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Best luxury hotels in Scotland 2023: Where to stay for style and scenery

Want to soak up all the history and culture Scotland has to offer? These are the perfect places to stay

Susanne Arbuckle
Thursday 22 June 2023 11:04 BST
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<p>Rest your head at one of these hotels after a day of roaming Scotland </p>

Rest your head at one of these hotels after a day of roaming Scotland

Ah, bonnie Scotland, what’s not to love about it? From its dramatic landscapes to its magnificent castles – not to mention the buzzy atmosphere that takes hold of its capital each August, courtesy of Edinburgh’s Fringe festival – it’s a country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

But whether you’re headed to Inverness to try and spy the famous Loch Ness monster; planning to hike through the Highlands or even tackle all this and more on the North Coast 500 – Scotland’s answer to Route 66 – we promise you won’t be dissapointed with what you find.

You can ditch the stereotypes of deep-fried everything and tartan twee, though, as Scotland has elevated its visitor offerings over recent years. While you’ll still find many cheap and boutique offerings in the main cities, a growing number of Michelin-starred restaurants are leaving foodies salivating, and Harris Tweed has become the go-to fabric for every upmarket establishment wanting to tastefully incorporate Scottish heritage.

Previously private castles and country estates have undergone a hospitality makeover, with a select few joining more-recent offbeat accommodation additions in a prestigious portfolio of the most desirable places to stay. Scotland’s most luxurious hotels are as diverse as the scenery, and every bit as majestic.

Best hotel for a bit of everything: Gleneagles

Location: Perthshire

If you’re into food, this is a great place to stay

Despite being one of Scotland’s most exalted hotels – it boasts the country’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant, three championship golf courses, a bucket-list spa, and an enviable menu of on-site pursuits – Gleneagles has no hint of pompousness. Guests come here for fun just as much as the fluffy bathrobes, and it all feels quite homely, a bit like staying at your favourite aunt’s house (if your aunt happened to reside on a country estate). The bedrooms are elegantly comfortable, while the public rooms are dripping in glamour from a bygone era. Nearby Perth is a bijou city alternative to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Best hotel for a countryside retreat: The Torridon

Location: Wester Ross

The Torridon provides a fantastic farm-to-fork restaurant experience

Nestled at the edge of a west coast Highland sea loch, surrounded by brooding mountains, The Torridon takes centre stage in a scene straight off a shortbread tin. Once graced by the Victorian elite, the interior of the former hunting lodge retains an air of its aristocratic past, while a stimulating palette of fabrics has been added in a 21st-century rebrand. Go for the setting, stay for the award-winning farm-to-fork restaurant experience, followed by a wee dram of uisge beatha (water of life) in the wood-clad whisky bar, where there’s a malt for every day of the year.

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Best hotel for coastal location: Glenapp Castle

Location: Ayrshire

Channel your inner Rapunzel at Glenapp Castle

Glenapp Castle oozes fairy-tale opulence, with Rapunzel turrets and a sprawling penthouse apartment commanding a royal price. For a more budget-friendly ‘happily ever after’, book into one of the 17 guest suites kitted out with lavish period furnishings. Upgrade for sea views across to the volcanic dome of Ailsa Craig or book a boat trip for a close-up encounter. Spend your day swooshing around the rambling interior or foraging for ingredients in the garden during a perfume masterclass, one of several unique guest experiences available. Dine among fig trees in the Victorian glasshouse, where the menu celebrates homegrown produce.

Best hotel for romance: The Witchery by the Castle

Location: Edinburgh’s Old Town

These rooms will make you feel like you’re in a Gothic novel

Forget comparisons with Hogwarts, The Witchery is so overflowing with grown-up Gothic decadence it would make passing Harry Potter tour groups blush. Beyond a discreet opening, a short saunter from Edinburgh Castle, the hotel’s nine individually designed suites are theatrically amorous with an unashamed side of risqué. Rooms are cloaked in leather, velvet and silk with carefully curated antiques positioned around robust four-poster beds. It may all feel very medieval, but 21st-century travellers are well catered for with Amazon Echos, GHD straighteners and Nespresso machines. Feast by candlelight in the oak-panelled restaurant, a popular romantic rendezvous in its own right.

Best hotel for a city break: Cromlix

Location: Perthshire

Tennis fans will feel right at home here

When Sir Andy Murray bought a tired hotel near his hometown of Dunblane, he set his sights on transforming the Victorian mansion into accommodation worthy of gold. The fact it came with its own tennis court was a serendipitous bonus. After a glossy overhaul, Cromlix has achieved a five-star rating and the court has been restyled in Wimbledon purple, much to the delight of tennis fans who can book a private lesson. Muted colours invoke a feeling of calmness in the 15 plush bedrooms and diners get front row seats in the open kitchen of The Glasshouse restaurant.

Best hotel for sightseeing: Fingal

Location: Leith, Edinburgh

You could be sleeping here

When you’re moored next to the former floating residence of Elizabeth II, you can’t be seen to lower the neighbourhood. Taken over by the same trust that cares for neighbouring Royal Yacht Brittania, Fingal has undergone a glow-up worthy of a viral TikTok post. The former working lighthouse tender has moved up a class in retirement, acquiring 22 swanky cabins, a panoramic restaurant, and a ballroom that would make superyacht owners envious. Located in Edinburgh’s lively Leith district, the once-seedy port is a blossoming hipster neighbourhood, while the city’s major attractions are just a short bus ride away.

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Best hotel for a boutique Highland escape: Fife Arms

Location: Royal Deeside

The Fife Arms is the perfect outdoorsy spot

From the food to the 46 flamboyant bedrooms, local heritage is woven through the fabric of The Fife Arms and every wall flaunts a museum-worthy collection of art. Stay in a room reminiscent of a simple croft or sleep in a bed fit for a queen – Queen Victoria was a previous royal neighbour at Balmoral Castle. The surrounding elements of the Cairngorms National Park are transported indoors in a montage of natural materials, and for those keen to venture outdoors, the resident ghillie is on hand to guide you through the glorious Highland landscape.

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Best hotel for spa and wellness: Old Course Hotel

Location: Fife

Enjoy an unbeatable view with your dinner

Bordering the world’s oldest golf course attracts some prestige, but The Old Course Hotel isn’t just for golf fanatics. The 175 luxury bedrooms are endowed with contemporary elegance and fine dining is the dish of the day at the 3 AA Rosettes restaurant. If swinging a club at a wee white ball isn’t your thing, bypass the fairway and head to the spa, the first Kohler Waters Spa outside the US, or swerve to the two miles of golden sand at West Beach. St Andrews, one of Scotland’s most historic and vibey towns, unfolds from the doorstep.

Best hotel for city breaks: Kimpton Blythswood Square

Location: Glasgow city centre

Relax and unwind in the Kimpton Blythswood Square spa

For Georgian glam in the heart of Glasgow, check in to Kimpton Blythswood Square for a city stay with serious style. Grand period windows illuminate the sophisticated, pared-down bedrooms, where original features take centre stage and marble bathrooms come as standard. Social butterflies can mingle with fellow guests during a hosted hour each evening, but if that all sounds too exhausting, the on-site spa is rated one of the best in the city. Culture vultures are spoiled for choice with the best of Glasgow’s attractions on the doorstep, although the hotel’s regular champagne cinema events might persuade you to stay in.

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