West Lothian Converted farmstead offers both comfort and class
THE spirit of Mary, Queen of Scots still thrives around West Lothian. Linlithgow Palace, the place of her birth, is the most obvious location but there are places in the surrounding area that bear a distinct link to her through French, her first language.
One such place is Champany, from the expression a la campagne (to the country), which was one of her favourite escapes from palace life.
Champany Inn, a few miles to the north of Linlithgow, is a converted farmstead split into four – accommodation, restaurant, chop and ale house and wine cellar.
The sum of all those parts is a top-class, extremely chic and efficiently-run set-up managed by the mother and son partnership of Anne and Jason Davidson.
“Mum and dad moved here 35 years ago,” says Jason.
“There was nothing but a restaurant but over the years we’ve built it up by adding 16 rooms, a chop house and a wine shop.
“Everything we do is done on-site. We smoke our own salmon and butcher our own meat. Mum runs the restaurant but she’s here almost 24/7. Few work harder than she does.”
The restaurant and wine shop could wait. The accommodation had to be checked out first – and I wasn’t disappointed. It was blisteringly hot outside, but the room was cool and airy. Sounds like a contradiction, but it was also cosy and wellappointed.
A large king-size bed boasting high-quality linen was matched with a comfy armchair, and the adjoining en suite had been finished to a very high standard. It had a nice high-powered shower, something I particularly like.
The décor colour was deep without being too dark, complemented by tartan curtains round the bay window. The rooms were quiet and just the place to unwind with one of the complementary drinks offered, either gin and tonic or whisky. I thought that was a nice, welcoming touch so it seemed churlish not to take advantage of a pre-dinner dram.
Before dinner, Jason gave me a tour of the wine cellar, which was specially built below the wine shop. A wine connoisseur couldn’t ask for anything more such was the variety on show.
There’s also a huge range of gins and whiskies in the bar for the perfect pre-meal aperitif.
The restaurant was another winner, with a steak menu supplying beef from their own
in-house butcher. The sirloin I had was immaculate and I had the feeling that breakfast would also be a hit. It was, freshly cooked to order and a nice change from some of the buffet breakfasts that seem to be more popular these days.
Champany Inn couldn’t be better placed for exploring the many historical sites of the area, or for popping into Edinburgh. The M9 is only a stone’s throw away and a regular train service from Linlithgow will take you into the capital in less than half an hour.
It’s a superb establishment, upmarket certainly, exclusive and posh perhaps, but there is a certain couthy and friendly down-to-earthness that makes you feel very welcome.
It’s pretty good value, too, at £139 per night (room only) or £149 for two including breakfast. Check website for special deals. www.champany.com
Split into four parts, the Inn has something for everyone
The Inn’s elegant restaurant
A dream for wine connoisseurs