From cozy crofters’ cottages to lofty castles, there is a special place for every visitor in Scotland!
This lovely whitewashed croft teeters above the sea on the wild Applecross peninsula (made famous by the first Monty Halls’ Great Escape series on the BBC). Inside it’s all vintage chic with faded floral cushions, white-painted floorboards, deerskin rugs and a wood-burning stove, and romantic views over the sea to Skye. The waterfront village of Applecross, with its cozy pub serving slap-up seafood, is an eight-mile drive down the road.
Corran Lighthouse Lodge, Loch Linnhe
Sail across Loch Linnhe to the sparkling white lighthouse on the horizon. Only a ten-minute hop on the ferry, the old lighthouse-keeper’s cottage is now a pretty five-bedroom retreat: pale wooden floors, wood-burner, squashy sofas and a country kitchen complete with Aga. The lighthouse, built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s uncle in 1857, was one of a chain marking the route to the Caledonian Canal. A walled garden leads down to the shore of the tidal sea loch, and views across to Glencoe and Ben Nevis.
Black Shed, Isle of Skye
This striking architect-designed bolt hole, hunkered into the hillside, is timber clad and insulated with sheep’s wool. A wood-burning stove and underfloor heating also keep the open-plan space cozy, as do thick Harris Tweed curtains. The landscape is bare, barren and bleak — but magnificent. You can snuggle up in front of the fire with food from the owner’s croft (home-baked breads, jams, eggs warm from the hens and dirt-speckled vegetables) or splash out on a gastronomic treat at the Three Chimneys down the road.
Monty’s Cottage, North Uist
Thick walls and peat fires kept Monty Halls snug when he lived in this traditional blackhouse on North Uist. The gorgeous thatched cottage was his base while he filmed his Great Hebridean Escape for the BBC. Fergus, the local laird, renovated the croft and now lets it out as a holiday cottage (you book through the Hebridean Smokehouse, which he also runs). It’s down a private track, with nothing but acres of stubbly sheep-grazed ground between you and the sea.
Mucklehus means big house, but there are only two bright seaside-chic rooms in this charming B&B on Shetland, owned by Anne Bairn, a local artist. (Her studio is attached to the house and her paintings hang on the walls.) The house dates back to the 19th century and was built for a master mariner in the bucolic little crofting community of Netherton. The two guest rooms are all creams and taupes, with a smattering of pebbles and driftwood. It’s just a short stroll down to the sandy beach.
High Lodge, Galloway
Hole up in this gorgeous 18th-century gamekeeper’s cottage, a mini eco-lodge on the Galloway House Estate powered by wind turbines and solar panels. Surrounded by fields, on the McCreath family’s organic farm, this is a wonderfully quirky retreat: there’s no television, only an open fire and shelves crammed with books. The little attic bedroom is reached by a ladder, the bed tucked under the beams: a cosy den to stumble back to after a clifftop walk.
South Shore Cottage, Eilean Shona
Eilean Shona is a tiny wooded island off the West Coast, owned by Robert Devereux (who is married to Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa). It’s only two miles long and one and a half wide — and it’s also where J. M. Barrie penned Peter Pan. You can rent the big house or one of five rustic-chic cottages. To reach South Shore, the most remote of the cottages, a motorboat whisks guests across the loch. The cottage stands alone on the hillside, facing west. There’s no electricity — you cook on a little stove by gas lamp.
Saddell Castle, Kintyre
Far-flung and a castle to boot: this Landmark Trust property on the remote Kintyre peninsula is pure fairytale. Built in 1508 and a Campbell stronghold for 400 years, it has parapets and battlements and its own rugged shoreline. Perfect for building bonfires on the beach, windswept walks and historical fantasies.
Lochanshelloch Cottage, Cawdor
This periwinkle-blue cottage on the Highland estate of a 14th-century castle is one of a clutch of shepherds’ bothies and crofters’ cottages revamped by the former magazine stylist Isabella Cawdor after she married the Thane of Cawdor. Lochanshelloch Cottage is a splash of low-slung colour hidden amid the trees. Inside it’s all jaunty gingham curtains, romantic brass beds and roaring log fires.
