With its wide-open skies, miles of countryside and breathtaking landscapes, Scotland has long been a popular, if somewhat overlooked, staycation destination in Britain. While tourism was already on the rise, with 2020 expected to be a record year for Scottish tourism even pre-pandemic, lockdown restrictions have seen Scotland, and in particular, the Highlands, become one of the most popular choices for UK travellers looking for escapism in their own backyards.
And, for those who aren’t averse to a bit of variable weather, Scotland delivers escapism in spades. Whether your dream holiday is exploring historic ruins, hiking to the top of snow-capped mountains, curling up in front of a log fire or tucking into glorious local produce, there are few appetites a holiday in Scotland can’t satisfy. Being home to cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, it’s also a great place to book one of the best UK city breaks. So where to stay? Read on for our guide to the best luxury holiday rentals in Scotland.
Assynt House, Argyll and Bute
Lying somewhere between an opulent manor house and a castle fit for a laird, the expansive Assynt House is a true gem in the Highlands. Nestled in the beautiful countryside between Redburn and Evanton, the house’s gardens may be meticulously-landscaped but the forests just beyond are teeming with native wildlife, while stargazers can expect some of the darkest skies the UK has to offer.
Sleeping 14 in seven bedrooms, Assynt House is every bit as grand as its Georgian frontage would suggest. Highlights include a wood-panelled dining room for 14, a cosy sitting room with an open fireplace and an attic office for those who can’t resist the draw of their inboxes. Daily housekeeping is provided as standard while a host of optional extras include a bagpipe salute on arrival and full catering by a private chef.
From £997 per night, minimum three-night stay
Highland Lodge, Aberfeldy
Tartan and mounted stag heads not your thing? Allow us to introduce you to Highland Lodge, a Scandi-inspired design-led country estate in Perthshire. A truly sophisticated stay, while families are welcome, we’d recommend this as the perfect Scotland holiday rental for gathering together all the friends you haven’t been able to see over the last year.
Sleeping 18-20 across nine lavish yet minimalist rooms, the centrepiece of the lodge is an open plan lounge and dining room that houses a 5.5-metre long dining table cast from a single piece of bronze. Elsewhere, Highland Lodge offers a TV room, formal sitting room and cinema room while the rate includes a private butler who will take care of daily housekeeping, turndown service and afternoon tea.
From £2,390 per night, minimum two-night stay
Carlowrie Castle, Midlothian
This striking property in the often overlooked Lowlands is an interior design lover’s dream. While the exterior speaks of landed gentry and quintessential British heritage, inside the castle is an edgy modern mansion characterised by bold colours, colourful artworks and plush furnishings.
Located just 30 minutes from Edinburgh, the home sleeps up to 24 and promises a truly celebratory Gatsby-esque get-together. Gather in the formal sitting room for cocktails or take a seat at the fully-stocked bar before heading to the striking dining room for dinner. The next morning grab breakfast in the open plan kitchen, head into the beautifully-landscaped gardens for a stroll or work off the night before with a swift match at the on-site tennis court. Found yourself swept up in the romance of it all? Carlowrie Castle is also a registered wedding venue.
From £4,200 per night, minimum two-night stay
Scatwell House, Garve
Built in 1850 by Captain John Douglas, the grounds surrounding the Victorian grandeur that is Scatwell House now stand at 10 hectares of wild forest comprising 52 different species of tree. Needless to say, if you’re looking for a holiday home that promises privacy and seclusion, they don’t come much better than this.
Sleeping 19, Scatwell House is perfect for multi-generational family holidays thanks to its variety of double and triple rooms, all prettily decorated with patterned wallpaper and traditional furniture which highlight the house’s heritage. The historical vibe continues throughout the house, which also offers a large formal living room, piano room, billiards room and two further more casual sitting rooms. If you’ve ever fancied being the lord of your very own manor, this is the rental for you.
From £4,500 for seven nights
The Five Turrets, Selkirk
We defy you to find a holiday home with more charm and character than the Five Turrets. The former coach house of Ettrick Lodge, which was refurbished in the Scottish Baronial style in 1870, the Grade B-listed building was restored by husband-and-wife team Gethin Chamberlain and Carolynn Shaw in 2017 to offer one of the most memorable home rentals in the Scottish Borders.
Inside, the Five Turrets is bright and airy, with life revolving around the traditional country kitchen and open-plan living area, with a wood-burning fire, dining area and mezzanine library. There’s also a piano room for budding Mozarts, a lush garden with a seating area, and four bedrooms that can be arranged in numerous configurations. We’ll let you decide who gets the one with its own turret.
From £695 for three nights
Baronial Bliss, Aberdeenshire
Set in 18 acres of land waiting to be explored, and with a façade not dissimilar to a fairytale castle, this 17th-century baronial keep is the perfect escape for groups with lots of children to keep entertained. Outside there's a Victorian walled garden to explore, fly fishing on the estate’s lochan and, nestled as it is in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and counting Balmoral as a neighbour, day trips aplenty to be had.
Inside the fun continues with a grand dining room perfect for hosting feasts fit for a king (the property comes with a private chef), while a billiards room will tire little ones out before bed: there’s room to sleep 24 in this vast home. For adults, a whisky library brimming with Scotland’s finest single malts and an opulent living room with a roaring open fire will provide welcome respite late into the evening.
From £8,924 per night