A Bumper Summer Crop

July 13, 2018

We have been enjoying glorious sunny days in St Andrews and nowhere is this more visible than in our kitchen garden which supplies Rufflets with an abundance of fresh produce year-round.

Head gardener Phil Harper and head chef David Kinnes work closely together to maximise the potential of the garden and create a carefully designed production of vegetables, soft fruits and salads that are the inspiration for the menu at Seasons Restaurant.

The recent sunny conditions have delivered a flourish of chard, herbs and salad leaves as well as a collection of nasturtiums which are picked fresh daily to ensure the freshest possible crops, nutrient content and flavour.

Freshly grown and locally sourced produce is the underpinning of the a la carte menus created by David and his team and checking what is becoming available in the garden is essential for the daily changing menu.

Here are just a few of the items being harvested from the kitchen garden this week…

Chard is a leafy green vegetable that comes into season in June and July with large tough leaves that taste a little like spinach but sweeter. The kitchen brigade use the younger leaves raw in salads and the fleshy stalks are usually cooked separately and used as an alternative to spinach. Packed with vitamins and minerals it is also used in dishes such as eggs benedict for breakfast, a wonderful chard and potato soup and also a pesto-style dressing for salads.


Nasturtiums are edible flowers which are used by our chefs as vibrant and colourful garnishes. They are a rich source of vitamin c and iron and their leaves contain antibiotic properties which are most effective just before the plant flowers.


Beetroot is a rich source of folic acid, low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and packed with powerful antioxidants. From kitchen garden to your plate the same day. It doesn’t get much fresher.


Summer is the perfect time to enjoy Seasons Restaurant and experience the unique freshness and flavour that only home-grown produce guarantees. We encourage guests to take a stroll through the kitchen gardens where a member of the gardening team is normally on hand to offer a tour or answer questions.


What’s on in July

July 6, 2018

There are so many reasons to visit Rufflets this month, but we have short-listed just a few of the events taking place in and around St Andrews in July to make planning your stay stress-free.

7th & 8th July. Bowhouse Food Market at Balcaskie Estate – St Monans. Held over two days between 10am and 4pm food lovers get an opportunity to taste and buy local produce, watch cookery demonstrations and enjoy live music. Entrance is free.

14th July. The East Neuk village of Cellardyke is celebrating 70 years of its fishing heritage with a ‘living history’ event and procession of the Cellardyke Sea Queen. Starting at Anstruther Harbour, the afternoon will include the annual crowning of the Sea Queen and historic vessels such as the Scottish Fisheries Museum’s Reaper.

15th July. Taste of Summer Food Fair at Ardross Farm, Elie 11am till 4pm.

15th – 22nd July. The 147th Open returns to Carnoustie on the historic Championship course. Children can attend for free, and there are plenty of activities for kids of all ages in the Spectator Village as well as the Autograph Zone where young fans can meet their heroes.

18th – 28th July. Crail Festival. Organised over 11 days with 35 different events. There are daytime activities for the children including the putting green and a variety of musical, poetry and drama productions along with a street market. Tickets are available from the town hall daily during the festival between 10am and 3pm.

19th July. If you missed an evening with Mark Beaumont at Rufflets in December, the Cow Shed, Crail welcomes the world-record cyclist on Thursday 19th July. You can hear about Mark’s inspirational journey, pedalling around the world in 80 days. Tickets are available from Eventbrite and all proceeds donated to help with Battens Disease.

25th -29th July. The Old Course at St Andrews will achieve another historic milestone by hosting the Senior Open Championship for the first time in July. John Daly and Costantino Rocca, who conjured up an epic finish to The Open 23 years ago, will aim to turn back the clock this summer when they renew their great rivalry on the Old Course at St Andrews along with the return of many more golfing legends.

