Built in 1856, Aberdeenshire’s Balmoral is the main Scottish residence of Britain’s royal family. Its 50,000 acres (20,000ha) of land, including grouse moors, forests and hunting grounds, are a popular tourist attraction – visitable up until the end of July, when the Queen arrives for her summer holidays. If you’re not royalty and need somewhere to stay nearby, here are the best places to stay near Balmoral Castle in Scotland. From spa resorts to rustic Highland lodges, all are within a 25-minute drive – unless stated otherwise – so simply choose from our selection and book with Culture Trip.
These five luxury eco-lodges amongst the trees of the Cairngorm Mountains are ideal for those keen to add a touch of wilderness to their tour of Balmoral and other sights in Scotland’s northeast Highlands. Names like Pine Marten, Capercaillie and Red Squirrel flag the back-to-nature approach of these self-contained lodges, solidly built from Scottish pine. First winning a Green Tourism Award in 2015, Cairngorm Lodges have maintained and extended sustainable practices including highly effective insulation and the use of eco-friendly products.
In search of hotels near Balmoral? Don’t overlook this enthusiastically run bed and breakfast in Braemar, in the heart of the striking Cairngorm Mountains. Run by the Mason family (accompanied by their two adorable dachshunds) Moorfield House has a spacious exterior deck with tables and seating overlooking the Highland Games park and the heather-swaddled mountains beyond. All six rooms are double en-suites decorated in contemporary charcoal and white tones, with plush carpets, high-quality beds and windows framed with tartan drapes.
Opened on the banks of the River Dee in 1720, the Boat Inn was originally a watering hole for farmers taking their cattle to market on the water ferry. It offers eight dark blue bedrooms above the pub and another eight in a Scandinavian timber boat house, many of which have balconies with river views. Kick back by the open fire or on the terrace with a craft gin, classic cocktail or a pint of Boat Inn lager. Breakfast, lunch and dinner showcase locally produced meat, cheese and dairy products.
Set in three acres (1.2ha) of walled gardens on the banks of the Dee, surrounded by conserved woodland, this Edwardian manor boasts original high ceilings, fireplaces and sash windows. Its six en-suites feature a pale, classical decor, hardwood-floor bathrooms with free-standing tubs and walk-in showers, and views of the Dee Valley or surrounding woods. Hot and cold breakfasts, afternoon tea and sharing platters – ploughman’s, seafood and game – are served in an Edwardian-style dining room and on the outside terrace on warmer days.
Fishing enthusiasts will love this Georgian mansion’s colourful Top Notch Rooms, in which French windows open onto a patio overlooking fishermen on the River Dee. Vibrant, seasonal fare is served by a log fire during winter and on a covered terrace during summer – standout dishes include sea trout with crispy langoustines, artichoke, orange and hazelnut, and the lemon and garlic-roasted chicken with Moroccan spices and fine beans. Dogs are welcomed – and pampered – throughout the property. Balmoral Castle is a 50-minute drive away.
This classic Scottish inn offers 22 single, double and family rooms featuring tartan fabrics, mahogany furniture and thistle-themed wallpaper – some also have four-poster beds and balconies overlooking the grounds. Master suites come with either a separate lounge, en-suite sauna or two-person hot tub, and there’s a self-contained, alpine-style lodge that sleeps four – a great option if you’re skiing in nearby Glenshee. All rooms are ideally placed for walks around Loch Kinord or in the neighbouring Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve.
For more excellently located Scottish stays, see the best hotels near Ben Nevis and the best hotels near Glasgow – they’re bookable through Culture Trip. Visit the capital and learn how to be a dark tourist in Edinburgh, or explore the great outdoors in Fife. For great pubs where you can refresh, make sure to stop by Kirkcaldy. For true relaxation, discover the top spas in Aberdeenshire.
Hugh McNaughtan contributed additional reporting to this article.
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