Whether you’re local or someone for whom lockdown lifts in time, here are some of the best places for a winter escape in Scotland
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It’s a huge understatement to say that this year has been incredibly tough for Scottish tourism, an industry that contributes £6 billion to the country’s GDP.
Forced to shut down entirely between mid-March and mid-July, hotels, B&Bs and self-catering places all lost at least four months of income – at a time when it should have been their busiest season. And for those of us who saw our holidays and trips to see family cancelled, it was a frustrating time.
July and August brought some relief, with many places able to open up again and take advantage of the domestic market during the school holidays, and then September and October saw travellers that could, start to visit in higher numbers than normal for this time of year, mesmerised by the kaleidoscope of autumnal reds, auburns, oranges and yellows that they found in the trees and on the hills when they arrived.
For most of us – unless you live in Scotland in somewhere classed Level 3 or under and plan to stay somewhere within your own region, or live in one of the countries with a travel corridor to Scotland – Scotland is once again out of bounds until at least 2 December, but after that there’s hope more of us can visit again, and here are some of the places you should consider when you can.
While we wait to see who can visit where and what is safe to do, one way people can support the tourism industry is to stay local, and we mean really local.
Glenapp Castle, a 17-bedroom boutique hotel in a Baronial castle in Ayrshire, is offering a special ‘night in for locals’ deal, which it is hoping will attract people out of their nearby homes for a night of unparalleled luxury, where they can be waited on (at a socially-safe distance) by butlers and enjoy fine food (from £234 per room). There’s an in-room dining option for those in Master and Junior Suites and the offer includes a complimentary upgrade.
Available until 20 December 2020.
This small hotel, overlooking Loch Linnhe and the Morvern mountains beyond in pretty Port Appin on Scotland’s west coast, is a great find. Cosy, discreet, with two lovely lounges where you can enjoy afternoon tea by the fireside and an excellent three AA Rosette seafood restaurant, it offers country house luxury, boutique style. In addition, the two-bed Bramble Cottage, in the grounds of the hotel, still has availability for Christmas and provides a home-from-home, with private garden and access to the hotel amenities.
For locals who can visit now, the hotel’s November Escape offer includes an overnight stay for two in the best available room in the house, plus a four-course dinner and a full Scottish breakfast for £279. For more thrills, the Treats en Suite deal includes a stay in the Master Suite with Champagne and in-room dining for £540.
And, until the end of March 2021 (except Christmas to New Year and Valentine’s), guests can book three nights for the price of two or four nights for the price of three, including chilled Champagne in the room and a five-course dinner on two or three nights for £407.50 and £580 respectively.
This stately hotel in the awe-inspiring landscape of Glen Coe is offering fantastic deals for anyone able to travel here this winter.
Anyone hoping to pop here for a long weekend can pay for two nights and get a third night free in one of the resplendent Glencoe House Suites, a three-course candlelit in-the-room dining experience and a ‘maxi’ bar with lots of drinks for pre- or post-dinner.
You can even save further by staying longer – with 25% off four-night stays or more. Both offers start at £420 per night on an all-inclusive basis and are available until 28 February 2021 with the exclusion of 20 December 2020 – 10 January 2021.
The epitome of old-world glamour, Gleneagles is not known as the Glorious Playground for nothing. A sort of world within itself, from the Art Deco splendour of the Century Bar to the refined elegance of the Glendevon, it’s as timeless as it is appealing to modern sensibilities.
Any time of year is good to visit Gleneagles but this year, the hotel is hoping that some of those who would normally winter in the Alps may make it to the Ochil Hills and the Strathearn valley instead.
A Winter Playground pass (£495 per room, based on two sharing) includes an overnight stay in a country room with breakfast, plus an outdoor activity such as horse riding or fishing on the frosty Laich Loch on the 850-acre estate, and some complimentary food and drink.
For the truly flush, there’s also the Strathearn Valley Pass (£2895 per room), which includes a two-night stay at the hotel, a guided mountain experience with a decadent hamper picnic lunch, two fine-dining meals, plus the added option to take a helicopter ride to one of Scotland’s ski resorts for the day, with transport back to the hotel in a Land Rover Defender.
Both offers are available Sunday-Thursday from 3 January to 25 February 2021.
The Torridon, a grand dame of a hotel – once a Victorian hunting lodge – is one of the most well-placed hotels in the whole of Scotland. Set in 58 acres of parkland, overlooking Loch Torridon, with the Torridon Hills brooding over the landscape in the northwest Highlands, it’s a place to escape everything. Take muddy walks in the hills by day and thaw out by the fire by night.
Like other hotels, it’s offering rooms to locals and those who can travel in November, with prices starting from £197 for B&B, while the Boathouse, which offers luxury self-catering accommodation in a woodland location just a short walk from the hotel, still has some availability for November (from £1460 for a week) for anyone lucky enough to get here. The Boathouse’s standout feature is the conservatory with loch-side views, which is a great spot for stargazing.
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