Best Castles You Can Book in the Scottish Highlands

Sleep in historical surrounds at Glenapp Castle
Sleep in historical surrounds at Glenapp Castle | Courtesy of Glenapp Castle / Expedia
Photo of Chloe Byrne
12 May 2021

The Scottish Highlands appear as if crafted by a divine hand. From foggy mountain peaks to deep murky lochs – one of which may or may not be home to a mythical monster – this cinematic swathe of wilderness is a magnet for adventure seekers and city dwellers. To make your escape extra special, you could even stay in a storybook castle. Here’s our round-up of the best, all bookable on Culture Trip.

Glenapp Castle

5/5 (38 Reviews)
Courtesy of Glenapp Castle / Expedia
Sequestered among towering redwoods, the 19th-century Glenapp Castle cuts a striking image with its sandstone turrets and towers, some of which are draped in a threadbare cloak of creeping ivy. A step inside feels like stumbling into a period drama, with vintage furniture, tasselled baroque curtains and ornate ceiling roses. Rooms have armchairs by the windows for taking in the enchanting manicured gardens, courtyards or woodland, while the premium-choice suites include a clawfoot bath that’s perfect for a long soak after a few games on the all-weather tennis court.
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Crossbasket Castle

4.9/5 (96 Reviews)
Courtesy of Crossbasket Castle / Expedia

Less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow, this 17th-century-citadel-turned-five-star-hotel is surrounded by landscaped lawns and gardens, and walkable woodland with a river flowing through it. It’s the sort of place you’d imagine if you were reading a Jane Austen novel; except this one comes with free Wifi, as well as period furniture, a medieval-style ballroom and prints of her majesty Queen Victoria adorning the walls. There is a strong national identity too – from tartan patterns and tweed fabrics to full Scottish breakfasts (think whisky-smoked salmon) served by warm and friendly staff.

There are nine bedrooms and suites to choose from, including a four-storey tower which outdates the rest of the castle – if you’re really looking to experience a fortress stay to the fullest.

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Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Boutique Hotel
4.7/5 (133 Reviews)
Inverlochy Castle | Courtesy of Inverlochy Castle / Expedia
Given a royal stamp of approval by Queen Victoria herself – who “never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot” – the Inverlochy Castle Hotel knows how to make its guests feel extra special. From the moment you arrive, gazing up at turrets framed by Highland peaks and windswept evergreens, you’ll be treated to attentive service, sommelier-recommended wine, award-winning cuisine and distinguished interiors that include old-world oil paintings and Victorian florals. In the morning, watch the mist roll across the peaceful loch from your four-poster bed before heading down for a full Scottish breakfast served with freshly squeezed juice.
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Fonab Castle Hotel

Spa Hotel, Hotel
Courtesy of Fonab Castle Hotel / Expedia

The Fonab Castle Hotel’s red-brick façade peeks out from behind a canopy of lofty trees at the foot of Ben Vrackie, also known as the “speckled mountain”. Wake to the drumming of great spotted woodpeckers, and curl up in deep velvet armchairs with the latest Sally Rooney in the modern Woodland Lodge Rooms. Alternatively, gaze out at the rugged Highlands from the pillowed window nooks in the Castle Signature Rooms. To rest aching limbs, go for a gliding swim in the spa’s 15m pool, and treat yourself to a hot-stone massage.

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Culzean Castle

Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Culzean Castle / Expedia
Once the holiday home of US president Dwight Eisenhower, the 18th-century Culzean Castle promises frozen-in-time luxury with crystal chandeliers, marble fireplaces and antique furnishings. All bookings include pre-dinner drinks and a three-course meal, a full Scottish breakfast and a guided tour of the castle – look for the antique collection of military flintlock pistols lining the armoury. Outside, you can while away the afternoon watching swans drift across a lily-pad-covered pond or strolling through walled gardens filled with wildflowers and bushy conifers.
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  • Glengorm Castle

    Bed and Breakfast, Lodge, Cottages
    4.9/5 (7 Reviews)
    Courtesy of Glengorm Castle / Expedia
    Torn from a fairytale with its conical spires and stained-glass windows, Glengorm Castle lies among emerald hills, with the coastline on its doorstep. Inside, flames dance in ornate fireplaces, glass cabinets are stacked full of books, and spidery potted plants sit atop antique wooden furniture. Meanwhile, the downstairs has the feel of an eclectic aunt’s house, with its pastoral wallpaper and charming knick-knacks. Upstairs, the rooms take a more elegant approach. The large Mingaray ensuite features ceramic floral lamps and a vintage vanity table, while its bay windows have views across fields filled with masticating Highland cattle and Scottish blackface sheep.
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    Dalhousie Castle

    4.3/5 (547 Reviews)
    Courtesy of Dalhousie Castle / Expedia

    The battle-worn Dalhousie Castle is around 800 years old, and its walls would certainly have a few tales to tell if they could talk. Its spiral staircases wind down to grim windowless dungeons, while its redstone walls are flecked with musket shots. There’s even a ghost – some guests have reported seeing a broken-hearted Lady Catherine roaming the decadent halls. Follow in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots as you climb the imperial staircase, or dine among suits of armour and battle axes in the Dungeon Restaurant. Don’t forget to visit the oak-panelled library to sip a dram of whisky next to leather-bound books.

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    Stonefield Castle Hotel

    4.4/5 (515 Reviews)
    Courtesy of Stonefield Castle Hotel / Expedia

    Bring your wellies and binoculars if you’re staying at Stonefield Castle Hotel, as it overlooks the glistening Loch Fyne and has a private island where you can catch a glimpse of languishing seals and otters. After wildlife-spotting, hike back through the estate’s tangled woodland and recharge in plush rooms with tartan chairs and Egyptian cotton bedding. On rainy days, you can hole up in the library perusing the well-stocked shelves and squinting through the telescope. It also has an Austen-like drawing room with a crackling fire for warming cold toes and a wood-panelled bar serving equally warming Scottish whiskies. Well-behaved dogs are also welcome (for a fee) if you’d like to bring yours along.

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    These recommendations were updated on May 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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