From medieval fortresses to country mansions and movie-like residences, there’s no better place than Scotland’s countryside, for a romantic or active break. Rub shoulders with celebrities and walk in the footsteps of some Scottish icons as you eat, sleep and play in some of the finest, most historic castles and stately homes in the land.
Renovation has transformed this stunning 17th century castle while retaining the essential charm and character of the era. One of Scotland’s premier hotel and event venues, the Crossbasket Castle is steeped in the history of Scotland. Observe the immaculately presented beauty and grandeur of traditional architecture, restored using traditional crafters and materials. Crossbasket offers both peace and tranquillity, striking a careful balance between tradition and modernity. Sumptuous fine-dining is offered from the Roux culinary dynasty, showcasing the best of Scotland’s renowned larder.
Hidden within 36 acres of Italian gardens and woodland outside of Ballantrae, this hotel lies close to the Ayrshire coastline. A late 19th-century baronial castle, it was first intended as the family seat for the Earl of Inchcape and holds a significant claim to fame – Winston Churchill was said to have discussed the D-Day landings while staying here in the 1940s. Pursuits for the well-heeled are a speciality – shooting, fishing and falconry, as well as tennis and croquet. Inside, guests can relax beside log fires, feast on six-course meals and peruse enormous wine lists. 17 bedrooms offer a period feel filled with antiquities and panelled or marble bathrooms include Penhaligon toiletries.
Designed by the same architect as the British Museum, Mar Hall is an A Listed building. Following a £15 million refurbishment, the property was repurposed as a five-star hotel in the early noughties. Now, it’s home to an extensive spa with an indoor pool, trendy bar, Italian restaurant and a 240-acre estate, comprising a championship golf course. Mar Hall is a favourite among the pop glitterati, with prior guests including Kylie Minogue, One Direction, Harry Styles, Neil Diamond, Katy Perry, Robbie Williams, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Oasis, Take That and Bob Dylan. Spread across three floors, the neo-Gothic mansion has 53 types of accommodation (rooms, suites and a lodge) and is pet friendly.
Head further north, to Fort William, where you can stay in a castle complete with its own loch. Inverlochy was first erected in the 1200s, at the end of the Great Glen and has since welcomed legendary guests, including Queen Victoria, who remarked on its romanticism. 17 bedrooms each have their own character and proffer stunning waterside or garden views. Hillwalking, photography, stalking, rafting and hunting are just a few of the activities available on the doorstep. Plus there’s a Playstation and games room to keep little ones occupied on a rainy day. The formal style Roux restaurant has 3 AA Red Rosettes, serving lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.
One of only a handful of Scottish hotels to boast the Michelin Hotel Guide single ‘Red House’ symbol, this country house is found on the coast, an hour from Inverness. Deeply romantic in setting, Glenmorangie House is surrounded by a walled garden and located beside a ruined castle. And with just nine bedrooms, the intimate atmosphere lends itself to an exclusive couples’ escape. Award-winning menus are served in a dinner party style to provide a sociable element to your stay and camaraderie with fellow guests. As you may expect from a hotel inspired by the national beverage, whisky tastings are frequent – plus you might even be surprised by a spontaneous post-dinner ceilidh featuring local musicians.
The Isle of Eriska Hotel and Spa
There is something extremely romantic and magical about escaping to a private island for a holiday and the 300 acres of stunning land that is the Isle of Eriska certainly does not disappoint. This is the setting and the perfect backdrop for those guests choosing to stay at the Isle of Eriska Hotel and Spa. For over four decades the Buchanan-Smith Family worked hard on developing and nurturing this hotel which has flourished into a luxury destination offering guests peace, tranquillity, outdoor pursuits and much more – all with a touch of luxury. The hotel comprises of 34 bedrooms with 16 bedrooms in the main house, 5 spa suites located in the gardens with private hot tub, 2 garden cottages and 6 hilltop reserves along with a self-catering house option which is a short drive from the main hotel. Fine dining in the Hotel Restaurant or something more casual on The Deck can be enjoyed by residents and non-residents.
Perched on the edge of Loch Faskally in Pitlochry, this Baronial castle was built in 1892. Created for the port and sherry merchants, Sandeman, it has since been turned into a glamorous hotel and spa. Family owned and run (by the Clark family) the castle houses 42 bedrooms, four treatment rooms, a pool, sauna and two restaurants. Eating and drinking can be both an exquisite and unusual experience here, with mood-lit pod dining, a unique gin bar and triple AA Rosette-awarded cuisine accompanied by waterside views. And as the town’s only five-star hotel, it’s the fanciest address at which to stay in town.
For the quintessential turreted fairytale castle experience, book a stay at Barcaldine, on the outskirts of Oban. Beams, wood panels, a great hall, turnpike staircase, a secret passage and a bottle dungeon below stairs all contribute to the sense of stepping back in time here. The decor is traditionally Highland, with plenty of tartans, tweed, brown leather and claw-footed roll-top tubs. Accommodation is offered on a bed and breakfast basis, with friendly hosts Liz and Ronnie serving a full Scottish and an optional afternoon tea. If you don’t fancy an evening picnic, dinner can be sought at the nearby restaurant.
This multi-award-winning hotel was built at the turn of the 19th century close to the riverside town of Peebles. Book a room, suite or self-contained lodge surrounded by landscaped gardens. Dining here is relaxed with an emphasis on wellbeing – although this doesn’t mean a deficit of treats. In addition to the nutritious fresh fare, champagne, puddings and cakes are all integral to its culinary offer – and the opening of a smart new cocktail lounge with an extensive range of beverages and an entire gin menu has proven popular. Stobo’s four-decade-old health spa has a 25-metre ozone pool, choice of over 70 treatments, hydro suite and fairy-lit jacuzzis. All of which makes it a destination hotel for spa and gourmet breaks.