28th & 29th July. Anstruther Harbour Festival will be packed full of activities for the whole family to enjoy this July with a funfair for children along with arts & crafts, magic shows and street performers. Anstruther’s historic market is recreated in one of the Festival’s two marquees dedicated to arts, crafts and artisans selling jewellery but food-lovers will also be able to enjoy fresh farm foods, specialty baked goods and a range of charity-bake tables. The Festival also celebrates traditional Scots and Celtic culture with a pipe band parade, highland dance displays, concerts and ceilidhs as well as the Anstruther Muster with its annual gathering of visiting boats from all along the Forth and beyond, and the Classic Boat Rally of historic fishing luggers, yachts and working boats.


Leave Your Passports at Home

June 29, 2018

As the summer approaches more and more of us are looking closer to home for holiday inspiration and with very good reason. Here are 10 to choose a staycation over a vacation this summer in St Andrews.

 1 – A short car or rail journey is far easier when travelling with children in the busy school holidays when airports are at their busiest and the whole experience can be a stressful start to the beginning of your vacation.

 2 –  No time lost travelling means that staycations can be shorter without losing a couple of days getting to and from your end destination. They provide more flexibility for shorter stays, weekends, or taking a couple of staycations instead of just one longer vacation.

3 – Discover just how beautiful the Fife coast is. It’s easy to forget that Scotland is home to some of the most picturesque coastal towns with stunning beaches, pretty harbours and local attractions for the whole family to enjoy. The East Neuk of Fife boasts several of the best all worth visiting this summer. Elie and Earlsferry is a wonderful seaside destination for the whole family offering a long sandy beach, water-sport activities and the Elie chain walk -one of Scotland’s best kept coastal secrets. St Monans pretty harbour and houses is a draw for visitors to the area and the Fife coastal path a great way to explore. 

4 – Choose a hotel like Rufflets that provides the perfect backdrop for a family staycation. We have acres of grounds and gardens for the little ones to safely explore and a range of family accommodation including our self-catering lodges. You can count on delicious healthy cuisine using the freshest produce at Seasons Restaurant and get the children involved in what they eat with a visit to our own kitchen garden. We even have daily ice-creams for children served on the Terrace. 

5 – Forget the reputation that Scotland has for grey skies, while the weather can be unpredictable at times, June and July are the warmest and sunniest months with 16-18 hours of daylight. It’s perfect weather to explore the outdoors and the long summer evenings an opportunity to dine al fresco. 

6 – Immerse yourself in Scotland’s fascinating history. It has its fair share of fairy-tale like castles and historic buildings to explore in and around St Andrews. Ghost tours are a fun way to learn about some of St Andrews residents that are still hanging around!

 7 – You won’t have to leave your furry friend at the kennels. Rufflets has lots of accommodation that is perfect for the whole family including your dog.8 – Set your own pace with as little or as much as you want to fit into your staycation. We can provide hampers for a lazy day at the beach or recommendations for exhilarating activities at West Sands Beach. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe which takes place in August is also a great day trip by train from Leuchars!

9 – No holiday hangover! Unexpected costs like overseas phone bills, currency exchange, and bank charges that catch up with you post-vacation can really leave you with holiday blues.

10 – We have great staycation rates available all summer-long either in one of our family rooms or self-catering lodges. Book 30 days ahead to take advantage of our advanced purchase rates with 15% discount.


A Summer of Sports

June 21, 2018

This summer promises a feast of non-stop sports with an exciting calendar of events throughout June, July and August and you can enjoy it all in the wonderful surroundings of Rufflets – along with a few treats at the same time!

As more action from the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup continues, teams from 32 countries battle it out for places in the knock-out phase of the competition and a spot in the quarter and semi-finals beginning 6th July. Defending champions – Germany are hoping to reach the final on Sunday 15th July and collect the most prestigious trophy in world football.  Our cosy bar & lounge will be showing all the games and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a beer and grab a bite to eat from Chef’s Footie Food Menu. Our friendly table service means you won’t have to miss a second of the games!


Wimbledon begins on 2nd July and we’re hoping Murray’s recovery from hip surgery at the beginning of the year will see him back on court and claiming a third Wimbledon title and a fourth grand-slam victory. Throughout July we’ll be serving strawberries and cream to enjoy with a glass of fizz or Pimms on the Terrace or lawn.



