Glenlaurel Inn Review
The Glenlaurel Inn in southeastern Ohio is one of those places I have wanted to stay at for years. For starters, it’s Scottish themed (a wee bit of Scotland smack down in rural Ohio, how awesome is that?). And then there’s the fact that it’s adults only. Now considering I’ve sailed on many Disney cruises, well, clearly I don’t entirely avoid the bairn demographic. However, the idea of staying somewhere for the weekend that was peaceful and quiet, free of any screaming young track stars (children are CONSTANTLY running up and down the hallways on the ships), seemed idyllic.
As mentioned, the inn is located in southeastern Ohio’s Hocking Hills country. If you’re not familiar with Hocking Hills, it’s an area replete with natural beauty and home to a famous state park of the same name (it’s massive and I’ll be doing a separate post on that shortly). It was about a 3 hour and 15 minute drive from Pittsburgh to the inn (the distance is one of the reasons I had never tried to go there before, much too far for just an overnight stay).
You’ll very much be driving in “rural country” but thankfully the roads were well marked and in good shape (i.e. not driving on gravel roads like last year’s Ohio getaway). In nice, warm weather you won’t have issues with your car not being 4-wheel drive (we don’t have that); however, as the inn’s website states, 4-wheel drive is recommended for the cold months (remember, you are in Ohio after all). The road up to the inn (Mount Olive Road) is incredibly steep and narrow, then once you turn onto the inn’s lane, well, that’s all gravel, so just make sure you have a reliable car. The pictures of the inn in the winter look stunning and yet that’s one time of the year I would not want to attempt visiting.
The website states this, but you’ll find there is no cell service. It’s actually described as a “Scottish Country Wi-Fi Zone with a wee bit of bandwidth and possibly spotty service.” But the whole point of going to Glenlaurel is to disconnect, to put down the smart phones, and just enjoy the people you’re with and the surroundings. (They have a landline number you can give out to anyone who needs it.)
One of the things I liked most about staying at Glenlaurel is that there are multiple accommodation options ranging from traditional rooms and suites to crofts (a smaller version of a cottage) and lastly, cottages. The thing is, staying at Glenlaurel isn’t a cheap outing, especially if you don’t want to stay in a room (me), but it’s worth it. So I settled on a croft, which for two people was more than enough space.
I had a specific weekend in mind when I wanted to go so thankfully there was still a croft available to reserve (there are only seven in all). One of the main reasons I wanted to book a croft was the chance to have one’s own private outdoor hot tub (a travel dream of mine is to one day stay in an over the water bungalow in French Polynesia). They’re surrounded by a wooden fence so they’re completely private.
I ended up reserving the Sinclair Croft which is one of four “East Crofts” (they’re all side by side in a row). Upon entering from the outside you’re taken into the living room area complete with a small kitchenette and a dining table, which also leads out onto the screened-in porch (we sadly didn’t spend enough time out there) and then the hot tub which overlooks the gorge.
The bedroom was pleasant, complete with a TV with DVD and CD player (we brought our own DVD, but they have a huge selection of DVDs you can borrow for free in the reception area). There’s no cable television so just remember that. My only critique of the croft was the bed-it was a double. When you’re used to sleeping and sharing a queen bed, well, it’s much harder to go down in size than it is to go up.
It was absolutely wonderful walking into our croft and having the sounds of Celtic music greet us (there was a CD that was already playing). It set a wonderful and relaxed mood immediately. Anytime you don’t have to share walls with strangers is always a positive.
A full course complimentary breakfast is included in your rate. You can get a continental breakfast delivered to your room. However, it’s just that, a continental one and also includes a $5 room service fee. So unless you’re that anti-social, opt for the main breakfast which is served at the manor desk; if the weather is nice it will be served outside on the deck in the back. It includes scones, porridge, and your choice of entree, an egg or an pancake/waffle dish. They also offer a parfait as a lighter option, which I did order the one day.
And then there’s dinner, a whopping six-course affair (seven courses if you dine there on Saturday evening like I did). This is extra (naturally) but as you’re in a remote area, the nearest food options will at least be a 20 minute drive, not to mention, the more casual/chain variety, so it all boils down to what you’re in the mood for. The six course dinner is $54 per person, the seven course, $64. Each night of the week there is a different main course. For Saturdays it is rack of lamb which is obviously a treat since that is something I never would attempt to make myself.
