A Hidden Scotland Guide
Scotland is steeped in history – and nowhere will you find that more than in its huge selection of castles that you can actually stay in. From former retreats for kings and queens to newly refurbished medieval battlegrounds, there’s a castle hotel for every taste – and here are our top picks:
With 17 unique rooms styled to reflect the unique history of the house, Dalmunzie Castle in Perthshire is one of Scotland’s leading heritage hotels. A Laird mansion built in the Scots Baronial style, the area was a favourite of Queen Victoria specifically for its calmness and seclusion. Just two hours from Edinburgh International airport, the Castle sits on a 6500-acre estate that dates back to the 1500s and is close to local ski resorts and golf clubs. Truly the place to get away from it all.
Named one of The Sunday Times Best Places to Stay 2020 and a member of the Pride of Britain hotels group, Glenapp Castle is a luxury five-star hotel that is secluded, tranquil and contemporary. With its interiors blending historical touches with modern conveniences, this Ayrshire castle is surrounded by gorgeous forestry and gives easy access to the Hebrides islands, as well as views of the Ailsa Craig. The castle’s restaurant is also a much a must-visit, with head chef Ian Bennett creating great Scottish menus using local produce.
This 12th century Celtic Castle has a fully refurbished interior, and still maintains some of its original markings including fireplaces and towering ceilings. Found in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and overlooking the Cromarty Firth and the Black Isle, the castle was once a place of relaxed relaxation and retreat for clans of Scotsmen. Now, the contemporary hotel offers 22 ensuite bedrooms which incorporate the historical atmosphere of the hotel with comfortable furnishings and modern amenities. Championship golf courses are just a short drive away as well as the gorgeous landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park.
A luxury hotel near Glasgow, Crossbasket Castle has been fully renovated from its 17th-century original design to create 9 beautiful ensuite bedrooms that are decorated in the classical style with some modern contemporary furnishings. No doubt, the hotel’s highlight is its central restaurant, run by award-winning chef Michel Roux Jr, son of the world-famous Albert Roux. Its menu has been designed to showcase the ingredients and dishes popular in Scotland using local ingredients and seasonal produce.
Abandoned for nearly 200 years, Kilmartin Castle has been lovingly restored and refurbished into a luxury bed and breakfast venue, designed exclusively for nature-lovers. Reopened in 2019, this Western Scotland castle sits on the edge of Kilmartin Glen, one of the most famous sites in prehistoric history. The interior retains a traditional Celtic feel, with its candle-lit dining room ensures that no two meals at the Castle are ever the same – thanks to their regular rotation pop-up gastronomic experts and local chefs.
Opulent yet tranquil, Borthwick Castle is over 600 years old and still retains most of its original features, including a stunning arched gateway at the castle’s entrance. Just 30 minutes from Edinburgh, the castle sits on the borders route of the Scottish countryside and offers twelve bedchambers dressed with medieval touches. And if you really want to get in touch with your medieval side the Great Hall makes a wonderful location for the traditional banquet which can be prepared on request.
Set on the North Coast of the Isle of Mull, Glengorm Castle is only accessible by boat. A peaceful setting in the Inner Hebrides, Glengorm offers multiple accommodation options across their extensive, secluded grounds. Their traditionally decorated hotel – fully furnished using local materials like leather and sandstone – offers bed and breakfast, or if you’re looking for a little more freedom, their selection of self-catering lodges offers tranquil island living for visitors.
Invergordon in the Scottish Highlands is host to this luxury hotel set on a grand country estate. Awarded four stars by the AA and the Scottish Tourist Board, Kincraig Castle is owned by a family of golfers and is proud to offer 20 golf courses within a 20 while mile radius of the hotel, including the Royal Dornoch Castle Stuart. The bedrooms are cosy with traditional Highland touches as well as modern luxuries, and make sure to drop by The Snug – the small whiskey bar dedicated to Scotland’s national drink.
Built in 1837, Stonefield Castle sits on sixty acres of woodland, with views overlooking the shores of Loch Fyne. Though its interior has now been refurbished, the Castle retains much of its original character and architecture – particularly the original wood-panelled ceilings and marble fireplaces. The castle offers thirty-eight ensuite bedrooms, promising garden or loch views from your window. And if you’re looking to escape into nature, look no further than its very own Barmore Island – where you might just catch a glimpse of some resident otters and seals.
