"To capture the spirit of a place,
it is wiser to point to its literature"
John Buchan

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” 

Alexander McCall Smith

This poetic quotation by one of the world’s most prolific novelists, perfectly reflects Edinburgh’s status as the first ever UNESCO City of Literature.  Scotland’s capital city has inspired, not only McCall Smith’s multi award-winning fiction, but many famous writers including Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark and J. K. Rowling, as well as masterly detective novels from Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Rankin.

Our literary map of "Luxury Scotland" covers every region of the country, from the Lowlands to Highlands and Islands, and offers a prime collection of historic Hotels, Castles and Country Houses. Take a journey through quiet glens, lochside locations, seashore and city streets. On the way, indulge in the company of our selected writers expressing the fine art of human achievement across the landscape of Scotland.

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete StoriesLet us begin our tour in Edinburgh at 21212 Restaurant with Rooms, a Georgian townhouse on Royal Terrace. Here you should settle down to read “Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Stories” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was born on 22 May 1859, in nearby Picardy Place where an impressive statue of Sherlock Holmes in deerstalker hat, now stands.  The famous fictional detective was modelled on Dr Joseph Bell, Doyle’s intuitive lecturer at Edinburgh Medical School.  

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” Sherlock Holmes.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeThe Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson is based in Edinburgh and was inspired by the notorious Edinburgh conman, Deacon Brodie. The G & V Hotel, on George IV Bridge adjoins Brodies Close and is opposite Deacon Brodie tavern.

Like the sinister Jekyll & Hyde, Brodie had a double persona, a respectable cabinet maker and Councillor by day, but a burglar by night.  Stevenson’s Victorian horror story sold 40,000 copies in six months.

Ninety-eight years earlier, the same number watched Brodie hang at the Old Tolbooth.

The Sunday Philosophy ClubThe stylishly smart Sheraton Grand on Lothian Road is opposite Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, a literary link between hotel and The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. One of his beloved characters, the charming intellectual, Isabel Dalhousie, is a philosopher, art lover and amateur sleuth. In her first mystery, she investigates, with curiosity and empathy, the tragic death of a concert-goer at the Usher Hall in a warm, witty novel about Edinburgh lives and loves.

Scottish Railways, Then and NowFrom Waverley Station, Edinburgh, step on board the Belmond Royal Scotsman train to experience the moody, majestic backdrop of the Highland landscape, observed in comfort from the Observation Car.  Scottish Railways, Then and Now by G W Morrison offers poignant “before and after” photographs documenting the changes to former railway routes. A nostalgic accompaniment to your luxuriously romantic train journey around Scotland.

Greywalls - A Hidden gemTravelling south of Edinburgh, Greywalls Hotel in Gullane, East Lothian, lays claim to be the first country house hotel in Britain.

Designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1901 as ‘a small, albeit dignified holiday home,’ Greywalls overlooks the famous Muirfield Golf Course.

 “Greywalls - A Hidden gem” by Roy McGregor is a stunning portrait of this enchanting mansion and classic garden, attributed to Gertrude Jekyll. 

The book is illustrated with photographs and the work of ten contemporary artists which capture the fine sense of artistic tradition and relaxed air of this architectural treasure house.

Burrell: Portrait of a CollectorOver in the west of Scotland in the city of Glasgow, the place to stay is One Devonshire Gardens, comprising five Victorian townhouses. From 1896, No. 4 was the home of Sir William Burrell, who, having made a fortune in shipping, accumulated over 9,000 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, ceramics and stained glass, later bequeathing his treasures to the city. Richard Marks, former Keeper of the Collection, wrote a fascinating biography, Burrell: Portrait of a Collector, from enigmatic, Clydeside millionaire to “the man who collected the world.” 

The History of Crossbasket CastleIn 2016, after a £9 million restoration saving it from a derelict state, Crossbasket Castle, Blantyre was unveiled as an exclusive 5-star Country House and Wedding Venue with nine palatial bedrooms and Honeymoon Tower.

The History of Crossbasket Castle by Paul D Veverka is a well-illustrated, enlightening account from 15th century dower-house to the home of Charles Macintosh, inventor of the raincoat. “There is no other more aesthetically beautiful building than historic Crossbasket Castle.” Francis Topic, New York Literary Gazette, 1826.

Born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, the young farm boy wrote about social injustice in “A Man's a Man for A' That” and sweet love in “A Red, Red Rose”. “Tam o' Shanter” is his masterpiece.  Around the world, “Auld Lang Syne” is sung at New Year parties and on 25 January, Burns’ haggis and whisky Suppers. 

“Selected Poems by Robert Burns” features his best patriotic, romantic verse.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry … "
A Red, Red Rose" Robert Burns 

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan Set on a tranquil beach near Portpatrick at the south west tip of Scotland, Knockinaam Lodge offers comfort and exemplary cuisine.

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
is the original gripping, man-on-the-run novel which sees all-action hero Richard Hannay flee through the Highlands to a house described as Knockinaam Lodge.  “I came out of the moorland to a plateau where a solitary house smoked in the twilight. The smell of peat and of some savoury roast floated to me ...” The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan.

