staycation scotland

Kinloch Lodge

If you’re anything like us, you’re already planning your holiday for 2021. And, with its wild glens, fjord-like lochs, misty peaks, cascading waterfalls and soaring mountains, you can’t go wrong with a Scotland staycation next year.

There’s something for everyone with a holiday in Scotland. Its sweeping scenery is the ideal playground for nature-lovers, and wildlife opportunities abound on its islands, where you can take boat trips to go puffin and seal-spotting. The rugged scenery also makes for a fun country escape and you can get involved in all sorts of activities, from archery to clay pigeon shooting, while living like a lord at a country manor.

With its rich medieval history, there’s also a slew of majestic castles that have been updated into luxury hotels for a Scotland staycation with a difference.

The incredible landscape has also attracted the eye of Hollywood bigwigs and you can even ride the real Hogwarts Express over the impressive 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct featured in the Harry Potter films.

From whisky tours and back-to-nature country escapes to Michelin-starred city breaks, we’ve rounded up the best Scotland staycations below. Put your feet up with a wee dram and keep scrolling…

As with all holidays in the UK, you should check the local restrictions, lockdown measures and government advice for Scotland before travelling.

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Ride the impressive Jacobite steam train through the Scottish Highlands

Head off on a four-day trip to the spectacular Scottish Highlands, where mirror-like lochs, gorgeous glens, wooded hills and epic mountains make up the dramatic landscape. Here, you can take trips over land, sea and loch, including a ride on the Jacobite steam train.

The Fort William to Mallaig railway is frequently voted the world’s best with its rugged coastline and loch scenery. You will pass over the incredible 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct (made famous in the Harry Potter films).

How to experience it: During an exclusive staycation with Country Living, you’ll experience the best of the Highlands while staying in a four-star hotel with loch views.



Watch wildlife on the Isle of Skye

Head to the Isle of Skye for some of the best wildlife-watching opportunities mixed with unbeatable scenery and the freshest of seafood. Take a boat ride to Canar, where you can spot beautiful rare puffins and seals. As well as wildlife opportunities, you can visit whisky distilleries, enjoy wild swimming in lochs and try rock jumping at the Fairy Pools.

Where to stay: The Scandi-chic Hame Hotel offers a laidback yet luxurious base, with amazing views over the Black Cuillins. Eat beautiful, locally sourced food, like Loch Dunvegan langoustine with garlic aioli. And don’t forget to make time for the magnificent walks from the hotel’s doorstep.



Go on a gourmet city break in Edinburgh

Soak up all the sights of Edinburgh – including Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, the old town, and Prince Garden – from one of Britain’s best hotels. After a day of soaking up the historical charm of the capital, shopping at local artisan stores on the Royal Mile, and making the most of the lush green spaces, you can look forward to fine dining and spa treatments back at a luxury hotel.

Where to stay: The Balmoral Hotel is housed in an iconic building and is an upscale spot boasting the Number One Michelin-starred restaurant. The swanky spa also offers opportunities for a post-sightseeing soothing massage.



Find peace at Loch Lomond

Lying at the heart of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond is the biggest loch in Britain and possibly it’s most beautiful. One of the most pleasant ways to experience its beauty and wonder is from a boat, but it’s just as delightful from the water’s edge.

You’ll find 30 islands to explore and there’s even shopping at Loch Lomond Shores, where you can pick up goods from local Scottish brands.

How to experience it: Take in the magic of Loch Lomond and other highlights of Scotland during Country Living’s exclusive staycation in Scotland in May 2021.



Play at the world’s oldest golf course in St Andrews

Keen golfers should head to St Andrews, with its renowned 600 years of world-class golf history. Considered the ‘Home of Golf,’ St it has 10 highly respected golf courses, including the iconic Old Course, which regularly hosts the British Open Championship, and is the oldest in the world. Don’t forget to book at least two days in advance.

The quaint coastal region of North East Fife also offers charming seaside villages, St Andrews University and an array of museums and cultural happenings, including the British Golf Museum and ruins of St Andrews Castle.

Where to stay: Check into Rusacks Hotel, which is opening a rooftop bar and restaurant overlooking the 18th hole of the Old Course at St Andrews, as well as the historic Swilcan Bridge in summer 2021. Situated in an unmatched location, the hotel also features panoramic views of the North Sea.



Enjoy beachside bliss (and whale watching) on Islay

If it’s pristine stretches of sand you’re searching for, look no further than the Hebridean Island of Islay. The island’s impressive 130 miles of coastline offers the opportunity to spot a host of wildlife such as seals, otters, deer, puffins and sea eagles.

There are 200 difference species of birds, and carefully curated trails for those wishing to spot these magnificent creatures. Islay also lies within the Hebridean Whale Trail; you can explore Islay’s surrounding ocean via boat or kayak, in search of bottlenose dolphins, minke whales, basking sharks and orcas. There’s also a brilliant golf course with ocean views as a backdrop.