We will be following more home-grown talent during the 147th Open at Carnoustie between 15th and 22nd July. Scott Jamieson, Paul Lawrie and Sandy Lyle will join US Open champion Brooks Koepka on one of the toughest Links courses in the world and a chance to pick up the famous Claret Jug.



There is action from the British Grand Prix on 8th July and coverage from the Tour de France throughout July, and we will be joining the Women’s GB hockey team for the World Cup 21st July till 5th August.


Come and join us throughout the summer months.


Grown With Love

June 15, 2018

Work underway in March with the planting of new paths

When Head Gardener Phil Harper embarked on the kitchen garden expansion in January it required real vision to create an area that would fulfil the requirements of the kitchen team for fresh daily produce as well as creating a visually interesting space for hotel guests to visit.

Rufflets had been growing a lot of the produce for the kitchen in the hotel gardens for many years but wanting to deliver a dining experience that would guarantee guests seasonality and freshness of ingredients was the inspiration for the new restaurant Seasons and the incentive behind the re-design of the kitchen garden.

Working with a wish list from the kitchen team in advance of the planning, Phil and his team transformed and doubled the old space into a one acre area complete with greenhouses, propagation tunnels, raised beds, soft fruit frames and new vegetable plots to grow an impressive range of herbs, salad leaves, vegetables and fruits that all make their way onto the menu at Seasons Restaurant.

Nick picking fresh salad



Growing more and more of the hotel’s own produce has inspired the hotel team and customers who regard visiting the kitchen garden before or after dining and learning about the provenance of their food as a complete experience.


Turning wild garlic into pesto




An exciting harvest presents many opportunities to use unexpected bumper crops and produce for a daily-changing market menu at Seasons or to pickle and preserve for later in the year.





You may be surprised at how different the kitchen gardens look just six months on. Take a look at a before and after shot of the new raised beds.

What a difference a few months can make!

As the seasons change, it’s an opportunity for the kitchen and gardening team to confer on the success of the produce and plan for the months ahead.


10 of the Best Scottish Whiskies

June 8, 2018

We caught up with Gavin Aitken at Rufflets for some advice on Scottish whisky and to find out what makes it the best.

How long have you been with Rufflets?

Fifteen years, man and boy!!

What does your day to day role involve?

Every day is different. This could include anything from selecting and ordering fine wines and spirits from our various merchants, to hosting dinner in our new Seasons Restaurant or master of ceremony duties at one of our many weddings. Plenty of chatting about golf with some of our guests visiting from overseas can also be a highlight.

What is a Scottish whisky?

The ingredients for making a Scottish whisky are barley, wheat or maize with some yeast and pure Scottish water. The distilled liquid is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 3 years and 1 day (but usually much longer) before it can be called whisky. The famous single malts are the production of a single distillery, although not necessarily from the same year or oak barrel type, and are only made from the finest quality barley.

Which are the 5 Scottish whiskies you would recommend to a guest and why?

Here are some of my favourite single malts –

Scapa Skiren (Orkney) – Plenty of honey notes and richness from this un-peated Island malt.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Islay) – Incredible complexity, challenging flavours with plenty of peat smoke, medicinal notes and smoked meat! Perseverance is rewarding.

Highland Park 18yr (Orkney) – The first whisky ever bought for me in a pub. A fantastic all-rounder, creamy, full, spicy with some citrus notes. Still waiting for someone to buy me another dram!

Auchentoshan Three Wood (Lowlands) – One of the few triple distilled Scottish whiskies around, matured over time in three different oak barrels previously used for maturing sweet Oloroso and Perdo Ximenez sherry and bourbon from Kentucky. I use this a lot as a starting point for guests that do not have much experience with tasting whisky as they tend to love its smoothness and toffee and raisin rich flavours.

Balvenie 21yr Port Wood – What’s not to love? Finest Speyside single malt aged in 30 year old Port pipes. Red fruits, floral notes and elegant throughout.

