Scotland has a litany of fine hotels, including some spectacular five-star luxury venues. 

HeraldScotland is taking a closer look at some of the more renowned institutions in a new series of undercover hotel visits starting with The Balmoral in Edinburgh. 

But you might be surprised to find that none of the venues commonly regarded as the nation's finest - the big blockbuster five-stars - feature on this list of the highest-rated Scottish hotels, which is based on TripAdvisor guest reviews.

There aren't too many spas and penthouse suites in sight. In fact, you might not have heard of many of Scotland's top-rated hotels, unless of course you have had the good fortune to stay in them...  

1. Atholl Villa  


Where: Pitlochry, Perthshire

In their own words: Atholl Villa is a 4 Star Bed and Breakfast enjoying a superb location in the pretty town of Pitlochry, Perthshire.

Stay here for as little as: £27 per person, £90 per family

In a nutshell: "Really quaint and stunning hotel. Pedro has a great personality and makes sure everything is perfect. Our room was pretty, it was clean and the decor was modern and bathroom was great. Wonderful view of the town, great wifi, great food and perfect location. Loved it! Would stay again!" Charles, Broomfield, USA  

2. Knockendarroch House Hotel 


Where: Pitlochry, Perthshire

In their own words: Our welcoming and luxurious 4 Star Pitlochry hotel offers contemporary country house style in a quiet elevated position in central Pitlochry.

Stay here for as little as: £67.50 per person (£80 including dinner)

In a nutshell: "The experience provided by Knockendarroch is one to which all hotels large and small should aspire. From first entering it is obvious all personnel are imbued with a philosophy of total customer satisfaction. The visit was one of absolute delight. Top class cuisine,accommodation and service provided by staff who give the impression they genuinely welcome your presence. Congratulations on providing standards so seldom seen in today's tourist industry." TWW, Falkirk  

3. Windlestraw  


Where: Walkerburn, Borders

In their own words: We continue the tradition of providing charming, luxury accomodation combined with modern cuisine. With many years of experience, we bring both knowledge and passion to our purpose, ensuring your stay is truly exceptional.

Stay here for as little as: £80 per person (£40 extra for dinner)

In a nutshell: "My wife and I recently spent two magical nights in this most excellent hotel. We stayed in the Willison room and I kid you not it was truly magnificent with a bathroom that was out of this world. The food we ate was perhaps the best we have tasted what with Sylva's wonderful fresh baked muffins and soda bread at breakfast and Johnnie's superb dinners in the evening we felt truly well catered for. We understand that Sylvia and Johnnie have only been hosting the Windlestraw since April this year and they are certainly going to put this place on the map. We wish them all the best in their enterprise and cant wait to return." 309Jack, Stonehaven 

4. Glencoe House 


Where: Glencoe Village, Highlands

In their own words: Glencoe House offers elegant accommodation located in 10 acres of private gardens in the heart of Scotland’s Highlands. 

Stay here for as little as: £160 per person (they only offer suites)

In a nutshell: "What an amazing place. Stunning location, gorgeous accommodation, lovely informative host, friendly staff who were super efficient without being obtrusive, fantastic food served in your own private dining area, just perfect!!! Can't wait to find an excuse to go back!!" Jillybean818, Glasgow 

5.  Kilmichael Country House Hotel  


Where: Brodick, Arran

In their own words: Kilmichael is one of the very few hotels in the whole of Scotland to achieve the gold star award in the VisitScotland Grading and Classification Scheme. A gold award means that we 'consistently achieve the highest levels of excellence within (our) grading'.

Stay here for as little as: £65 per person 

In a nutshell: "Took my wife here for a significant birthday, we wanted somewhere away from the crowd with a touch of class, we got one of the best hotel experiences in our lives. From the lovely rooms, to the excellent cuisine, to the first class hospitality and service where no detail was overlooked, finally to the beautiful gardens in which the hotel is set. We will be back." Neil50000, Dunfermline 

6. Coul House Hotel  


Where: Contin, Ross-shire

In their own words: As owners we are very proud of Coul House, not only as the custodians of its architectural beauty, but for the great feedback we receive from our guests about the relaxing atmosphere, beautiful food and our staff's natural passion for hospitality.

