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JUDY MURRAY IS A WINNER AT CROMLIX by guest blogger Fiona Duncan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O'Sullivan

New hotels in sleepy corners of Scotland don’t often cause a stir, but then home-grown Wimbledon champions such as Andy Murray don’t often become hoteliers. Name a British countryside hotel that you love, and it will be because it has an owner who passionately cares about it. In the case of Cromlix, near Dunblane, in Perthshire, it’s not the absent Murray who gives this place life, but his mother. Judy Murray is elegant, relaxed and a natural communicator. Andy may have decided to buy Cromlix, and his girlfriend Kim has had a large hand in the way it now looks, but they live in Surrey and travel the world; Judy lives a few minutes away and while the hotel is run by a management company, Inverlochy, she will, I’m sure, be the one to give it depth and a sense of place.Cromlix has been superbly refurbished. Retaining paintings and furniture that came with the house, interior designer Kathleen Fraser has, with input from artistic Kim, created a traditional but harmonious look for the reception rooms, billiards room, whisky room and 15 bedrooms and suites (two with steam showers). But it’s Edinburgh-based designer Ian Smith who has given the hotel, which stands in 34 acres of grounds, including a loch, a dazzling and necessary fillip: a scintillating bar and newly built conservatory restaurant. Frankly, without these, Cromlix would have been just another luxurious but sleepy Scottish hotel. With them, the house has come alive. Striking, specially designed sofas and chairs are part velvet, part leather, in lime green and dark blue; a large skylight dominates the sunny canteen-style restaurant with its open kitchen; best are the oriental murals in the spacious bar, in gold-leaf paint, of blossom boughs, birds and animals. And thank goodness for Gordon, who has worked at Cromlix for years. The rest of the staff are new and the atmosphere is cheerful and polite but not enveloping. Still, this is a hotel that’s set, thanks to the Murrays, to mature and once again become a major part of its community, and Andy can only be congratulated. There is just one sign that the hotel is owned by a tennis champion: the two courts, one for children, resplendent in Wimbledon’s purple livery.

Further information, 01786 822 125; Cromalix Hotel

Fiona Duncan is one of the UK's leading hotel experts. She writes a weekly column for The Sunday Telegraph and is the author of several hotel guides. You can read a longer version of this review at Telegraph Travel. Follow Fiona Duncan on Twitter @hotelguruguru

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