For guests who want to improve their whisky knowledge with some practical experience, Gavin has created whisky tasting evenings for individuals or small groups from Rufflet’s own selection of over 100 malts. Tastings can simply be an informal chat across the bar with suggested whiskies or a more structured, pre-booked tutored tasting for groups of 4 or more starting at around £25 per person.



Gavin Aitken, Food and Beverage Manager


It’s a dog’s life

June 1, 2018

When I heard the adults were taking a trip to St Andrews I was prepared for the worst as generally it means a stay for me at the kennels. You can imagine my delight when I discovered the adults were taking me along. They had found a place to stay that loves dogs, with gardens for me to run around in and grounds to explore at my leisure and not too far from the beach.  There were no little people to share the adults nor lead me astray – it was really important I was on my best behaviour all weekend.

We arrived at Rufflets just after lunch on Saturday and boy was I impressed! We had our own place within the grounds of the hotel called the Gatehouse with its own parking and entrance. The adults must have had a tough time choosing which room to stay in as this place really does love dogs. There are a handful of rooms or self-catering lodges we could have stayed in, but the Gatehouse was perfect with direct access to the gardens and a lounge I could call my own space for the weekend.

A welcome pack was waiting in the Gatehouse for us with a list of requests which all seemed fair and doggy treats to reward good behaviour. The hotel had even thought about a clever ‘dog in room’ sign we could use so I wouldn’t give housekeeping a fright when they were tidying up after the adults.

Families travelling with dogs can borrow lots of useful bits and pieces they might have forgotten to pack for pets on holiday like a dog bowl, a lead, a bed and a towel to dry off after the beach. They think of everything including an emergency number for the local vet and some great places in and around St Andrews that we might enjoy exploring.

The hotel’s 10-acres of grounds was paradise for me during our stay it meant the adults didn’t have to go too far to give me the exercise I needed, and all the staff were friendly and always seemed happy to see me making the most of their gardens. St Andrews was great fun too with lots of beaches for me to run and play on and all the other dogs were just so friendly. We explored the beaches at West Sands and Elie and I even got to paddle.

Rufflets really was the perfect holiday break and the adults only paid an extra £10.00 per night for me. Hopefully they will leave a review on Trip Advisor to say what a brilliant time we have had in St Andrews and just how pet friendly Rufflets was and you can think about visiting too!


Celebrating the Summer Solstice

May 25, 2018

With bright sunshine and warm days expected to take the place of a usually showery bank holiday weekend, it is really beginning to feel like summer has arrived in Fife.

Our Terrace has been standing room only at weekends and on sunny evenings after work as residents and visitors to St Andrews make the most of the sunshine, and there’s no better place to enjoy a quintessential afternoon tea than outside overlooking the gardens.

Although it may feel like summer, the official start of the season begins on Thursday 21st June, with the summer solstice. There are two solstices each year, one in the winter and one in the summer. The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun and we are able to enjoy 17 hours of daylight.

Over the centuries the summer solstice has inspired many festivals and midsummer celebrations including our very own Summer Solstice BBQ at Rufflets.

We are making the most of the longest day of the year with a BBQ on the Terrace from 8:00pm until late. You can enjoy an evening of summer cocktails and a BBQ. Click here for more information or to reserve your tickets.

It’s a day to celebrate as the summer solstice actually signals the moment the sun’s path stops moving northward in the sky and is the start of days becoming steadily shorter as the slow march towards winter begins, so why not get your friends and family together and make the most of the sunny days ahead!


We Love Reviews

May 18, 2018

Who doesn’t? Good or bad…we love reviews!

You may wonder why reviews are so important to our hotel? We wanted to dispel any myths surrounding reviews and explain why they are so important to our team at Rufflets.

Reviews give us an opportunity to find out how we did

What we did well and what we could do better. Reading about some of the magical moments we were able to create during your stay at the hotel or your visit to Seasons Restaurant fills us with an immense sense of pride. We analyse guest comments and take pro-active measures to improve every aspect of our hotel operation and service to enhance your next visit.

Staff Acknowledgement

If one of our guests had such a good experience that they left a positive review, it warrants acknowledgement that stands out. We use reviews to recognise and acknowledge staff members that have gone the extra mile to create a positive experience for our guests.