Where to stay: The beachfront Machrie Hotel is set in the dunes of Islay on a seven-mile stretch of golden sands. It’s connected to a private footpath which takes you on beautiful oceanic walks to hidden coves and beaches. There are over 70 walking or cycling routes along the coast, inland, uphill or through the mountains. It’s family and dog-friendly, too.



Take part in country pursuits in the Scottish Borders

Live the high life in the beautiful Scottish Borders – just an hour from Edinburgh – at a country manor house. You can indulge in a comprehensive range of sporting pursuits, from clay pigeon shooting and archery to tomahawk throwing and fly fishing, as well as making the most of outstanding scenic walks on your doorstep.

Where to stay: The Schloss Roxburghe Hotel is a historic manor house formerly owned by The Duke of Roxburghe. It boasts 20 rooms with Scottish-inspired interiors, a welcoming bar and a restaurant serving Scottish cuisine with a French twist. It offers all the country pursuits listed above (and more) on site.



Tour the famous Talisker Whisky Distillery on the Isle of Skye

Set on the shores of Loch Harport with dramatic views of the Black Cuillins, you can get a taste of the Isle of Skye’s epic scenery, as well as its full-bodied single malt on a tour of the Talisker Whisky Distillery. The oldest working distillery on Skye, you can see how it’s all done and try out the goods for yourself, of course.

Where to stay: Check into the incredible Kinloch Lodge, a former 17th century hunting lodge nestled on the shoreline of Loch na Dal. Wild walks, foraging, cookery workshops, fishing and the distillery tour can all be organised by the hotel.



Stay in a majestic Scottish castle

Along with its wild, rugged landscape, a huge part of Scotland’s nostaligic romance is its bounty of medieval manors and castles. Many of which have now been renovated into luxury hotels so you can experience living like a royal for a few days.

Where to stay: The 19th century Inverlochy Castle is set in the Scottish West Highlands, just miles from Fort William. It boasts a three AA red rosette restaurant (headed up the Roux family), plus striking mountain views. Here, you can enjoy everything from tennis to clay pigeon shooting on site.



Go hiking and biking around Loch Ness

It’s not all searching for a monster on Loch Ness. What could be more breathtaking than whizzing along picturesque cycling routes, from flat trails on the Caledonian Canal to more challenging routes on the Loch Ness 360 Trail?

On a Scottish staycation in Loch Ness, you can discover everything from ancient ruins at Urquhart Castle, old traditional inns, fern-flecked landscapes and a dizzying array of wildlife, like ospreys, red deer – and even the majestic golden eagle if you’re lucky. Not a fan of bikes? You can always hike instead. See for details.

Where to stay: Loch Ness Lodge is an elegant retreat in the Scottish Highlands that offers an affordable slice of luxury – perfect for relaxing after a day of activities.



Indulge in a luxury spa and wellness break at Gleneagles

This prestigious resort in the heart of Scotland lies in 850 acres of glorious countryside and is perfectly positioned for a a restorative luxury spa staycation. The state-of-the-art spa has a fitness centre, two swimming pools, sauna, steam room and outdoor hot tub.

Dating back to 1924, the hotel also boasts onsite horse riding, a falconry school, and four restaurants, from the buzzing Dormy Bar & Grill to the Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie eaterie.



Try winter sports at Glencoe and Nevis

With an escape to Europe’s Alps looking unlikely this season, snow sports and skiing staycations in Scotland are looking an increasingly popular option for 2021. The Nevis Range is Scotland’s highest winter ski and snowboard area, offering an array of activities for all abilities and operating 12 lifts to access 24 runs.

Glencoe offers 19 runs including the longest and steepest in the country. Meanwhile, those more comfortable on foot can explore the nearby Munros of Beinn Sgulaird or Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

Where to stay: Add a little luxury to your Scotland staycation and make Glencoe House your base. Jump into the outdoor hot tub or your freestanding tub to soothe those limbs after a day on the slopes.



Head for picturesque Argyll for gentle walks

Grab your walking boots and make a beeline for Port Appin on Scotland’s west coast for some restorative rambles. This lovely area north of Loch Creran has plenty of local wildlife including sea otters, hares, seals, and a vast array of birdlife, such as oyster catchers, guillemots, Eider ducks, kestrels and sea eagles.

The medieval Castle Stalker is worth checking out. It dates back to the 14th century and is a privately owned castle occupying its own island.

Where to stay: The Pierhouse in Port Appin has an unbeatable location on the shores of Loch Linnhe, with fantastic views across the water to the hills of Morvern. Renowned for its seafood restaurant, it offers attractive views across the loch – perfectly positioned for watching the sunset with a cocktail.


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