TRAVEL: Exploring extra-special Scottish staycations with soul

We are all changing. As the world slowly reopens and we feel more confident socialising and travelling, we find ourselves looking for different experiences, new purposes, new scenery, new memories and sights.

We understand the value of time better and the importance of relying on, and being there for, our neighbours as well as our community. We are renewing our love for the region we live in and for the local businesses that bring us joy and enhance our day-to-day experiences.

With that in mind, I have prepared a special list aiming to introduce you to a few particularly noteworthy places in Scotland where you could experience something a little bit different.

As well as being situated in exceptionally beautiful locations, all these properties have something extra special in common that goes beyond looks: they are family-owned, independently run and share a wholesome, ethical and forward-thinking approach to hospitality. Let’s call them “places with a soul”.

Extraordinary guest houses

Foyers Lodge, Loch Ness
Foyers Lodge is an old Victorian Villa with views over Loch Ness

This beautiful secluded Victorian building overlooking Loch Ness is a labour of love. The property was recently sensitively restored by owners Anna and Philip and transformed into one of Scotland’s most characterful and stylish luxury retreats. A huge amount of attention to detail has been given to every room of the house.

It is a special luxury retreat with gorgeous big beds and roll-top free-standing baths in the bedrooms, vibrant colours and sensual textures, as well as personalised touches throughout.

Ardtorna Luxury B&B, near Oban
The award-winning Ardtorna Luxury B&B, near Oban

There are luxury guest houses and there is Ardtorna. This award-winning property is owned and managed by Karen O’Byrne, who will be your most attentive host throughout your stay. There are four individually designed bedrooms.

You will enjoy freshly baked scones upon arrival, a delicious homemade whisky cream liqueur throughout your stay, a gourmet breakfast with a choice of 12 main courses and lots of complementary snacks and soft drinks in the rooms as well as Molton Brown toiletries. If you love an outdoor hot tub, you will be pleased to know you can also enjoy stunning views from theirs.

Secluded self-catering

Rink Hill, Scottish Borders
Rink Hill in the Borders is one of Scotland’s loveliest hidden gems

Designed for two people as a couple’s retreat, with the region’s natural landscape as inspiration, Rink Hill is one of Scotland’s loveliest hidden gems. Rink Hill’s beautiful, curvaceous building is situated within a 500-acre farm, owned and managed by the Bayne family for three generations.

It was built sustainably using natural materials sourced on the farm or nearby, and it offers spectacular panoramic views of the Scottish Borders from anywhere you stand. You will enjoy a welcome hamper filled with local produce, an outdoor hot tub, a beautiful log-burner in the living room, underfloor heating and a master bathroom with a free-standing bath and separate walk-in rain shower.

The Hideaway Experience, Dundee
The Hideaway is a modern eco-lodge only minutes from Dundee

Located on the edge of a 650-acre private estate, The Hideaway is a modern eco-lodge designed as the ultimate romantic retreat by owners Caroline and Ross.

The lodge is heated by renewable sources and is filled with wonderful features such as an outdoor day bed, an outdoor hot tub big enough for six people, an outdoor shower, a roll-top bath for two, a dedicated spa room, Sonos music system, a trampoline, an enclosed garden and a lot more. Dundee is only 15 minutes away and you can also land a helicopter right there if you wish to travel in style.


Remarkable Hotels

The Old Manse of Blair, Perthshire
© David Brown
The Old Manse of Blair in Perthshire is a special luxury hotel

Some luxury hotels are lovely and remain as they are. Others never stop surprising us with new developments, further improvements and creative ideas. The Old Manse of Blair is one of these special luxury hotels. Owners Archie and Anne MacDonald transformed an ivy-clad 200-year-old listed property into one of Scotland’s most charming luxury boutique hotels. The hotel opened in 2017 with seven bedrooms and a restaurant; today the property has 18 bedrooms, a self-catering apartment for 10 people, two luxury cottages and a farm shop. Every room has been meticulously designed by Anne herself, whose love for quality, Scottish art and nature can be seen throughout the property.

Saorsa 1875, Perthshire
Saorsa 1875

A hotel designed for vegans by vegans. There is nowhere else like Saorsa in Scotland, it is the UK’s first vegan hotel. Owners Jack and Sandra McLaren-Stewart opened the hotel in June 2019 and created a wholesome space where veganism can be experienced by both vegans and non-vegans as an exciting and vibrant way of life. The hotel is eco-friendly, only non-toxic and ethical cleaning products are used as well as cruelty-free and vegan toiletries.

When guests stay at the hotel, they experience the world more humanely – it is a beautiful and refreshing approach.

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