The Inn at Lathones is one of Scotland's oldest coaching inns. It stands beside the A915 as the road makes its way down through eastern Fife a little over five miles south-west of St Andrews and about a mile north-east of the small village of Largoward. Today it is a combination of an outstanding fine dining restaurant awarded 2 Rosettes by the AA, a 4 Star inn, an excellent place to stay for anyone wanting to enjoy the many delights of eastern Fife and, most surprisingly of all (and only sometimes), a renowned music venue. You can read our dining review for the Inn at Lathones here.
The origins of the Inn at Lathones date back over 400 years, and the oldest surviving part of the inn is the stables, built in 1603. The main house was built in the late 1600s and a stone over the fireplace commemorates the marriage of Iona Kirk and Ewan Lindsay in 1718. They went on to run what by then was a drovers' inn for eighteen years until Iona's death in 1736. It is said that Ewan died of a broken heart not long afterwards. The ghost of a Grey Lady sometimes seen in the stables is thought by some to be Iona Kirk. Another noted local during this era was a highwayman known as "Wee Mad MacGregor" who was known to spend some of his ill gotten gains at the inn. In later years the inn had its own golf course, used by the residents of the local mining community, which like the golf course is long gone. The second half of the 20th Century saw the inn change hands a number of times, until it was brought in June 1997 by Nick & Jocelyn White who continue to run it today.
Today the main house is home to a strikingly attractive and extremely comfortable lounge, where you get your first taste of the the very classy line in memorabilia on show throughout the public areas of the inn and in some of the guest rooms as well. These tend to reflect interest of the owner, Nick White, in all things sporting and in wine: and the inn is also home to the music memorabilia collection of music promoter David Mundell. The ground floor of the main house is arrayed around a massive chimney, and those parts not occupied by the lounge are home to the restaurant, in many ways the core of life at the inn. The old stables, to the rear of the main house, provide a flexible space for functions and events, for private dining, or for music nights: with "Rocking at the Stables" (or RATS to its friends) winning the Inn at Lathones the award for "Music Pub of the Year 2009" despite (or perhaps because of) the maximum audience size of just 50.
There are 21 en-suite guest rooms at the inn. Some of these, the Coachman's rooms and the more luxurious Studios, are in a wing which extends to the south of the inn itself. Another group, the Smithy rooms, form one side of an attractive courtyard to the rear of the inn and occupy an old blacksmith's house and forge which date back to about 1850. The most recent addition, in 2008, added the forth side to the courtyard and comprises six luxury rooms and two suites in what is known as the Old Forge. Guest rooms come in a variety of sizes, but all have a slightly boutique feel that owes much to the light wood floors and furnishings and the contemporary artwork. Beds are particularly comfortable and the double beds are fitted with two single duvets rather than one double. At a stroke this ends the night-long tussle for possession of the bedding that characterises so many first nights in a new environment and does much to promote a restful night for guests. This is an idea which as far as we know has been pioneered by the Inn at Lathones but seems bound to spread.
A number of rooms have special features, such as the balconies and spa baths of the Old Forge suites (and the four poster bed in one of them) and the real log fires in the Grey Lady Room and Mad McGregor's Bedroom. The character and setting of the inn make it a popular venue for weddings, with ceremonies possible in either the pretty courtyard or within the inn itself.
For such an old building, disabled access is not bad, if possibly a little tight in some of the public areas. Ramp access is possible to the restaurant and lounge, and two guest rooms have been converted to be fully usable by disabled guests.
The Inn at Lathones has an impressive reputation for its food, but we were less clear what to expect in terms of its setting and accommodation. What we found was a very unusual establishment that is actually quite hard to categorise satisfactorily: which is perhaps why it has been the only VisitScotland STB 4 Star Inn in Scotland since 1997. But perhaps it is best to set categories aside and simply note that the Inn at Lathones brings together elements of inn, restaurant and hotel, all of which are very good indeed, and all of which combine beautifully to give guests an outstanding experience, especially if they dine here. You can read our dining review for the Inn at Lathones here.