Karen Koren: Pete’s got the best Xmas gift

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MONDAY night saw me mingling with the great and the good at Prestonfield House Hotel and what a lovely place it is.

The staff are so welcoming, with lovely smiles - you feel as if you have just stepped into a piece of Edinburgh history.

I was there to celebrate the launch of Pete Irvine’s newly published Scotland the Best! A brilliant read and a must if you want to visit the best of the best in Scotland, from hotels to B&Bs, good quality restaurants to cafés and other places of interest.

Pete has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland to discover what he feels is worth visiting. Some are great value for money, others interesting yet obscure places that you may not find without his help.

There are strolls, walks and hikes, outdoor activities, consuming passions and the islands.

Consuming passions include Very Special Shops, one of which, House of Bruer, I have actually visited. Pete describes it as an ‘extraordinarily successful countryside mall, a courtyard emporia if not euphoria’.

I have to add that I had lunch there a couple of weeks ago on our way up to Inverness and the roast beef was the best I have tasted for a long time.

Another section that is fascinating is Glorious Glamping – well, it is glamorous camping. I think it is ‘over priced camping’, however, I shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it. Bet it started at Glastonbury.

One thing I did notice, though, is that Pete did not include the wonderful house I had my big birthday party in a couple of years ago.

Winton House is just outside Edinburgh, a beautiful place owned by Sir Francis Ogilvy, in the heart of East Lothian. Winton House is a Scottish Castle and a private house. It is full of grandeur but not aloof; you are welcomed warmly as a guest into a home. We had such a good time there and Pete was one of the guests – so what gives with no mention? I would like this corrected forthwith.