January 23rd, 2018

8 Unique Places to Stay in the Scottish Highlands

8 Unique Places to Stay in the Scottish Highlands

Ever wish you could wake up in a treehouse, spend a weekend in a Celtic castle, or fall asleep in a wigwam underneath the Northern Lights? Find out why the Scottish Highlands is the best place to make all your travel fantasies come true.

We’ve already established why the Scottish Highlands should be on your adventure travel bucket list —but where to stay after you’ve booked the flight? This should hardly be an afterthought. Skyrocketing tourism has produced an influx of imaginative offerings in recent years: from well-designed eco-resorts, to carefully restored historic estates, and ultra-luxurious ski chalets. The whimsical beauty of the landscape—the dark, placid lochs offset by the riotously colorful wildflowers of the moors—is matched by the inventiveness of the accommodations.

Whether you’re with a group or flying solo, watching your wallet or splurging with your savings, these unique hotels and resorts will enhance your Scottish excursion. From wigwams on the Isle of Skye, to treehouses in the Glenshee Mountains, to 17th century castles in Loch Ness, these accommodations are anything but commonplace. Whether you’re packing your bag to live like a queen for your stay, or filling your backpack with outdoor essentials for a glamping retreat, you can’t go wrong with the options below.

Stargaze From a Wigwam

Stay at the Shulista Croft Wigwams on the Isle of Sky to live out your fantasy of 17th century life on the American plains (except transferred across the Atlantic). If the Northern Lights are what you’re after, these wooden domes are perfectly located. Skye is one of the best places to stargaze in Scotland, with nine Dark Sky Discovery Sites. Head out to your personal fire pit at sundown, and look up.

Live Like Royalty in a Castle

There is an exorbitant amount of options in Scotland for those who want to live like a queen (or king) for a day. Visit www.celticcastles.com to rent your own ancestral quarters. If you’re feeling extremely flush, Aldourie Castle in Loch Ness is available—and conveniently located next to the nation’s favorite sea monster. Or book a room in Fornab Castle in Perthshire, or the Inverlochy Castle in Fort William. Enjoy the walled gardens, tennis courts, and afternoon tea. Binge-watch The Crown first, to prepare.

Save Pounds in a Hostel

Castles are grand, but they’re not for every budget. After a royal interlude, save some cash by staying in affordable—but still desirable—hostels. Located near Lecht Ski Centre, Tomintoul’s The Smugglers Hostel cheekily claims to be “The Highest Hostel in the Highlands.” The Lazy Duck Hostel in Cairns is similarly enticing, boasting a BYO alcohol policy and a two-minute walk from clubs and pubs. A bunk bed may be less glamorous than a castle, but convenience (and cost!) is always appealing.

Climb Into a Treehouse

Live in your childhood dream house with the luxuries of life as an adult (think hot-tubs and wood-burning stoves) in a high-end treehouse. The glamorous Glenshee Treehouse offers a panoramic view of the Glenshee Mountains and Cairngorms National Park. This unique accommodation only sleeps two, though, so book in advance.

Ski in to a Chalet

Planning some time on the slopes? The Big Husky Lodge in Boat of Garten is the 22-person ski house of your dreams (hello Scandinavian sauna). If you’re traveling with a smaller group, check out Aviemore’s Beaver Creek Lodge, which sleeps eight.

Glamp out in a Hut

If eco-travel is what you’re looking for, stay at Riverbeds or Woodman’s Hut. Though both are designed for couples, Woodman’s puts more of a priority on the sounds of silence than of romance. But, if you’re a birder, the clear winner in eco-travel is The Duck’s Nest. Splash around and indulge in a waterfowl paradise.

Pretend You’re in Downton Abbey at a Mansion Estate

The drama of Downton Abbey may be over, but you can still live like the elite (temporarily, at least) in a countryside mansion. Book a room at a historic mansion like Glencoe House or The Torridon, and waltz around the ten-acre private garden and nineteen-bedroom estate like a bygone relic of British feudalism. Try your hand at some of the aristocratic pursuits available on-site, such as clay shooting and archery. Good luck. 

Chase the Northern Lights on Wheels

Rent a van from Bunk Campers in Edinburgh or Glasgow and be the master of your own universe (or, at the very least, save money on hotels). Adventurers who want to go off the grid should also consider Wild Camping to discover more remote areas, and sleep beneath the stars.

Do you have a favorite place to stay in the Highlands? Let us know your favorite Scottish castles, hostels, treehouses, and more in the comments!

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog)

Minimalist Travel: Pack to Travel Europe by Train

The Best National Parks You Need to Know About

Seven Surprising Destinations


by Katherine Parker-Magyar

Katherine is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She has traveled to forty countries, and all fifty states. Follow along at www.katherineparkermagyar.com.