From impressive ruins to ominous stone structures, the castles of Scotland offer a glimpse into a colourful past. But they’re not all relics – so why not imagine yourself laird of the manor and book a stay in one? Here’s our roundup of the best castle hotels where you can spend the night.
Glenapp Castle Hotel
Once upon a time in a bonnie land called Scotland, there was a magical place called Glenapp Castle. This baronial-style luxury castle hotel, dating back to 1870, is renowned for its fairytale essence and incredible service. Experience the majestic landscape and wildlife of Scotland while strolling through the 36 acres (15ha) of gardens. Upon return, enjoy a delectable three-course lunch or savour the taste of miniature everything with a spot of afternoon tea. The sea views and incandescent chandeliers will not go unnoticed either.
Inverlochy Castle is a royal experience indeed: Queen Victoria stayed here for a week in the 19th century and the dining rooms are furnished with gifts from the King of Norway. Meanwhile the Albert and Michel Roux Jr at Inverlochy Castle restaurant gives it huge foodie appeal. And that’s before we talk about the location. The castle sits in an area famed for its beauty and vistas. Glenfinnan, where Charles Edward Stuart raised his father’s standard, is a short distance away, as is the Great Glen Way, the mighty Ben Nevis and impressive waterfalls.
Fonab Castle Hotel
Spa Hotel, Hotel
Savour a taste of the good life complete with creature comforts in the historic setting of Fonab Castle, an opulent, five-star castle hotel set amid lochs, mountains, rivers and woodland. The castle, which has been perfectly restored, comprises plush guestrooms, adorned with gold accents and crisp white linens, and some of the most best cuisine you’ll find north of the border. A castle wouldn’t be complete without a luscious spa and stunning loch views, of course. Roam the extensive grounds and bask in your very own fairytale.
Culzean Castle Hotel
Built in the late 1700s by architect Robert Adam on the Ayrshire coast, and now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, Culzean Castle is an absolute gem. From whispering woods and rugged sandy beaches to flashy grounds, towers of turrets and ornate accents, the 642-acre (260ha) estate is open to the public by day. To stay overnight you have to rent the whole castle, which doesn’t come cheap, but it does comes with six bedrooms on the top floor, a private dining room and round drawing room, with superb views of the Firth of Clyde, Arran and the Mull of Kintyre. President Eisenhower holidayed here back in the day, and today you can get half-board for your “clan”, including cream tea, pre-dinner drinks, a three-course dinner and full Scottish breakfast.
Glengorm Castle (Castle Sorn)
Bed and Breakfast, Lodge, Cottages
Experience a slice of the Scottish high life with a stay at Glengorm Castle (also referred to as Castle Sorn), a stone’s throw away from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. This 19th-century rural retreat is available as a bed and breakfast, so you can live like kings and queens at the top of the tower, or close by in one of several quaint cottages. Guests are able to explore the magnificent library, enjoy the main hall and feast in the dining room.
On the little island of Shapinsay, in Orkney, sits this most dignified castle. With trimmings such as de Gournay silk wallpaper, rolltop baths, formal gardens and indescribable vistas, Balfour Castle hotel is everything you can imagine from a Scottish castle, and then some. As a guest, you’ll arrive in some style by private chartered boat. This venue is the very definition of exclusive, offering unrivalled views, stunning wilderness and the divine light that pours in through the giant windows casting delicate dancing shadows.
Boutique Hotel, Suite Hotel, Hotel
Head an hour out of Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands, and you’ll come to Dornoch Castle, a family-run hotel built around 1500 that’s rich in character and history. Each room is decorated in a different theme and exudes a soothing ambience while staying true to that classic castle style, with wood-panelled walls, vast stone fireplaces, heavy drapes and carved four-poster beds complete with the obligatory tartan touches. There are 24 rooms, but not all of them are in the castle proper – some are garden rooms in a 1970s extension block, so make sure you know what you’re getting before you book.