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Issue 2 - Scotland's finest country hotels

Scotland Magazine Issue 2
June 2002


This article is 16 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Scotland's finest country hotels

The Scottish mainland, as well as featuring fabulous city hotels, also boasts some of the British Isles' most spectacular country hotels. We profile some of the best

Sutherland and Caithness

Not for nothing did Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother choose to make the Castle of Mey overlooking the Pentland Firth in the far north her Scottish home. This is a wild, remote and beautiful coastline which needs to be explored from John O’ Groats at the north-east tip to Cape Wrath on the west. For the more adventurous out there it is the starting point for a visit to Orkney and Shetland.

Ackergill Tower
Near Wick
Tel: +44 (0) 1955 603 556
This is an experience not to be missed. Staying overnight in this 15th century Clan Sinclair castle overlooking the North Sea is an unforgettable experience. The food is excellent and you are expected to behave as if you are in your own home. As a result, Ackergill is popular with small corporate events and wedding house parties.

Wigtownshire, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Dunbartonshire

Often described as Scotland’s secret, the south-west enjoys the climate of the offshore Gulf Stream, and while tourists head north for the scenic wonders of the Highlands they neglect this wonderful corner of the land. Tropical gardens flourish, Wigtown has established itself as Scotland’s ‘Book Town’, and yachtsmen and golfers congregate here.

Knockinaam Lodge
Tel: +44 (0) 1776 810 471
There are 10 bedrooms in this out-of-the-way Victorian house situated south of Stranraer on the far south west coast. Windows overlook the Atlantic Ocean and there are views of Ireland in the distance. The hotel is in the process of being sold, but its reputation will surely assure that it remains in business for some considerable time to come.

Glenapp Castle
Near Ballantrae
Tel: +44 (0) 1465 831 212
Owners Graham and Fay Cowan have superbly restored this Victorian mansion once owned by the wealthy Inchcape shipping family. There are 17 bedrooms, the ambience is simply grand, and the food is excellent.

Turnberry Hotel
Tel: +44 (0) 1655 331 000
One of Scotland’s finest golfing hotels, overlooking two championship courses. There are 221 bedrooms, and a superb spa to relax in. The main dining room serves dinner only, but also an excellent Sunday lunch, overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and Ailsa Craig, the curiously-shaped rock that lies just offshore. The Brasserie features an all-day menu.

Gleddoch House
Tel: +44 (0) 1475 540 711
Web site:
Located close to the port of Greenock, this former home of a Glasgow shipping tycoon has 38 comfortable, if not lavish, bedrooms, a few of which have fine views across the Clyde estuary towards Dumbarton Rock. There is a health club and an 18-hole golf course. An ideal place to reside if you wish to visit Glasgow, but stay just far enough away to feel you’re in the wilderness.

Cameron House
Near Balloch, Loch Lomond
Tel: +44 (0) 1389 755 565
Web :
Built as a privately-owned mansion house and now a popular hotel complex, the 100 acres of grounds are situated on the banks of Loch Lomond. There are 96 bedrooms, the highly recommended Georgian Room restaurant, and an all-day brasserie. Famous celebrities such as the Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti have stayed here when visiting Glasgow. There is a nine-hole golf course, a swimming pool, tennis court, and a marina offering sailing and wind surfing.

Stirlingshire and Perthshire

The country of Perthshire stretched from the east coast as far west as Lochearnhead, piercing into Stirlingshire and Argyllshire. The countryside is richly wooded and gloriously beautiful, although May and September are considered by most to be the prettiest months.

The Gleneagles Hotel
Tel: +44 (0) 1764 662 231
Scotland’s most internationally famous resort hotel has 236 bedrooms and three major golf courses, an Equestrian Centre, Shooting School, Falconry Centre and Country Club. Set in the heart of Strathearn, the surroundings countryside provides just the kind of backdrop that the visitor to Scotland would want. The Strathearn Restaurant is renowned for its haute cuisine, but there is also the Club Bistro for those with a shallower pocket.

Kinnaird House
Tel: +44 (0) 1796 482 440
North of the small town of Dunkeld, the Kinnaird estate is situated in the glorious Tay Valley. Small teddy bears are placed in the bedrooms to keep guests company, which gives you some idea of the kind of consideration and service to expect. For those who want that extra privacy, there are nine superb cottages also available.

Auchterarder House
Tel: +44 (0) 1764 663 646
Former USA president Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan are among those who have stayed here. A fine country house in its own grounds, it is sumptuously decorated and discrete. There are 15 bedrooms, and guests dine by candlelight.

Hilton Dunkeld House
Tel: +44 (0) 1350 727 771
Built for a duke of Atholl, this large house on the banks of the River Tay has a leisure complex, a swimming pool, and many other activities making it an ideal spot for all the family to take a break. There are 96 bedrooms, but it is advisable to book well in advance.