The Islands of Loch Lomond

The Islands of Loch Lomond
, by Claire Calder
takes you on a virtual tour of the 22 islands, home to a former deer park, distillery, church and even a wallaby colony, which have long inspired writers - Boswell & Johnson, Coleridge, Scott and Wordsworth. For the visitor today, an essential guide to its history and natural beauty.

This noble lake, boasting innumerable beautiful islands .. affords one of the most surprising and sublime spectacles in nature.”  Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.

Para Handy Tales At the mouth of the Crinan Canal stands the white washed Crinan Hotel

This coastline is the seafaring setting of the Para Handy Tales by Neil Munro, a journalist from Inveraray, first published in 1905.

 These are light hearted, hilarious exploits of the eponymous master mariner and motley crew on board their old puffer, The Vital Spark carrying cargo around the West Highlands and Islands. 

Moored along the canal are a few of vintage puffers. “Auld Reekie” (star of the Para Handy TV series) was recently restored at Crinan Boatyard.

Tour to the HebridesExplore the NW coastline and Western Isles on the 5-star Hebridean Princess for an enriching island-hopping voyage amidst painterly seascapes. Relax in the Tiree Lounge with a dram and the witty and wise “Tour to the Hebrides” by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell in 1773. “Mr Boswell as a companion, whose gaiety of conversation (would) counteract the inconveniences of travel.” Touring by carriage, horseback and ferry to the Highlands, Skye, Raasay, Coll, Mull and Iona, their Journals are a valuable social history.  

KidnappedThe former coaching inn, Airds Hotel and Restaurant at Port Appin is near the site of the infamous Appin Murder in May 1752. Robert Louis Stevenson’s gripping novel Kidnapped, set in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising, is based on this incident, the assassination of Colin Roy Campbell, the government-appointed factor to the Stewart Clan estates.  Suspicion fell on James Stewart who was hanged for the murder, protesting his innocence on the scaffold. Today, it is still seen as a notorious miscarriage of justice.

Lord Strathcona: A Biography of Donald Alexander SmithOn a visit to Glencoe House, you’ll be interested in its former owner.
Lord Strathcona: A Biography of Donald Alexander Smith
by Donna McDonald
chronicles the life of one of the British Empire’s foremost builders and philanthropists. Just 18 years old when he joined the Hudson’s Bay Company, he later co-founded the Canadian Pacific Railway. The building of Glencoe House in 1895 was a grand love letter from Donald to his wife Isabella in celebration of their marriage, with their initials DAS and ISS engraved in the stone façade.

Inverlochy Castle: Jewel of the Highlands.Inverlochy Castle just north of Fort William with views of Ben Nevis, is a Highland retreat for country sports and leisure as illustrated in Inverlochy Castle: Jewel of the Highlands.

Queen Victoria, President Jefferson Davis and photographer, Ansel Adams were all captivated by the magical, romantic setting of this Baronial Castle, renowned today as a most luxurious Country House Hotel. With lavish photographs, the story relates its creation, preserving exemplary hospitality through aristocratic tradition and heritage.

“Lifting the Lid”, A Life at Kinloch LodgeOur aim was to make Kinloch the sort of hotel we would have wanted to stay in ourselves.  .. good food, warmth, comfort,  endless hot water, a true Highland welcome and good service.  “Lifting the Lid”, A Life at Kinloch Lodge by Claire Macdonald.

This autobiography relates the trials and tribulations of Lady Claire when she and her husband, clan chief, Lord Godfrey Macdonald welcomed their first guests in the early 1970s, at Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye.  Their dream has come true, offering guests exemplary hospitality, house party ambience and superlative, Michelin-starred fine dining. 

Out of AfricaTake a drive along the scenic NC 500 route to Wester Ross to stay at The Torridon. The Danish writer, Karen Blixen, stayed here, related to former owners, the Lovelaces. Her memoirs of life on a coffee plantation, “Out of Africa”  evokes the spirit of the Kenyan landscape, its people and wildlife.: “ I had a farm in Africa in the Ngong Hills ..  the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, the nights were cold.”  Karen may well have felt at home at The Torridon, amidst rugged mountain peaks.

Scottish Lighthouses: An Illustrated HistoryHead further north to Inver Lodge, a relaxing rural retreat and the place to read Scottish Lighthouses: An Illustrated History by Michael A W Strachan.

The Northern Lighthouse Board was established in 1786 to provide guiding lights around Scotland’s rugged coast; the Stevenson family of engineers, building remote lighthouses from Bell Rock to Skerryvore, and inventors of wireless technology; the brave lighthouse keepers living at the edge of the sea.

 A book best enjoyed amidst this dramatic Sutherland scenery and distant Western isles.

HMS UlyssesAs well as trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster when staying at Rocpool Reserve & Chez Roux pick up an action-packed thriller by local writer Alistair MacLean.   

His hugely successful debut novel, HMS Ulysses was based on his WW2 experiences of the dangerous Arctic convoys. As a master storyteller, he invented a literary genre of wartime action, espionage and adventure.

His twenty-nine world bestsellers include The Guns of the Navarone, Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare, many adapted into classic movies.

