The Hideaway Experience: another world on your doorstep

Sometimes a little deception is no bad thing. Well, it was in my case recently when the opportunity arose to test drive something new in the shadow of the Sidlaw Hills, just outside Dundee.

Now before you motoring buffs get all hot and bothered thinking of the latest crossover vehicle or 4×4, I should explain that this test drive was of a much more intimate nature.

Tucked away from prying eyes and all things motorised (apart from your own wheels) are three delightful deluxe Hideaways where you can spend a few days far from the hurly burly of modern strife and rekindle the romance in your life.

Ross and Caroline Millar of Balkello Farm, Auchterhouse, came across these types of hideaways throughout Australia and New Zealand and thought it was an idea that they could adapt over here. Starting with a renovated bothy, the Old Romantics Hideaway, they have now added two more purpose-built retreats.

Ah the deception, you ask. Well that came about after frequently being accused of becoming “unromantic” and “boring” and “old before my time” and … well, you get the picture.

So Mum was the word, or actually not the word, when this ideal chance to forget parenthood, work, bills and just be ourselves again came about. So, with a bewildered wife wondering which roadside travel lodge we were heading for this time, we set off from home on our epic journey of just 12 miles!

Luxurious doesn’t really do justice to these hideaways. The moment you see them it’s apparent that literally no expense has been spared in setting them up and, more importantly, a huge amount of time has obviously been spent too in making the layout and contents seamlessly blend together into a paradise for couples.For more information www.balkello.com or email romance@thehideawayexperience.co.ukThe primary attraction is privacy. No passing traffic or people, no uninitiated contact with the owners, no doorbell rings, phone calls, nosey kids or howling hounds interrupting precious private moments. You are warned though that you might find a pair of beady eyes staring through the window at you, but they belong not to a peeping tom but to Colin the peeping pheasant. Oscar the farm cat also occasionally comes calling.

The spa room in the Lover’s Hideaway the one we were allocated is simply sensational and is dominated by an enormous double-sized white roll-top bath set in the middle of a sea of classy grey granite tiles and positioned beside huge clear glass patio doors. It was initially a bit disconcerting trying out the bath for size it felt like we were in the front garden as there are no curtains or blinds but it didn’t take long for that sensation to fade. And that dip was good preparation for a bolder, and initially colder, one to follow.

Continued…

Just outside, sunk into the full-length decking, is a hot tub, permanently heated to 40C courtesy of solar panels, and happily only two short and very quick chilly steps from the warm under-floor heating. It certainly felt delightfully decadent on what was a very cool and breezy spring day to idly watching the wildlife hop and fly by while taking another sip of bubbly in the bubbles. There is also a cold shower on the deck but we passed up that opportunity!

Being fairly tall and sadly fairly wide, too I was pleased to see the oversized four-poster bed, which incidentally had the thickest duvet I’ve ever encountered. I was also glad I had purloined my son’s iPod as the leather chaise longue in the bedroom had a very cool built-in connection point and speakers. The iPod also fitted in the CD player for spa entertainment and also into yet another clever sound system that had a too-clever-for-me handset that looked a bit like an iPhone. So many gadgets, so little time…

With solar panels, heat-pump-powered heating, turf-covered roofs and other eco-friendly applications it’s no surprise that recycling is also high on the list with occupants encouraged to not just recycle empty bottles and cans but also any suitable food scraps for the pet hens of children Sophie and Finlay.

The Millars’ meticulous attention to detail isn’t just defined by the fixtures and fittings, however. Keen to enhance the whole experience they are actively working with local businesses to provide an ever-expanding range of holiday options. Our first taste of this was a hamper of local delights including jam, chutney, cheese, oatcakes and sweets. The second taste was dinner provided by Caroline, who arrived at 7pm on our first evening with homemade soup and freshly-baked bread, salad and baked potatoes and two huge sirloin steaks sourced from the butcher at nearby Newtyle, with an enormous homemade strawberry pavlova for afters.

All of it was a complete treat for the tastebuds.

The second bonus was a full-body massage for both of us from Spanish masseuse Populo. My wife, Charmaine, is a confirmed massage fan I was a sceptic. Not now though. It was bliss.

Also on the menu was dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee. Owners John and Audrey Batchelor are passionate about French cuisine and equally passionate about sourcing produce locally for their intimate bistro-style restaurant.

The ever-ebullient Mr Batchelor served up for starters creamy cauliflower soup and a huge plate of pastis flambed mussels with prawns and cream. For our main courses I opted for venison with redcurrant jelly sauce while Charmaine continued down the seafood route choosing puff pastry with mixed fish and prawns in a dill sauce, with both washed down by the eminently drinkable house red.

