Absolute Escapes March 10 2023

After a busy day of sightseeing, there’s nothing better than arriving at a wonderful accommodation where you can fully relax.

At Absolute Escapes, we’ve been arranging award-winning self-drive holidays in Scotland since 2004. Over the years we have built up a fantastic knowledge of the best places to stay and we have a great relationship with many accommodations throughout the UK. We are proud to work with a fantastic range of B&Bs, guest houses and hotels, a number of which we have worked with for many years.

Our team of local experts only book you into places where we would be excited to stay ourselves. We love exploring new places and regularly plan our own trips and stay in accommodations across Scotland to seek out the highest standards of personal service, attention to detail, and the best food for our clients.

We asked our knowledgeable team, ‘What’s your favourite place to stay in Scotland?’. Read on to discover their choices …


Reef Inn, Tiree (Sheila)

It’s hard to believe that my first experience of this magical, far-flung island was nearly 20 years ago. With its miles of white beaches and impressive sunshine hours, it’s been one of my favourite places to visit ever since.

I recently returned with family in tow to stay at the newly-opened Reef Inn – a simply styled, small, but chic hotel with its Nordic design influences a nod to Tiree’s Viking heritage.

Rooms are very comfortable indeed with all the elements you would expect of a very good hotel present in abundance. Comfy beds, plump pillows, fluffy towels, organic toiletries and a great shower, with the highlight for us being fresh cookies to come back to after a day at the beach. Our four-legged friends were made most welcome to enjoy the relaxed surroundings too.

Dining at the Reef Inn was a relaxed and friendly affair, with flip-flops part of the dress code. Fresh, local ingredients were the inspiration, from Tiree lobster to the Reef pizza dough, and everything was made in the kitchen on Tiree. However, it was the Reef Inn’s cocktails which were my thing. I’m already looking forward to our next visit to this special place.


Fonab Castle & Spa, Pitlochry (Scott)

Highland Perthshire may be my favourite little corner of Scotland. It’s a short hop from my home in Edinburgh, and the scenery – rolling hills, lush forests and sparkling lochs – can match anywhere in the country.

The proximity to the Central Belt has no doubt boosted the standard of accommodation in the area, and the pick of the bunch is Fonab Castle & Spa. This five-star hotel overlooks the Victorian spa town of Pitlochry, which is easily walkable via a scenic stroll over the River Tummel.

Choose to stay in either the original castle – built in Scottish baronial style in the late 19th century – or in the luxurious, modern lodges next door. You can’t go wrong with either. After a busy day exploring, unwind in the fabulous spa then head to one of two restaurants – 3 AA Rosette-awarded Sandemans or the more informal 1892 On The Loch. The latter offers spectacular views across Loch Faskally to Ben Vrackie.


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Monachyle Mhor, Balquhidder (Tessa)

I have recently admitted to myself that hotels plastered with tartan with taxidermied animals around every corner just aren’t my cup of tea. However, I also struggle to feel comfortable in a relentlessly modern hotel with stark lighting and countless identical rooms (I’m sure you can imagine the type).

My quest to find a welcoming place to stay with personality has led me into some pretty comical situations, but sometimes I manage to uncover a gem such as Monachyle Mhor.

Snugly settled between two stunning lochs in Perthshire, guests can bask in the remote location and completely unplug from city life. On the outside, the gentle pink walls reflect the building’s Jacobean history but the interior design echoes a Nordic inspiration.

There are elegant rooms in the main house but the more adventurous (or private) among you might enjoy their wacky detached cabins and lodges. Perhaps you like the idea of staying in their restored 1950s Pilot Panther showman’s wagon, or maybe you’d prefer their innovative, gravity-defying cabin – In The Trees.

The head chef takes ‘fresh, locally-sourced produce’ to another level by foraging and growing fruit, vegetables and herbs in their kitchen garden. Their working farm also has a part to play in the delicious food, and their venison comes from the surrounding hills.

