Gleneagles Townhouse
Managing Director, Conor O’Leary's top tips on how to

Experience The Glorious Playground

29 March 2022
Conor O'Leary in the Century Bar

An iconic country estate set beneath the beautiful Ochil Hills, Gleneagles has been a luxury destination for nearly a century. Hear more from Managing Director, Conor O'Leary, as he shares his favourite things to do on the estate, the beautiful countryside and what you can expect from a visit to Gleneagles.

What do you think is the best reason to come to Scotland?

It’s a beautiful country with so much variety. It’s got a city like Edinburgh with its storied architecture. You can walk around in a day, from the Castle to the neighbourhoods, taking in everything along the way. Then you get outside of Edinburgh, up towards Gleneagles and beyond where you’ve got some of the most picturesque scenery in the world; punctuated by lochs, hills and mountains.

Gleneagles is located in the heart of Scottish countryside, what is the area known for?

We’re in Perthshire, a beautiful region that spans quite a large area from north to south. We’re considered at the top of the Lowlands, just before the start of the Highlands. So just above Gleneagles you get into the Highlands of Scotland, just below us are lower regions like Edinburgh and Glasgow. We are just at that meeting point, where the hills, lochs and greenery surround us at all times.

A view in the Ochil Hills near Gleneagles

Gleneagles has a lot to offer, how to keep the estate from feeling too large?

Our estate is 850-acres, we have 233 bedrooms and we carry out about 50 activities for our guests. From shooting and fishing, to going out with the gundogs, horse-riding, tennis and golf. We were built very sensibly back in 1924, we are not high-rise, we are very spread out. So between that and most of the activities being outdoors, it actually doesn’t feel too large or imposing at any stage.

What are some of your favourite activities?

I would always send people outdoors first, I think that’s what we do best. We have beautiful gundogs that you can learn how to train or just take them for a walk on our estate. Then there is whisky tasting in our cellar, where we’ll take you through the huge variety of whiskies that we have in Scotland. We have even partnered with a local distillery to create our own Gleneagles whisky, which I urge anyone to try when they come over.

What about activities or day trips off property?

Something that is really cool nearby is Stirling Castle, it is about half an hour away. It’s the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace is also from the area and it was the setting of many battles. It’s got a fascinating history. The tour through the castle will take you through the living quarters that they’ve recreated and the Great Hall where they would have had dinner. It sits on top of a cliff edge looking over Stirling and the surrounding areas.

Stirling Castle

What is your favourite season at Gleneagles?

I love the Autumn. I love walking with a coat, going out for a walk with the dogs and then finishing up in front of the fire. Winter is also great, when it snows here it is beautiful.

Which hole on one of the golf courses has the best view?

My favourite hole, which has great views as well, is the 13th on the King’s Course. The King’s and Queen’s courses here were designed by James Braid, who is considered by many as the grandfather of golf course design. The 13th on King’s is arguably one of his best holes. It’s just beautiful and the views from there are stunning.

What is your favourite room or suite at Gleneagles?

The Royal Lochnagar is our signature suite which is hugely popular amongst many of our guests. Mine however is the Tower Suite, it sits above the front door in the tower of Gleneagles. The layout is a bit different, it’s not to everyone’s taste because the living space is upstairs from the bedrooms. But I love the views from there, the terrace has 360-degree views over the estate.

A large corner sofa covered in blue and grey cushions surrounds a chest ottoman at the top of a spiral staircase in the Tower Suite

Gleneagles is about to celebrate their 100th birthday, tell us how the property has evolved over the past 100 years?

We opened in June 1924, which was an optimistic time. We were built as ‘The Palace in the Glen’, ‘Riviera of the Highlands’ and ‘The Eight Wonder of the World’, it had all these names from the newspapers at the time. People would travel up by train, because we were built by the Caledonian Railway Company, they would drive up and some would even fly up. They came to play golf, to drink cocktails and to dance. We still got the same sprung dancefloor in our Ballroom and on the open day a band led by Henry Hall did the first live radio broadcast playing tunes for people to dance to. So, it really was a playground and we still use that phrase today, The Glorious Playground.

If you had to choose another hotel to pair with Gleneagles on a trip, which would you choose?

Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh, which is opening this Spring. It is a small townhouse hotel, right in the heart of Edinburgh. From there we can pick you up and take you back to Gleneagles when you’ve had a couple of days in Edinburgh.


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