The Buccleuch Arms, built in 1836 as a hunting lodge by the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, is central to community life in the Scottish Borders.
Owned by Billy and Rachael Hamilton the inn has a large bar, bistrot, beer garden, boardroom and conference room along with 19 guest bedrooms. The Buccleuch has won many awards for food, drink and hospitality over the years, most recently winning Community Hotel of the Year in 2020.
Billy Hamilton said:
“The sporting season is incredibly important to our annual trade. In a normal year we would have sporting guests throughout the year in our rooms and eating and drinking in the bar and bistrot. As well as the tourist or overnight guest, we entertain many locals before, during and after a day in the country. In the traditional shoulder season and from October through to January we maintain very good occupancy, crucial to our business.
“We have a commitment to local provenance on the menu. Customers want to know where their food has come from and there is an environmental benefit from using high-quality Scottish products with fewer food miles. We source much of our produce from local business and estates whether this is Scotch beef, lamb, roe venison, pigeon, pheasant, partridge and grouse. When our business suffers, these local businesses suffer too.
“We employ 18 staff at the moment but before Covid we employed 35 full-time, permanent staff, rising to 45 in peak season. It’s difficult to imagine how rural areas would make up the number of jobs if the shooting season couldn’t continue due to over-regulation.
“Already the imposition of Sporting Rates has made Scotland less competitive compared with other destinations for country sports. The Scottish government hasn’t understood the impact on rural communities if shooting is punished, it would be frightening for many, disastrous for most and thousands of jobs would be lost.”