Stay here for as little as: £87.50 per person 

In a nutshell: "This hotel is our favourite place to stay in the UK. The rooms are fabulous as is the food and the service. I really cannot fault anything. It's not cheap but this place is the ultimate proof that you really do get what you pay for. The owners are totally hands on and could not be more accommodating. The whisky menu alone demands a visit never mind the quality of the fare (which is fantastic) and the rooms offer unparalleled comfort. I never thought I'd give any hotel ten out of ten but I'd seriously give this place 11 if I could! If you are considering a few days in the Highlands then this is a must." John S 

7. The Chester Residence 


Where: Haymarket, Edinburgh

In their own words: The Chester Residence is a jewel in the crown of luxury hotels in Edinburgh, with our chic designer townhouse apartments providing all the benefits of serviced apartments in Edinburgh combined with the luxurious glamour of a five-star hotel.

Stay here for as little as: £67.50 per person (seriously)

In a nutshell: "Choose a superlative and it will probably fit the Chester Residence. It's one of those places where you really can not fault at all. Attention to deal is stunning, customer service is brilliant and very genuine and I just don't know how you could make it better. From the building, decor, location and staff CR has it all. I stayed in the Owners Apartment for my birthday weekend and it was brilliant with special thanks to Douglas for going the extra mile. We will be staying again, and again and again." TheGMD, London 

8. Balmule House 


Where: Dunfermline, Fife

In their own words: Rarely will you ever find a building with such a rich heritage. Nor will you often see a home with such quality and comfort built into every last detail. To find both in one home is simply unheard of.

Stay here for as little as: £42.50 per person

In a nutshell: "A real wow factor from the moment you come up the drive and get the first view of the house, the outlook and the gardens. The wow factor continues inside, where you receive a warm welcome where nothing seems too much trouble. Can't recommend this as a place to stay for couples looking to escape, groups wanting a place large and comfortable enough to socialise together and a perfect setting for a wedding. Something really special." AngelaF925, Peebles 

9. Links House at Royal Dornoch


Where: Dornoch, Highlands

In their own words: Links House at Royal Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands is a country house hotel and restaurant in the finest tradition, offering luxury accommodation combined with the charm, grace and elegance of the world’s finest luxury small hotels. 

Stay here for as little as: £135 per person

In a nutshell: "The height of taste and luxury without being the least bit stuffy. This is not big hotel stuff - there are 8 guest rooms, each magnificently decorated according to a Highland fishing river. Five steps from the property and you are on the hallowed grounds of the Royal Dornoch Golf Course, one of the best in the world. We were made to feel so at home that we felt we were among true friends. The beds are as comfortable as it gets (they contacted us ahead of time to ask what kind of pillows and comforter we wanted. The restaurant can't be beat anywhere in Scotland (try the porridge). We're planning our next trip!" Gladstone 

10. Glenisle Hotel  


Where: Lamlash, Arran

In their own words: The Glenisle Hotel opened its doors in 1849 and has been at the heart of the charming village of Lamlash ever since. The location, looking directly across the sea to the majestic Holy Isle is certainly one of the most spectacular on this beautiful island. Since a major refurbishment in 2008 the Glenisle Hotel & Restaurant is establishing a reputation throughout Scotland for its warm and stylish ambiance and its great, relaxed atmosphere.

Stay here for as little as: £59.50 per person (dinner from £18.50)

In a nutshell: "Great seafront location overlooking bay to Holy Isle. Combines the best of Scottish Island charm with quality facilities. Comfy bed with choice of pillows, bar with log-fired stove, and separate guest sitting room. V. enjoyable dinner and breakfast from chef who knows what he’s doing, supported by pleasant and efficient serving staff. Overall there’s a feeling that all Glenisle staff are only too happy to go that bit further to make your stay enjoyable." Henrithenavigator, Edinburgh

11. The Green Park Hotel 


Where: Pitlochry, Perthshire

Stay here for as little as: £80 per person (packages including dinner start from £84)

12. Kylesku Hotel 



Where: Drumbeg, Highlands

Stay here for as little as: £52.50 per person 

13. Ardgartan Hotel 


Where: Arrochar, Argyll

Stay here for as little as: Prices are set by Lochs and Glens (01389 713713) as part of travel packages

14. Fonab Castle Hotel  


Where: Pitlochry, Perthshire

Stay here for as little as: £90 per person

15. Tigh na Sgiath Country House Hotel 


Where: Grantown, Speyside

Stay here for as little as: £44.50 per person

16. The Lodge on Loch Goil  


Where: Loch Goil, Argyll

Stay here for as little as: asd 

And here's a rather better-known hotel that narrowly failed to make the cut . . . 

17. Prestonfield  


Where: Prestonfield, Edinburgh

Stay here for as little as: £85 per person