Gleneagles Hotel

An internationally-famous luxury resort encompassing a 344 ha / 850 acre estate in Strathallan, Perth and Kinross, Gleneagles Hotel lies opposite the entrance to Glen Eagles, 1½ miles (2.5 km) west southwest of Auchterarder. Begun at the height of the Edwardian hotel-building era by the Caledonian Railway Company, on a site personally selected by their General Manager, Donald Matheson (1860 - 1935), this substantial Georgian-style building was the work of architects James Miller (1860 - 1947) and Matthew Adam (1876 - 1945), both closely associated with the railway. It was begun in 1913, although work was halted during the First World War and did not resume until 1920. The rambling main building is not pretty and comprises three principal floors, with a further two in the attic. It originally had 216 bedrooms, 100 bathrooms and 18 private sitting rooms, providing accommodation for 300 guests. The building included a sun lounge, swimming pool and a grand ballroom, with a sprung dance floor, and a garage for 100 cars with repair facilities, reflecting the needs of the wealthy patrons of the time and the unreliability of early vehicles. The nearby Gleneagles Railway Station, was upgraded and renamed to welcome visitors without their own transport. The hotel building was designed with innovations such as electric lighting and central heating, while the interior was sumptuously decorated in the 18th C. Adamesque style, but with some Art Deco.

By the time the hotel opened in 1924, the Caledonian Railway had merged into the London Midland and Scottish grouping. The opening was transmitted live on BBC radio, one of the first outside broadcasts, and regular radio broadcasts continued from the ballroom, featuring Henry Hall and his dance band, an effective marketing ploy which ensured Gleneagles Hotel became known across the country.

During the Second World War the hotel served as a military hospital and then as a rehabilitation unit, which was transferred to Bridge of Earn Hospital in 1946, when Gleneagles reverted to its role as a grand hotel. It was nationalised with the railways in 1948 and remained part of the state-owned British Transport Hotels group until 1981, when it was sold and subject to a £11 million refurbishment. The building was B-listed in 1980. The property was acquired by the distiller Arthur Bell & Sons in 1984, which was taken over by the drinks group Guinness the following year. Perth-born chef, Andrew Fairlie (1964 - 2019), opened a restaurant within the hotel in 2001 that now has two Michelin stars. Guinness's successor, the alcoholic beverages multi-national Diageo, sold the hotel to Ennismore Capital in 2015 for around £200 million.

Gleneagles was always intended as a sporting resort, and Donald Matheson asked golf champion James Braid (1870 - 1950) to design two golf courses adjacent to the hotel; namely the King's Course and the Queen's Course, which both opened before the hotel in 1919. Patrons could also enjoy grouse shooting and, by the 1950s, time at Gleneagles was well-established in the social calendar for the elite of British society. Further golf courses followed and the Gleneagles Golf Academy opened in 1994, rebranded as the PGA National Academy for Scotland in 2010. The Jackie Stewart Shooting School opened in 1985, followed by the Mark Phillips Equestrian Centre in 1988 and the British School of Falconry in 1992.

The hotel was the venue for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1977, which gave rise to the Gleneagles Agreement on sporting contacts with South Africa, the 1986 meeting of the Bilderberg Group and the G8 summit of world leaders in 2005.

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