Review: Whitekirk Hill, East Lothian, travel: we experience one of their five-star lodges

They’re a five minute drive from North Berwick
Whitekirk HillWhitekirk Hill
Whitekirk Hill

When I visit Whitekirk Hill, I want to don a pipe and flat cap, and say, “I remember when all this was fields”.

It’s been a few years since I was last at this destination, which is a five-minute drive east from North Berwick, but back then, it was still partially under construction and very muddy.

This time, I’ve left my wellies at home.

Whitekirk Hill lodge bedroomWhitekirk Hill lodge bedroom
Whitekirk Hill lodge bedroom
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Since my first trip, I’ve been to this bucolic spot, which has just received a five-star Visit Scotland rating, to try lunch at its on-site restaurant, The Orangery and its Walled Terrace. There’s also been a stop at The Spa on the Hill, where they offer treatments by Elemis.

The remaining box to tick is a stay at one of their most recent additions - nine environmentally conscious dog-friendly lodges, which opened in July 2021 and take advantage of a view to Berwick Law.

However, this doesn’t really feel like my first visit, after the amount of time I’ve spent pouring over pictures on the website. They look very cool, thanks to their blocky design, which picks out an abstract house silhouette. It reminds me of that toddler game, when you have to slot the bricks into holes of the same shape.

There’s a selection of sizes, including The Laidlaw, which sleeps ten, The Telfer for four and our studio-sized The Weir. As our car drives up the hill and passes the biggest lodge, we see a Happy Birthday sign strung outside, and I make a mental note to book it for my next shindig.

Whitekirk Hill bathroomWhitekirk Hill bathroom
Whitekirk Hill bathroom
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Our space for the night consists of a porch, then, to the right, as you enter, there’s a huge bathroom, with tub and walk-in shower, plus products from The Scottish Soap Company. The remainder of the floor space is open plan, with full height ceilings, and there is more than enough room to swing a cat. You could probably chuck a troop of lions about.

According to my personal live-in chef, the kitchen is way better equipped and more ergonomic than most of the self-catering properties we’ve stayed at, and there’s a table for two. Between this space and the bedroom and sitting area is a chest-height partition, which doubles as a very handy shelf for crisps and drinks while you’re watching Netflix in bed. I’m pretty sure they won’t be bothered by a few crumbs between the white sheets. We watched the sunset from this vantage point too.

However, if you’re more civilised than me, there is a comfy sofa.

Beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, you have the covered patio, with another seating area, and there’s the wood-fired hot tub. After this, there’s acres of bright yellow gorse, which didn’t smell very coconutty yet, but still acted as a perfect cover for wild birds, who kept popping in and out of the undergrowth, as if they were starring in a puppet show.

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The people at Whitekirk Hill very kindly get the hot tub fired up before you visit, so it doesn’t become a watched pot situation. While the sky was still blue, we leapt in and stewed until our fingertips were dimpled.

If you’re staying at the lodges, head back down at the main building, where Eat. Stay. Chill. Play is printed on the doors. There's more aqua therapy available at their Leisure facilities. These are free to use for lodge guests and incorporate a 13m swimming pool, sauna, steam room, spa bath, gym and a fitness centre that offers energetic-sounding classes like Highland Dance Fitness.

For families, there’s the 228m² Play Barn, though it costs extra to get in. This is soft play, but not as you know it. Rather than the usual retina-mangling primary colours and manic music, the space is rendered in a very tasteful Scandi-style. There’s also an adjacent cafe, so you can watch the nippers go ballistic while eating millionaire’s shortbread.

These are the bigger attractions, but there are micro ones too.

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We enjoyed the robes and slippers in our lodge, the underfloor heating in the bathroom and easy-to-use air-con. They’ve thoughtfully provided eye masks, to shut out the morning light from one of the top triangular windows, and there’s a paper carrier bag, so you can offload any unwanted food for them to donate to the local food bank.

Apparently, there are also lots of nice walks in the area. Sadly, I didn’t bring those wellies. Excuse sorted.

Whitekirk Hill, Whitekirk, North Berwick (01620 671700, The starting price for a night in The Weir is £262. Their Hot Tub package includes Prosecco, slippers and robes, a cheese platter to share and brunch for £290 (an additional night is an extra £200).