Kinloch House
Near Blairgowrie
Tel: +44 (0)1250 884 237
A grand panelled interior, the food is renowned, and there are 20 bedrooms. This is a wonderful hideaway from the rush and tumble of everyday life and somewhere to truly relax. Surprisingly there is a health suite and swimming pool as well. What more could you want?

Ballathie House
Kinclaven, near Blairgowrie
Tel: +44 (0) 1250 883 268
Close to the town of Perth, this former hunting lodge is a wonderful hideaway situated on the River Tay. The atmosphere is relaxed and the food exceedingly good. There are 43 bedrooms, and fishing is available for guests if desired.

Cromlix House
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 822 125
West of Perth, this old country estate with its sprawling mansion house offers extensive grounds to walk in at leisure. There are mature woodlands and small fishing lochs to explore. The setting could not be more civilised, and the food and service are outstanding. The hotel has its own chapel, so an entire wedding service is available.

The Roman Camp
Tel: +44 (0) 1877 330 003
Built for the Dukes of Perth, there are interesting Roman ruins to be found near the hotel, which features 14 elegant period bedrooms, with a further 10 bedrooms being added this year. There’s a fine drawing room, conservatory, and an oval dining room. The River Teith runs past the lawn and guests can enjoy the hotel’s fishing facilities if they wish.

Argyll and Wester Ross

On the west coast of Scotland you are constantly aware of the sea which fingers inland with lochs and rivers at every opportunity. Seafood is in abundance, and there is so much to see and do that you may find yourself coming back time and again – and you’ll more than likely find something new to do every time! For those with a love for sailing the area is regarded as something of a spiritual home. For the avid angler, the keen walker, and those who want to explore the many beautiful islands of the Hebrides, or look in on an event like the Highland Games during the summer months, there is just no better place to be.

Airds Hotel
Port Appin
Tel: +44 (0) 1631 730 236
North of Oban, close to the Lismore passenger ferry, this 12-bedroom hotel has Graeme Allen in charge of its kitchen, and has won many awards for its high standard of cooking with local ingredients.

Isle of Eriska
Tel: +44 (0) 1631 720 371
A welcoming, family-run hotel accessed by the shortest bridge over the Atlantic. This is a real island. There are 17 bedrooms, with a nine-hole golf course, swimming pool and gym, with tennis and clay pigeon shooting in the 300 acres. The Dining Room serves award-winning Scottish cuisine.

Loch Awe
Tel: +44 (0) 1866 833 333
Previously this was a family home with the gardens full of rhododendrons. Today it sits at the end of a winding road, seven miles from Kilchrenan, and overlooking Loch Awe. There are 16 bedrooms, the food is excellent, and there is that wonderful atmosphere of being in a genuine old-style Highland home.

Loch Melfort Hotel
Tel: +44 (0) 1852 200 233
South of Oban, you could hardly find a better location, with its spectacular sea views. There are 26 bedrooms, the majority of which have either a patio or balcony. There is a large dining room and the less formal Skerry Bistro.

Arisaig House
Tel: +44 (0) 1687 450 622
On the road between Fort William and Mallaig, this 12-bedroom hotel has won various good food awards and the hospitality is excellent.

Crinan Hotel
Tel: +44 (0) 1546 830 261
Wonderfully located at the end of the Crinan Canal, there are 22 bedrooms and two restaurants overseen by Nick and Frances Ryan. Lock 16, on the third floor, has a deserved reputation for outstanding seafood fished from the waters you can see from the windows.

Inverlochy Castle,
Near Fort William
Tel: +44 (0) 1397 702 177
A magnificent Victorian-built hotel in splendorous surroundings, much acclaimed by food lovers. There are 16 bedrooms with fine furnishings in all of the public rooms, and with gardens filled with rhododendrons, it is everything you might expect to find in a great Scottish castle, with Ben Nevis looming in the background.

Stonefield Castle Hotel
Tel: +44 (0) 1880 820 836
Wonderful gardens slope onto the shore of Loch Fyne, and there are fine views from the dining room. There are 33 bedrooms and it is very popular for family holidays.

Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Morayshire

When most people think about postcard Scottish scenery, it is Highland scenery that they have in mind. High, heather clad mountains, rich moors and glens, rushing rivers and deep dark lochs. The scenery itself is redolent of the Highland clans who rose to support Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 and fell on Culloden battlefield in 1746. What makes Highland scenery so very different is the constantly-changing light and the drama of it all.

Culloden House
Tel: +44 (0) 1463 790 461
En route to the famous Jacobite/Hanoverian battlefield, this is a fine Georgian mansion with 28 bedrooms. The food is excellent, and it provides a handy location for exploring the Scottish Highlands in all directions. Fishing, shooting and golf are also available, and whisky breaks and tastings are held here.

Clifton House
Tel: +44 (0) 1667 453 119
Situated in the town, the remarkable proprietor J. Gordon MacIntyre has stamped his professionalism on every aspect of this popular holiday destination. The wine list is impressive and his stock of single malts is unbeatable. There are 12 bedrooms and style is guaranteed.

