A+ for dinner, bed & breakfast, a relaxing stay and good hosts!
Some people believe that a higher star rating means a better place to stay, which might seem obvious, but achieving a star rating is a bit of a check-box exercise – is there on-site parking? Are there uniformed staff? Are there conference facilities? Do I really care about conference facilities if I’m booking a weekend break?!
I also know people who have never stayed, and have no intention of staying in a B&B, “why would you want to stay at someone’s house when you could stay at a 4-star hotel (…with its lovely big empty unused conference rooms)?” Well, if you do a web-search for accommodation in East Ayrshire you’ll find a luxurious 4-star hotel which was voted “Scotland’s Best Wedding Venue” in 2010, 2012 and 2013 which is quite an acclaim, however you’ll also find a cosy little B&B called The Old School which actually has better reviews than this particular hotel, so they must be doing a lot right! We spent a night there to find out…
The Old School B&B is, as the name suggests, a former primary school in the East Ayrshire countryside, just outside New Cumnock, and being a former school, the choice of bedrooms relate to school subjects, there are Art, History, Science and Geography rooms to choose from; we opted for the latter which is a large spacious room with four poster wrought-iron bed, desks, sofa, TV & tea & coffee making facilities. On arrival we were greeted by owners Mike & Liz who showed us to our room…
The en-suite had a huge bath as well as a shower and make-up removal pads and wee disposal bags, which is a great idea!
Attractive wash-basin with good quality Champneys toiletries and face cloths.
It’s fitting that the geography room should also have an antique globe in the room.
After unpacking we moved onto the spacious living room, which was really toasty as the stove was on.
Although The Old School is a B&B they do also provide evening meals which is a great bonus as there isn’t much in the way of restaurants in the local area. We put our dinner request in via email before we arrived and while we waited for dinner Liz brought us tea, coffee and homemade shortbread – which was lovely.
There’s a cabinet of DVDs in the hallway if you’d like to watch something in your room and there are heritage walk leaflets for nearby Dalmellington & Kilmarnock and an Ordnance Survey map on the wall if you’re looking for inspiration for countryside walks.
The place-mats continue the school theme – and each one is unique!
And there’s some interesting artwork on the walls of the dining room, and this particular painting is a remnant from an art exhibition that took place at The Old School.
We had 2 courses each. The lamb was delicious, perfectly cooked and full of flavour and all the veggies were perfect too!
The medium-rare steak was tender and meaty and of obvious good quality, it came with the same assortment of vegetables which were all perfect.
For pudding we both had Cranachan which was lovely, creamy and quite-filling with fresh raspberries on top. Bliss!
After that we were stuffed and made our way back to our room to chill out, make use of the huge bath and then fall asleep in the huge comfy super king size bed…
As well as the usual assortment of cereals, yoghurts and fresh fruit, there’s also a selection of homemade jam, lemon and lime curd.
For hot items we both opted for a full breakfast, which was again cooked to perfection. Mike advised us that all the breakfast items were from a local butcher, with the exception of the eggs (look at how yellow they are!)…
They’re also “homemade” as they have chickens in a coop outside!
After breakfast we went out to feed the chickens. Liz advised us that they love apple cores, so if you plan to stay bring some apples with you!
And not only do they have chickens…but they have ducks too! Though they weren’t too keen to see us and kept running away!
And that’s not all, they have 2 geese as well and while we were there we were lucky enough to witness 2 new born goslings – we couldn’t get too close as daddy goose was being protective.
Guaranteed fresh eggs from the hens and ducks are available to take home at a cost of £1.50 for 6 chicken or £2.10 for 6 duck eggs. Homemade jam & local honey can also be purchased and taken home – from £3.
The Old School gets top marks from us as everything was perfect! Mike & Liz were lovely welcoming hosts who provided everything needed for a comfortable & relaxing stay – it was so quiet, the nearest neighbour is a dairy farm about 500 yards along the road so it was unbelievably peaceful – aside from the quacking of the ducks and the hissing of daddy goose! And that was another plus point – having so many birds, being able to feed them, and have their eggs for breakfast! The food was restaurant quality – fresh and expertly cooked at both dinner and breakfast.
Local attractions include Drumlanrig castle, Dumfries House, Galloway forest park, Craigengillan observatory, Auchinleck estate with its many caves and New Cumnock community open-air swimming pool (the only heated Clean Water open-air swimming facility in Scotland!)
By car, the Old School is on the B741 between Dalmellington and New Cumnock.
By public transport – there are regular trains from Glasgow Central to New Cumnock. From there take a taxi.
Book a stay on their Website. The Geography Room is currently priced at £80 per night while the other 3 rooms are all £70 (or £60 and £50 respectively for single occupancy).
PS bring wellies if you want to feed the chickens and see the geese and ducks!
PPS since we stayed there Mike & Liz have now added a huge world map to the Geography Room as you can see from below: