Summer travel 2022: Private peace of mind with self-catering accommodation

There is no shortage of self-catering accommodation across Scotland to ensure groups and families and friends can enjoy a memorable holiday close to home, while avoiding the fuss of travelling overseas and crowded hotels.

From coastal boltholes, to secluded woodland lodges and quaint countryside cottages, there is something to suit families of all shapes and sizes.

“Private accommodation offers more flexibility than hotels, as you can provide your own food and have the option to cook what you want, when you want,” says Charlie Carvill, commercial director at Retreat Group.

“You are not surrounded by other people, it is very personal and especially if you are coming for a celebration or want to spend quality time together. The accommodation is more private and you have a lot more space to enjoy.”

All quiet on the Eastertyre Estate front at the Retreat Group’s two-bedroomed Gardener’s Cottage

Retreat Group was created in 2020 to provide a variety of self-catering properties for rent across the country.

The Aviemore-based company now has a vast offering of one to four-bedroom retreats, which can accommodate up to ten people in locations that the whole extended family can enjoy.

“The accommodation is situated across different areas,” Carvill explains. “Some are quite rural with lots of outdoor space and hot tubs, and many are close to nearby activities, all of which is great for families.”

One such dwelling is the four-bedroom Pilmuir cottage, near Boat of Garten, a charming little village surrounded by the Cairngorms National Park woodlands.

A view from a hot tub at one of Retreat Group’s many properties

The converted coaching inn is adjacent to the spectacular River Spey and situated in an area of outstanding beauty.

The Cairngorms National Park is the UK’s largest and is packed with activities for all ages.

Landmark Forest Adventure Park at Carrbridge is just a ten-minute drive north from the cottage. Visitors to the attraction can step back in time and meet more than22 prehistoric dinosaurs, make waves on the Wild Water Coasterwith its three exhilarating raft rides, and fly high on the Tarzan Trail rope challenge.

The Highland Wildlife Park is also in the Cairngorms, and 20 minutes by car from Boat of Garten. People can discover Scottish wildlife and endangered animals as they drive through the reserve and explore on-foot areas. Animals waiting to be spotted include polar bears, red pandas, amur tigers and European grey wolves.

Just south of the Cairngorms at Eastertyre Estate, near Pitlochry, is the Retreat Group’s two-bedroom Gardener’s Cottage. Sleeping four people, it is a great base for exploring the Cairngorms National Park as well as the beautiful wider Perthshire region.

Over on the West Coast, McCaig’s Tower Apartment, overlooking Oban Bay, is a four-bedroom, pet-friendly property with stunning views.

Families can explore attractions in and around the compact seaside resort town, including McCaig’s Tower, a prominent landmark on Duncraggan Road which stems from the turn of the 20th Century when it was built as a monument to the family.

The climb up the hill to the viewing platform is worth the effort, as the views across Oban and the bay are unmatched.

The town has a number of small galleries and independent shops and, in the evenings, the bay is the ideal spot to watch the West Coast sunset over the water.

Over on the East Coast, the Old Toll House is a luxurious three-bedroom family-friendly Fife retreat for eight people situated seven minutes from St Andrews and 20 from Dundee. The property was fully refurbished last year and has a patio area in the garden with a hot tub for relaxing during the warm summer evenings.

With the sound of gentle bubbling water in the background and reduced light pollution, it is perfect for stargazing on clear nights.

According to Retreat Group, the Old Toll House is well suited for groups on a golfing break and for those visiting family members and friends at the nearby University of St Andrews.

However, for those greenfingered members of the family, Cambo Gardens, seven miles south of St Andrews at Kingsbarns, would make a convenient day trip from the house. The attraction boasts spectacular 2.5-acre Georgian walled gardens, woodland walks and plenty of outdoor spaces for families to enjoy.

In the Lost Elf Village, younger visitors can explore dens and huts, while the Glingbobs and Tootflits Trail will entertain children of all ages.

The dog-friendly cafe is open daily from 10am and serves vegetarian and vegan-friendly food.

Also close at hand is St Andrews Museum, situated in a magnificent Victorian mansion in Kinburn Park, where visitors can discover the town’s history from the 12th Century to the present day with the aid of an intriguing collection of displays and artefacts.

Until September, the museum will host the family-friendly Explore! Travellers and Trailblazers exhibition, featuring objects from across the globe. It runs from 10.30am to 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday.

The majority of Retreat Groups properties are pet friendly and all come with wifi, fridge / freezer and cooking facilities.

Those with wood-burning stoves are provided with enough logs to keep things cosy for three days, which should get you started.

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Summer travel 2022: Get wheely close to nature