Desserts are always a delight at Bon Appetit and true to form Charmaine had the legendary chocolate mousse and I the crme brulee, along with an espresso and Armagnac. Bon viveurs are certainly at home in Bon Appetit.

If the weather had been kinder during our stay torrential rain and wind on the second day we might have been able to explore the many paths around the farm, either on foot or on the pair of mountain bikes supplied, but in truth we were quite happy to chill out beside the crackling log stove.

Around and about there is plenty to do and see though. Just along the road you can try clay pigeon shooting or even drive a tank. History buffs can visit Glamis Castle and the nearby Angus Folk Museum, or aim for Arbroath to see the abbey and then sample smokies.

You can swing clubs at Carnoustie, St Andrews and many other courses or just see how ancient ancestors swung clubs at Pictavia in Brechin. Down the road in Dundee, Discovery waits to welcome you onboard, or stroll around the town centre and tour The McManus, the city’s newly refurbished museum and art gallery, see a show or a movie or dine.

We were chauffeured in to our dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee and found our way back by taxi for a very reasonable £12.

Back at the Hideaway the city lights, the Law and the oil rigs could be easily seen, but felt a million miles away rather than just 12. That probably explains why many clients are locals and not romantics roaming far from home.

So a five-star experience? Absolutely not! You can add on at least four more in the shape of Caroline, Ross and their two charming children. And I’m reliably informed that there are many more stars at the Hideaways if you gaze upwards from the comfort of the hot tub after dark.

My stars predict a return visit is on the cards in the near future.For more information www.balkello.com or email romance@thehideawayexperience.co.ukJust outside, sunk into the full-length decking, is a hot tub, permanently heated to 40C courtesy of solar panels, and happily only two short and very quick chilly steps from the warm under-floor heating. It certainly felt delightfully decadent on what was a very cool and breezy spring day to idly watching the wildlife hop and fly by while taking another sip of bubbly in the bubbles. There is also a cold shower on the deck but we passed up that opportunity!

Being fairly tall and sadly fairly wide, too I was pleased to see the oversized four-poster bed, which incidentally had the thickest duvet I’ve ever encountered. I was also glad I had purloined my son’s iPod as the leather chaise longue in the bedroom had a very cool built-in connection point and speakers. The iPod also fitted in the CD player for spa entertainment and also into yet another clever sound system that had a too-clever-for-me handset that looked a bit like an iPhone. So many gadgets, so little time…

With solar panels, heat-pump-powered heating, turf-covered roofs and other eco-friendly applications it’s no surprise that recycling is also high on the list with occupants encouraged to not just recycle empty bottles and cans but also any suitable food scraps for the pet hens of children Sophie and Finlay.

The Millars’ meticulous attention to detail isn’t just defined by the fixtures and fittings, however. Keen to enhance the whole experience they are actively working with local businesses to provide an ever-expanding range of holiday options. Our first taste of this was a hamper of local delights including jam, chutney, cheese, oatcakes and sweets. The second taste was dinner provided by Caroline, who arrived at 7pm on our first evening with homemade soup and freshly-baked bread, salad and baked potatoes and two huge sirloin steaks sourced from the butcher at nearby Newtyle, with an enormous homemade strawberry pavlova for afters.

All of it was a complete treat for the tastebuds.

The second bonus was a full-body massage for both of us from Spanish masseuse Populo. My wife, Charmaine, is a confirmed massage fan I was a sceptic. Not now though. It was bliss.

Also on the menu was dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee. Owners John and Audrey Batchelor are passionate about French cuisine and equally passionate about sourcing produce locally for their intimate bistro-style restaurant.

The ever-ebullient Mr Batchelor served up for starters creamy cauliflower soup and a huge plate of pastis flambed mussels with prawns and cream. For our main courses I opted for venison with redcurrant jelly sauce while Charmaine continued down the seafood route choosing puff pastry with mixed fish and prawns in a dill sauce, with both washed down by the eminently drinkable house red.

Desserts are always a delight at Bon Appetit and true to form Charmaine had the legendary chocolate mousse and I the crme brulee, along with an espresso and Armagnac. Bon viveurs are certainly at home in Bon Appetit.

If the weather had been kinder during our stay torrential rain and wind on the second day we might have been able to explore the many paths around the farm, either on foot or on the pair of mountain bikes supplied, but in truth we were quite happy to chill out beside the crackling log stove.