Visited by twenty-seven Scottish Kings and Queens of history, Traquair Castle is Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. Located near the town of Peebles, the Castle offers four spacious double bedrooms for bed and breakfast, each with its own historical touches. The property sits on a 4500-acre estate, including neighbouring farms, cottages and even an onsite brewery that was built in 1694. Guided tours of the full house, led by a historical expert, are offered every day to visitors – and perfect if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a real slice of Scottish history.
This five-star luxury hotel and spa in the heart of Highland Perthshire blends a traditional castle with contemporary touches and new buildings to create a truly modern hotel. The castle is built within acres of trees and woodlands, creating a dramatic surrounding landscape nestled in the Tummel Valley. The amenities offered are all about relaxation; visit their fine dining restaurant or their Brasserie for dinner or enjoy a drink at their one-of-a-kind gin bar. Even the spa incorporates the wonder of the surrounding nature, with treatments giving you a full view of the tranquillity of the nearby Loch Faskally.
Overlooking the Sound of Mull, this 13th-century castle was abandoned and left to ruin until 2016. Sitting on the 12,000-hectare Ardnamurchan Estate, the castle has now been completely refurbished but still retains the medieval feel of centuries long passed. From your window, you’ll catch a glimpse of the nearby mountains and the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy accommodation in one of four suites, each decorated with touches of Scottish decor and a specially built four-poster bed.
Centrally located in the Scottish Highlands, Glengarry Castle is perfect if you’re looking to tour the magnificent beauty of the surrounding area – which includes Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and even access to the Isle of Skye. This country house hotel – constructed within the ruins of a second castle – is particularly known for its Highland hospitality. No two bedrooms are quite the same, but each is comfortably furnished with modern amenities and cosy décor. You can even stay at The Gatehouse, their self-catering lodge situated just a short walk from the main hotel.
Just thirty-five minutes south of Edinburgh, Barony Castle was built in 1536 and sits on twenty-five acres of countryside near the town of Peebles. Built on the banks of the River Tweed, the four-star hotel offers eighty-two bedrooms packed with creature comforts, with views over the hotel’s expansive estate and the nearby Glen. Its award-winning restaurant is operated by head chef David Fulton, who uses local food from environmentally sustainable backgrounds to produce his menus. Thanks to his culinary excellence, the hotel has been given the AA Rosette Award for Culinary Excellence for two consecutive years – 2020 and 2021.
Thirteen bedrooms and suites, as well as a self-catering guest cottage, make up the grounds of Cringletie, a twenty-eight-acre estate near Peebles. Given a Grade B listed status in 1971 by Historic Scotland, the hotel features a beautiful walled garden and multiple nature walks, specifically curated by head gardeners and a team of horticulturalists over the last few years. Cringletie is also home to The Sutherland restaurant, which features locally sourced produce on their seasonal menus and was named the Hotel Dining Experience of the Year 2019 by The Hotel Awards.
Found in the area of Glasgow known as ‘the garden suburb’, Sherbrooke Castle is a baronial style hotel made of red sandstone and set in a beautiful landscape garden. Built in 1896, the hotel’s interiors have been completely modernised with contemporary design flourishes, featuring luxurious suites for guests and a large bar and restaurant. This four-star retreat might trick you into thinking you’re miles from the city – but the beautiful Queens Park and the Emirates Stadium are no more than ten minutes away from its front door.
Found directly opposite the beautiful twelfth-century Dornoch Cathedral, the newly refurbished Dornoch Castle offers dramatically designed bedrooms with great access to the historic town it calls home. With two award-winning restaurants, run by three-time AA Red Rosette award-winning chef Grant MacNicol, serving seasonal menus made with local produce, and a whiskey bar on-site, the castle also offers smaller, self-catered farm cottages to stay in nearby. It’s a great location for exploring the wonders of the Scottish Highlands.
The quiet meadows of the Scottish Borders are home to this 16th-century castle, just thirty minutes from the capital city of Edinburgh. Offering five-star accommodation in its gorgeous South Wing, Thirlestane Castle offers eight bedrooms split over five apartments. Each of the apartments is self-catering, but deliveries of breakfast hampers and pre-cooked meals can be arranged if you’re really looking to relax. Each of the bedrooms is uniquely decorated with a Regency feel, but still retaining some contemporary creature comforts, as well as great views of the surrounding parkland and further estate.
