In these post-Covid times everyone is looking for wide open spaces where people can move around freely. Social distancing means physical distancing at least for those who are not family members, relatives or close friends. For many nature, countryside and outdoor activities will be on top of the list in the weeks and months to come. When leisure or, to use the official term, non-essential travel will be allowed again, accommodation in country house hotels with their own gardens and private estates will be prioritised by discerning travellers.
Naturally set in picturesque locations these mansion houses and what they have to offer will be key for those who wish to relax, regenerate and recharge physically and mentally. The combination of supremely comfortable beds, healthy breakfasts, inspiring daytime activities and culinary evening delights will ensure that everyone will be ready to get on with life again! So here are my top 5 country house hotels in Scotland.
Greywalls Hotel, with its formal walled garden of about six acres, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1901. It was built as a country house for its original owner, the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton, a keen golfer who insisted on the house being built very close to the 18th Green at Muirfield Golf Course in Gullane, one of the world’s top golf courses, not far from Edinburgh. During the day guests can enjoy an in-depth local insight into the Lowland marvels and countryside as well as some unique experiences at a gin or whisky distillery. Alternatively, they can explore the Firth of Forth on a private boat including a visit to Bass Rock with the biggest Northern gannet colony in the world or the nearby Museum of Flight for the more aviation savvy.
Guests can stay at Greywalls in one of their 23 luxurious rooms or suites. If guests prefer more privacy and self-contained accommodation Colonel’s House, located just 500 yards from Greywalls, or The Cottage Rooms – two small and four large, charming cottage bedrooms located at the entry to the driveway – is the best choice. Spread across four rooms, including a Whisky Room and Sunroom, the Chez Roux Restaurant at Greywalls offers settings to suit the occasion, season or time of day. The service matches that of a fine dining experience: welcoming yet refined, attentive yet unobtrusive.
When Scottish tennis superstar Andy Murray acquired Cromlix, located close to his hometown of Dunblane, it signalled not only his desire to invest in his homeland, but also the chance to reinvent the glorious era of grand country house living. The US Open, Olympic and Wimbledon champion has extensively refurbished and transformed this elegant Victorian mansion into a luxury 5-star destination.
Situated in beautiful countryside Cromlix Hotel, once the home of the Lairds of Cromlix, is set in 34 acres of secluded woodlands and garden grounds with its own chapel and little loch. The hotel, which opened in Spring 2014, is redefined for the 21st century by sumptuous surroundings and impeccable yet discreet service. Knowing who the owner is explains that the on-site tennis court is in Wimbledon colours!
Five suites and ten bedrooms, gate lodge accommodation, reception hall, two drawing rooms, conservatory, dining room, snooker and meeting rooms are all waiting to be discovered by the hotel residents. Each of the guest bedrooms has its own individual design and character. Light spills into the rooms, which are all subtly decorated and enjoy splendid views over the manicured grounds surrounding countryside. The hotel boasts a Chez Roux restaurant, offering some reasonably priced and very tasty menus that focus on using seasonal, locally sourced produce wherever possible. Dining at Cromlix is a culinary experience that does not need to be confined to the restaurant. There are lots of hideaway spots within the hotel that can accommodate a more intimate, private dining experience.
Perle Hotels are the proud guardians of this magnificent mansion house which is, as the name suggests, situated in the most famous glen in the Highlands of Scotland. Glencoe House is a historic mansion and the former home of Lord Strathcona. It offers elegant accommodation located in the tranquillity of 10 acres of private gardens. The award-winning Glencoe House offers luxury, 5-star suite accommodation in the Western Highlands and is an ideal location for all occasions – from a short, exuberant break to a unique and very special wedding venue. For the adventurous, the Glencoe area offers numerous activities such as walking, hiking, fishing and mountain-biking as well as skiing and snowboarding in the winter. For those who want to take it easier visits can be arranged, for instance to the Glencoe Visitor Centre or a ride on the “Harry Potter” train which travels through Glenfinnan.