Muckrach Lodge
Dulnain Bridge
Tel: +44 (0)1479 851 257
This compact country house hotel, just one kilometre from Dulnain Bridge, is in close proximity to all of the wonderful skiing and sporting activities associated with Aviemore and the Cairngorms. It has excellent food and a surprising wine list. There are 13 bedrooms and it is open all year round.

Roxburghshire and Peeblesshire

The Borders of Scotland that stretch from Berwickshire across to Dumfriesshire are a magical land, with rolling hills and slow, flowing rivers. This is the land of Sir Walter Scott (who had his home at Abbotsfield, near Melrose), John Buchan (who was brought up in his grandfather’s manse at Broughton), and James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. Full of the romance and legend of feuds between the England and Scotland, many of the small agricultural towns and villages have strong associations with the textile industry.

The Roxburghe Hotel
Near Kelso
Tel: +44 (0) 1573 450 331
Owned by the Duke & Duchess of Roxburghe, who live at nearby Floors Castle, there are 22 bedrooms with the Duke’s own choice of wine list. The setting is lovely and there is an 18-hole golf course. There is very much a country house feel about the place.

Cringletie House Hotel
Near Peebles
Tel: +44 (0) 1721 730 233 Web:
Not much of a drive from Edinburgh, there are 14 bedrooms in this Wren Group owned hotel. There is a tennis court and a putting green. The food is of a high standard, with light lunches served in an airy conservatory.


If you are at St Andrews to golf, visit the ancient university, or simply seeking to enjoy the coastline with its tiny fishing villages, there is much to be found in Fife. The East Neuk is steeped in history, and it says it all that the population of this area trebles during the summer months when townies from Glasgow and Edinburgh head for the long, white beaches where scenes from the film Chariots of Fire were filmed, or the attractive small towns such as Coupar and Falkland.

Balbirnie House
Tel: +44 (0) 1592 610 066
There are 30 bedrooms in this superlative country house with its pleasant garden surrounding and golf in the park. The Orangery Restaurant is a popular award-winning retreat with a fine wine list.

The Old Course
St Andrews
Tel: +44 (0) 1334 474 371
On the fringe of St Andrews, there are 146 bedrooms, many of them overlooking the famous golf course in this home of golf. The sea is nearby, and both the Sands Brasserie and Road Hole Grill are celebrated for their food. There is also a luxury spa and pool.


For those who want to see Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, but prefer to stay out of town, there is a good variety of top-class accommodation. Generally speaking, the surrounding countryside of Edinburgh lacks the drama of the Borders or Highlands, but that does not mean there is nothing to do. Almost everywhere you look there are places of historic interest, and one of the great joys of touring Scotland is discovering just how accessible it is.

Fenton Tower,
Kingston, North Berwick
Tel: +44 (0) 1620 890 089
Not a hotel as such, Fenton Tower offers ‘luxury private short stay accommodation’ for the discerning traveller. Following a two-year restoration in conjunction with Historic Scotland, this Grade A listed building – a short distance from Gullane and North Berwick for golf enthusiasts – provides superb luxury surroundings for up to 12 guests.

Houston House
Tel: +44 (0) 1506 853 831
Very close to Edinburgh airport, parts of this tower house date from the 16th century contrasting in a curious way with the modern leisure centre. There are 72 bedrooms, some with four-poster beds. There are open fires and two restaurants to choose from.

Prestonfield House Hotel
Edinburgh outskirts
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 3346
Although minutes from Edinburgh’s city centre, you feel that you are in a country house hotel from the moment you step inside this 17th century house built for a long-ago Lord Provost of the city. There are 29 bedrooms, small but luxurious. Peacocks stroll on the lawn and the gardens are extensive. The elegant dining room is famous for its atmosphere, fine food and excellent service.

Borthwick Castle
North Middleton
Tel: +44 (0) 1875 820 514
This is a real old-style Scottish fortified house where Mary Queen of Scots genuinely took refuge when she fled from Holyrood Palace with the Earl of Bothwell. There are eight bedrooms in the castle and two in the gatehouse. The grand banqueting hall is breathtaking and you’ll feel you have stepped back in time.

Dalhousie Castle
Tel: +44 (0) 1875 820 153
Floodlit against the night sky, this could be Camelot. There are 34 bedrooms and you can reflect that Queen Victoria and Oliver Cromwell stayed here – but not together. There are five more bedrooms in an adjacent Victorian lodge and a health spa and dungeon dining room. With such a dramatic setting it is understandable that the castle, which is very close to Edinburgh, is particularly popular with wedding parties.

Tel: +44 (0) 1620 842 144
Close to Gullane, the centre of East Lothian’s golfing paradise. Designed by the architect Lutyens as a private house, there are 22 bedrooms. The restaurant is exceptional and the wine list is superb. Within half an hour’s drive of Edinburgh, there are long golden beaches nearby to enjoy when the sun shines.