If you’ve been looking for a combination of style and character embedded in beautiful Scottish countryside, then look no further!


Kingshouse Hotel, Glencoe (Melanie)

In the heart of Glencoe, you’ll find the renowned Kingshouse Hotel. This iconic hotel sits at the foot of Buachaille Etive Mòr, isolated in the middle of an incredible landscape. I remember being in awe during the spectacular drive as we approached Kingshouse through the glen.

The friendly staff, cosy interiors, and crackling fireplace greeted us with such a warm welcome – a welcome that Kingshouse has been perfecting since the 1750s. In the aftermath of the Jacobite Uprising, the establishment became known as ‘the King’s House’ as it was a place where government soldiers (‘the King’s men’) could be accommodated.

Today, Kingshouse stands as a recently-renovated luxury hotel, popular with hikers and skiers alike. I found its remote location to be the perfect base for scenic drives and nearby adventures. Take the stunning drive through Glen Etive to experience the scenery used in the filming of the James Bond film Skyfall.

Out of season, there’s something magical about a relaxing winter escape here. Where else can you enjoy breakfast with panoramic views of snowcapped mountains and roaming deer in the morning? After a fulfilling day of exploring, enjoy traditional Highland food and a wee dram by the fire for the perfect end to your Scottish escape.


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Isle of Eriska, near Oban (Katia)

Dreaming of an absolute escape, away from tourist crowds and busy roads? How does a luxury hotel on a private island on the west coast of Scotland sound?

The Isle of Eriska is a 5* hotel, indeed, located on its own 365-acre island connected to the mainland by a small bridge. The hotel is situated just north of Oban, known as ‘the Gateway to the Isles’, and features spectacular views across to Loch Linnhe and the dramatic Morvern mountains.

The island is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers, as well as for golf enthusiasts who can enjoy a round on the 9-hole course. The hotel itself is a 19-century Scottish baronial mansion, hosting lovely period features and modern touches. Guests can relax in one of the cosy guest lounges with open fireplaces, or enjoy a dram or cocktail in the Art Deco library.

There is an award-winning spa on-site, but perhaps more importantly, the Isle of Eriska Hotel offers one of Scotland’s most exquisite dining experiences! Enjoy ​​a unique fine-dining menu and savour a mouthwatering selection of seasonal produce and the finest west coast ingredients. Just make sure to leave some room for the cheese trolley!


Traquair House, Innerleithen (Jack)

The Scottish Borders are often overlooked by visitors, but in my experience, they also overdeliver. This gentle corner of the country is home to ancient abbeys and storied castles, and wild rivers flowing through rolling hills and open countryside.

Traquair House, quietly tucked away at the heart of it all, perfectly blends everything that is special about this region. Wild and romantic, homely but grand. At over 900 years old, Traquair lays claim to the oldest continually-inhabited house in Scotland. Over this time, they have managed to get a few things right. It is easy to see why Royalty have been visiting since it was built.

Only an hour south of Edinburgh, you can enjoy breakfast in the dramatic dining room, explore the beautiful wooded grounds, or relax in front of the lower drawing rooms fire, sampling something from the on-site brewery.

Choose between the Pink, Blue and White Room, and truly immerse yourself in this fascinating house. Every piece of your stay pulls together to tell the same story; timeless luxury. In fact, with only three rooms to choose from, maybe we better not shout about it too loudly.


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Fife Arms, Braemar (Daisy)

Living in Edinburgh, it’s all too tempting to jump in the car and head to the Cairngorms National Park for the weekend. One of my favourite routes is the Snow Roads, the first leg of which travels through jaw-dropping mountain scenery until you find yourself in picturesque Braemar.

