Covert at Cringletie

Come to the safe house of Cringletie for a unique, immersive weekend experience as you enter the world of British intelligence past and present in the company of two renowned hosts.

Having arrived – discreetly of course – your dossier will be waiting for you, briefing you further on the weekend’s activities. As Cringletie’s own reputation for fine dining and hospitality precedes itself, you’ll be tempted by the mouth-watering menus, themselves peppered with influences from the shadow world. Resistance would indeed be useless. But why would you even think about doing so?

Equalling the culinary delights and the hotel’s atmospheric surroundings will be the conversation and insight on offer from your weekend hosts: Andrew Lownie and Brian Gray. From structured talks to more relaxed interactions, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to learn about infamous Cambridge spy Guy Burgess and Scottish writer, propagandist and politician John Buchan – from the biographer of both, Mr Lownie. And one or two other things as well.

Bringing a more contemporary flavour to the proceedings is Brian Gray, who’ll provide his thoughts and perspectives on more recent UK intelligence affairs as well as decades gone past. Together the pair will be sure to offer additional insight and stories spanning the decades during the formal Saturday evening black-tie dinner or the informal fireside chat the previous night.

Are you ready to accept your mission?

DATE: April 21st to April 23rd 2017

April 21

  • Arrive in the afternoon, collect briefing materials, and familiarise yourself with your surroundings, inside and out.
  • Evening drinks while making contact with your fellow attendees, Cold War spy-style.
  • Following your Scottish-themed dining experience you will gather round the fire in the lounge for a relaxed, informal chat with Andrew and Brian. As to the topics discussed, we couldn’t possibly tell you. Because it’s top secret? Not at all. Rather, as the conversation will be free-flowing; nobody knows right now! Perhaps you’ll be enjoying the evening conversation while sipping brandies or single malts from our well-stocked bar: the choice is yours.

April 22

  • A full breakfast will set you up for the day ahead, beginning with talks from Brian and Andrew. Weather permitting, these will take place in the outdoor greenhouse, accompanied by morning refreshments.
  • Lunch is optional and then you may choose your afternoon activity, from either:
    • “Compton’s Croquet Championship,” named after Compton Mackenzie, former MI6 officer, writer and President of the Croquet Association.
    • Visit to the John Buchan museum based locally in Peebles – possible guided walk with Andrew Lownie along the famous Buchan way
    • or enjoy some private relaxation time
  • A Whisky tasting or Soft drink cocktails will round off the afternoon in the bar.
  • The evening begins with a champagne reception followed by a formal dinner (black tie or Highland dress) to enjoy the sumptuous cuisine on offer from the spy-influenced menu created by Cringletie’s acclaimed chefs.
  • After dinner Andrew and Brian will regale more of their experiences and knowledge of the clandestine world of spies.

April 23

  • Enjoy a lie in and a late breakfast before a final group farewell from the hotel with Andrew and Brian before making your way to Edinburgh.
  • Arrive in ‘Auld Reekie’ to either join Brian Gray leading you on the brand new content-rich Edinburgh version of THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL spy tour, OR join Andrew Lownie for his literary tour of Edinburgh.

As you can see, it truly is a weekend of Spies, Secrets and luxury with memories enough to write a book!

All the above from £449 per person

To book the weekend phone 01721 725 750 and quote "Covert at Cringletie"


to book the Black Tie dinner on April 22nd only at £69 quoting the "Buchan Way"

* payment will be taken at time of booking which is  non refundable however we reserve the right to cancel and pay a full refund if required by April 15th

Andrew Lownie was educated at Fettes, Magdalene College Cambridge (where he was President of the Union and Dunster History Prizeman) and the University of Edinburgh. He has been a journalist writing for The Times, Spectator, Scotland on Sunday and Guardian, a publisher, a Cambridge history fellow and since 1988 has run his own literary agency. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Trustee of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

His books include a biography of John Buchan, a three-volume edition of Buchan’s complete short stories, an edition of Buchan’s poetry, introductions to many Buchan novels and several editions of a literary companion to Edinburgh.

His most recent book is “Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess” which was a Book/Biography of the Year in The Times, Guardian, Spectator, Mail and Mail on Sunday, won the St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book of the Year Award and is the subject of both a forthcoming drama and BBC documentary. His research of Burgess is ground breaking and is itself of tremendous interest to intelligence aficionados, interviewing Burgess’ Russian handlers and fellow intelligence officers along the way. Furthermore, his research experiences and desire to uncover more Cambridge Spy Ring secrets in the face of increased governmental and archival resistance is also noteworthy.

He is now writing a joint life of Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten. . He speaks frequently in the media, at literary festivals and on cruise liners.

Brian Gray is an intelligence writer, broadcaster and private tour guide. Since launching THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL in 2009, his clients include members of allied intelligence, military and diplomatic communities as well as discerning individuals and small groups wishing to immerse themselves in Britain’s intelligence past and present in central London. A brand new Edinburgh spy tour launches in April 2017.

Shortlisted for the 2017 Luxury Travel Guide Awards in the Holiday and Tour Specialist category, he has been featured on US prime-time television during the 2012 London Olympics, and will be appearing in the forthcoming BBC Radio 2 "Friday Night is Music Night" production, "Shaken Not Stirred" in April 2017.

Noting a distinct lack of independent editorial coverage of UK intelligence affairs, in 2015 Brian founded Spies & Shadows TV ("Covert world. Overt coverage"), a new broadcasting channel providing UK intelligence news analysis and opinion, book reviews and spy cinema coverage. His hosting of the Sunday Spy Show podcast attracts a worldwide audience of listeners keen to hear his informed opinion on current intelligence news stories together with interviews and contributions from other intelligence writers and practitioners.

Brian has a BA (Hons) in International Relations, specialising in defence and security issues. Before subsequently gaining his MSc in Marketing at Strathclyde Business School, he lectured in politics and economics. He is currently writing his first spy-related book, "Secret (Room) Service: Tradecraft and Treachery in London’s Spy Hotels.”

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