The Glorious Playground
Originally opened in 1924 as a grand country estate, The Gleneagles Hotel was first referred to as “a Riviera in the Highlands.” The 850-acre estate played host to London’s high society, who decamped to its grounds in summer to play golf, ride horses, and go shooting before returning to their suites and dressing for a formal dinner—activities guests can still partake in today. In fact, you might feel you’re channeling generations past as you roam the verdant grounds and enjoy classic pursuits, from tennis and archery to falconry.
Yet Gleneagles isn’t stuck in the past. The entire estate is undergoing a renovation that’s ushering it into the 21st century, with refurbished rooms and suites, five new restaurants and bars, a luxury beauty lodge, and kids’ club. Today’s guests are spoiled for choice, with options ranging from the casual Birnam Brasserie to Andrew Fairlie’s namesake two-Michelin-starred restaurant. After a day spent golfing, fishing, or otherwise enjoying this bucolic slice of Scotland, there’s no better way to start (or end) your evening than with cocktails at the American Bar.
There was an original American Bar here when the hotel opened so, while we have created a very new space within the hotel, we are also returning to our routes to celebrate Gleneagles’ past.
The Happiest Hour
Jazz wafts through the air as a host leads you past the heavy curtains and plush divans done up in shades of violet. With its cashmere paneled walls, armchairs arranged around small cocktail tables, marble bar, and bottles of cognac and other spirits displayed in glass cases, the American Bar exudes the glamour of a Gatsby-era salon. So it’s hard to believe that, until recently, this cozy corner of the hotel was used to store luggage.
Take a seat in one of the plush armchairs or pull up a barstool to be close to the action, where the charming head bartender, Lulu Fedi, helms the bar stirring and shaking cocktails to suit every taste. In homage to the roaring twenties, Lulu has devised a dazzling array of Champagne cocktails. The Flapper is jazzed up by Louis-Alexandre cognac, house-made bitters, and a sugar cube that slowly dissolves as you sip. Or try the Chanel-inspired Poiret, with elderflower, pear, and lemon.
“There was an original American Bar here when the hotel opened so, while we have created a very new space within the hotel, we are also returning to our roots to celebrate Gleneagles’s past,” Lulu explains. “This encouraged me to explore and take advantage of the many wonderful things Gleneagles has to offer, from the historical anecdotes in our archives, to real-life characters at the hotel—both past and present—such as Henry Hall, the great 1920s band leader who used to perform here, and Jo Campbell, head grower in Andrew Fairlie’s secret garden, who has taught me so much about utilizing fresh seasonal produce.” No matter what you’re drinking, the atmosphere exudes the kind of vintage glamour that will make you want to dress up and play the part.