Our Story

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Brother and sister, Duncan (Head Chef) and Rachel (Director of Marketing and Business Development).

The Ardgowan Hotel is a 36 bedroom family-run, three star AA and Visit Scotland rated hotel in the heart of St Andrews. Our whole team is dedicated to providing a home away from home for every guest who walks through our doors.

We believe Scottish hospitality is the best in the world and we strive to not only meet our guest’s expectations but exceed them every day to make their trip to St Andrews a memorable one. Below is the story of the Ardgowan Hotel and Playfair’s Restaurant from the start and here you can find out a little more about the people who run this well-known business.

 
Let’s start at the beginning…

…in 1847, native St Andrews architect George Rae designed the buildings on Playfair Terrace. The Ardgowan Hotel and Playfair’s Restaurant were born from the two houses situated at the end of the terrace!

Coming forward a year or two…

…The Ardgowan Hotel and Playfair’s Restaurant was bought by the McLachlan family in 2003 and was run by Roy and Eliza McLachlan along with Gary Foster, transforming the hotel from a 12 bedroom to a 36 bedroom business with a well-known restaurant.

Skip forward 9 years ….

…nearing retirement Roy and Eliza were delighted when in 2012, son Duncan decided he would like to join the business, heading up ‘Playfair’s Army’ in the kitchen as Head Chef. Then, in 2014 daughter Rachel also joined as Director of Marketing and Business Development rounding off the second generation of McLachlan’s running the business.

 

The people behind the business…

 

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… Duncan joined as Head Chef at Playfair’s Restaurant and Steakhouse when it was re-launched in February 2012 which saw a complete overhaul in design of the restaurant and also the menu. He named the kitchen and front of house team ‘Playfair’s Army’ due to the passion, commitment and camaraderie within the team. Both are passionate about serving innovative Scottish dishes and striving for excellence. Duncan first worked at Playfair’s whilst still at school starting as a pot washer in the kitchen. He discovered a passion and skill for cooking which resulted in his progression to junior chef and later to sous chef. To expand his knowledge, after finishing school he completed a Professional Cookery course at Elmwood College and a course in Hospitality at the University of Strathclyde. He completed his training with a two year stint at the prestigious Gleneagles Strathearn Restaurant. After gaining this invaluable experience, Duncan decided to join the family business where he has taken the helm and is taking the restaurant from strength to strength.

 

 

 

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In October 2014, Rachel joined the business as Director of Marketing and Business Development. Rachel worked in the Ardgowan and Playfair’s every summer from 2004 as housekeeper, waitress and receptionist whilst studying History at the University of Dundee. During this time Rachel discovered her skill and love for customer service and decided to pursue a career in hotels. Not ready to join the family business straight out of University she joined the Malmaison hotel group where she started as receptionist and worked her way up to Front Office Manager. With an interest in marketing she then decided to study for a Professional Certificate in Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing while working for a company in the energy sector within the marketing department. Rachel’s true love is hotels, so she decided to join the family business to brand the hotel and restaurant putting in motion plans for expansion.

 

 

 

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Last, but certainly not least is Gary Foster, the General Manager of the Ardgowan Hotel. Gary has been working in the business 22 for years and knows the hotel and St Andrews inside out. He started his career at the hotel as a kitchen porter in February 1992 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks in the kitchen to Head Chef. Discovering untapped talents Gary then moved onto financial and operational management within the business.  When Roy and Eliza bought the business in 2003 they promoted him to General Manager where he assisted them every step of the way in growing the hotel. Gary is now a Director of the company focussing on operational efficiency and technology.

 

 

 

 

 

Come join and visit us at The Ardgowan Hotel and Playfair’s Restaurant whilst visiting St Andrews to discover your home away from home with exceptional Scottish food and second to none service.

We never like to say good bye to our guests but if you must leave ‘Haste ye back!*’

*Definition: Haste ye back!

An old Scottish saying for farewell meaning “return soon”.