EVER wanted to step back in time and live it up like a laird or lady for a weekend? Alison Campsie finds plenty of choice for those seeking luxury in a historic Scottish setting
Duchray Castle, near Aberfoyle, near Stirlingshire
Nestled in the heart The Trossachs is the pink-painted Duchray Castle, a 500-year-old tower house that was once a stopping place for Rob Roy.
Indeed, the Duchray has harnessed its historic connections and created the Rob Roy MacGregor suite, which occupies the whole of the top floor of the property. With a four-poster bed, freestanding bath and turreted window, the suite is accessed by the original stone staircase. Who knows who may have tread here before?
It is said Rob Roy escaped through the top-floor window one night as soldiers approached Duchray, leaving his sporran and dirk behind. True or not, it is a powerful tale that sits well with the romance of the castle, which lies 90 acres of the Queen Elizabeth Forest.
Duchray is close to both Glasgow and Stirling but you’ll feel a thousands miles away from both after arriving here.
From £515 per night, www.duchraycastle.com
Candacraig, near Strathdon, Aberdeenshire
Once home to Billy Connolly, Candacraig has welcomed many famous guests over the years, with Robin Williams and Steve Martin among those to have enjoyed the comedian’s hospitality as he went into full Highland mode.
Now in private ownership of the Lino family, Candacraig can now be rented by those seeking a level and luxury and seclusion normally reserved for the rich and famous.
It sits near the village of Strathdon, deep in the Cairngorm National Park, where every summer the Lonach Gathering pulls together 200 or so local men, their forefathers and descendants to march from Bellabeg to Strathdon in a spectacle of Highland pride and heritage. It has been this way for more than 190 years.
At Candacraig, up to 24 adults can sleep in 12 rooms, all decorated in an elegant country house style. You will also find real fires warming public rooms and a malt whisky library to research by night.
Candacraig is surrounded by lawns, a summerhouse and walled gardens for added privacy. In the woods, you will find a bonfire ready-made to be lit.
From £3,490 per night for six people, based on double occupancy accommodation and including breakfast, www.candacraig.com
Ardgowan Estate, Inverkip, Renfrewshire
This stunning coastal estate overlooks the River Clyde and offers a fantastic playground for young and old with woodlands and beaches to explore and fine Georgian architecture and elegant surroundings to savour. This stately home has 11 bedrooms available to hire which can sleep 19 in total. Breakfast and dinner can also be served.
The owners of Ardgowan stress the property is a private house and not a hotel, so guests won’t find air conditioning and mini bars or televisions in the rooms. But what is on offer are four poster beds, high-ceilinged rooms, antiques and art, and a portal into life of the Scottish gentry. There is also a stretch of private shoreline to enjoy.
From around £2,000 a night, www.ardgowan.co.uk
Carlowrie Castle, Kirkliston, near Edinburgh
Only two families have ever owned Carlowrie Castle and you too can now play house at this fairytale pile on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Designed by David Rhind, also responsible for the flamboyant Dome building on Edinburgh’s George Street, Carlowrie is set amid 32 acres of parkland near Kirkliston and offers sanctuary just 20 minutes’ drive from the capital.
A recent makeover has brought Carlowrie a more contemporary feel, with modern furnishings and art now decorating the Victorian fantasy home.
The castle can be exclusively hired with guests having nine bedrooms to choose from with a team of housekeeping staff and a private butler to meet your needs.
Up to 19 people can stay at once with plenty of rooms for fun or relaxation, including a drawing room, library and orangery. A game of tennis or croquet on the lawn is also an option.
From £2,750 a night, www.carlowriecastle.co.uk
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Dairsie Castle, by Cupar, Fife
Since the 12th century, Dairsie has held secret Scottish parliaments, withstood military sieges and sheltered escapee monarchs.
It was rebuilt from its ruined state in the 1990s; stays at this medieval-style bolthole are now designed to be big on comfort with less of the drama.
Dairsie, the former home of John Spottiswoode, the Archbishop of St Andrews, has six bedrooms and can sleep 13 people.
It is built for entertaining and features a gallery on the top floor, where much of the castle’s artwork and antiques are on show. The room affords fabulous views and it is an idyllic place for gathering friends.
Situated on six acres of land, Dairsie Castle encourages exploration. Visitors can enjoy a woodland walk to the River Eden, the walled herb garden and the castle orchard.
From £500 a night, www.dairsiecastle.com
Scone Palace, Scone, Perthshire
Some of the most dramatic episodes in Scottish history were staged at Scone Palace, including the crowning of Macbeth, Robert the Bruce and Charles II.
The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, was used in the coronation of Kings at nearby Moot Hill until the end of the 13th century.
Now you too can take your place in one of the country’s most historically resonant homes, with the palace’s Balvaird Apartment available for rent.
Sleeping up to six guests in three en-suite bedrooms, the apartment comes with a dining kitchen and sitting room with sweeping views over the site’s gorgeous parklands to the River Tay.
From £500 a night, www.sconepalace.co.uk