Around and about there is plenty to do and see though. Just along the road you can try clay pigeon shooting or even drive a tank. History buffs can visit Glamis Castle and the nearby Angus Folk Museum, or aim for Arbroath to see the abbey and then sample smokies.

You can swing clubs at Carnoustie, St Andrews and many other courses or just see how ancient ancestors swung clubs at Pictavia in Brechin. Down the road in Dundee, Discovery waits to welcome you onboard, or stroll around the town centre and tour The McManus, the city’s newly refurbished museum and art gallery, see a show or a movie or dine.

We were chauffeured in to our dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee and found our way back by taxi for a very reasonable £12.

Back at the Hideaway the city lights, the Law and the oil rigs could be easily seen, but felt a million miles away rather than just 12. That probably explains why many clients are locals and not romantics roaming far from home.

So a five-star experience? Absolutely not! You can add on at least four more in the shape of Caroline, Ross and their two charming children. And I’m reliably informed that there are many more stars at the Hideaways if you gaze upwards from the comfort of the hot tub after dark.

My stars predict a return visit is on the cards in the near future.For more information www.balkello.com or email romance@thehideawayexperience.co.ukJust outside, sunk into the full-length decking, is a hot tub, permanently heated to 40C courtesy of solar panels, and happily only two short and very quick chilly steps from the warm under-floor heating. It certainly felt delightfully decadent on what was a very cool and breezy spring day to idly watching the wildlife hop and fly by while taking another sip of bubbly in the bubbles. There is also a cold shower on the deck but we passed up that opportunity!

Being fairly tall and sadly fairly wide, too I was pleased to see the oversized four-poster bed, which incidentally had the thickest duvet I’ve ever encountered. I was also glad I had purloined my son’s iPod as the leather chaise longue in the bedroom had a very cool built-in connection point and speakers. The iPod also fitted in the CD player for spa entertainment and also into yet another clever sound system that had a too-clever-for-me handset that looked a bit like an iPhone. So many gadgets, so little time…

With solar panels, heat-pump-powered heating, turf-covered roofs and other eco-friendly applications it’s no surprise that recycling is also high on the list with occupants encouraged to not just recycle empty bottles and cans but also any suitable food scraps for the pet hens of children Sophie and Finlay.

The Millars’ meticulous attention to detail isn’t just defined by the fixtures and fittings, however. Keen to enhance the whole experience they are actively working with local businesses to provide an ever-expanding range of holiday options. Our first taste of this was a hamper of local delights including jam, chutney, cheese, oatcakes and sweets. The second taste was dinner provided by Caroline, who arrived at 7pm on our first evening with homemade soup and freshly-baked bread, salad and baked potatoes and two huge sirloin steaks sourced from the butcher at nearby Newtyle, with an enormous homemade strawberry pavlova for afters.

All of it was a complete treat for the tastebuds.

The second bonus was a full-body massage for both of us from Spanish masseuse Populo. My wife, Charmaine, is a confirmed massage fan I was a sceptic. Not now though. It was bliss.

Also on the menu was dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee. Owners John and Audrey Batchelor are passionate about French cuisine and equally passionate about sourcing produce locally for their intimate bistro-style restaurant.

The ever-ebullient Mr Batchelor served up for starters creamy cauliflower soup and a huge plate of pastis flambed mussels with prawns and cream. For our main courses I opted for venison with redcurrant jelly sauce while Charmaine continued down the seafood route choosing puff pastry with mixed fish and prawns in a dill sauce, with both washed down by the eminently drinkable house red.

Desserts are always a delight at Bon Appetit and true to form Charmaine had the legendary chocolate mousse and I the crme brulee, along with an espresso and Armagnac. Bon viveurs are certainly at home in Bon Appetit.

If the weather had been kinder during our stay torrential rain and wind on the second day we might have been able to explore the many paths around the farm, either on foot or on the pair of mountain bikes supplied, but in truth we were quite happy to chill out beside the crackling log stove.

Around and about there is plenty to do and see though. Just along the road you can try clay pigeon shooting or even drive a tank. History buffs can visit Glamis Castle and the nearby Angus Folk Museum, or aim for Arbroath to see the abbey and then sample smokies.

You can swing clubs at Carnoustie, St Andrews and many other courses or just see how ancient ancestors swung clubs at Pictavia in Brechin. Down the road in Dundee, Discovery waits to welcome you onboard, or stroll around the town centre and tour The McManus, the city’s newly refurbished museum and art gallery, see a show or a movie or dine.

We were chauffeured in to our dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee and found our way back by taxi for a very reasonable £12.