Dinners are nightly at 7PM and are served in the main house. There’s an optional social hour from 6-7PM. Sadly, drinks are not included but there was a wide selection of spirits including Scottish whisky and beers along with cheese, crackers, and olives. Even if you’re not dining there for dinner, you can certainly still come to partake in the social hour. One of the neat things about dining there on a Saturday is that there’s a bagpiper in traditional Scottish attire, kilt and all, who played some tunes and then “piped” you to dinner.
Given the number of courses, dinner is going to be “the” activity for the evening. I had figured it would last around two hours but actually it was closer to 2.5. We had the unfortunate luck of being served last due to the table configuration. My one critique of the dinner is that the room we were seated in only had one waitress. Although sometimes other servers would come in and assist, it was basically just her, and she carried two plates at a time, i.e. two plates for the first table, then back to the kitchen, two plates for the second table, back to the kitchen, etc. So being served last, you can see why it took so long. Not that I wanted a rushed meal, but I also didn’t want the other extreme either.
I’m not sure if the courses change but here’s all that we were served to give you an idea of the fare-
Phyllo tasse of sea scallop and gulf shrimp with champagne cream and smoked gouda (this might have been my favorite)
Rosace of duck trap smoked salmon with Brussel sprout citrus cole slaw
Calderon of roasted poblano spinach and parmesan (a surprising favorite)
Heart of summer greens topped with field strawberries and laurelville honey chevre and apple balsamic vinaigrette
Wild blackberry sorbet (I’m assuming this was meant to be the palette cleanser, but it was a bit too “ice cream” like for me)
Dry cherry mostarda crusted rack of New Zealand lamb with harissa Israeli couscous, French shallot tossed haricot verts in an aged vintage port demi glace
Petite pot au creme de chocolate blanc with salted caramel popcorn
In case you don’t want rich, heavy meals each night of your stay, they also offer in-room dining. There are four dinner selections that you can have delivered to your room. For $49 for two people, this includes the entrees, salad, dessert, rolls, and a soft drink. We opted for the European selection which was a meat lasagna. The website could be a bit more explicit as I thought someone would be bringing the meal by warm, as in just prepared. No, the meal is dropped off in your room earlier in the day and put in the fridge there. Then, whenever you want to eat, you heat it up (heating instructions are provided). So the allure was slightly diminished with heating your meal in the in-room microwave. But as we were tired and spent from our day at Hocking Hills park, the sheer convenience couldn’t be beat. I did like returning to the croft and seeing how lovely the table was set.
And finally, the inn also offers picnic lunches, $30 for two people. There are three different sandwich options and one salad option, and all come with chips, fruit, cookies, and beverage. I didn’t think we would need food after the big breakfast, but we got famished fast. We ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant, which was okay but this would have been a lot nicer and more memorable, especially since the cost was the same as what we ended up paying.
I didn’t want to drive all that way and NOT make it to Hocking Hills State Park. However, that meant, even with staying two nights at the inn, we really didn’t have time to do any hiking on the grounds of the inn itself. So I do regret that a bit since I’m sure it would have been quite nice, especially since the inn is home to 140 acres of beautiful and secluded land.
If you’re not content to simply relax in your croft or enjoy the hot tub, there’s also horseshoes, a bocce court, croquet, and a Scottish links golf course. While I would have liked to have partaken, they can also arrange in-room spa services. Maybe next time.
In the guest services building, there’s also a gift shop. Now I know what you’re thinking, but they truly had some quality wares, i.e. not kitschy junk made in China. I ended up buying a tiny creamer (just like the ones used at breakfast, it was charming pottery), some Scottish shortbread cookies made on the premises, and a tree ornament to add to our ever growing collection.
Is staying at Glenlaurel worth the steep cost? Yes, for a first time or even better, a special occasion. It’s probably one of the most unique accommodations I have ever stayed at in the United States, not to mention there didn’t seem to be one detail overlooked. Whether you want a girls’ getaway or one with romance, a stay at the Glenlaurel Inn will truly fit the bill. I look forward to returning again in the future.