Absolute Escapes March 19 2024

For more than 20 years, we’ve been crafting unique travel experiences in Scotland, England & Wales. Each of our self-drive holidays is 100% tailor-made for you, drawing upon decades of expertise and first-hand knowledge.

Our team are natural-born explorers and many of our fondest memories have been forged through travel. For some, that’s catching a dazzling sunset over a Highland loch. For others, it’s finding a cosy inn serving top-notch food.

Because we’re travellers ourselves, we know how precious your holiday time is. And that life’s too short to leave it to chance.

So, how do our holidays work? Read on to learn everything you need to know about us and our award-winning self-drive holidays.


Who are the people behind Absolute Escapes?

Our adventurous spirit is fueled by our co-founders, Andy Gabe and Sheila Tulloch. Their passion for travel and discovery is woven into the fabric of everything we do.

The idea of Absolute Escapes emerged during a break from corporate careers at the turn of the millennium. Inspired by a transformative trip through New Zealand, California, and the Rocky Mountains, Andy and Sheila returned home with a vision to showcase our own wild and wonderful places through meticulously planned itineraries rooted in local knowledge.


Our intrepid team are bonded by a shared love of adventure. You’ll more likely find us ‘bagging a Munro‘ or exploring a castle than at home on the sofa.

Our office is located in Dovecot Studios in the historic heart of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. Feel free to pop in for a cup of tea if you’re in town – the kettle is always on!

Andy and Sheila’s fondness for the great outdoors is a strong driving force in our values. Whether you like to explore on foot (did you know that we also offer walking holidays?) or prefer scenic drives, we love showing off our breathtaking landscapes. We’re also determined to protect our wild places and are firmly committed to sustainable tourism.

For a more in-depth look into Andy and Sheila’s journey, including their bucket list destinations, delve into our Q&A.


Why choose us?

We know that you have countless options when it comes to booking a holiday, including arranging it yourself. We’re not ones for blowing our own trumpet, but here are a few very good reasons why you’re in safe hands with us.

First-hand knowledge

We’ve been there. Our team of specialists have explored every corner of our country, providing dependable advice stemming from first-hand experience.

Planning a holiday can be overwhelming – accommodation choices, ferry timetables, car hire – and that’s why we’re here. We save you hours of research time, enabling you to fast-track the planning process. Through continuous research and a passion for discovery, we remain ahead of the curve.

Tailor-made for you

Nothing we do is off-the-shelf. We pride ourselves on listening carefully and crafting a holiday that’s built just for you.

Precision planning

We’re not ashamed to say that we’re a bit nerdy when it comes to planning. Each detail is carefully fine-tuned to ensure that you’ll enjoy a stress-free getaway where the logistics work.

Financial protection

As proud members of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), we guarantee the highest standards of consumer protection for both your holiday and your finances.

Trust and reassurance

With over 700 excellent holiday reviews and multiple AITO Tour Operator of the Year awards, we offer unmatched quality and service.

Plus, our dedicated 24/7 support ensures peace of mind, with our knowledgeable team just a call away.


How do our self-drive holidays work?

Are your holidays self-guided? Do I need to drive myself?

Yes, our self-drive holidays are designed to be self-guided, meaning that you are free to explore where you want, at a pace that suits you. You will be armed with our extensive route notes and recommendations for sightseeing and the best places to eat and drink. We’ve gained an encyclopaedic local knowledge of incredible experiences and hidden gems over two decades which we’d love to share with you.

Excellent value car hire can be included in our packages for added convenience. However, this is optional and you are welcome to arrange your own rental or use your own vehicle.

Prefer a more guided approach? We’re also delighted to offer any of our self-drive itineraries as a private guided tour. You’ll find more information on our Private Tours FAQs.


What type of accommodation do you use?

We know that after a busy day of sightseeing, an exceptional place to stay makes all the difference. We are proud to work with a fantastic range of bed & breakfasts (B&Bs), guest houses, and hotels whose dedication to exceptional customer service rivals our own. We favour smaller, family-run establishments where the hosts have an unrivalled knowledge of their local area.

You can select from the following accommodation categories:

  • Standard: 4* guest houses, 3* hotels
  • Premium: Boutique guest houses, 4* hotels
  • Special Places to Stay: Luxury resorts, 5* hotels

You are very welcome to combine accommodation categories or indulge in an upgrade for those special occasions. What better way to celebrate than a stay at a grand castle hotel or a rejuvenating spa resort?

