The Best Hotels to Book Near Balmoral Castle, Scotland

Enjoy Balmoral Castle and its vast grounds with a stay at one of the best hotels nearby
Enjoy Balmoral Castle and its vast grounds with a stay at one of the best hotels nearby | © AJB / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Mark Nayler
25 January 2022

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.

Cairngorm Lodges, for a self-sufficient eco-stay in the Cairngorms

An A-frame log cabin sits amid tall trees at Cairngorm Lodges near Balmoral Castle
Courtesy of Cairngorm Lodges / Expedia

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.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club Craigendarroch, for Dee River Valley views

Exterior of the stately 19th-century brick lodge surrounded by greenery at Hilton Grand Vacations at Craigendarroch Suites
Courtesy of Hilton Grand Vacations at Craigendarroch Suites / Expedia
Of all the hotels near Balmoral, the Hilton Grand Vacations best manages a balance of antique Scottish charm and the modernity of an international hotel chain. Housed in a handsome, 19th-century, ochre-brick lodge overlooking the Dee River and valley, it’s within easy reach of sights such as the Cairngorm Mountains, Knock Castle, August’s Highland Games and, of course, Royal Balmoral. And, for when the outdoors are too dreich to consider, there’s a pool, spa, fitness centre and restaurant on site.

Moorfield House, for hiking in the Cairngorm Mountains

A sloped green lawn with seating in front of the charming Moorfield Guest House near Balmoral Castle
Courtesy of Moorfield Guest House / Expedia

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.

Braemar Lodge Hotel, for whisky aficionados

Set in grounds populated by red deer, this Victorian shooting lodge offers both serviced and self-catered accommodation options. There are seven en-suite rooms in the main building, kitted out with antiques and light Highland colours, and nine log cabins in the surrounding gardens – with living rooms, covered verandas and fully equipped kitchens. Call in for a pre-dinner dram at the Malt Bar, where over 200 varieties of whisky are available, before heading to the wood-panelled restaurant for a prime Aberdeenshire steak or Highland game terrine.

The Boat Inn, for an atmospheric stay in an 18th-century inn

The charming, rustic exterior of the 18th-century Boat Inn near Balmoral Castle
Courtesy of the Boat Inn / Expedia
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.

Lys-Na-Greyne, for Edwardian manor charm

The stately exterior of the Edwardian manor of Lys-Na-Greyne surrounded by trees
Courtesy of Lys-Na-Greyne / Expedia
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.

Banchory Lodge Hotel, for fishing enthusiasts

High-design bedroom with blue velvet seating, flamingo wallpaper and French doors to outside patio at Banchory Lodge Hotel
Courtesy of Banchory Lodge Hotel / Expedia
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.

Loch Kinord Hotel, for exploring Dinnet Nature Reserve

Traditional room with four-poster bed, mahogany furnishings and tartan fabrics at Loch Kinord Hotel near Balmoral Castle
Courtesy of Loch Kinord Hotel / Expedia
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.

These recommendations were updated on January 25, 2022 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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