Back at the Hideaway the city lights, the Law and the oil rigs could be easily seen, but felt a million miles away rather than just 12. That probably explains why many clients are locals and not romantics roaming far from home.

So a five-star experience? Absolutely not! You can add on at least four more in the shape of Caroline, Ross and their two charming children. And I’m reliably informed that there are many more stars at the Hideaways if you gaze upwards from the comfort of the hot tub after dark.

My stars predict a return visit is on the cards in the near future.For more information www.balkello.com or email romance@thehideawayexperience.co.ukJust outside, sunk into the full-length decking, is a hot tub, permanently heated to 40C courtesy of solar panels, and happily only two short and very quick chilly steps from the warm under-floor heating. It certainly felt delightfully decadent on what was a very cool and breezy spring day to idly watching the wildlife hop and fly by while taking another sip of bubbly in the bubbles. There is also a cold shower on the deck but we passed up that opportunity!

Being fairly tall and sadly fairly wide, too I was pleased to see the oversized four-poster bed, which incidentally had the thickest duvet I’ve ever encountered. I was also glad I had purloined my son’s iPod as the leather chaise longue in the bedroom had a very cool built-in connection point and speakers. The iPod also fitted in the CD player for spa entertainment and also into yet another clever sound system that had a too-clever-for-me handset that looked a bit like an iPhone. So many gadgets, so little time…

With solar panels, heat-pump-powered heating, turf-covered roofs and other eco-friendly applications it’s no surprise that recycling is also high on the list with occupants encouraged to not just recycle empty bottles and cans but also any suitable food scraps for the pet hens of children Sophie and Finlay.

The Millars’ meticulous attention to detail isn’t just defined by the fixtures and fittings, however. Keen to enhance the whole experience they are actively working with local businesses to provide an ever-expanding range of holiday options. Our first taste of this was a hamper of local delights including jam, chutney, cheese, oatcakes and sweets. The second taste was dinner provided by Caroline, who arrived at 7pm on our first evening with homemade soup and freshly-baked bread, salad and baked potatoes and two huge sirloin steaks sourced from the butcher at nearby Newtyle, with an enormous homemade strawberry pavlova for afters.

All of it was a complete treat for the tastebuds.

The second bonus was a full-body massage for both of us from Spanish masseuse Populo. My wife, Charmaine, is a confirmed massage fan I was a sceptic. Not now though. It was bliss.

Also on the menu was dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee. Owners John and Audrey Batchelor are passionate about French cuisine and equally passionate about sourcing produce locally for their intimate bistro-style restaurant.

The ever-ebullient Mr Batchelor served up for starters creamy cauliflower soup and a huge plate of pastis flambed mussels with prawns and cream. For our main courses I opted for venison with redcurrant jelly sauce while Charmaine continued down the seafood route choosing puff pastry with mixed fish and prawns in a dill sauce, with both washed down by the eminently drinkable house red.

Desserts are always a delight at Bon Appetit and true to form Charmaine had the legendary chocolate mousse and I the crme brulee, along with an espresso and Armagnac. Bon viveurs are certainly at home in Bon Appetit.

If the weather had been kinder during our stay torrential rain and wind on the second day we might have been able to explore the many paths around the farm, either on foot or on the pair of mountain bikes supplied, but in truth we were quite happy to chill out beside the crackling log stove.

Around and about there is plenty to do and see though. Just along the road you can try clay pigeon shooting or even drive a tank. History buffs can visit Glamis Castle and the nearby Angus Folk Museum, or aim for Arbroath to see the abbey and then sample smokies.

You can swing clubs at Carnoustie, St Andrews and many other courses or just see how ancient ancestors swung clubs at Pictavia in Brechin. Down the road in Dundee, Discovery waits to welcome you onboard, or stroll around the town centre and tour The McManus, the city’s newly refurbished museum and art gallery, see a show or a movie or dine.

We were chauffeured in to our dinner at Bon Appetit in Dundee and found our way back by taxi for a very reasonable £12.

Back at the Hideaway the city lights, the Law and the oil rigs could be easily seen, but felt a million miles away rather than just 12. That probably explains why many clients are locals and not romantics roaming far from home.

So a five-star experience? Absolutely not! You can add on at least four more in the shape of Caroline, Ross and their two charming children. And I’m reliably informed that there are many more stars at the Hideaways if you gaze upwards from the comfort of the hot tub after dark.

My stars predict a return visit is on the cards in the near future.For more information www.balkello.com or email romance@thehideawayexperience.co.uk

Breaking

    Cancel