Property: When buildings mean business

With ‘staycations’ on the rise for obvious reasons, Kirsty McLuckie presents a trio of properties ideally positioned to capitalise on the ‘captive’ tourism trend

Country house party pile The Gart is priced £2.5m

As 2021 has been dubbed the summer of “staycations”, a few properties currently on the market offer the opportunity to take advantage of unprecedented domestic tourism.

Whether as a hospitality venue or a tourist attraction, investing in a property that is also a business can be lucrative if you get it right. If a building has an interesting story to tell, so much the better.

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Carbisdale Castle, known as the “last castle in Scotland” because of its relative youth, is on the market with a price tag of £1.5 million. It has 19 bedrooms and 19 bathrooms plus grand receptions rooms, beautiful grounds and its own loch.

Harley-Davidson aficionados may be revved up to find the founder of the motorcycle brand’s family cottage on sale for £320,000

Carbisdale was built between 1906 and 1917 but has a wealth of colourful history. It is known as the “Castle of Spite” because it was built as part of an acrimonious settlement between Mary Caroline Blair, widowed Duchess of Sutherland, and her in-laws.

The duchess decreed that its clock tower should not have a face on the side facing her adversaries’ estate, as she did not wish to give her out-of-favour relatives the “time of day”. In Blair’s defence, their complaints had landed her a six week stint in Holloway Prison.

But the castle also has strong Scandinavian links, having provided a safe haven for the Norwegian royal family during the Nazi occupation of Norway.

Carbisdale became a youth hostel after the war, but in the last ten years it has undergone a major restoration in private ownership.

Carbisdale Castle

Robert McCulloch, head of estates in Scotland at Strutt & Parker, says: “Carbisdale Castle is a blank canvas of almost 42,000 sq ft of internal accommodation, enabling a buyer to take the property in whatever direction they prefer. That could be as a private home, a commercial venture – such as a hotel or holiday apartments – or a mixture of both.

“With a refocus on UK holidays given ongoing restrictions on international travel, there are perhaps further commercial opportunities for a potential buyer to explore.”

McCulloch reports an uplift in interest in Scottish rural residential properties from UK buyers, and across the globe, since the onset of the pandemic and rising demand for domestic holiday accommodation.

For the ultimate country house party destination, The Gart in the small town of Callander, near Stirling, in on the market with Savills at £2.1m.

The house, which was remodelled in 1901 in a Scots Baronial style, has 13 bedrooms and has been refurbished by Scottish artist Stuart McAlpine Millar and his wife, Nikki. The Gart can sleep 26 and is ideal for entertaining with a 100-foot long reception room, a library with an open fire and cinema room housed in a turret. There is also a gin and whisky bar, plus a gym.

It has river frontage and 12 acres of mature grounds, and comes fully furnished with artworks included.

On an altogether different scale of luxury, Davidson Cottage, by Brechin, is also on the market at a price of £320,000 with Savills. The restored 18th-Century dwelling is the original home of William Davidson of Harley-Davidson motorcycle fame.

The cottage was acquired as a ruin in 2008 by the sellers who have restored the house back to how it would have looked in 1858, when the Davidson family emigrated.

It is now an authentic piece of history, stripped right back to be in keeping with the period. Internally, it has flagstone floors and box beds. There is electricity but the power sockets and light fittings are hidden.

In the absence of water or drainage, a cedar lodge has been constructed adjacent with bathrooms, kitchen and living room which, together with the cottage, makes a unique let for enthusiasts of the Harley-Davidson brand.

Work was completed in 2012, and the cottage has attracted visitors from all over the globe ever since, with a website offering merchandise and a potted history at www.thedavidsonlegacy.com.

Ruaraidh Ogilvie for Savills comments: “A truly unique proposition, Davidson Cottage has already gathered a following from Harley-Davidson aficionados around the world, as a place of pilgrimage and an intriguing holiday destination.

“It has been a labour of love by the sellers, who have re-created an entirely authentic early Victorian dwelling.

“The new service block provides the modern comforts required without jeopardising the historic nature of the original cottage, and together they make a fascinating addition to the market.”

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