Ghillie’s Rest, Alladale
The 19th-century hunting lodge at Alladale, the 23,000-acre Highland estate of Paul Lister (the MFI heir now famous for wanting to reintroduce wolves to the Highlands), is perfect house-party territory. But if you want something cosier, Ghillie’s Rest is a new stone lodge deep in the glen looking out over the river, with two bedrooms.
Knoydart House, Knoydart Peninsula
Knoydart is on the mainland, but there are no roads in. It’s an 18-mile hike from the nearest road or a boat ride from Mallaig, on the West Coast. The owners, Ian and Jackie Robertson, have just finished building a luxury eco-lodge, with five bedrooms. All soaring cathedral-style ceilings, underfloor heating, antique furniture and an ultra-modern kitchen. It also has one of the best hot tub views in Scotland.
Glengorm Castle, Isle of Mull
Glengorm Castle is a family home — and an exquisitely elegant five-room B&B. Downstairs in the warm wood-panelled library, you can enjoy a complimentary whisky by a roaring fire as you gaze out to sea. In the dining room the large oak table dates back to the 16th century. The rooms are understated indulgence: Crannach has a wrought-iron bed and huge bathroom with tub.
Roulotte Retreat, Newtown St Boswells
A cluster of hand-carved French roulottes, or wagons, are cradled by a three-acre meadow in the Scottish Borders. Think of Gypsy caravans, only more sumptuous. Devanna is oriental in design and opulent; Karlotta has a Moroccan theme with a chaise longue and rugs scattered across wooden floors.
Cambo Estate, Fife
Bowl down the hedgerow-fringed lane from St Andrews to Cambo. Now famous for its snowdrops, the estate, tucked away in the trees, was first occupied by John De Cambo in the 12th century. You can bed down four-poster-style in the grand house’s B&B, or check in to the handful of holiday cottages and apartments. The West Wing is a grand old pad, dripping in period features.
The Albannach, Lochinver
This foodie bolt hole won a Michelin star in 2009. Rising out of the sweeping lawn, this tall, white, 18th-century house in Sutherland has a cosy rich claret dining room with rough-hewn wooden floors and the suggestion of a baronial air. There are just five rooms. The Byre suite, in a separate cottage, has is a sea of slate and linen and tweed furnishings, with its own outdoor hot tub at the back.
Thatched Cottage, Edinburgh
In the gorgeous green grounds of Hopetoun House, a magnificent sprawling 18th-century stately home just outside Edinburgh, is this idyllic getaway, a little thatched cottage for two. The stone hideaway topped with traditional thatch has an open fire and wooden floors. On your doorstep are 150 acres of woodland to explore.
Waterfall Cottage, Kenmore
This magical spot, down a single track lane above Loch Tay, is home to a contemporary hideaway. The glass and timber retreat, with its corrugated iron roof, is two miles from the village of Kenmore at the end of the loch. Inside it is sleek yet cozy, with underfloor heating and wood-burning stove.
The Spoons, Isle of Skye
This gourmet three-bedroom B&B is on a seven-acre working croft (sheep, chickens, bees and vegetables). Everything has been meticulously sourced, from the antiques to the artwork. The luxurious rooms, Spoons 1, 2 and 3, are all individually designed.
Blue Reef Cottages, Harris
Two turf-roofed, chunky stone dwellings in the remote crofting community of Scarista on the Isle of Harris look out over one of the island’s most spectacular sandy beaches. Blue Reef Cottages are modelled on Neolithic houses, bedded into the machair and built as cozy retreats for couples. There are bicycles, picnic baskets and beach towels. In the bedroom there are Harris Tweed furnishings; in the bathroom a hot tub and sauna.
Matheson’s Croft House, Dornie
Wrought-iron beds under the eaves, the pale-painted walls tongue and groove, an open fire in the lounge: this secluded croft house has been lovingly refurbished and has bags of charm. The cottage sits in its own picture-perfect garden on the side of Loch Alsh with views of Eilean Donan castle.