In the heart of the village sits The Fife Arms, a boutique 5* hotel which epitomises Highland luxury. What you’ll love about the Fife Arms is that it has something to suit everyone. On my first visit, I ventured no further than its cosy pub, the Flying Stag, a hub for locals and visitors alike. With winged armchairs, unique artefacts on every wall and plenty of local ales, it’s an easy place to while away the hours on a winter’s afternoon. Just along the corridor you’ll find Elsa’s Bar, where an intricate menu of cocktails is prepared amid stylish Art Deco decor. If you’re feeling peckish, why not treat yourself to an afternoon tea in the Drawing Room or a wood-fired feast in the Clunie Dining Room?

The stars of the show, however, are the stunning rooms and suites. Oozing with opulence, you can expect free-standing copper baths, elegant period wallpaper, original artworks and oak-carved headboards. You’ll never want to leave, trust me!


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Scarista House, Isle of Harris (Sine)

Despite its numerous awards, arriving at Scarista House still feels like stumbling upon a well-kept secret. The humble, white-washed Georgian manse, surrounded by heather-covered mountains overlooking a pristine sandy beach, has withstood the wild weather on Harris for hundreds of years, inviting travellers to relax.

When my husband and I arrived, windswept and newly married, we couldn’t believe such luxury existed so far removed from everything. Better yet, we were made to feel so welcome. Here you’re greeted with afternoon tea, invited for drinks and canapes with the rest of the guests in the formal drawing room, and served a full fine-dining menu to the sound of the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

The menu reflects the Outer Hebrides and makes the most of the island’s natural larder; bread, cakes, biscuits and ice creams are homemade and scrumptious. Unsurprisingly, Scarista House recently won the Good Hotel Guide 2023 Editor’s Choice Award. It has also had multiple mentions over the years in the Michelin Guide and Good Food Guide.


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Ness Walk Hotel, Inverness (Nairne)

Inverness and its surroundings truly have it all – natural landscapes, quaint towns, fabulous food and drink, medieval ruins, and, of course, Nessie! Natural beauty can be found in any direction from the city and I recommend the spectacular mountain area of Torridon, which is a 1.5-hour drive to the west. However if, like me, you plan to extend your journey further and complete the North Coast 500 then why not start this unforgettable experience in 5-star luxury?

Tucked away on the banks of the River Ness lies the Ness Walk Hotel, and I can assure you that excellent service will be at the heart of your experience here. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the concierge who ushered us to the opulent lounge with chilled glasses of champagne in hand, allowing us to relax by the fire following our long drive north. The check-in process was seamless and we were made to feel so welcome by everyone.

In addition to the magnificent staff and top-class service, the building itself is stunning, beautifully furnished, and has the perfect contrast between past and present. I have to say that I particularly enjoyed my time in the Torrish Bar, admiring the variety of modern design and stylish architecture, whilst enjoying a nightcap (or two) after our delectable meal in the restaurant next door.

In this hotel, first impressions are lasting impressions and I cannot recommend this place highly enough as part of your Highland adventure.


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Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh (Kate)

Situated in the heart of Edinburgh, the Sheraton Grand is the perfect base from which to explore this beautiful city. Some rooms offer wonderful views of Edinburgh Castle and all are decorated to reflect the hotel’s ‘modern luxury’ style. Straight across from the Usher Hall and the Lyceum Theatre, The Sheraton is also a stone’s throw away from all the main attractions in Edinburgh.

Not only is this hotel in a superb location, it is also home to OneSpa – one of Scotland’s top urban spa facilities. Hotel guests enjoy access to pool and gym areas as well as discounted access to the top-of-the-range Thermal Suite with an extensive range of saunas and thermal experience rooms. I would highly recommend a trip to the rooftop Hydropool to soothe your muscles and unwind after a day of exploring. For ultimate relaxation, I would urge you to book one of the wonderful spa treatments – my favourite was the Chakra Balancing.

There are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby. However, if you wish to dine in the comfort of the hotel, the One Square brasserie offers a contemporary Scottish menu of fresh, seasonal dishes. For even more indulgence, treat yourself to a pre-dinner cocktail in the bar or try One Square’s very own gin. For a city hotel which doesn’t compromise on comfort and relaxation, I would highly recommend the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa.


