The Tontine Hotel stands on the south side of Peebles' busy High Street, a little set back from the road itself and separated from it by a cobbled courtyard, and by a drinking fountain. It's a town centre hotel that at first sight looks to be very much in the traditional mould. Step through the front door and you enter a really rather special place. Owners Kate & Gordon Innes have steadily refurbished the hotel over a period of more than a decade, and what you find is a collection of interiors that retain the wonderful character of the hotel while at the same time giving it a subtle contemporary edge.
The result is a hotel that is busy throughout the day and has a real buzz about it; a hotel with comfortable accommodation and great service; and a hotel that offers a variety of settings in which to enjoy its excellent food. You can read our dining review for the Tontine Hotel here.
The frontage of the Tontine Hotel carries the date "1808" in large numerals high above the main door. It was built as a hotel over the two years 1806-1808, mainly using French prisoners of war as labour, and the first manager when it opened was a Franco-Belgian called Monsieur Lenoir. The name is unusual, and comes from the method of funding. A group of subscribers invested in the hotel, with the agreement that the last surviving of them would become the sole owner. For obvious reasons such an arrangement, a "tontine", has been used as a plot device in more than one crime story. In this case Sir John Hay of Hayston, who had been nominated as a member of the tontine in infancy, eventually became the owner. The hotel was purchased by Trust Houses in 1922, and later extended by Trusthouse Forte Group. It has been owned and run by the Innes family since 2001.
Finding the Tontine Hotel is very easy: it is an obvious feature on Peebles High Street. There is a small parking area at the front of the hotel, and further parking is available at the rear, accessed by the lane leading down the hill at one side of the building or from Tweed Green, the road behind the hotel.
The front door leads into the attractive hall. This is probably a good point to drop the adjective "attractive" as it applies to all of the hotel's public rooms and to all the refurbished guest rooms. The reception area is to one side, with the Tweeddale Shoot Bar beyond it, while to the other a glass panelled wall leads through to the Callants Lounge, as likely to be enjoyed by retired couples taking afternoon tea as by a mother-and-baby group taking morning coffee: and all ages between.
Off to one side of the lounge is the Bistro, another, OK, we'll say it, attractive space, offering informal dining. To the rear of the lounge is the hotel's crowning glory, the elegant Adam Room Restaurant. The tall windows at the far end offer distant views of the hills to the south of Peebles, while a minstrels' gallery at the near end adds to the character. This doubles as the largest of the hotel's function rooms, and it is easy to see why a number of brides have found this an irresistible place for a wedding reception following a wedding in one of the town's many churches or in the nearby Registry Office.
Guest accommodation is in 36 en suite bedrooms. Some of these are on the first and second floors of the main building, while others are in the large annex at the rear, connected by a glass sided corridor to the main hotel. The combination of more modern extension and older building mean that there are guest rooms of a variety of shapes and sizes on offer, including three family rooms and two rooms that can be let as triples. There are also different outlooks available, ranging from the High Street at the front to Tweed Green and the River Tweed at the rear. The one thing that unifies the rooms is the owners' rolling programme of renovation of them, which is now on its second cycle since they took over the hotel.
Disabled access to the ground floor of the hotel is good, and includes a parking space, ramp access and facilities. There is currently no lift, and none of the bedrooms are disabled-friendly.
The Tontine Hotel offers facilities for those visiting the area for a wide range of activities, and secure cycle storage is available. The hotel is also very popular with golfers, taking advantage of the many courses in the Scottish Borders and beyond. Walkers and anglers are equally welcome and well catered for locally, and the hotel is also dog-friendly, with a number of rooms being available for guests with their canine companions. You can read our dining review for the Tontine Hotel here, but it is possible to summarise it by saying that the food is extremely good.