From five-star eco-pods to medieval castles or even Europe’s largest tree house, we’ve rounded up some of the more out-of-the-ordinary places to stay in Scotland.
For a stunning remote Scottish castle experience consider Ackergill Tower Hotel, a luxury highland estate that has stood above the rugged shoreline at Sinclair Bay at the northernmost tip of Scotland for more than 600 years.
The five-star property is one of the most remote settings in the British Isles and offers a range of room options with views over the sea or castle grounds, as well as sumptuous decor and antique furnishings.
An additional accommodation option outside the main building is the Tree House Suite, which is the largest treehouse in Europe built inside a 150-year-old sycamore tree in the castle grounds. The Tree House features a large circular bath and a 7-ft. round bed, and its windows offer 180-degree views of the surrounding woodland. A twilight ceiling means you can gaze up at the stars through the branches of the tree, and at certain times of the year the Northern Lights may be visible.
Ackergill Tower is situated on a 3,000-acre estate and offers a range of activities such as archery, canyoning, cookery demonstrations, fishing, falconry, golf, glass blowing, kayaking, riding, shooting and whisky tasting. For more information, visit ackergilltower.com.
If you want to go further back in time, you could stay in a modern broch. Unique to Scotland, the original historic brochs were huge drystone towers dating from around 100 BC to 100 AD (during the Roman Invasion of Britain). While most of these prehistoric brochs now lie in ruins, several modern versions have been built for use as accommodations.
The Brochs of Coigach are modern recreations of the ancient Scottish concept. The two accommodations are named after Gille Buidhe and Scal, two brothers who legend says were the first people to settle Coigach, a remote peninsula in the Highlands of Scotland. Scal’s Broch is a large one bedroom, with an open plan kitchen and dining area, observation room, grand bath and sauna. Gille Buidhe’s Broch accommodates up to four people in three rooms, and features a huge observation room, drawing room, kitchen and bathroom with sauna.
Situated on four acres of grounds at the end of a private farm track, the Brochs offer stunning views of the coastline, islands and mountains. Inside they are furnished with artworks by contemporary Scottish painters, or artists with a Scottish connection, such as John Bellany, Will MacLean, Peter Howson and Tracey Emin.
The region is one of the most unspoiled landscapes in Europe, and provides opportunities for seeing porpoises, minke whales, seals, bottle nose dolphins and sea eagles. Activities at the destination can include climbing, hill walking, sailing, surfing and motor cruises. For more information, visit achiltibuie.info.
Newbattle Abbey was originally a 12th century Cistercian monastery and now functions as a small adult residential college. It houses around 40 students and offers 37 year-round en-suite campus rooms for external group bookings. Located a short distance from Edinburgh, the Abbey is surrounded by 125 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Esk.
The Abbey is steeped in history and was the site where the Declaration of Abroath was drafted, a document that shaped the future of Scotland. Mary Queen of Scots is believed to have been baptized in the font at the chapel, and the building even has its own secret staircase and vaulted crypt. Private guided tours of the Abbey are available that explore its 900-year history. For more information, visit newbattleabbey.com.
Another option is Cairns House, a contemporary 5-bedroom church conversion located three miles from Kelso, which was described by Sir Walter Scott as the “the most beautiful, if not the most romantic village in Scotland.” The stunning living space features a bespoke glass and oak staircase, impressive rose-glass windows at either end, and a high-vaulted ceiling. There is a bespoke kitchen with breakfast bar, equipped with high-tech kitchen wizardry, as well as a traditional dining area for 14 people and an outside timber decked patio for outside dining during the summer months. The house has its own games area with pool table, and a sitting area with flat-screen TV, DVD and state-of-the-art soundsystem. The house is well situated for golfers with 22 courses within a 30-mile radius suitable for all skill levels. For more information,visit crabtreeandcrabtree.com.
Travelers who want to get closer to nature can stay at a luxury eco-pod on a highland estate with stunning loch views. Eco-Pods Glen Cannich on the Craskie Estate are set on 155 acres overlooking Loch Craskie and a stretch of the River Cannich. Easily accessible from Inverness, the unspoiled highland wilderness is a great place to see Scotland’s wildlife, such as red and roe deer, badgers, otters and golden eagles. Hill walkers can explore 14 Munros and smaller peaks, and permits for brown trout and pike fishing are available on request in season.
Each heated and insulated eco-pod sleeps up to four people with a double and two single beds. There is a built-in wardrobe, full electrics, USB sockets and a set of speakers for music. Each pod has its own spacious decked terrace with a Weber BBQ and views over the loch. Bathroom facilities are a short distance from the pods, an outside tap provides fresh drinking water from a borehole, and a shared fridge is available for use.
The eco-pods are designed to sit within their surroundings with a minimal carbon footprint, utilizing thermally efficient insulation, double glazing, low wattage electrics, energy efficient radiators, and by positioning the pods to make best use of the sun’s energy. They are constructed in the UK using recycled and responsibly sourced materials, and each pod is equipped to allow you to recycle paper, card, plastics, tins, glass and food waste. For more information, visit craskieestate.com/eco-pods.