This Autumn/Winter season, Zachary experienced the countryside flair of the Glorious Playground followed by life on the square at Gleneagles Townhouse. From leisurely strolls through the Glen and a bit of friendly competition across country pursuits, to uncovering hidden gems in Edinburgh and ending a day of city adventure with rooftop cocktails in Lamplighters – Zachary shares his experience of how to live up the best of Town and Country in the heart of Scotland.
Trading New York Skyscrapers for Scottish Skies
Zachary Weiss is a New York based lifestyle and hospitality tastemaker serving as an ambassador to a variety of luxury brands through curated collaborations and thoughtful activations. He is also a contributing writer to titles such as Vogue US, Ralph Lauren Magazine and YOLO Journal, reporting on exclusive soirées, menswear fashion, food and travel.
“There is no air fresher than Scotland,” an acquaintance remarked to me when I told them of my upcoming visit to Gleneagles, and it was on a morning walk — alongside Mr. Head of Adventure himself, Yuri Janssen — that I found myself recalling these words and taking heavy, deep inhales as the wind swept over the hills. The air was pure. It was uplifting. It was restorative.
Living in New York City, periods of time like this are essential for maintaining one’s sanity, and serve as a proverbial “happy place” where, with our fond memories, we can mentally transport ourselves as we sweat on the subway platform or trod through slushy intersections while we’re honked at by yellow cabs.
Walking in the dewy morning with Yuri was one of many “happy places” I can recall, and possibly the leading highlight of my visit. Yes, the scenery is stunning, but Janssen comes armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of most corners of the world, including the African bush where he spent 18 years as a safari guide, photographer and filmmaker. During our walk, as we looked out onto the verdant hillside, he regaled us with death-defying tales of mechanical failure in crocodile infested waters and encounters with angry elephants until we happened upon two otherworldly orbs. Here, my walking mates and I were treated to a beautiful lunch, as well as the company of a few of the hotel’s falconry family, including Golden Eagles and Harris Hawks.
I’ll look fondly upon my time in the shooting school, a place where I often find myself dressed and ready for the occasion in requisite tweeds, but as one instructor quipped to me many years ago, “You’ve got all the gear and no idea.” Gerry Rattray, a 22 year veteran of the British Army, was unfazed by my less-than-perfect shot, and delicately guided me toward some semblance of improved marksmanship using his beloved Beretta.
I’ll never forget my evening at The Strathearn too. Crossing through the entryway, past the tasseled velvet curtains, the dining room feels plucked from a bygone era. Somehow, it is the same room where I had breakfast earlier in the day in the sun-drenched solarium, though it feels entirely transformed by the flickering candlelight that beautifully reflects off the silver champagne trolley as it glides by. The menu follows suit, with a beef wellington lovingly prepared table side and garnished with a bordelaise sauce that still brings a tear to my eye as I write this.
Most of all though, I’ll always recall the effortlessness that surrounded my visit. Knowing that Manhattan often fights back with its inhabitants in a beautiful, though often masochistic way, to come from country to town so seamlessly felt almost suspicious as we made our way from Gleneagles to the new Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh.
Welcomed through the doors by the team, it was here that I felt truly in residence as opposed to visiting as another hotel guest. It’s an important distinction I’ve come to value in my travels, and it can come to life in many different ways, though it’s more of a feeling than a science.
It manifests at Gleneagles Townhouse through beautiful shared moments with the team, from a warm greeting at any hour of the day to a warm bowl of wild hare pasta by the fireplace. Though no visit to the Gleneagles Townhouse is complete without a tasting in The Telling Rooms with sommelier Adam. An Edinburgh native with a global knowledge of wine, Adam’s approach feels akin to joining a friend in their kitchen for snacks and a glass of wine. However, as one sits with Adam, it becomes clear that everything you are enjoying has been so lovingly selected and comes paired with a story. There’s a triple cream brie I would happily consume everyday, and a 2021 Gut Oggau Maskerade white that comes unlabeled, made by a family in extremely limited quantities and categorized only by illustrations of fictional characters — far out, I know.
Moments like these are the essence of travel, and why I continue to find myself back on a plane, often to places I have been before. Yes, a break from routine is always a welcome reprieve, but I have found that a checklist of sights to see will always pale in comparison to a shared moment with friends new and old.
By Zachary Weiss