Donald Matheson (1860-1935)
Names Associated with Property:
Sir John Haldane, 11th Laird of Gleneagles (1601-1650)
James Braid (Golf Course Designer) – (1870-1950)
Since opening its doors in the early 1900s, Gleneagles quickly became world-renowned as a first-class quintessential country house hotel and golf course. In fact, on the very day of its opening, this magnificent estate was heralded as the “the eighth wonder of the world”. Over the past century, Gleneagles has continuously made history for its sporting and hospitality accolades, as well as its central involvement in cultural and political moments, all while successfully maintaining its reputation as one of the finest British countryside estates in the world.
It was the General Manager of the Caledonian Railway Company, Donald Matheson, who was inspired to build a hotel while on holiday in Strathearn. Matheson was so awestruck by the beauty of the local countryside that he set out to build a grand railway hotel. As such, Gleneagles has an enduring connection to the local railways, evident in the very fabric of the building, which features sandstone blocks from a derelict railway viaduct in Wishaw, near Glasgow, and railway sleepers embedded into the floors. In fact, in the wine cellar, you can still see a winch once used to unload luggage and freight when the railway tracks came into the back of the hotel in 1924. During this gilded age of travel, it was incredibly popular for glamorous Londoners to take the LMS Railway from London through the Scottish countryside and – to this day – guests can experience this tradition by catching a train service from London directly to Gleneagles.
Another aspect that is synonymous with Gleneagles is its lifelong association with golf. In fact, five years before the hotel opened its doors, Matheson enlisted the help of golfing legend and five-time winner of The Open, James Braid, to design and construct the picturesque King’s and Queen’s golf courses in the hotel grounds. Ever since Gleneagles hosted the first match between American and British professional golfers, it has retained its position in the golfing history books. Not limiting itself to sporting events, Gleneagles has also been front and centre of a number of historic moments – from transforming itself into a military hospital during the Second World War, to hosting the commonwealth leaders who signed the Gleneagles Agreement, which initiated a boycott of sporting contact with South Africa in order to place pressure on its apartheid regime.
Attracting royalty, leading politicians, celebrities, and countless discerning travellers, Gleneagles offers their guests an unforgettable experience and detail-oriented hospitality. With hundreds of beautifully appointed rooms decorated with classic furnishings and Scotland’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant on site, guests have all they need for a luxurious and memorable stay. When the countryside beckons, guests can enjoy another unique Gleneagles offering – their outerwear loaner program. To ensure nobody is caught out in the rain without the correct outdoor attire, guests have access to a wide selection of Barbour jackets and wellington boots which are available on a complimentary basis. Once guests are suited and booted, Gleneagles offers a plethora of outdoor pursuits from which to choose from, including falconry, fly fishing, archery, shooting, and cycling.
This vast and impressive estate is continually being developed and improved, with its most recent renovations and refurbishments signifying the start of a forward-thinking new chapter in the history of this outstanding Scottish country estate.