With Scotland proving to be a top destination for UK staycationers, Susan Welsh takes a closer look at some of the attractions on offer across the country likely to tempt curious tourists.
Scotland top for staycations
Scotland remains a top choice for staycationers – that’s holidaymakers who want to have a UK-based holiday rather than travel overseas.
And the top-five, must-visit holiday destinations last year were Loch Ness in the Highlands, Loch Lomond, Oban in Argyll, the Isle of Arran and the Isle of Skye, according to self-catering agency Cottages & Castles.
It reports that most of its customers last year were from Scotland, with 40% coming from the rest of the UK and just 5% coming from overseas.
The number of people wanting to book large houses was up, with two of the most popular being Drumblair House, a grade C listed house in Aberdeenshire and Kilfinan House, an elegant Scottish country house with stunning views towards Loch Fyne in Argyll.
Loch Ness also fared well in a recent study by Trip Advisor Experiences, which revealed the UK’s most popular visitor attractions for 2018.
The loch, home to Nessie, came in third position in the UK, with Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle in fifth and ninth position respectively.
Cottages & Castles has some fantastic properties in beautiful locations ranging from those suitable for family and group getaways to cosy cottages for two.
New to its porfolio this year are:
Customs House, Littleferry, near Golspie in Sutherland.
It’s a fantastic little cottage for couples or small families who are keen to explore Sutherland.
Set just metres away from the sea near the pier in Littleferry, the cottage sits in an elevated position with panoramic views of the water.
Loch Fleet is a fabulous spot for wildlife watchers, where various sea birds and seals are frequently seen from the cottage windows.
Mountain biking, fishing and golf are just some of the numerous activities on the doorstep.
Sleeping four, it’s available from £450 per week.
The Grey House in Nethybridge sleeps 19 and is available from £2,500 per week.
Set among woodland, the house is more than 100 years old and has plenty of space for socialising.
There’s a large garden extending into woodland where you’ll find a garden pond, while croquet can be played on the back lawn.
The house is within reach of Aviemore and the Cairngorms while Inverness is just an hour’s drive away.
If you are a nature lover seeking a romantic, rustic retreat, then Issueburn West Tower in Moray is the place for you.
This is a quirky, modern replica of a traditional tower house built just last year.
The owners have split the property into two self-contained sections. Located in the countryside near farmland, Issueburn boasts fantastic views along Strathisla between the Balloch and the Knock.
Breaks start here at £300 per week.
Perfect 10 for Skye’s Sonas Hotels
It’s been an excellent start to the year for Skye-based Sonas Hotels who walked away with handfuls of awards at the 2019 Scottish Hotel Awards held earlier this month.
Duisdale, Skeabost and Toravaig House Hotels walked away with no fewer than 10 Islands’ region awards.
Skeabost, situated on Loch Snizort seven miles from Portree, took the categories for Country House Hotel, Front of House Team and Lochside Hotel of the Year.
Twice a winner of Scottish Islands’ Hotel of the Year, Skeabost was voted Scotland’s top Group Hotel in last year’s prestigious Catering Scotland (CIS) Awards
Duisdale, in Sleat, a former winner of VisitScotland’s Hotel of the Year, won Intimate Wedding Hotel, Small Country Hotel and Fine Dining Hotel Restaurant.
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Leave the usual New Year celebrations at home this year and experience the magic and mystery of the Isle of Skye in Scotland. With amazing sea views and vast landscapes to explore, our luxury hotel offers a Hogmanay celebration with a difference and one that you and your family or friends will treasure for many years to come. See our itinerary for the Grand Hogmanay at our hotel and book one of our last rooms today to avoid any late disappointment.
Its nearby sister hotel, Toravaig, which last year won overall Islands’ Hotel of the Year, received four awards for Informal Fine Dining Restaurant, Breakfast Hotel, Boutique Hotel and Luxury Small Country Hotel.
Anne Gracie Gunn, who heads the Sonas Group, said: “These accolades add to an outstanding series of achievements for our three hotels and reflect our staff’s continuing dedication to quality, service, innovation and enhancing visitors’ experiences on the wonderful Isle of Skye.”
Winners of regional categories qualify for the national awards which will be announced on April 28.
The beautiful Isle of Skye is one of the destinations being visited by the magnificent Magellan cruise ship which P&J readers can experience via a wonderful best of Norway and Scotland cruise in 2020. A special buy one get one free promotion is available for a limited time to readers of The P&J. For more information or to make a booking visit www.dcttravel.co.uk/cruise2020 or call 0844 998 3892 and quote DCT35.
Tom Kitchin’s new venue
Former P&J food columnist Tom Kitchin has opened the doors to a new venture – a pub with rooms in the village of Gullane, home to Scotland’s famous Muirfield Golf Course and a 30-minute drive from Edinburgh.
Previously known as The Golf Inn, it’s been renamed The Bonnie Badger and undergone a full refurbishment, designed by Tom’s wife Michaela and Stephen Paterson, of Burns Design.
The Badger now has 14 luxury bedrooms, a bar, 60-cover dining room known as The Stables, cottages and lovely gardens. Dishes on offer will follow Tom’s From Nature to Plate ethos and feature twists on pub and season classics made with local produce.
Rooms will be priced per night from £195 to £595.
Rosettes for Daisy
Hotel Indigo Dundee’s flagship restaurant, Daisy Tasker, has been awarded two AA Rosettes.
The restaurant, which is headed up by MasterChef semi-finalist Stewart Macaulay, serves a regularly changing menu of dishes inspired by Dundee.
Named after a former mill worker, the restaurant, which has a chic bar and private dining area, has proved popular with those visiting the V&A Museum.
The hotel is housed in a formerly abandoned mill which underwent a dramatic renovation to become a very stylish hotel which pays homage to Dundee’s heritage of “jute, jam and journalism”.
Bedrooms feature bespoke artworks featuring Dundee Cakes, Bon Accord drinks and jars of marmalade, while the hotel lobby features artefacts from the city’s past.
The perfect road trip
Who needs Route 66 when you have the A82?
The route from Loch Lomond to Glencoe was picked as the ideal British road trip in a recent survey.
The trip, which takes in Bridge of Orchy and the gorgeous Loch Lomond National Park, was chosen by more than a quarter of drivers surveyed by webuyanycar.com
Richard Evens, from the firm, said: “Scotland boasts so many areas of outstanding natural beauty, we can certainly see why the drive from Loch Lomond to Glencoe came out on top.”
He also revealed the Aston Martin DB11 and Range Rover were the most popular dream car choices, while Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way was the most popular driving tune.