the caledonian edinburgh

Sensational luxury hotels for an unforgettable Scotland staycation

11 Jun 2024 | |By Luxury London

From bonnie boutique stays to grand country piles, these are the best hotels north of the border

Between Edinburgh’s boutique bedrooms and the Highlands’ heritage properties, Scotland’s growing hotel scene shows no signs of slowing down. Catering to the well-heeled crowd who want a mix of country and city living, the hills of Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and even the remote corners of the Isle of Skye offer not only a luxury suite to rest your head, but quintessential Scottish experiences via local produce in its fine-dining restaurants, carefully-curated countryside excursions and lavish spa treatments. Over in the capital of Edinburgh, historical mainstays such as The Caledonian and The Balmoral continue to set the standard of smart Scottish luxury. Can’t wait? Here are the best luxury hotels in Scotland to book now.

Gleneagles, Perthshire

Where the Fife Arms is a full-on immersive experience, Gleneagles offers discreet, dip-your-toe-in design. Tall, light-filled rooms and suites are kitted out with elegant armoires and mid-century four-poster beds with the spacious interiors echoing the big-sky Highland scenery outside.

Get a feel for the area with the hotel’s variety of country pursuits – horse riding, fishing, shooting, off-road driving, cycling and golf – or settle into Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s only restaurant with two Michelin stars. Ingredients, including purple carrots, flower sprouts and buttonhole kale are sourced from head grower Jo Campbell’s kitchen garden while there’s the signature Scottish lobster smoked for five hours over a whisky barrel on the menu that shouldn’t be missed.

From £988 per night. 

The Caledonian, Edinburgh

An icon on Princes Street since 1903, The Caledonian (also known as the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh) combines modern luxury and Victorian style housed in a former rail station. While the history of Edinburgh is on its doorstep, offering unparalleled access to the Princes Street Gardens, The Royal Mile and Edinburgh Old Town, a Unesco World Heritage Site, guests needn’t venture beyond The Caledonian’s walls to enjoy a relaxing break. 

Elsewhere, discover the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Spa, afternoon tea sessions in the property’s new Peacock Alley, and enjoy a wee dram in The Caley Bar, boasting a collection of more than 100 whiskies. Chef Dean Banks serves an elegant Scottish seafood menu at The Pompadour while hyper-local, vegan flavours can be dined on casually at Grazing by Mark Greenaway. 

From £387 per night. 

Saorsa 1875, Perthshire

As the UK’s first vegan hotel, Saorsa 1875 is not only proving that there’s an alternative way of running things – for both the industry and guests – but doing so with such style that it attracts curious traditionalists as well as ethical travellers. The in-house plant-based restaurant plates up inventive flavours, such as king oyster mushroom with ricotta pesto and caramelised banana brulee, but the vegan credentials don’t end with the menu.

Everything from the cleaning products to the wine (and, of course, the whisky) is cruelty-free; for every dinner served, a tree is planted; the rooms are powered by Ecotricity and named after Scotland’s endangered wildlife species such as Lynx and Golden Eagle. The McLaren Stewart family, who own and run the hotel, also sourced many of the interiors second hand. We like the refillable toiletries by La Eva, and Roxy and Lizzie – the two rescue pups that man the front desk.

From £170 per night.

The Fife Arms, Aberdeenshire

Since the 19th century, The Fife Arms has been at the heart of Braemar, the Aberdeenshire town famous for the annual Braemar Gathering (the most famous Highland games in Scotland), which draws visitors from around the world. Deep in the Cairngorms National Park, this Victorian coaching inn has been reimagined for the 21st century by its artistic owners – Hauser and Wirth gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth – and, naturally, art is central to The Fife Arms experience. More than 14,000 works have been thoughtfully integrated into every room, corridor and corner, with large-scale site-specific commissions by internationally-renowned artists – Zhang Enli, Guillermo Kuitca, Subodh Gupta, and Bharti Kher – among them.

Since it reopened in 2018, guests have been invited to enjoy the heart of the Highlands while staying in one of its 46 design-led bedrooms and suites. The Clunie Dining Room, overlooking the River Clunie, showcases wood-fire cooking and seasonal Scottish produce in a striking room painted by artist Guillermo Kuitca, while the much-loved village bar The Flying Stag offers classic Scottish dishes – think Highland beef and Blue Murder pie, and Menzie’s haggis, neeps, and tatties drizzled in Fife Arms whisky sauce – craft ales, and live entertainment. 

From £598 per night. 

Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye

If Kinloch Lodge feels more like a home than a hotel, that’s because it is. The Macdonald clan opened the doors to their family abode and have turned it into one of Skye’s most coveted, comfortable places to book. At the foot of Kinloch Hill and overlooking sea loch Na Dal, it offers front row seats to Skye’s best bits, whether you plan on sinking into a chair by the roaring fire or fly-fishing for wild brown trout with the hotel’s resident ghillie.

Even the roll-top baths have views out over the island’s ancient lowlands and glassy bodies of water, and the walls have their own stories to tell, dating back decades and presenting portraits of Macdonald clan members. From Lochalsh crab toast rarebit to pan-fried cod with Skye scallop celeriac crumble, seafood takes centre stage in the island’s only fine-dining restaurant. Round off your evening at the whisky bar with more than 122 different bottles, which you can enjoy under a canopy of stars or sink into one of our plush drawing room sofas in the warming distance of our roaring fireplaces.  

From £580 per night. 

The Balmoral, Edinburgh

The Balmoral allows guests a taste of country living in the capital, where the formality of the palatial landmark is offset by friendly, flawless service. Home to lavish suites, Ritz-worthy afternoon teas, a Michelin-starred restaurant and a luxurious spa, check in to The Balmoral and you might find yourself reluctant to leave. Designed as a Victorian railway hotel over a century ago, its ornate grandeur dominates the eastern end of Prince Street and its well-connected concierge, who can always get you a seat at the best table in town, is worth the price of a room alone.

As one of Edinburgh’s biggest names in hospitality (it’s a Rocco Forte flagship), it recruited a role-call of equally big names to refresh the property in 2017: Martin Brudnizki handled interiors, Paul Hart oversees the cuisine and sommelier Callum McCann curates the wine collection. Forte co-owner Olga Polizzi managed to honour the hotel’s legacy with the renovation – kilted doormen greet you on arrival, beds are made by Glencraft (suppliers to the Queen), turn down is attentive and exacting – making it a favourite among those who return to the city often.

From £123 per night. 

The Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh

One of the most unique and romantic hotels in the UK, The Witchery is as magical as its name suggests. Every room is different in the 16th century building, but all are decorated with the decadence of the Gothic, Baroque, Victorian and Medieval eras (we like the view from The Old Rectory over the Royal Mile and the Fife coast). A mischievous middle finger to millennial minimalism, the theatrically draped mahogany four-posters and dressing-up-box attire (think knight’s bascinets and Scottish guard’s uniform) at every corner make this adults-only hotel feel like an invitation to let loose your inner child. 

Breakfast is served by candlelight, and the dinner menu features classic favourites such as tournedos rossini, lobster thermidor, and omelette Arnold Bennet, alongside The Witchery's legendary Angus beef steak tartare and haggis. The entire experience at The Witchery is a novelty. The only downside? It makes returning to your Marie-Kondoe’d condo a jarring anticlimax.

From £806 per night.

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