Some people are happy with just a room in a B&B or a hotel for their holidays. Others, however, require something more private and intimate, such as a cottage or an apartment. But the ultimate, bespoke holiday accommodation is a luxury property which can be hired on an exclusive use basis. This guarantees the often cited and unique »home-away-from-home« atmosphere which some guests are looking for in order to be able to completely relax, unwind and recharge.
Scotland is home to a wide range of such exclusive use properties – from remote lodges in spectacular locations and private retreats with a personal touch to opulent penthouse apartments and magnificent estates with an exquisitely restored mansion house and a full range of indoor services and outdoor activities. In order to find the best possible venue the most decisive criteria are usually the number of expected guests and available bedrooms in the property. But utmost luxury is always guaranteed. Let me share with you my top 5 exclusive use properties in Scotland.
Steeped in history and luxury, Kinross House and its magnificent estate setting in Fife, less than an hour from Edinburgh Airport, provide one of Scotland’s finest and most beautiful destinations where to enjoy the stay of a lifetime. The estate offers the 5-star exclusive use of Kinross House or the Coach House & Spa or, indeed, both of them for those wishing to hire the full estate and gain complete privacy. Guests will enjoy pure luxury accommodation in grand surroundings. Kinross House with its 14 bedrooms is ideally suited to host family gatherings, parties with friends, and business meetings for up to 28 guests. Small, elegant dinners can be held in the Dining Room for up to 34 guests.
The spectacular gardens also provide spaces suitable for unforgettable events. Dinners in the private yet splendid setting of Kinross House offer an unparalleled gourmet experience and individual catering for guests depending on their personal requirements − perfect for both informal dinners and formal functions. The Coach House comprises a baronial dining hall for up to 60 guests, a striking tartan library bar, a picturesque courtyard garden and another 10 delightful bedrooms for up to 20 additional guests. The Coach House also has a small and intimate boutique day-spa, complete with treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, a sauna and relaxation areas for guests to enjoy.
Shingle Lodge / Knockinaam Lodge
Guests looking for luxurious relaxation at the end of a cul-de-sac road just a stone’s throw from the Irish Sea will find exactly that at Shingle Lodge in Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland. It is a fully equipped home away from home, with every modern amenity guests could wish for. The Lodge has two luxurious bedrooms, one a king-size double and the other twin-bedded, both ensuite, with wonderful sea views looking out to Northern Ireland.
This self-contained cottage is a perfect family holiday home, with a treehouse in the grounds for the children to play in, a secluded beach (almost!) on the doorstep and one dog welcomed. Guests are invited to enjoy the delicious food served in the 3 AA rosette restaurant at Knockinaam Lodge in a relaxed ambience in the same grounds. It is also an ideal location to explore the surrounding landscape of Dumfries and Galloway, the Ayrshire coast to the north or even a day trip to Northern Ireland, because the port of Cairnryan is just 30 minutes away from where guests can catch a fast ferry service to Belfast (2 hrs 15 mins).
The Boathouse / Torridon Hotel
This is a very special, private retreat in the North West Highlands with fabulous views. Guests can soak up the tranquility, watch the birdlife and get cosy in front of the wood-burner should the evening turn chilly. This is an exclusive boathouse with two bedrooms, living room and modern kitchen, all styled in a contemporary look. The front-facing double bedroom has a unique arched window, giving guests full views of the mountains, the loch and the herons hunting for their breakfast! Beyond the main bathroom is a twin bedroom – with the comfiest of beds, high-quality duvets and soft cotton sheets, just perfect for a peaceful night’s sleep.
The lounge area is a real home from home. It has two comfortable sofas set around a cosy wood-burning stove for that wonderful feeling of »hygge«. The kitchen is modern and well equipped, with a range oven, a dishwasher and a separate fridge for wine. If guests prefer, they can take breakfast, lunch or dinner in the nearby Torridon Hotel restaurant just a short walk away. During the day guests have a wide choice of outdoor adventures – from mountain biking and kayaking adventures to wildlife tours and hiking up Torridon Munros.
