Scotland's prettiest villages
It takes a village: Scotland’s secret charm
Often, a trip to Scotland might see you never leave your chosen city. It’s perfectly understandable. Maybe you’ve already travelled a long way, you don’t have much time or you’ve never been here before, or aren’t sure of your bearings. And while our cultural hubs have more than enough to keep you entertained, real authenticity and enchantment is to be found wandering through our quaint villages. If you can bake in an extra few days to explore a little further, here are the spots to hit to live like a local.
Think Glencoe and you’ll likely think of sweeping glens and misty, mountainous terrain, but in fact, Glencoe is first and foremost a village. At the other side of a dramatic journey over Rannoch Moor and through the Pass of Glencoe, you’ll come across this idyllic village, a bright and bustling place with so much to see: the Folk Museum, with its traditional thatched roof, the lochan, the poignant Massacre of Glencoe monument, and various shops and coffee stops.
Glencoe is spoiled for accommodation, too. Our picks? There’s the five-star, suite-only Glencoe House for a touch of quiet luxury in the heart of the glen, or Inverlochy Castle Hotel nearby in Fort William, for those craving a sense of history and heritage, with its range of bedrooms, exclusive-use Gate Lodge and Seasgair restaurant, headed up by renowned chef, Michael Roux Jr.
East Lothian has some of the prettiest villages in the country and East Linton is no exception. Located about 20 miles east of Edinburgh, East Linton is a former farming settlement, originally peppered with a number of working watermills along the banks of the River Tyne, which winds its way through the village. Nowadays, Preston Mill is the last left standing, but its conical roof makes for an unusual addition to your holiday snaps (it also featured in Outlander, and if it’s good enough for Jamie Fraser…). The Phantassie Doocot, a 16th century beehive-shaped dovecot is another highlight, as is Linton Linn, the village’s resident waterfall.
As for where to stay, we’d point you to nearby Greywalls Hotel, a five-star Edwardian country house on the edge of Muirfield Golf Championship Course with a dazzling restaurant, Chez Roux. After a day’s amble around East Linton, you can retire to the private summer tea house in the gardens and devour afternoon tea.
If you venture out of Glasgow or Edinburgh for just one destination, make it Loch Lomond. There’s a good reason it’s the subject of one of the country’s most famous songs – its banks really are worth singing about. Luss, on the western shore, is an obvious port of call and ideally suited for a day trip. Relax on the beach near the pier, take a boat tour of the loch’s dinky islands or just secure some fish and chips and find a bench to watch the world go by.
For accommodation, it’s got to be five-star Cameron House Hotel. The award-winning spa alone is a sight to behold: especially the rooftop infinity pool, overlooking the loch. There’s also an 18-hole championship golf course, a range of restaurants and a new leisure club.
The North Coast 500 is a bucket-list experience in Scotland and if you decide to make the journey (a wise decision in our book), on the way you’ll encounter the seafront village of Applecross in Wester Ross. It’s a must-visit: cocooned by rugged mountain vistas and looking out over to the Isle of Raasay, Rona and the Isle of Skye, this is picture-postcard at its peak. Discover the local history in the heritage centre and grab a delicious plate of freshly caught seafood at the Applecross Inn.
Carry on to Skye, and you’ll be able to rest your head at Kinloch Lodge for the night. Here, whisky is on tap, as are lush lochside and mountain views, locally sourced dishes (try the hot smoked salmon from South Uist or Buccleuch Estate beef) and unmatched tranquillity.
The Black Isle, a small peninsula on the Moray Firth, is home to the lovely seaside village of Cromarty. This is a haven for two things: art and fishing. The locals are masterful artists and craftsmen, as well as gallerists and antique collectors with an exceptional eye. Come equipped with pocket money – you’ll want to purchase a few unique gifts for friends and family. For those hankering after some history, the Courthouse Museum is a fascinating glimpse into Highland justice of days gone by, and there are a few unbeatable photo opportunities – take a stroll along the waterfront to see the impressive oil rigs, and even an atmospheric graveyard of abandoned boats. Wrap it all up by tucking into some moreish seafood, caught that very day.
Use Glenmorangie House as your deluxe base for this north-eastern trip. Enjoy AA Rosette awarded dining, go foraging, embark on a complimentary tour of the Glenmorangie Distillery visitor centre and de-stress in your Highland home away from home.