One of the unique features of each suite at Glencoe House is a large private sitting room which boasts numerous original features such as marble fireplaces and ornate ceilings. The charming en-suite bedrooms amplify the country house ambiance making the guests feel as if they are residents in their own historic mansion house albeit with the convenience of 21st century technology such as free wifi. Guests may retreat to their suite and relish the view of Loch Leven while sitting in front of a roaring fire or enjoy star-gazing from their private hot tub. Breakfast is served in the privacy of the dining room table in the sitting room and this will help to ease their start into the day. After a day’s excursions guests may also wish to remain in their private spacious suite for dinner where a three-course menu can be served and enjoyed at their own dining room table again. There is really no lack of memorable experiences offered by this country house.
Kinloch Lodge is a very special place. It is a spot where to escape the noise and hectic pace of modern life. Somewhere to relax and recharge, where guests can take things at their own pace. The Isle of Skye is frequently and justly described as one of the most spectacular places on earth. Kinloch and the Sleat peninsula are in a particularly beautiful part of the island. The hotel is at the end of a long drive, at the foot of a mountain and at the head of Loch na Dal. Here guests will find some of Scotland’s best food, roaring fires, whisky galore and luxurious beds which all make it even harder to say goodbye at the end of the stay.
Each of the 19 guest-bedrooms in the North and South houses at Kinloch are individually decorated in colours and textures chosen to reflect Skye’s distinctive landscape. Each is furnished with striking antiques, prints and paintings, and most of them have open views across sea-Loch na Dal or towards Kinloch Hill. Food is taken extremely seriously and is the crowning glory of the Kinloch experience. Lady Claire Macdonald started the kitchen at Kinloch with a mission to make the most of the wonderful local produce on offer, simply cooked and served generously. The enthusiastic team of chefs are armed with an ever-growing list of local suppliers and amazing produce and their mission is to bring the island and its rich larder of seasonal ingredients to life: from shore to moor and mountain to sea.
Set in 58 acres of parkland at the end of a magnificent sea loch, The Torridon has one of the most spectacular and idyllic locations in the country. The resort offers something for everyone whether guests are yearning for a reviving outdoor escape, or simply a relaxing holiday pampered in a luxury country house hotel or getting out of muddy walking boots and sitting by a crackling fire in a cosy bar.
The aim is to provide each guest with their own unforgettable experience depending on their personal preferences, so outdoor activities like mountain-biking, coasteering, gorge scrambling, guided mountain hikes or archery are available. If guests prefer a marine adventure, whale cruises, sailing tours or yacht charters can be booked at the hotel reception.
Upon the return to the hotel guests can relax in one of the 18 individually designed bedrooms or suites. All rooms blend Scottish heritage with Victorian era features and splashes of flamboyance while many offer enchanting views across Loch Torridon and of the majestic mountains. In the evening the hotel delights their residents with exquisite cuisine, stunning location and an intimate dining experience. The menu in the 1887 Restaurant introduces innovative cuisine prepared with fresh produce from The Torridon Farm, Kitchen Garden and surrounding land and lochs.
Best of all – these five country house hotels can be combined in an ultra-luxurious Scottish countryside experience. The distance between them ranges from 60 miles (96 km) to 85 miles (136 km), thus allowing for a complete round trip to include all five country houses, from Edinburgh Airport to Inverness Airport with a total distance of just 400 miles (640 km)! Depending on whether guests decide to stay one, two, three or four nights in each of these mansion houses, an experienced travel designer can turn such a trip into a bespoke once-in-a-lifetime or country-life experience. Touring Scotland from one hotel to the next in a chauffeur-driven limousine will also cast a spotlight on the following attractions:
– Greywalls Hotel: Scottish Seabird Centre (Bass Rock), Rosslyn Chapel (Da Vinci Code), Glenkinchie Distillery (Lowlands Corner of Johnnie Walker)
– Cromlix Hotel: Trossachs National Park, Dunblane Cathedral, Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument, Battle of Bannockburn Experience
– Glencoe House: Glencoe Valley (Skyfall/Bond), Glen Etive, Ben Nevis (highest mountain in the UK), Glenfinnan Viaduct & Monument (Harry Potter)
– Kinloch Lodge: wild walks, foraging, Cuillin Hills, Talisker Distillery, Eilean Donan Castle (“The Highlander”)
– The Torridon: guided walks, cycling & sea kayaking, Applecross Pass & Peninsula, Inverewe Garden, Hebridean Whale Cruises (from Gairloch)
Dorothy Welsh is the CEO of Luxury Scotland. Luxury Scotland offers true Scottish hospitality, culinary delights and unique experiences.
If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.