BUSINESS IS booming at the newly refurbished Stair Arms in Pathhead, which has recently undergone a major facelift and is proving a real hit with budding brides-to-be.

It’s a real family affair for owners the Ramsays, with seven family members involved with the running of the hotel which adds to the warm welcoming, homey feel they offer guests and their canine friends.

Originally the hotel was an old coaching inn, built in 1831 by the Dalrymple family who also own nearby Oxenfoord castle. Located just 12 miles outside of Edinburgh, the inn was situated on the main road from London to Edinburgh and served as a perfect spot for weary travellers to lay their head, fill their bellies and rest their horses after the long journey.

The Ramsay family bought the inn 26 years ago and have since transformed the venue into a bustling local hotel which draws many regulars to dine in its recently refurbished restaurant and guests from across Scotland and internationally for weddings in their beautiful function suite and surrounding grounds.

I arrived at the hotel to be met by owner Carolyn Ramsay and we sat in the recently revamped reception area where I was able to admire the wooden beams of what was the original piggery and the beautiful tartan furnishings, giving it a modern country feel.

The same interior can be found throughout the entire hotel including its 12 bedrooms, which Carolyn explained have received a major facelift since renovations began. “Two years ago we decided to upgrade all of the bedrooms to ensuites and ended up putting in new floors, curtains and furniture. We felt that the hotel was looking a bit tired and decided to start with the bedrooms and 18 months down the line we had transformed all of the bedrooms, the reception area, restaurant and more recently the function suite.”

“My daughter-in-law Clare is to thank for a lot of the redecorating and my grand-daughter Hannah has been fantastic at marketing the new image of the hotel online, which has definitely boosted interest in weddings,” she added.

The function suite sits 100 guests for a meal and a further 50 for an evening reception, with patio doors opening up on to the beautiful gardens surrounding the hotel which feature sculptures in tribute to the original coach horses which stayed at the inn.

“We haven’t got a free Saturday until November and have already started taking weddings for summer 2021. My daughter Amanda and grand-daughter Hannah are hugely involved with selling and planning weddings and are very busy putting on back to back Fridays and Saturdays during the peak season. My plans to retire may not be looking to likely if the wedding calendar is anything to go by,” she joked.

The new restaurant has been up and running for a year now and features traditional pub food made from locally sourced ingredients and cooked under the guidance of Carolyn’s son Grant who runs the kitchen.

“We have a lot of regulars that have been coming to the hotel for many years from the surrounding villages,” Carolyn continued. “We were so pleased with their positive reactions to the new restaurant and have noticed a real increase in sittings, especially during the weekends – we’re packed.

“A lot of people come here for our delicious traditional food and we offer many of the staple favourites like steak and ale pie and fish and chips – we serve what is popular for our guests. We do have a signature dish called ‘Chicken Lady Stair’ – a tribute to the owners of the original coaching inn – which consists of chicken stuffed with haggis and a peppercorn sauce, which is a firm favourite with guests,” she enthused.

The restaurant can sit 60 guests at anyone time and remains open during weddings to make sure that local travellers are accounted for even when peak wedding season hits. With a very local theme running throughout the hotel with the 14 full-time staff all living nearby, it is only fitting that guests can look forward to a taste of local produce which is provided in abundance.

I was lucky enough to sample their dinner menu which began with a delicious starter of scallops and black pudding on a bed of pea puree topped with Ayrshire bacon. The fish was sourced from Edinburgh based fish merchants P M Renaldi and It was followed by a rib-eye steak from John Gilmour butchers in Haddington and potatoes grown in the local village of Pencaitland. I rounded off the meal with a Nutella cheesecake to die for from the specials menu, which I strongly recommended should be a staple offering.

The restaurant was complemented by a fully stocked bar, open till 11pm nightly and even boasted whiskies from local distillery Glenkinchie which guests are encouraged to visit when staying at the Stair Arms.

With the interior renovations firmly behind them, the Ramsay’s are gearing up for yet more projects in the future and are debating with the idea of putting luxury log cabins up outside the hotel to offer more space for guests and looking at revamping the old courtyard in to an outdoor area for drinks. With weddings proving to be a real hit, they are even are toying with the idea of converting an old flat next to the hotel into a chapel, so ceremonies can be held on-site.

Weddings at Stair Arms Hotel

THE TASTEFULLY redecorated function room and beautiful surrounding grounds of the Stair Arms hotel, offers bride and grooms-to-be the perfect rural setting for their special day with excellent access to nearby Edinburgh city centre.

The bright and spacious Garden Suite sits 100 guests comfortably for dinner and a further 50 for an evening reception. The smaller Patio Suite next door offers extra space for an evening buffet and guests can exit the Garden Suite from the large glass patio doors at the back and take a stroll in the surrounding gardens.

A truly family experience is on offer to guests from mother and daughter duo Amanda and Hannah who are on-hand to assist with wedding planning with the backing of the expert and experienced staff at the hotel.

For those looking to enjoy a countryside wedding without the associated price tag, the Stair Arms caters for any budget with a large choice of menus ranging in price. Wedding guests can enjoy local produce sourced from the surrounding villages which adds to the homey and welcoming feel which features throughout.

Plenty of car parking is available at the hotel and with the Garden Suite holding a civil license for a registrar to perform marriage ceremonies, the married couple can sit back and relax, knowing their every need can be catered for on-site.