Where To Stay in Scotland: The Best Hotels And Guest Houses To Visit - The Gloss Magazine

Where To Stay in Scotland: The Best Hotels And Guest Houses To Visit

With all eyes on goings on at Aberdeen and Balmoral this weekend, here’s where to stay whether you take in the highlands, west coastal routes, islands or the capital

The Fife Arms, Braemar

Nine miles from Balmoral Castle, The Fife Arms is a 90-minute drive from Aberdeen airport. I hope to make the journey one day to see this passion project from international art dealers Hauser & Wirth.  Inside, interiors are a maximalist layering of objets d’art, sumptuous fabrics (from Timorous Beasties and William Morris) antiques and oriental rugs. The hotel houses a library, hotel shop and Albamhor Spa which would suit me fine, but if you’re outdoorsy, then there are boot, drying and gun rooms below stairs with a hotel ghillie on hand to arrange activities.  Rooms are like stage sets and are themed from Scottish Culture to Nature and Poetry to Croft rooms and feature details such a fine bone china cups and tweed covered hot water bottles. Pack your best evening wear to pose in Elsa’s Bar; named after Elsa Schiaparelli, it’s pink, Art Deco and a real gem. There’s also the noisier bar The Flying Stag and Bertie’s (named after Edward VII) which has a whiskey collection of some 365 bottles.  Double rooms are from £250 including breakfast; www.thefifearms.com

Glenapp Castle, Ayrshire

Easily accessible for a weekend break, take the ferry to Stranraer and on disembarkation, this posh Baronial escape is a short but scenic drive away. There are seascapes at every turn, with views of the isles of Arran and Ailsa Craig. The Castle dates back to 1870 and has an interesting history – Sir Winston Churchill discussed D-Day here in 1944. That doesn’t mean its imposing or stuffy. The 17 bedrooms have a mix of period furniture and a dash of tartan. It’s new penthouse, The Endeavour, comprises four bedrooms, and is the largest in Scotland – just one of other new additions including its Azalea Glasshouse Restaurant in the Castle’s walled garden. I spent a birthday weekend at Glenapp several years ago and loved its relaxed vibe, the endless scope for bracing walks to work up an appetite, roaring fires and cosy sofas to curl up with a book. There’s a two-night “Romantic Stargazing Break” currently on offer from £287.50stg per person per night which includes breakfast and dinner as well as stargazing with a dark sky ranger (the hotel is situated near one of the UK’s Dark Sky Parks – Galloway Forest Park); www.glenappcastle.com 

Dunstane Houses, Edinburgh

Dunstane Houses – comprising Dunstane House and Hampton House – are a  pair of Victorian townhouses, in the well-heeled West Coates area of the city (not far from the airport). The hotel owners, Shirley and Derek Mowat have drawn inspiration from the “spirit of Orkney” evident in its 35 individually-styled bedrooms and interiors. The  popular all-day dining room and lounge, the Ba’Bar, is where you can sample the hotel’s own gin Dun Gin. I have stayed at Dunstane House on a quick trip to the capital and loved the hotel’s signature scent created by Noble Isle, cosy rooms and library.  Currently on offer is “The Romantic Night In”, which includes a bottle of Joseph Perrier Champagne and a selection of treats on arrival, plus dinner for two and breakfast the next morning. A Noble Isle gift is also included. Perfect for a shopping and cultural visit to the city; www.thedunstane.com

Crinan Hotel, Arygll

I once dated a Scot called Crinan (don’t think it’s a relation) but it was enough to spark my interest in this family-run hotel with panoramic views of Argyll’s rugged coastline. Each of the 20 bedrooms has been designed by renowned Scottish artist, Frances Macdonald, who also happens to the resident artist and proprietor of the hotel.  Art and music weekends are some of the specialist activities on offer as are sailing charters (e.g., to the Isle of Jura for a lobster lunch where George Orwell wrote 1984).   Rooms are peaceful with private balconies overlooking the west coast. Here, guests can also watch freshly-caught seafood making its way from fishing boat to the hotel kitchen before devouring it in the Michelin-recommended restaurant. What’s not to love?; www.crinanhotel.com 

Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye

Remote and refined, (the nearest airport is Inverness), Kinloch Lodge is a historic, whitewashed hotel overlooking the shore of Loch-Na-Dal at the foot of Kinloch Hill. Foodies will have heard of cook and writer Lady Claire Macdonald (I love her books) who opened the hotel in the 1970s. It is now run by her daughter Isabella, and has been revamped recently. Rather than an overload of tartan, this hotel features fabrics from Skye Weavers and local craftsmen, giving the impression of a relaxed country home. Delectable food, whisky on tap and endless opportunities for exploring the natural landscape abound. The hotel has its own ghillie who can take guests on foraging, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and hiking expeditions.  Head chef Jordan Webb prepares dinner in the evening and there’s a spa for soothing any aches and pains. Currently on offer is three-day “Otter Spotting Escape” –  its likely guests will also be able to spot puffins, eagles, purpoise, dolphin, minke whales and seals – which includes dinner, bed and breakfast and the chance to spot otters with experts from the International Otter Survival Fund. From £520 per person; www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk 

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