’s stubborn…. I’m not leaving face!

 

Millie’s Top Tip

It was all about the mud and dirty walks on this trip! So be prepared for your pawrents to hose your paws down with the outdoor tap. I didn’t realise what was happening until it was too late… and then I was clean! Booooo.

Now I have warned you so make sure they give you lots of treats to tempt you near that hose!

But even taking that into account…. I lurved it!!

p.s did mum mention the underfloor heating in the bathroom and that every room has it’s very own room temp control.  So nice and toasty for snoozes!!

 

 

Have You Been on a PAWSOME Dog-Friendly Holiday?

Now I’d love to hear if you’ve found that special place to take your furiends on holiday? Or have you booked your 2018 trip yet?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Holiday Cottages Melrose: Links and Availability

You can find availability and prices on the Holiday Cottages website: http://www.holidaycottagesmelrose.co.uk/ Note that there is some last minute availability offers in January and February. Be quick to grab them!

You can also have a snoop around on various social media sites or check out reviews on  Trip Advisor:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HolidayCottagesMelrose/

Trip Advisor – https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/-GRANARY.html (Reviews of The Granary which is part of the same development)

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