Ditch the city in favour of rural retreats, stately homes and fairy-tale castles that will put you in prime position to explore Scotland’s great outdoors.
With so many spoil-yourself hotels just beyond Scotland’s biggest city, a road trip out of town is a great way to reset your batteries or avoid the urban bustle all together. From a living art museum once frequented by royalty to a Wimbledon champion’s home away from home, accommodation options outside Glasgow are varied and intriguing. Bordering the Scottish lowlands, there’s plenty of natural beauty on the doorstep, too.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
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Could this be the fanciest hotel in Scotland? You wouldn’t bet against it. Built in the Victorian era, this glammed-up Braemar manor is a textbook example of how time-honoured Highland piles ought to be restored. Renowned Swiss art collectors Iwan and Manuela Wirth are the brains behind the project, and their creative influence is visible at every turn. Look out for a neon tangle of lights hanging in the hallway, a watercolour of a stag’s head painted by Queen Vic herself and a monumental 19th-century mahogany and pine chimneypiece carved with scenes from the works of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Meanwhile, the surrounding countryside promises myriad muddy-boots experiences when you’re ready for some fresh air.
The Trossachs, home to Rob Roy legends and spellbinding scenery, is to Glaswegians what the great national parks are to Californians: an adventure playground full of stunning lakes, forests and trails waiting to be explored. And this five-star hostel near picturesque Loch Lomond is a sure-fire bet for your accommodation. Inside you’ll find a functional dorm, a sociable lounge, a self-catering kitchen and a farm shop selling locally sourced meats, veggies, chutneys and jams. The real draw, however, is the great, wild outdoors. Just don’t forget your waterproofs.
All exposed brickwork, wooden floors and fire-lit pub grub, this historic hotel is now in the hands of Edinburgh celebrity chef Tom Kitchin and his partner Michaela. It’s a 90-minute road trip from Glasgow, but can be used as a base from which to explore Scotland’s so-called Golf Coast. Here, some 21 courses sprawl along the East Lothian shoreline, including Royal Muirfield – a serial host of the Open, golf’s most prestigious tournament. With Kitchin overseeing the larder, you can expect dinner to be as satisfying as a hole-in-one. Order the game terrine and hearty beef wellington to go to bed feeling very well fed.
Half an hour into the bucolic pastures of Lanarkshire you come to this coaching inn with creaky Tudor frontage, overlooking the ancient River Clyde. Mornings are best spent soaking in the pool or hot tub, afternoons with craft burgers and cocktails by the fire, or indulging in fine steak and wine. A day trip to nearby New Lanark is a must – listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, it feels like an 18th-century cotton mill village. History buffs, casually curious types and even young children will love it.
This Perthshire stately home belongs to none other than Scottish tennis hero Sir Andy Murray. Both he and his brother Jamie tied the knot here (though not to each other), having grown up in Dunblane, a charming town down the road. Murray was said to be smitten by this regal property’s sprawling woodlands and chapel, so decided to turn it into a smart hotel to share with friends and anyone else looking for a special rural escape. There are 16 moody suites and a Roux-inspired à la carte restaurant, plus the chance to take part in no small number of country sports: fishing, archery, golf, Highland safaris and – you guessed it – tennis.
From Glasgow, a 20-minute drive south will bring you to this 17th-century citadel. It’s a popular venue for weddings, hiding nine beautifully furnished rooms, among them the Lindsay Tower Suite, reached by a Sleeping Beauty-style spiral stone staircase. There’s also an on-site fine-dining restaurant, helmed by two-star Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr. Make sure you book in advance to guarantee yourself a table. Next day, hike it off on a woodland trail that leads to the property’s very own waterfall; this is Scotland at its wild glens-and-rivers finest.
Aberfeldy, a Perthshire rural retreat, is a bit of a trek from Glasgow, but one that is nonetheless worth making for the rolling hills, autumnal forests and glistening rivers. Hidden amongst the rowan trees, the contemporary home has three rooms to pick from – our favourite is the converted loft with views of craggy Ben Lawers – while fresh breakfasts comprise organic yoghurt, organic eggs and local milled oatmeal porridge, locally baked breads and Glen Lyon roasted coffee. If you’re set on a day of outdoor activity, there’s no better fuel for your engine.
For more options in the city, discover our guide to accommodation in Glasgow for the savvy traveller, the best boutique hotels in Glasgow or find out where to stay throughout Scotland, and book now on Culture Trip.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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