Scotland is famous for its majestic castles and country houses, which range from medieval fortresses to Victorian manors.
But not all of these are just tourist attractions – some of them are luxury hotels or B&Bs.
Whether you prefer a relaxing day at the spa, or an energetic hiking trip, we have found the best places you can stay which cater to all tastes. Take a look at our list to find your new favourite castle hotel.
(Torlundy, Fort William PH33 6SN, 01397 702177)
In 1873, Queen Victoria visited Inverlochy Castle for the first time, and remarked that she “never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot”. If you choose to stay here, we believe you will agree wholeheartedly. If you wish, you can arrive in the nearby town of Fort William by steam train, and then be taken to the hotel in a Rolls Royce.
Inverlochy Castle is situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, in a secluded highland landscape. This is a perfect place to partake in country pursuits, such as shooting, fishing, skiing and white water rafting. Also, thanks to top chefs Albert and Michel Roux Jr, you can take a gourmet picnic on a wildlife-spotting trip.
The valet service will make you feel like royalty, as they take care of a whole range of domestic tasks. The rooms, although traditional in their gilt and crystal décor, have all modern conveniences, including waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions.
Double rooms cost from £335 in low season, rising to £465 in high.
(Castle St, Dornoch IV25 3SD, 01862 810216)
From this charming 15th century castle, guests can see the town’s beautiful 12th century cathedral. In the golf and beach town of Dornoch in the north east of Scotland, visitor will find picturesque buildings and a warm Scottish welcome.
The castle used to be a Bishop’s palace, and the Earl of Sutherland’s home, but has also been a school, jail, courthouse, hunting lodge, and, finally. a hotel.
The Old Courtroom has been converted into a luxury bedroom, complete with a carved four-poster bed and a log-fire. The Bishop’s kitchen, which dates back to the 1500s, is now a cosy dining room. The kitchen staff have won an AA rosette for their delicious cooking, and the list of whiskies isn’t half bad either.
Double rooms cost from £99.
(Foss Rd, Pitlochry PH16 5ND, 01796 470140)
This five-star hotel is an excellent example of Scottish baronial architecture, which was built in 1892 for Lt Col George Sandeman.
The interior is stylishly Scottish, with muted tweeds and dark wood panels. There are also helpful concierge staff, in natty tartan trousers, who can organise your sightseeing, shooting and fishing expeditions.
If you would like to unwind after some rigorous hill walking, you can pop into the castle’s spa, which is equipped with a heated pool, a sauna, a steam room, and a variety of treatments.
For dinner, there are elaborate five and seven course tasting menus, including delicious ingredients such as blue lobster and Scotch beef. The bar and brasserie is a great place to relax, and has a spectacular view of Loch Faskaly.
(Ballantrae, Girvan KA26 0NZ, 01465 831212)
Another baronial masterpiece, Glenapp Castle is surrounded by gardens and woodland. The interior is old fashioned in the best sense, full of comfortable armchairs and luxury fabrics. Winston Churchill himself stayed at Glenapp in 1944 as a guest, and discussed the D-Day landings.
Shooting and fishing are popular pastimes here, with plentiful partridge, pheasant, salmon and trout in the surrounding countryside. The tennis court and croquet lawn are also available to guests, and sessions at the falconry can also be booked on request. Furthermore, a nearby spa and two golf courses can be reached easily by car.
Glenapp offers a fabulous fine dining experience: game and seafood cooked to perfection and served in the formal dining room, and can be enjoyed alongside any of the 200 wines on the drinks list.
Dinner, bed and breakfast cost from £395 per room (for two persons).
(Benderloch, Oban PA37 1SA, 01631 720598)
This dinky B&B is straight out of a fantasy novel, complete with turrets and weathered stone walls. It was built in 1609 by “Black” Duncan Campbell and sits on the shores of Loch Creran.
The interior is proudly traditional, with antlers adorning the walls and a huge stone fireplace. The rooms have tasteful amounts of tartan and comfortable beds, and each has an individual character. One room has antique French furniture while another has a grand four-poster. Arran Aromatics toiletries and fantastic views are also big selling points.
The castle’s breakfast will set you up for an energetic day of outdoor activities, including options such as Scotch pancakes, Loch Fyne kippers and a full Scottish breakfast.
Doubles cost from £140.
