Shropshire Star

Travel review: Blackaddie House Hotel and Restaurant, Dumfriesshire

There’s one big reason for visiting the south-west of Scotland – OK the countryside and coast are spectacular – but for me the magnet is the Blackaddie House Hotel and Restaurant.

Blackaddie House Hotel and Restaurant

And the biggest lure for me is the cooking of Ian McAndrew – I am known as Mrs Picky by many friends but after eating two of the finest meals I’ve had in recent years I simply could not find fault. Neither could I find fault in the ambiance and service in both the restaurant and hotel. My partner was amazed...

Running the hotel is Ian’s wife, Jane, whose service at the delicious breakfast was also faultless. Can’t believe I’ve said that again. And no, I was not high on anything or even had a little too much of the grape.

Blackaddie House Hotel has been transformed by Ian and Jane McAndrew

Ian and Jane bought Blackaddie back in 2007 after a lifetime of working in the hospitality trade and immediately started the transformation of what was then a run-down small nine-bedroomed hotel on the outskirts of Sanquhar in north Dumfriesshire.

Clientele were very local but now Blackaddie is renowned across the UK for the cuisine and hospitality. There’s nothing stuffy about the hotel, it is warm and welcoming and while the dining room is immaculately laid out with crisp linen on the tables it provides a very relaxed and comfortable setting to savour Ian’s culinary delights.

There are now six en-suite guest bedrooms, some dog friendly and you can also take your pooch into the sitting and bar areas plus the library furnished with comfy sofas for you to peruse the books – in fact comfy sofas abound, including in the conservatory.

Bathrooms are of the highest quality and include top toiletries along with huge fluffy towels and bathrobes. Blackaddie also has three cottages in the grounds overlooking the River Nith. If you want to self-cater that’s fine but you can also take all meals in the hotel.

If you fancy some fresh air there are two acres of beautifully kept gardens including the veg and fruit areas which supply the kitchen with the freshest ingredients. In fact the emphasis is very much on home grown or local produce.

Blackaddie House Hotel and Restaurant

And now we come back to Ian. Often called the Chefs’ Chef, Ian has been a chef for over 45 years so you may well imagine that by now he has honed his art. Ian was at the time the youngest Englishman to attain a Michelin Star and has written three best-selling cookery books.

Immediately prior to taking on Blackaddie, Ian ran his own successful catering consultancy business and has had clients from as far afield as Istanbul to New York.

As soon as you see and taste Ian’s food you realise jut how passionate he is about food. It is created with such intensity and love. The menu changes daily, which means guests never get bored and also get the chance to try more exquisite dishes.

When we visited there were delicious canapes as we devoured the menu on our first evening relaxing in the bar. Choices made, we went through to the elegant and beautiful dining room and enjoyed delicious homemade bread. Our dishes included grilled mackerel with charred watermelon, shoots leaves and flowers from the garden with a cucumber sorbet. Are your mouths watering?

Our palate cleanser was roast onion ice cream – yes roast onion and what a revelation. We both could have eaten it again. Other highlights that evening included a main course of lamb – sauteed courgette cannon lamb with fricassee of sweetbreads and broad beans and pan roast cod with crushed new potatoes, braised and then roast fennel all from the garden.

Puddings left us speechless on both nights and I have to mention the excellent selection of Scottish cheeses, all from the local area, served with homemade oatcakes.

Blackaddie House Hotel and Restaurant

If you want to see Ian at work and have a go yourself, Blackaddie offers a Chef For A Day experience. It is intense, as you would expect with someone of such high standards, and for only one or two people.You join Ian and his small team in the kitchen and see how they produce that amazing food. Not just a service but a whole day, from the beginning to the end – from the initial menu planning meeting with the chefs in the morning through the preparation and onto service.

This is not your normal cookery school, this is real hands-on work in a real kitchen. I don’t think I’m quite up to that! I suppose I should also go back to life outside the hotel.

Dumfries and Galloway is often overlooked by tourists but it is a stunning region with rolling roads, forests, lochs and a wonderful coastline.

And I suppose I should have mentioned the many awards Blackaddie and the team have in their trophy cupboard but I’ve run out of space.

Blackaddie is a treasure on all fronts with first class but relaxed service, bonny bedrooms and a gourmet delight in the dining room.

Fact file:

  • Rooms from £175 B&B. Special prices from now to Easter; two nights DBB in a superior for only £120 per person DBB or for three nights £110 per person DBB.

  • Blackaddie is a member of Signpost which has been recommending the UK’s top privately owned hotels since 1935. All Signpost members are visited every year, to make sure top standards are maintained. For more details and to receive news about hotel offers visit

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