The Endeavour Apartment / Glenapp Castle
This penthouse apartment does not only have stunning views, but also aims to become Scotland’s finest castle apartment, as it spans across 420 square metres on the top floor of the traditional Scottish baronial-style Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire on the west coast, south of Glasgow. In addition to the four stunning bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, the Endeavour features a fully equipped media room with seating for 12 people, a library and a games room. The Westward lounge and dining room, which can seat up to 16 guests, with adjacent kitchen is perfect for dining with friends and family. Guests will have their own private chef and personal butler at their service throughout their stay.
The apartment also has a sauna, a beauty treatment and massage room, as well as a private lift to allow complete privacy. A spiral stone staircase provides access to the historic turrets of Glenapp Castle where, by day, you can delight in the panoramic views and, come nightfall, simply marvel at the stars. Garden lovers will enjoy the nearby Logan Botanic Garden or a relaxed afternoon tea in the refurbished Victorian Tea Rooms in the famous Glenapp Walled Garden. But the absolute highlight will be the Hebridean Sea Safari offered by Glenapp Castle as a unique experience to remote islands, coastal castles and hidden distilleries.
Hampton House / Dunstane Houses
Up to 35 guests can experience the 5-star luxury of 18 newly refurbished rooms and suites at Hampton House in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. The flagship rooms of the house are the generous 2-bedroom Hampton Suite and the Hamnavoe Suite, but there are also luxury king doubles, luxury twins, cosy wee doubles and singles. A complimentary full Scottish breakfast is served in the Stroma Lounge on the ground floor. There is limited car parking in front of the house.
If guests do not require the extra privacy of an exclusive use property or need just a smaller number of rooms, Hampton House is also run as a luxury hotel, as is the Dunstane House across the road which is managed and owned by the same proprietors. Cocktails in the Ba’ Bar & Lounge and dinners at the restaurant in Dunstane House are always available to guests of Hampton House, too. If you are a classic or vintage car enthusiast, the owner is happy to take you on a very special cruise around Edinburgh in one of his own beautifully restored British cars of yesteryear.
Some of these exclusive use properties can be combined into an ultra-luxurious Scottish holiday. For example, families of four or two couples can first enjoy the scenery in Dumfries & Galloway in the Shingle Lodge with a 3- or 4-night stay and then move on to the North West coast to enjoy new experiences at the Boathouse on the shores of Loch Torridon. If you have a larger family party or group of friends and need a minimum of 14 rooms, you can choose between Hampton House where the city centre of Edinburgh will be on your doorstep and Kinross House which is ideal to explore both the city of Edinburgh as well as the Kingdom of Fife and Highland Perthshire.
The Endeavour Apartment at Glenapp Castle is more of a destination on its own, because up to eight guests can experience some of the best castle accommodation in Scotland with absolute privacy while still having the option to use all the amenities of a 5-star hotel and accommodate additional guests in some of the hotel suites in the same building. By touring Scotland between Dumfries & Galloway in the South West and Loch Torridon in the North West as well as leisurely day touring into Ayrshire, Fife and Perthshire in a chauffeur-driven limousine, travellers can enjoy the following attractions and additional activities:
– Fife / Perthshire (Kinross House): Dunfermline Abbey, Scone Palace (nr Perth), V&A Design Museum (Dundee), Sheila Fleet St Andrews Gallery, a round of golf in St Andrews
– Dumfries & Galloway (Shingle Lodge): Wigtown (famous for its second-hand bookshops), Kirkcudbright (coastal village with art galleries), Galloway Dark Sky Park, Threave Castle and Garden
– Loch Torridon (The Boathouse): Bealach na Bà (Applecross Pass), Inverewe Garden (nr Poolewe), Hebridean Whale, Dolphin & Wildlife Cruises (Gairloch), Pool House (traditional afternoon tea in a Victorian house, a real treasure trove)
– Ayrshire (The Endeavour): horse racing at Ayr Race Course, full day McLaren tour on the South West Coast 300 route, visit to Culzean Castle & Country Park, a round of golf on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry
– Edinburgh (Hampton House): The Royal Yacht Britannia, Johnnie Walker Princes Street (new visitor experience opening in late summer 2021), themed walking tours of Edinburgh (food, literature, etc)
Dorothy Welsh is the CEO of Luxury Scotland. Luxury Scotland offers true Scottish hospitality, culinary delights and unique experiences.