To give you an idea of the exceptional quality of the accommodation we work with, we’re happy to provide specific accommodation examples for each category – please just ask. We’re not able to provide precise accommodation details until after you’ve booked. A full list of your accommodation can be sent as soon as we have finalised your arrangements.

We don’t just want to find you wonderful places to stay; we want you to love them so much that you’ll book with us again and recommend us to your friends. Rest assured, your enjoyment of the accommodation we select for you means everything to us.


Not sure what to expect when staying in a B&B or guest house? Find the answers to all your questions here: What is a Bed & Breakfast? (And Why You Should Stay in Them).


Are meals included?

Regardless of which accommodation category you choose, breakfast is always included to set you up for the day. Each establishment offers its unique style and regional twists, ranging from hearty cooked breakfasts to continental spreads, or even picnic hampers delivered to your room.

Lunch and dinner are not included in our packages. However, your personalised itinerary will include our personal recommendations for the best local dining spots.


Where do you offer holidays?

We offer self-drive itineraries throughout Scotland, England and Wales.

Exciting plans are underway to launch new holidays in Ireland and the Channel Islands. Keep an eye on our website, newsletter and social media for updates.


Are your itineraries customisable?

100%. The holidays on our website are just examples of the incredible itineraries we can craft for you. Every aspect can be customised to align with your preferences and individual requirements. It’s your trip.

A scenic steep road to Quiraing Pass on the Isle of Skye


Do you offer any other types of holidays?

For those seeking the freedom of a self-guided holiday without the hassle of driving, look no further than our train holidays. Using a flexible rover ticket, you’ll travel independently through stunning scenery and experience some of the world’s greatest railway journeys

If you’re seeking something more active, our walking holidays are an unbeatable way to experience our majestic landscapes at your own pace. Experience rugged coastlines, majestic peaks, and extraordinary historical landmarks along our best long-distance walking trails.


How far in advance should I book?

Certain regions are very popular and accommodation fills up quickly. In Scotland, the peak season tends to be May, June and September, while in the wider UK, July and August are more popular.

For this reason, if you wish to travel in peak season, we generally recommend booking 9 – 12 months in advance. This advice holds especially true for island destinations like Shetland & Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, where accommodation options are limited, and in Devon & Cornwall, where smaller establishments often have minimum night requirements during peak periods.

We can also recommend off-the-beaten-track locations which tend to have availability year-round. If you wish to travel at shorter notice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be delighted to craft a bespoke itinerary for you around our most cherished hidden gems.


Can’t find what you’re looking for? Explore further information on our Self-Drive Holidays FAQs page. If you’d like to speak with one of our experienced specialists, don’t hesitate to call us on +44 (0) 131 610 1210 or email enquiries@absoluteescapes.com.


How we plan your perfect escape

1 – Get inspired

As a starting point, we’d suggest looking at the wealth of holiday ideas on our website. They are there to provide inspiration and to give you a taste of what we can do.

Not sure where to begin? Our travel blog is brimming with tips and recommendations from our expert team. Five Tips to Plan a Perfect UK Road Trip is a great place to kickstart your journey.

Once you have an idea of where you’d like to travel, or if you would like some guidance and advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our travel specialists.


2 – Plan and refine

We’ll put you in the hands of a dedicated specialist – someone who knows your chosen destination inside-out and can share suggestions from their first-hand experience. They’ll take time to get to know you and what motivates you to travel so they can craft the trip you’ve been dreaming of.

Your specialist will take your ideas and carefully design a detailed proposal and quotation for your holiday. We’ll keep perfecting your itinerary until it matches your vision perfectly and you’re ready to book.


3 – Leave the arrangements to us

To confirm your booking, we require a deposit of 20% of the total cost of your holiday. You can read detailed information about our booking process on our How to Book page.

We’ll immediately begin making arrangements for your holiday using our wealth of experience and first-hand knowledge.


4 – Your information pack

The remaining balance is due eight weeks before your holiday. At this point, we will start putting together your information pack which includes:

  • Your personalised itinerary with our recommendations for the best places to eat and drink and sightseeing suggestions
  • Map with our recommended driving route
  • Handy information and travel tips to help you make the most of your destination
  • A list of useful phone numbers including our emergency contact number

During this entire process, you can call or email your dedicated specialist anytime with any questions about your holiday.


5 – Enjoy your tailor-made adventure

With all the logistics taken care of, all that remains is for you to relax and enjoy your holiday exactly how you want.

Our service continues during your holiday and you can speak to us any time for assistance or advice.


How to book a holiday

To begin planning your perfect escape, get in touch with one of our travel specialists today:

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