Built in the 1800s on the banks of the River Clyde, Cornhill Castle is found in Biggar and offers a secluded retreat in the Scottish countryside. Not only can guests stay in the beautiful central castle, but seven brand new lodges have been constructed just a short walk away from those looking for a little more freedom. The bedrooms are contemporarily designed with individual Scottish touches – you can even splash out on a more opulent suite for an even more luxurious experience. Its central restaurant is designed around the huge fishing area nearby, with salmon and trout being particularly popular menu items.
Found 474 feet above sea level and minutes away from the beautiful city of Edinburgh, the Fa’side Estate offers a leafy, woodland castle stay that dates back to the seventeenth century. With views of the Firth of Forth and Hills of Fife, the central bed and breakfast is found in the beautiful old tower, with accommodation found up restored spiral staircases from the original castle. Step back in time with dinner in the gorgeous Great Hall or walk the acres of land that surround this stunning castle. Edinburgh and the Lothian are just minutes away – perfect for those wanting a city break with a bit of countryside charm.
At over 850 years old, Buittle Castle is the perfect place to stay for history buffs looking to truly step back in time. Found in Galloway, in the valley of the River Urr, the castle offers extensive grounds and gardens that span for acres, giving you access to untouched natural wonders. The house operates as a bed and breakfast, offering two dedicated rooms for guests – but also hosts tours of the whole castle, an afternoon tea service and tours of the beautifully restored Great Hall.
On twenty acres of private garden and woodlands in Dumfries and Galloway is the Bonshaw Tower, whose original stonework dates back nearly nine hundred years. With its exterior and remains still untouched from its initial construction, the tower is most frequently used as a stunning wedding location, but also offers accommodation for a handful of guests for stays of three nights or more. Overlooking the River Kirtle, the main tower has both a master bedroom and a smaller boudoir that was once used as a room for the Lady of the House.
Located near the historic town of Tain, this Victorian-style castle sits on three acres of manicured woodland and offers comfortable, vintage accommodation to its visitors. Upscale antique furnishings are mixed with contemporary comforts, with much of the original wood panelling of the castle still intact. Its award-winning restaurant is especially known for its excellent seafood menu thanks to the hotel’s enviable location to the Scottish coastline.
Ideally located in the centre of Stranraer, the North West Castle Hotel has been family owned and operated for over fifty years. The castle in which the hotel was built was formerly the home of Sir John Ross, a famous arctic explorer who discovered the North West passage, hence the hotel’s name. The original castle, which was built in 1820 on the shores of Loch Ryan, not only offers seventy-two modern ensuite bedrooms but also has a fine dining experience in the Regency dining room, spa facilities and even its own indoor curling rink, which hosts international curling events throughout the year. You can even give this winter sport a try yourself!
Another home inside a historic castle – but this time, it’s a 16th-century tower built in an Aberdeenshire castle from the thirteenth century. Surrounded by lush parkland, this cosy bed and breakfast offers two bedrooms for its guests, with living space set out over three floors. The tower maintains many of its original features – including its stone staircase – but has been fully renovated for modern living. It’s also an ideal location for avid golfers – the famous courses at St Andrews and Royal Deeside are close by, as well as the quaint towns of Stonehaven and Montrose.
If you’ve ever wanted the comfort, style and luxury of mansion living – this is your opportunity. Just five minutes from famous St Andrews, the Kinettles Mansion has a distinctly old-world feel, sleeping sixteen guests. Find yourself transported back into centuries past in this beautifully maintained home that gives you country and coastal living in one little package. The property also boasts a hot tub, extensive gardens and a summer house, as well as large dining and living spaces – great for big families or groups looking for a getaway.
Seven hundred acres of woodland surround this beautiful mansion in Northern Aberdeenshire. The castle itself is over eight hundred years old, but much of its interiors have been completely refurbished for contemporary living. If you’re looking for luxury with a traditional edge, this house has everything you’ll need, including a library, a formal dining room, a grand drawing room and, for those looking for action, a games room complete with ping pong table. The owners can arrange for a private chef or cook to handle your catering, so you can get the true manor house experience.