Booking with confidence

Who trusts a hotel or a new restaurant with limited reviews? It’s easier for potential guests to understand what Rufflets or Seasons restaurant offers when there are a higher volume of testimonials. Reading positive reviews make guests feel comfortable booking with us. Sites like Trip Advisor can be really useful when planning a visit to a destination for the first time. It’s a great way to gather information on places to stay and places to dine and you will find us there too!

How and where can you leave reviews?

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to leave a review wherever it feels most comfortable or wherever you have an account already set up. Below are just a few of the places we would encourage you to leave a review:

  • Trip Advisor – either leave a review at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews or Seasons at Rufflets St Andrews. We appreciate that reviews, especially the best ones are sometimes credited to the organisation, but our reviews can be trusted. Trip Advisor in particular have a number of clever systems in place that prevent this happening. If you see an outstanding review on our site, we have earned it!
  • Facebook – Rufflets St Andrews or Seasons at Rufflets
  • Twitter – Rufflets Hotel or Seasons at Rufflets
  • Google and Google + It’s easy to leave a review on Google once you are signed in. Open Google Maps, search for a place and write a review. You can even score us
  • Our team send an e-mail post-stay and you have an opportunity to respond with your thoughts or leave a review on Trip Advisor without the need to sign-up or register

Your reviews are important to us. Please consider leaving a review for us next time you visit Rufflets.


10 minutes – 10 questions with Rufflets Head Gardener

May 10, 2018

Phil Harper

Tell us a little about how you got into gardening – what inspired you and have you always loved plants / seeing things thrive and grow?

I started by helping my parents in their garden and it grew from there (excuse the pun). Simple jobs to begin with like grass-cutting but then I took an interest in being able to grow plants from seeds in a glass-house. When I was still at school I was given a work-placement with Fife Council helping sort plants before they were taken outside for planting in the various public spaces in Glenrothes. This all helped cement the idea in my head that this was something that I enjoyed and could make a career out of.

Education and career history in a nutshell please – was there a single moment when you knew that you wanted gardening to be your full time profession?

Collydean Primary, then Glenwood High. Left at 16 having sat the Standard Grade exams, and then enrolled at Elmwood College on a horticulture course. After this introductory course, I decided to make it my career and went on to do additional studying at Elmwood College undertaking a National Certificate in horticulture.

Did you work on hotel or estate gardens before this role at Rufflets?

My first real gardening job was on a private estate near Biggar (south of Edinburgh). It was opened once a year to the public for the National Gardens Scheme, and also for some private groups. After 12 years, I left to start my own gardening and landscaping business. It was hard work combining the gardening with the commercial side of the business. When I saw the role of Head Gardener at Rufflets Hotel in St Andrews advertised I applied and the rest is history.

When did you start working at Rufflets?

April 2010

How big is your team?

This year there are 3 of us in the team. It used to be 2, but with the expansion of the kitchen garden, plus an additional 10 acres, the boss said I needed extra help!

How is working on big spaces like the grounds at Rufflets different from home gardens or smaller garden spaces?

Working in larger gardens involves a lot more advance planning in addition to the day-to-day and routine tasks that the team have to stay on top of and the actual hard-graft in the gardens. It makes it much tougher than a domestic garden. I only get one day each week to maintain my own garden at home.

What is the most enjoyable part of your role at Rufflets?

Watching months of planning and hard work come to fruition. The really rewarding part is watching the chefs come out to the kitchen gardens to pick the things that I grow to then cook and serve to our guests. My parents come and stay at the hotel and love eating in Seasons Restaurant and it fills me with pride when I reflect on everything that they taught me in their own garden and how it inspired me to become a gardener. My parents now have an opportunity to eat the produce that I grow in one of the best restaurants in the area.

 What is the least enjoyable?

Climbing ladders – I don’t like heights.

Is there anything guests dining at Seasons should look out for on the menu in the coming few months?

Plenty of fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits.

 One favourite garden fact..

Most of today’s medicines have a route all the way back to common garden plants.