Scotland for GardenersAlong the Moray Firth, Boath House, an exquisitely restored Georgian mansion is surrounded by beautiful lawns, wildflower meadow, woodland, orchard, vegetable pottage, trout lake, beehives and birdlife, voted one of the top ten gardens in the world.  

Kenneth Cox owns Glendoick Gardens, Perth, famous for rhododendrons.  His comprehensive, colourfully illustrated guide, Scotland for Gardeners is a survey of all Scotland's gardens open to the public with useful maps, touring routes and list of garden centres and nurseries.

Whisky Galore The comic novel Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie was inspired by the sinking of the cargo ship SS Politician off the Hebridean island of Eriskay in 1941, carrying 250,000 bottles of malt whisky. A cat and mouse chase ensues between the wily locals, police and customs officials. Visit local distilleries and film locations for the recent movie Whisky Galore nearby at Portsoy and Pennan.

Jack Webster’s AberdeenThe Marcliffe Hotel and Spa is a much loved and well respected icon in the city of Aberdeen and Jack Webster’s Aberdeen offers a fresh look at the city’s story from its transformation in the 20th century to the oil capital of western Europe. From Robert the Bruce to Mary Queen of the Scots and Annie Lennox Jack introduces a host of characters who have left their mark on Aberdeen.

The Gleneagles Hotel: 75 Years of Scottish ExcellenceThe Gleneagles, Perthshire opened in 1924 as a luxury leisure and golf resort, " A Riviera in the Highlands”  and today remains a destination oozing classic, elegant style and first class hospitality. Its wonderful heritage is told in The Gleneagles Hotel: 75 Years of Scottish Excellence by Jane Nottage published in1999.  

This lavish book illustrates the extraordinary cultural history of this Highland Palace, archival material, reminiscences from guests and staff, sporting life – shooting, fishing, horse-riding and the world-ranking golf courses.

MacbethKinloch House is a charming, classic country house in the heart of Perthshire, ideal for touring the ancient Scottish castles, Glamis and Scone. They are both featured as key scenes in Shakespeare’s tragic play, Macbeth, a dark tale of witchcraft, ambition, murder and guilt.  Macbeth has his castle at Dunsinane Hill which is near the hotel.  Based on the real King of Scotland (1040-57), he was in reality more likely a fair king in those bloodthirsty times of feuding battles.

“I pull in resolution, and begin
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth: 'Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane: and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane

Macbeth – William Shakespeare

Andy Murray: Coming of AgeA Victorian shooting lodge, the artistically refurbished Cromlix near Dunblane is set within lovely gardens, parkland and trout lochs.  The Tennis Courts, in purple and green Wimbledon colours, give a clue to its world-famous owner. Andy Murray: Coming of Age is his inspiring autobiography, narrating the highs, lows, triumphs and near misses, the humour and sheer determination to succeed.  “The boy from Dunblane” became the first Briton to win Wimbledon’s Men’s Final for 77 years in 2013, and is now ranked World Number One.

“A Stroll on the Old Lady” by Taba Dale In St. Andrews, the Home of Golf,  Old Course Golf Resort and Spa boasts a superlative location overlooking the Links and seashore.

A Stroll on the Old Lady” by Taba Dale is an entertaining and insightful collection of nine golfing adventures taking the reader on an exhilarating tour around some of Scotland’s elite courses, Royal Troon, Prestwick, Machrihanish and the “Old Lady”. “Dale displays enthusiasm ..and eloquent prose …one becomes part of the game, its history, people and places. -  an irresistible journey”

Opium and Empire
Opium and Empire by Richard J Grace relates the life of Sir James Matheson a "gentlemanly capitalist," who established a British trading company in East Asia, exporting tea and other fine goods. 

Architect Royal: The life and works of Sir William Bruce “At the end of the lake, the gardens reaching down to the water’s edge, stands the beautiful .. house of Kinross”. Daniel Defoe, 1726. Today, Kinross House, this neoclassical Palladian mansion is open for exclusive-use events and receptions.  Architect Royal:  The life and works of Sir William Bruce by Hubert Fenwick is the biography of the architect and owner of Kinross House, "the Inigo Jones of Scotland", responsible for renovating the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Hopetoun House and Thirlestane Castle.

Jeremy the bookwormWe hope our enlightening, literary journey around Luxury Scotland has sparked your interest in finding out more about our Scottish authors, their books and the links to locations of Luxury Scotland properties. 

To mark the 25th Anniversary of Luxury Scotland, we have assembled a little library of these 31 books which we will give away to the person who answers the following in the most creative way:

If you could sit down with any Scots writer, past or present and discuss a book with them, who would it be, where would you like to have the discussion and what book would you like to discuss?

Send your answers to Jeremy Hawkings, Chief Executive, Luxury Scotland via e mail: dorothy@luxuryscotland.co.uk.

Closing date for competition entries is 31st October 2017


Luxury Scotland LUXURY SCOTLAND is a registered trade mark of Connoisseurs Scotland Limited and the Roundel is a trade mark of Connoisseurs Scotland Limited.
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