This traditional stone castle in the Scottish Highlands is just a stone throw from Cairngorm National Park and had been abandoned to ruins until 1988 when a father and daughter team lovingly restored it back to its former glory. Now a calm Highland retreat, the interiors are cosily decorated and feature Scottish touches in all the décor, from the paintings on the walls to the furniture. The local area is known for its great outdoors – you can golf, walk, horse ride, fish, stalk and even go skiing at certain times of the year.
Voted one of the top three venues under 200 bedrooms at the International Hotel Awards, this thirty-two-acre estate offers nine luxurious guest rooms to visitors. Each of the rooms has been individually designed and decorated using original works from internationally renowned artists and furniture makers. Just twenty minutes away from the centre of Edinburgh, the castle is a perfect location for those looking for a little seclusion on their city break, promising a countryside retreat – without losing the modern touch.
This newly restored 12th-century castle won the Best Renovation in Scotland Award at the 2019 Herald Property Awards – and it’s not hard to see why. Steeped in Scottish history, the castle is just steps away from a championship golf course and features four large bedrooms with plenty of contemporary touches, as well as ensuite bathrooms. It uses the traditional renaissance architecture to its advantage, creating a luxurious space without losing the natural charm of the building’s original bones.
You won’t be able to resist this beautiful cottage set in the grounds of the Mingary Castle, a 13th-century battlement that’s also home to a large hotel. Calm and tranquil, the cottage is set within a larger stone castle, so the décor features plenty of original exposed stone and a hand-carved oak staircase. You’ll find a wood-burning stove and specially crafted four-poster beds throughout the cottage – perfect for someone who wants a little history with their home away from home.
Set on a 2,000 acres estate in Portpatrick, this stunning mansion house is perfect for those looking for luxury, indulgence and history in one place. Completed at the turn of the century, the house maintains many of its original features whilst blending contemporary design into its large rooms. Stay in the beautiful West Wing of the house, complete with a Victorian drawing room, a Georgian porch and a Great Hall for some incredibly dramatic dinners. The house has even been deemed culturally significant by the Scottish government.
This unique self-catering property is just five minutes from the beautiful coastal town of St Andrews and is steeped in Scottish history. Sleeping fourteen guests, the property was once a retreat for fleeing Scottish monarchs – particularly James I in 1583. Though the castle itself was left to ruin, it was purchased in 1992 and completely renovated. Accommodation is set over three floors, with views over the surrounding woodland and River Eden, as well as a maintained herb garden, watchtower and an orchard to explore.
A 16th-century manor house once visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary, Queen of Scots, this gorgeous manor house can sleep up to ten guests. With most of its original period features maintained – including a great hall and medieval fireplaces and kitchens, the property has a Grade B listing and a hand-painted beam ceiling. Just a short drive away from Stirling, the manor also has a huge array of gardens, as well as beach tunnels and wisteria walks to spend summer days in.
Set in the Queen Elizabeth Forest, Aberfoyle, this five-hundred-year-old castle has been fully renovated to create a cosy, secluded place to stay with plenty of leafy greenery to soak up outside. If you’re looking to get back in touch with nature, the castle offers eighty acres of park and woodland to explore. You might even catch a glimpse of some neighbourhood deer, red squirrels and a wide variety of birds. Certain wings of the castle are available to rent – or you can hire out the whole castle and truly live like a Royal.
Originally built in the 13th-century, Erchless Castle in the Glen of Strathglass offers 12,000 acres of Highland bliss. Recently refurbished, the property is self-catered, though local chefs and caterers are on hand to bring great Scottish menus to your door. The castle sleeps nineteen guests, with plenty of outdoor space to visit and explore. If you’re looking for outdoor activities, various excursions can be arranged like fishing, country walks, stalking and shooting.
No, this castle isn’t filled with cats. Instead, it’s a beautiful Victorian castle built on the western edge of Dunbarton, with views over the Firth of Clyde and Loch Lomond. With five bedrooms in the property – including a tower bedroom on the top floor – there’s antique furniture and design all through the house, as well as all the modern comforts you might need. The castle is found in one of the most desirable locations in Western Scotland and is especially great for children and large families.
A blush of pink against the green landscape, Fenton Tower sits just twenty miles outside of Edinburgh. With a dedicated staff within the tower to help you truly relax and recuperate, simple luxuries are king here, with seven individually styled bedrooms, a library and a grand dining room – great for big groups or families looking to get away. You might also recognize this fortified tower as Archie’s home on the children’s TV series, Balamory.