As the days get shorter and colder, Scotland comes into its own in the winter weather.
Winter calls to mind cosy fires, long walks and warming meals - things that can be found in abundance during a weekend break in Scotland. From walking in the rolling Highland hills to picturesque lochs viewed from stately hotels or island retreats, here are some of the best places to enjoy winter in Scotland.
Macdonald Forest Hills Resort, Aberfoyle
This hotel resort is home to an Elemis spa, leisure centre and range of lodges - ideal for a family stay. The resort is situated just outside Aberfoyle in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and overlooks the beautiful Loch Ard and the surrounding hills. Having undergone a refurbishment in 2017, guests to the 53 hotel rooms or 65 lodges can expect interiors that resemble Farrow and Ball meets Harris Tweed, with muted creams and grey, soft purple and pastel plaid - a modern take on classic Scottish prints and colours.
If you’re travelling with friends, kids and dogs then the hotel lodges are a great way to enjoy the resort’s location and amenities but with the added bonus of a self-catering accommodation. Lodges sleep four, six or eight people and have a modern open-plan kitchen/living.dining room which opens out to a spacious balcony overlooking the hotel gardens. In some lodges there is a sauna in the main bathroom so guests can enjoy a spa-like experience without leaving the comfort of the lodge. Breakfast and dinner at the hotel aren’t included but can be booked at reception. There are two options for dining – the The Garden Restaurant in the hotel, and Rafters Bar and Bistro in the leisure club. Rafters is a more relaxed affair and serves pub style grub, cooked to fit the theme of the night (think Scottish, Seafood, Indian and Italian). Whereas The Garden Restaurant, which has wonderful views, serves seasonal Scottish produce in a more formal style.
The hotel’s piano bar and lounge is a great spot for pre or post dinner drinks, especially if you can bag a seat by the roaring fire.
The resort has a number of deals running for November, including pets go free and a winter warmer deal for 20 per cent off from 1 December until 19 December and 2 January until 31 March. More info can be found here.
The Three Chimneys, Skye
Recently acquired by The Wee Hotel Company, this celebrated island restaurant with rooms is one of the best places to stay and dine when visiting Skye. Serving the best that Skye has to offer from the land and sea, The Three Chimneys at Colbost is based within an original Skye croft house and is renowned for serving dishes that optimise the richness and variety of Scotland’s natural larder, including wood-fired Skye red deer and roast partridge. Diners can opt to stay in one of six bedrooms in the adjacent House Over-By.
The remote location and dark skies lends themselves to wildlife watching, stargazing and Northern Lights spotting. Guests can catch of glimpse of local wildlife during frosty morning walks, including sea otters, seals, hares, oystercatchers, guillemots and sea eagles
The Three Chimneys’ ‘Wee Winter Break’ includes an overnight stay, dinner, full Scottish breakfast and advice from the team on some of the best winter walks for spotting wildlife on the Isle of Skye.
Prices start from £405 per couple, including a one-night stay in a Junior Suite, breakfast, and dinner for two. More info here.
The Pierhouse, Port Appin
Tucked away on the shores of Loch Linnhe, The Pierhouse offers panoramic views to the islands of Lismore and Mull. The small hotel and renowned Scottish seafood restaurant is known as one of Argyll’s most idyllic destinations.
A foodie haven, menus include fresh langoustines and mussels harvested from Loch Linnhe and Loch Etive, as well as fine handpicked oysters from the oyster beds of Loch Creran.
After an exhilarating winter walk, guests can relax in the Finnish sauna at The Pierhouse or enjoy a choice of relaxation, therapeutic, aromatherapy or sports massage treatments in the comfort of their own room.
The Pierhouse Hotel ‘Wee Winter Break’ includes an overnight stay, dinner, full Scottish breakfast and guidance from the team on how to spot local wildlife, in and around Port Appin and on the rugged Isle of Lismore.
Prices start from £125 per couple, sharing a double room on a bed and breakfast basis. More info here.
Bridge of Orchy Hotel, Glen Coe
A perfect spot for walkers, The Bridge of Orchy Hotel offers 32 rooms in a cosy four star setting at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands.
Located on the A82, it’s about two and a half hours from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and offers total escapism from the cities thanks to its remote location and beautiful scenery, which comes into its own in the winter with snow dusted hills and frost underfoot.
Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and walkers, the area boasts a number of munros, world class skiing and mountain biking facilities at Glencoe and activities including white water rafting, fishing and canoeing on the River Orchy. It is also located on the West Highland Way walking route.
The hotel recently appointed celebrated chef, David Hetherington to make it a foodie destination that serves up the very best in local Scottish produce. Originally from Arrochar on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll, David is known for his eye-catching dishes with bold flavours created using locally sourced, seasonal produce.
This month the hotel has an overnight stay with dinner deal for £110 for two, including dinner, B&B and a glass of wine each. More info here.
Inver restaurant with rooms, Strachur, Argyll and Bute
This restaurant, located on the shores of Loch Fyne, has been making waves on the food and drink scene since new owners took over in 2015. Serving a fixed four course evening menu, the dishes include local, wild and farmed ingredients that feature in traditional and forgotten Scottish dishes.
There is also a cosy bar that serves craft ale, natural wine and spirits as well as locally roasted coffee. Hommade cakes, sourdough bread, cultured butter and Inver beer can be enjoyed on site or bought and taken away.
Accommodation is in the form of charming bothies, adjacent to the restaurant. Decorated in a contemporary style and featuring king beds and bathrooms, guests can enjoy loch and Old Castle Lachlan views from the floor to ceiling windows.
For more info and booking, please click here.
Mungo's Den, Skye
This former post office and telephone exchange is now a picture perfect cottage for rent on the Isle of Skye - just minutes from the Talisker distillery. With an interior that reflects the 'reduce, reuse, recycle' ethos, Mungo's Den has a kitchen, bunk room, living room with wood burning stove and large master bedroom.
An ideal base for walkers or those looking to explore Skye, Mungo's Den will suit families or couples that want a romantic retreat.
More info here.
Ballintaggart Farm, Perthshire
Opened in 2016, this renovated farmhouse and steadings are now home to a cook school, dining room and two double bedrooms. Ballintaggart occupies an idyllic spot overlooking the Tay Valley, about an hour and a half from Edinburgh - making it a great weekend city escape.
Known for its seasonal feasts, which offer diners five courses of locally sourced produce cooked on site, the farm is also open for day or half day cooking classes. And, for guests that stay over, mini masterclasses are also available.
These can include an hour long foray into how to produce perfect souffles, one sweet and one savoury, which are then enjoyed with a glass of fizz. Or indulge in some pasta making or steak sizzling.
More info here.
Meldrum House, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
Whisky fans, golfers and foodies will enjoy a stay in this country house hotel, located close to Speyside and many of Aberdeenshire's golf courses. The hotel recently opened a new restaurant, Pineapple, which serves seasonal, local produce including the famous Aberdeen Angus and Aberdeenshire Highland beef.
Rooms vary from standard doubles in the glass fronted modern extension to suites, found upstairs in the manor house of the hotel. A pre or post dinner drink in the Cave bar is a must, especially for whisky lovers.
Meldrum House has a popular January sale, available 1st to 19th January the room only rate is £80 per room per night or £130 dinner, bed and breakfast. The deal includes one night in a standard double room, with prices based on two people sharing any time of the week.
More info here.
Pheasant Cottage, Dalguise, Perthshire
Although Pheasant Cottage dates back to the 18th century, it is now a contemporary bolthole that sleeps six and is ideally located for Dunkeld and Grandtully.
Completely renovated and refurbished by the owners, the interior of Pheasant Cottage is Scandi-inspired with muted greys and wood a predominant feature. Evenings can be spent by the wood-burning stove while the daytime views of the surrounding tranquil countryside are best enjoyed from the open plan kitchen or small garden.
More info here.
Auchrannie Resort, Arran
This popular resort offers families, groups and couples a welcome break whilst only being about two and a half hours from Glasgow. Grownups can look forward to the luxurious spa or a round of golf whereas kids’ will enjoy the resort’s leisure facilities and Playbarn.
The resort also offers half-day sea kayaking sessions for families (children must be aged 10 or over) with experienced, qualified instructors. The coastal waters are sheltered, fringed with stunning scenery and plenty of wildlife - and there’s no better way to explore it all than by sea kayak.
Accommodation can be in the hotel or one of the self-catering lodges and the resort often features on deal websites such as itison, especially in the months of January and February making it ideal for a winter break. More info can be found here.