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Killiehuntly Farmhouse, Kingussie (Erin)

Hidden within the wilderness of Cairngorms National Park, Killiehuntly Farmhouse is a sanctuary for those looking to escape everyday life within a setting of pared-back Scandi luxury.

Despite the remote feel of its location, Killiehuntly is only a 10-minute drive off the A9. From the main road, a winding track lined by Scots Pine leads to the farmhouse, which is set within its own hillside grounds overlooking indigenous woodland, lochan, and the Grampian mountains. Inside you can expect a warm Highland welcome and an intimacy that has been fostered through the owner’s openhearted approach to hosting.

Family-style meals are served in either the kitchen or dining room; carefully prepared using locally-sourced and home-grown produce which is also available from the on-site farm shop. At night you can expect to sleep peacefully within walls that have sheltered the farmhouses’ inhabitants for hundreds of years. Each of the four individually-designed bedrooms reveals touches of local craftmanship and bespoke finishes, reflecting a Scandinavian influence that is carried through the rest of the property.

By day, guests can experience anything from pony picnics, fishing tuition and 4X4 tours to guided nature walks and wild swimming. Closer to home there is a sauna yurt and cold plunge pool, while inside the farmhouse you’ll find warm fires, books, board games and the well-equipped honesty bar.

Killiehuntly Farmhouse is the perfect stay for those looking to find pure peace amongst some of Scotland’s most breathtaking landscapes.


Roman Camp, Callander (Laura)

The Roman Camp sits nestled down a narrow lane as you approach the nearby village of Callander. Blink and you’d miss the turning. What lies beyond is a gorgeous historic stone building with its iconic pink tone popping against the lush grounds on the banks of the River Teith.

Callander lies just south of the border between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. This unique location provides the perfect base from which to explore the variety that Scotland has on offer. Head east and you are just a stone’s throw away from the historic city of Stirling, go west and you step into the expansive Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, which is full of spectacular scenery at every turn.

A stay at the Roman Camp is the perfect Scottish hospitality experience, delivering first-class service, traditional period furnishings and fine local dining. You’ll be spoilt for choice deciding between relaxing in this gorgeous establishment or exploring the beautiful national park on your doorstep.


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Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye (Lottie)

There is nowhere quite like ‘the Misty Isle’. From fairytale-like cascades to dramatic peaks and blue seas, it’s not surprising that people flock here from all around the world.

Most visitors will base themselves in Portree, the island’s capital. However, I can’t think of a better place to soak up the romantic island atmosphere than Kinloch Lodge.
The hotel sits in a secluded stretch of the Sound of Sleat, overlooking Loch na Dal. It’s a renovated hunting lodge which is family-run and has a strong commitment to sustainability.

Gone is the formal grandeur of many luxury hotels. With its hand-woven textiles, open fire, board games and honesty bar, it feels more like a friend’s country home. Each room has a unique design with Loch views, super king-size beds, goose feather mattresses, Egyptian cotton and homemade shortbread. Their on-site restaurant is one of Skye’s finest, with a focus on fresh, local flavours found in the surrounding hills and oceans.

My favourite feature of Kinloch Lodge has to be the excursions and activities. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff take guests foraging, fishing and hiking, often spotting eagles, otters, red deer and seals. For those rainy days, there is also a selection of indulgent spa treatments, or how about a whisky tasting cosied up by the fire?


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Experience Exceptional Accommodation with Absolute Escapes

Inspired to visit Scotland and treat yourself to an exceptional place to stay? If you liked the sound of the accommodation above, imagine where else you could stay with our local knowledge.

We offer award-winning self-drive holidays which are tailor-made to suit your preferences and individual requirements. Our packages include hand-picked accommodation, a personalised information pack, and 24-hour support from our dedicated team.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your perfect getaway.

The Absolute Escapes team

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