Need a digital detox? Escape to Scottish holiday retreats featured in new book, British Cabins and Hideaways
You ended 2023 in a flurry of wanting everything, but now you feel buried by the clutter.
Perhaps the solution is to escape, with the help of the new book British Cabins and Hideaways by Whitstable-based photographer Holly Farrier. It showcases a selection of picturesque destinations across the UK, all of which are ideal if you want to pause and breathe.
She tells us more about writing the book, below.
Are cabin holidays good for our health?
In my opinion, they’re the perfect grounds for relaxation and a whole host of other activities that contribute positively to our mental wellbeing. The traditional concept of a cabin is a small space in nature where you switch off and relax, and tune into the surroundings. Countless studies have shown the positive impact that time in nature has on our mental health, with practices like shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) becoming more popular in recent years. Many of the cabins in the book are off-grid and don’t have wi-fi or signal, all of which encourages you to switch off from the over-stimulation of the digital world and be truly present. Then you have their amenities: lots of them feature hot tubs or saunas which provide moments for relaxation and practising self care.
When did you first catch the cabin bug?
I booked a last minute stay in a shepherd’s hut years ago for an anniversary trip and loved that first experience of sleeping in a small space, surrounded by fields with easy access to nature, and that love grew into one for cabins and hideaways of all shapes and sizes.
How did you shortlist the ones in the book and did you stay at all of them?
In my work as a freelance photographer I was already working with a lot of the holiday rental companies that have cabins, so I had good knowledge about where to find well designed, boutique stays in cabin form. I had a huge spreadsheet and, along with my publishers we managed to narrow it down to 38 incredible places. I stayed at and photographed all but four cabins, lucky me.
Which of the Scottish ones are you keen to return to?
The Scottish cabins are some of my favourites in the whole book and they are all special in their own ways so I would happily return to them all. Saying that, 57 Nord and Harlosh are the two that I’d be most keen to re-visit as I love the Isle of Skye and they are both perfectly positioned to explore, along with the fact that they are both impeccably designed with all the high-end amenities you could wish for.
Which had the most beautiful setting?
It’s very difficult to choose as part of the criteria for selecting a cabin for the book was that it was in a beautiful setting, so they all have that, but one that particularly stands out is Blue Hare on the Isle of Harris. It is perched on a hill overlooking a stunning collection of coves where the view is ever-changing and if you’re lucky you can spot the family of otters that live in the bay below.
Do you think the trend is at its peak?
It’s definitely still a niche way to travel. Most people still stay in hotels or rental apartments over a cabin, but it is definitely growing hugely in popularity with travellers finding huge benefits in switching off and cosy-ing up in a cabin.
Is glamping passé now?
I wanted to include a diverse range of cabins in the book. Some are luxurious modern stays that are a far cry from glamping, but there are also charmingly rustic wooden shacks, which are equally as fun to experience. Some of these do feel more like glamping as they might be off grid with no heating or electricity, or only have an outdoor kitchen for example. Fforest and Kudhva are great examples of cabin escapes that have aspects of glamping, but still have considered striking architecture and are extremely comfortable.
Do you think travellers still want a digital detox, or do they prefer all the mod-cons in a small space?
It really depends on the person, their interests and also their desires for that specific trip. Sometimes I want to switch off my phone and stoke the log burner to keep warm, but I also love an indulgent stay with all the mod cons if I want to feel pampered. Unplugged is a growing company that has a collection of digital detox cabins all over the UK. You lock your phone away in a box for the three days you stay and they provide you with a map and a small Nokia phone in case of emergencies. Their cabin Koya is featured in the book, and the experience of physically having your phone completely away for three days was revolutionary for me in changing my phone habits and reducing my screen time.
Do you have any new ones on your list for 2024?
There’s a few! I have my eye on No.9 Uist, a modern cabin opening soon on the Hebridean island of North Uist who I found on Instagram recently, and I have heard great things about Mello View in Somerset.
Do you ever go abroad?
I do, for work and personal holidays. I love travelling of all kinds but creating this book during the pandemic made me visit corners of the UK that I never had before and I was blown away with how much beauty we have on our shores, and excited to share that with others.
Your photos are beautiful. Did you have to set up any of the interiors for shots, or were they already presented perfectly?
Thank you! As an interiors photographer you are always tinkering, moving furniture, making sure a space looks as good as it possibly can. All of the spaces were presented beautifully, but sometimes what makes for a great stay doesn’t make for a great photograph, so I do move things around, tuck away wires and often will remove things to simplify a scene.
British Cabins and Hideaways by Holly Farrier, £22.95 hardback, Hoxton Mini Press, www.hoxtonminipress.com
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