(Tobermory, Glengorm, Isle of Mull PA75 6QE, 01688 302321)
Glengorm is a stately country house, built in the 1860s on the island of Mull. It has a dramatic view of the Sound of Mull, and, on a clear day, you can see the Outer Hebrides in the distance.
This hotel is, in fact, a private home, making its a uniquely cosy and characterful place to stay. The Nelson family live in their own separate wing of the castle, but use the main staircase, so they can be seen out and about, sometimes with their friendly spaniels.
Although only breakfast is served in the winter, it is a fantastic meal – guests sit at a 16th century dining table to enjoy traditional Scottish fare. From Easter to November, the estate café serves a selection of light lunches. For an evening tipple, guests can sample the complimentary whiskies in the library, or can travel to nearby Tobermory to visit the town’s pubs and restaurants.
Rooms cost from £160 to £210, reduced by £30 per subsequent night.
(Edinburgh, EH19 3JB, 01875 820153)
Dalhousie is Scotland’s oldest castle hotel, and was visited by Mary Queen of Scots during a tour of her realm. It belonged to the Clan Ramsay chieftains for a time, and was captured by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.
But things have changed since Cromwell’s day – the vaults are now a luxury spa, and the dungeon is now a restaurant. The cuisine in the restaurant combines Scottish and French cooking techniques, while the Orangery is a more casual dining environment.
Despite the modernisation of this historic building, there is talk of a ghost which walks the halls, which you may or may not believe, according to your own preference.
There is also a falconry, where guests can learn to fly a Russian Steppe Eagle or Turkmanian Eagle Owl.
The 29 rooms are individually designed, furnished with top quality Scottish fabrics, furniture, rugs and carpets.
Double rooms cost from £120 mid-week and £150 at weekends from October to May, and from £150 and £170 from June to September.
(Stoneymeadow Rd, East Kilbride, Glasgow G72 9UE, 01698 829461)
This fortified mansion has a little bit of everything: it has a 16th century tower, a Georgian wing and a Victorian extension. Thanks to a nine million pound restoration, the castle was saved from dereliction, and is now a beautiful hotel. Crossbasket is within an hour’s drive of Glasgow, and is set in 14 acres of grounds and woodland. The furniture and, particularly, the art are lovely to look at – there are two portraits by the Scottish artist Raeburn, as well as some rare prints of Queen Victoria.
The medieval-style ballroom is a popular wedding venue, and there are a variety of activities, including in-room spa treatments, golf, fishing and shooting.
Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr are responsible for the phenomenal dinner menu, with dishes such as Loch Awe sea trout and roe buck venison. The list of whiskies is also extensive, with over 70 different malts to choose from.
Double rooms cost from £286 per night, including breakfast.
(A83, Tarbert PA29 6YJ, 01880 820836)
This Victorian folly is in the classic Scottish baronial style, but has a fresh decorative style. It is located on Kintyre peninsula, near the fishing town of Tarbert, and has breathtaking views of Loch Fyne. In spring there are azaleas and rhododendrons galore, making it an earthly paradise of colour.
The grounds span over 60 acres, including a private island, where guests can spot wildlife: seals, otters, and, occasionally, a humpbacked whale.
The hotel itself has coffered ceilings and antlers on the walls, and is a fabulous place to relax. Seafood is the star of the menu, including traditional smoked haddock at breakfast time.
Outdoorsy guests can go fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting, and deer stalking to their hearts’ content, or take ferries to Jura, Islay and Arran for more adventures.
Double rooms cost from £145 in low season; rising to £225 in high.
(Cupar Road, Letham, Cupar KY15 7RU, 01337 810381)
Fernie Castle is covered in creepers, and was once the home of the Earl of Fife. It has been standing since the 14th century, and houses 20 “bedchambers” which are classified as monarch, king, queen, squire or lady. As you wander the halls, you may encounter an oil painting of a stag, or a suit of armour.
If you really want to make your stay special, you can stay in the magical treehouse suit, built into six sycamore trees. The suite is decorated with woodland murals, and has a bed made of elm wood for you to relax in. The hotel has 17 acres of woodland surrounding it, which is a joy to explore.
The Keep Bar dates back to the 1530s, and offers a whole host of Scottish malts which will delight whisky fans. The formal dining room’s Georgian chandelier lends a similar air of historic authenticity, while the Turret bistro is more casual.
Double rooms cost from £130, including breakfast.