The phrase “great golfing city breaks” may sound like something uttered in the 1960s US TV series of Batman. It also sounds like a contradiction. Surely, golfing breaks are all about country estates and purpose-built, all-in-one resorts? Well, not any more. Some of Europe’s finest city-centre hotels are opening themselves up for golfers and arranging tie-ups with local courses. Here are five of the best:
Famously billed as the “home of golf”, there are few better places to play in the world than St Andrews While getting to tee off on the Old Course itself can be tricky (it involves a ballot two days before) there are six other courses worth a swing, including a nine-hole course you can just turn up and play on. In the evening it’s back to the excitements of the great city of Edinburgh and the discreet and perfectly located luxury of The Rutland Hotel. Situated in a listed building right on the main shopping thoroughfare of Prince’s Street, the Rutland is also perfectly placed for pretty much all the other culture on offer in the city.
Tell people you’re off to Amsterdam for the weekend and not many will ask whether you are taking your clubs. The cultural delights of the city are many and varied (and may include a swinging of sorts), but are rarely considered to include the golf. There’s the recently renovated Rijksmuseum and the excellent Van Gogh Museum and 2013 sees a number of events to celebrate 400 years of the canal ring. But now the ever-reliable Dylan Hotel is offering visitors a golf package, which includes the chance to enjoy the delights of their city-centre hotel (including fine dining aboard their specially built canal boat restaurant) and play at the nearby par 72 Kennemer Golf Club, one of the most prestigious private courses in the country.
OK, it’s perhaps not at the top of most people’s lists of cities to visit, but Dusseldorf has plenty of art, culture and history, not to mention boasting the longest bar in the world. Which is all fine, except that this hotel is actually located in Mülheim¬ (sometimes called “the city on the river”) just a short hop away. But forget the details of where you are, the Villa am Ruhrufer Golf & Spa is a gorgeous boutique German town house hotel with two of private golf courses (one of which, Kosaido International Golf Club, boasts Dusseldorf’s highest point at its 10th tee) owned by the hotel and open to guests. A shuttle bus service to and from the courses make it all very easy, while the hotel’s spa makes sure that time spent there is equally relaxing.
For a more exotic, culturally challenging city golf trip why not take in the sights, sounds and smells of Morocco? The magical city of Marrakech has undergone a hotel revolution in recent years with the arrival of a seemingly endless parade of new high-quality hotels ranging from the huge megaliths of the big chains to small, quirky boutique affairs. Riad Farnatchi is nestled right in the heart of the old city and with just nine suites is firmly at the boutique end of the spectrum. Luxury travel experts Mr & Mrs Smith praise its “film-star good looks and five-star welcome”. This hotel is all about achieving the perfect blend of old and new, east and west. It may be run by British hotelier Jonathan Wix (owner of Leeds stalwart 42 The Calls and Edinburgh’s The Scotsman), but boasts an excellent hammam. Local golf options include Palmeraie Golf Course, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones senior, and offers amazing views of the Atlas Mountains.
Regarded as one of the few genuine “design” hotels in Brussels, a city bursting with plenty of style and heritage (not to mention plenty of European wealth) The Domonican is (as the name possibly implies) on the site of a former monastery. For all the jokes about Belgians being boring, Brussels is an excellent city for a weekend, and is packed with plenty of interesting museums, galleries, theatres and other cultural activities. It is also home to the Brussels Golf Club, the perfect place for beginners to get a taste for the game and see if they fancy dedicating plenty of future weekends and other spare time to practicing how to follow in the footsteps of Tiger, Rory, Lee and the rest.