Some vacations you remember fondly. Some vacations slip your mind as the years pass. And then some vacations stick with you, change you and completely transform the way you view the world. If you’re looking for a vacation like that, embark to the magical, lush, ever-changing wonderland of Scotland.
With the constantly changing weather, sights, smells and sounds, Scotland comes to life in an entirely new way every single day. Not only is it one of the most majestic places on earth, it’s one of most historical, with 12th century castles looming over the lush countryside, holding thousands of years of history in their bricked walls. Each person you meet is as animated and excited as the next, and each one has a personal rendition of one of the many myths and folklores that decorate Scotland’s history.
So where should you stay, play and eat when visiting this mystical land? Check out our personal recommendations on the places you can’t go to Scotland without visiting.
Where to stay
The Gleneagles Hotel
Although this five-star resort is tucked away in the small town of Auchterarder without much around it, you will never want to leave the hotel as soon as you check in. The extravagant, yet simple, rustic decor of the Gleneagles resort is luxurious without being intimidating. You’ll meet a friendly staff that will guide you to your room, which comes furnished with a heated gas fireplace for those very cold Scottish nights.
There are eight places where you can dine, ranging from pub fare to five-star cuisine. We recommend the haggis. Trust us, it’s out of this world. Not only this, but the hallway to the rooms is filled with high-end stores (including a whisky shop that sells bottles for 10,000 Euro). After a day of eating and drinking, relax with a spa appointment. Start your day with a round of golf, an archery or falconry lesson or even some horseback riding. Rooms start at £275 per night.
The Dalhousie Castle
If you want an authentic Scottish experience, you have to spend the night in a castle, wouldn’t you say? The Dalhousie Castle dates from the 13th century, however, the main parts of the castle were built in 1450. Although the hotel is now a hot spot for weddings, honeymoons and more, the castle is said to be haunted by Lady Catherine, who starved herself in her room because her parents wouldn’t allow her to be with her one true love.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this functioning hotel, restaurant, spa and event space is a breathtaking place to stay. Dine in the four-star dungeon room restaurant, which features Scottish delicacies like flaky salmon and wild trout. Like Gleneagles, the castle has falconry experts on staff to teach you this deep-rooted tradition. The 29 rooms are all decorated with restored castle artifacts, rich tapestries and beds fit for a king, queen or princess. Rooms start at £165 a night.
The Lovat Loch Ness
For untouched and undisturbed beauty, head about three hours north of Edinburgh to the highlands, specifically Loch Ness. Besides being home to the legendary Loch Ness monster, Loch Ness is also home to some of the most beautiful (and picturesque) sights in Scotland. While you are there exploring, get some rest at the award-winning Lovat hotel. This eco-friendly restored Victorian was built in the late 18th century and sits in the cozy town of St. Augustus. Most of the rooms offer a stunning view of the Loch Ness, the mountains or the Caledonian Canal. The hotel also has an award-winning restaurant by Chef Sean Kelly, which has traditional Scottish cuisine like haggis as well as other local delicacies like highland beef and venison. Rooms start at £110 per night.