If you've so much as swung a club in the direction of a golf ball at some point in your life, St. Andrews is likely on your bucket list. But with so much to offer, how does one navigate the Auld Toon? You know where you’re playing: the Old Course, Kingsbarns, Crail, and, if you care to venture a bit further north, mighty Carnoustie. But where are you staying? Options abound, for all tastes and budgets. Here are seven of the best places to lay your wind-battered bones.
BEST LOCATION: RUSACKS HOTEL
This beloved, iconic hotel has always been notable thanks to its location overlooking the Old Course's 1st and 18th holes. Now it is notable thanks to its style and fine dining. All 70 bedrooms recently have been upgraded and many wholly refurbished. And its restaurant, Rocca, is run by Michelin-rated chef Davey Aspin and now offers dining worth traveling for — and not just because it overlooks golf’s greatest arena. (Try the Orkney rib-eye steak with dauphiniose potato, cauliflower gratin, and a red wine sauce.) The Rusacks makes a cameo at the beginning of the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. Following the famous training run on the West Sands beach (where Old Tom Morris used to take a quick swim every morning), the action moves to the hotel, showing it off in all its Edwardian glory.
Rooms from about $385; Pilmour Links, St. Andrews, +44 (0)1334 474321
BEST B&B: CLEVEDEN HOUSE
St. Andrews is awash with B&B’s. Some are professional outfits, others homespun. The best of the bunch are along Murray Place and Murray Park, where almost 20 guesthouses line walkways just a two-minute walk from the Old Course. Cleveden House is one of the most popular, a tightly run ship with excellent rooms and scrumptious breakfasts. Charlie Huldal and his wife Ray run the place with plenty of charm. Charlie is a former captain of The New Club (a golf and social club housed along the 18th fairway of the Old Course), so his golf chat is excellent, second only to his porridge, which has been voted best in the country. It’s a thing of creamy deliciousness more than virtuous healthiness.
Double rooms start at $140 in the high season; 3 Murray Place, St. Andrews, +44 (0)1334 474212
BEST FOR LUXURY: THE OLD COURSE HOTEL
The Old Course Hotel is the one you recognize from watching the Open on the “telly.” It’s a hulking hazard (it obstructs the tee shots on the par-4 17th hole), as well as something of a sprawling ’60s architectural adventure. Inside, though, it’s lovely and utterly luxurious. Sir Nick Faldo reckons there are few better things than a round at St. Andrews before retiring to the O.C.H. for a warming glass of his favorite Scotch, Glenmorangie Original, then a relaxing soak in a Kohler bath. (The hotel is owned by the American plumbing magnate, Herb Kohler.) Don't miss the whisky bar, which is a well-stocked thing of wonder.
Rooms start at $425; Old Station Road, St. Andrews, +44 (0)1334 474371
This large country house just a five-minute drive from St. Andrews was in private hands until 2014 when it was sold and began its transformation into a lavish hotel, which opened just this year. The manse has six guest suites as well as a two-bedroom gate lodge on the grounds. Service is impeccable. Think Downton Abbey, complete with butlers and chauffeurs who collect you from the airport in a 1935 Rolls-Royce. Visiting golf groups with deep pockets will be tempted to book the whole place.
Suites start from $580; Cupar Road, St. Andrews, +44 (0)800 181 4449
BEST FOR WINE LOVERS: HOTEL DU VIN
Formerly The Golf Hotel, The Hotel du Vin is part of a chain of hotels celebrated for their style, reasonable prices, good food and, as the name suggests, excellent wines. The lovely bedrooms are named, and to a lesser extent themed, around wines, champagnes and single malt whiskies. Feast on some serious grub in the hotel bistro, or drink and dine more casually in the basement bar, Ma Bells, where you’ll find students and locals enjoying a deejay, live music or cocktail masterclasses, none of which disturb the chic calm of the hotel itself. The hotel is on a street called The Scores, almost opposite the Martyr’s Monument, where the first tee of the Old Course used to be.
Rooms, including breakfast, start from $278; The Scores, St. Andrews, +44 (0)8447 489269
BEST FOR BARGAIN-HUNTERS: ST. ANDREWS UNIVERSITY HALLS OF RESIDENCE
This is the cheap and cheerful way to do St. Andrews. During the summer months when the students have retreated, the University of St. Andrews offers great values for penny-pinching travelers. The Agnes Blackadder Hall is the pick of them, with its three-star accommodation, en-suite facilities and budget hotel trappings. The McIntosh Hall is a little more basic (note: shared bathrooms), but the location is as central as it gets. For self-catering, book the well-equipped David Russell Apartments, which each have five double bedrooms that are ideal for groups and families.
Rooms from $85; various locations around St. Andrews, +44 (0)13334 463000