The 17thC town of Culross is an utterly bewitching, step-back-in-time kinda place. Overlooking the atmospheric Firth of Forth, it offers a peaceful and quirky alternative to a Scottish city stay, yet it’s a brilliant base for day tripping to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Stirling for exploring bright lights (around 30 mins’ drive to each) so you can have the best of both worlds.
We adored our stay: exploring narrow causeways, climbing up to the stunning ruins of Culross Abbey, and — most of all — chilling out in this vintage-inspired cottage. The very best of old meets new, its owner Laura has created a real haven of design and included masses of thoughtful and generous touches. It’s surprisingly spacious with a full-length living area, 2 bedrooms, a lovely reading snug (with a sofabed for extra guests), a sun-trap terrace, and if your group is bigger than 6, you can spill over into Laura’s guesthouse next door. Need more enticement? An incredible breakfast basket arrives on your doorstep as if by magic each morning, with daily changing ingredients.
Here’s how it all came about.
Q. Is your background in hotels?
Laura: No, not at all, this is all new to me! I studied Interior Design back in 1996, but it was left to a hobby whilst I pursued a career in Project Management. In 2010, we moved to Canada for Paul’s work, and whilst there an opportunity arose with a major home builder in Ontario, which ultimately led me to head up their design team and award-winning studio.
What brought you back to Scotland, and to Culross?
I grew up in West Fife, and after living in Canada for 10 years we decided we were ready to move back and take on a new challenge. We decided to look for a property that we could convert into boutique, design-centric accommodation. We started our search while still living abroad, and intially dismissed these properties [the cottage and adjacent guesthouse] from their imagery. However, once back here, on a lockdown walk we were able to see the exteriors and get a better understanding of the scale and potential. When we were finally able to view the interiors, we knew they were perfect for converting.
What was your inspiration, design wise?
I’d collected lots of inspiration over the years, from different accommodation and countries we have visited. I love a mix of old and new and the cottage really represents that. Vintage furniture, lighting and original artworks are dotted throughout; however we are also passionate about quality and wanted to ensure that our guests enjoy ridiculously comfortable beds and linens, too, plus luxurious Scottish toiletries.
Where did you source the unique furnishings?
We scoured the internet to build an extensive black book of vintage sellers, second hand shops, independent retailers, and local trades that are now our go-to. Guests often ask where we find things and we are always happy to share the info; we love to support independent businesses across the UK.
What are your favourite elements of the hideaway now?
The Vintage Ercol daybed covered in a graphic black and white gingham has become something of a signature for us. However, the back terrace is our favourite spot – a sun trap where guest love to chill.
Now let’s talk breakfasts. One of my favourite elements of the stay.
Yes, everyone gets so excited to see what’s in their basket each day! Our baked goods and homemade granola are accompanied by local honey, yoghurt, jams and fresh fruit. We add a changing daily selection of Scottish smoked fish, meats and cheeses too, all delicious and varied. We also stock our fridge with local eggs, milk and orange juice for guests.
Guests can also order picnics and charcuterie platters [extra cost, utterly worth it] and we have a well-stocked honesty bar with local products; from Scottish gin & tonics to artisan chocolate made in Edinburgh.
What are people always surprised by when they stay?
Two things: how bright and spacious the cottage is, and how far removed they feel from their daily lives. The charm of Culross puts our guests in true holiday mode, even if they have only travelled 35 minutes from Edinburgh or Glasgow – they are completely relaxed and instantly rested.
Experience Design Cottage Fife for yourself: read our full review and get direct booking details here.