The Balmoral

Best Hotels in Scotland

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From grand city institutions to rustic restaurants-with-rooms, these are the best places to stay in Scotland

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One of its greatest attractions of Scotland is the charming variety of landscapes: within the fairly small region of you’ll find everything from pristine beaches to castle-topped crags, luscious wilderness to glistening lochs. The cities, meanwhile, are filled with culture, with Edinburgh hosting the largest arts festival in the world. Planning a trip there for once rules allow? Below we highlight the best hotels in Scotland.

Best Hotels in London / Best Hotels in the Cotswolds

Best Hotels in Scotland

These reviews of hotels in Scotland are taken from this year’s Great British & Irish Hotels Guide. You can read the full reviews online or purchase your print Hotels Guide here

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  • The Machrie

    The Machrie – Isle of Islay, Argyll

    What a spectacular setting for a few rounds of golf, right by the dunes on the Isle of Islay. This magnificent hotel was given a top-to-toe refresh two years ago and now has 47 clean-lined contemporary rooms, suites and lodges (the latter are adjacent to the main building on the edge of the golf course and come with an open-plan living and dining area – perfect for those who prefer to self-cater). The acclaimed course was designed by Willie Campbell, later modernised by former European Ryder Cup vice captain D J Russell; there’s also the six-hole, par-three Wee course, an all-weather, five-bay driving range and an indoor golf studio with a simulator that analyses swing. When it comes to downtime, there are three lovely lounges to relax in, plus the PureGray spa. Start the evening with sundowners on the terrace of the 18 Restaurant & Bar – it has beautiful panoramic views across the green to Laggan Bay – before tucking into delicious comfort food classics such as double-baked Isle of Mull cheddar cheese soufflé and Islay Ale beef, mushroom and bacon pie.

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    +44(0) 1496 302310; campbellgrayhotels.com

  • The Pierhouse

    The Pierhouse – Port Appin, Argyll

    Surrounded by the raw, breathtaking beauty of western Scotland, The Pierhouse sits on the shores of Loch Linnhe. A cosy, relaxed and friendly hotel, it’s the ideal base for exploring this unforgettable part of the world and for sampling the very best of its local produce. The 12 comfortable bedrooms include several with loch views, which look out directly across to the islands of Lismore and Shuna, and the Morvern Peninsula beyond. Downstairs, head chef Michael Leathley is in charge of the AA rosette Seafood restaurant, where he calls his cooking ‘bringing the outside in’ – in other words, the freshest west-coast seafood such as creel-caught langoustines and Loch Creran oysters, plus Scottish meat, game and vegetables, all prepared and cooked using classic, simple techniques.

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    +44 (0)1631 730302pierhousehotel.co.uk

  • The Dunstane Houses

    The Dunstane Houses – Edinburgh

    Two handsome Victorian villas standing opposite each other have been transformed into a single stylish family-run boutique hotel that offers a unique bolthole in Edinburgh. Infused with the spirit and romance of Orkney, where the owners’ roots lie, the interior blends the elegance of the neoclassical Old Town with vintage touches, contemporary flair and well-chosen art; it’s a decorative approach that’s both striking and subtle. The 35 bedrooms, spread between Dunstane House and Hampton House, are all different. Yours might have bold wallpaper and fabrics, a theatrical headboard, classic four-poster bed, in-room Victorian roll-top or fabulous Fired Earth bathroom. They cater to most budgets, from ‘cosy wee doubles’ to uber-luxurious suites.

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    +44 (0)1313 376169 / thedunstane.com

  • Kinloch Lodge – Isle of Skye, Ross-shire

    Kinloch Lodge – Isle of Skye

    Skye is one of the most spectacular places on earth and Kinloch sits in one of its most beautiful parts, the shores of Loch na Dal. Fittingly, given its history as a hunting lodge, it offers the services of its own ghillie, Mitchell Partridge, for stalking, fishing, foraging and wilderness walks – he’s very knowledgeable and known for providing great ‘craic’. Foodies flock here. Hardly surprising, since it belongs to cookery writer Lady Claire Macdonald and her husband, Lord Godfrey. Although no longer living here, their reputation for the best Highland hospitality continues with their charming daughter, Isabella, at the helm.

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    +44 (0)1471 833333 / kinloch-lodge.co.uk

  • The Balmoral

    The Balmoral – Edinburgh

    The Balmoral is Sir Rocco Forte’s beloved five-star property at the heart of Edinburgh, originally built in 1902 in impressive Scottish baronial style as a landmark for Waverley station. One of the world’s great railway hotels, The Balmoral’s clock is cleverly set three minutes fast to ensure guests never miss their trains. Exuding a timeless elegance, the bedrooms have been transformed by Olga Polizzi, deputy chairman and director of design for Forte Hotels. Highlights include the large signature suites: the Scone & Crombie and the Glamis. With up to three bedrooms and spacious living rooms, they make the ultimate Edinburgh base for couples and families. The Balmoral’s two restaurants offer a choice of fine or brasserie dining: Number One features a Michelin-starred menu celebrating Scottish produce, while Brasserie Prince marries the best of Scottish ingredients with fine French cooking. Without a doubt one of Scotland’s best hotels.

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    +44 (0)1315 562414roccofortehotels.com

  • Fife Arms

    The Fife Arms – Braemar, Aberdeenshire

    If you think that Scottish hotels – especially ones close to the Queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle – are set in their ways, then get ready to have your preconceptions turned inside out, upside down and round and round in a whirl. The Fife Arms, in the heart of Braemar, is Instagram gold. Its interiors by Russell Sage recall the busy, eclectic taste of the Victorian era, with the richest of wallpapers, brocades, velvets, taxidermy and grandfather clocks – full of interest and yet never fusty. The art, courtesy of its owners, international gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth, is simply amazing: a Picasso dominates the tartan-walled drawing room; there’s a Lucien Freud, a Louise Bourgeois spider, an extraordinary ceiling by Zhang Enli and a flying stag with swan’s wings in the bar.

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    +44 (0)1339 720200 / thefifearms.com

  • The Three Chimneys

    The Three Chimneys – Colbost, Isle of Skye

    Clued-up foodies have been flocking to this renowned three AA-rosette restaurant with rooms on the shores of Loch Dunvegan for more than 35 years, attracted by its ethos of showcasing Scotland’s natural land and sea larder. Virtually all the ingredients used at The Three Chimneys are sourced from within a few miles, as well as the wider Scottish Highlands: head chef Scott Davies collects fresh lobster, crab and langoustines from the fishermen’s boats in Dunvegan’s harbour; Soay lamb and pork from Iron Age pigs come from Orbost Farm, while nearby Eaglescreek Croft’s heritage potatoes and purple kale goes straight from plot to plate in the same day. Next door, the House Over-By has six contemporary, split- level rooms to choose from, all with luxury pampering products in the bathrooms. It really is the ideal place to stay after an unforgettable supper.

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    +44 (0)1470 511258threechimneys.co.uk