Christmas is fast approaching, and with it comes the traditions of drunken office parties, crowded Christmas markets and gridlocked supermarket car parks. If the thought of it makes you want to run away, then fear not, as we’ve rounded up some of the best cosy escapes across Scotland where you can huddle up and forget all the madness.

The Herald:

Venachar Cabins, Callander, Stirling

Forget Loch Lomond: if you want true tranquillity, you are better off at the far-less popular Loch Venachar, near Callander. It’s less than an hour from Glasgow but feels like another planet, arguably looking its best in the winter when the frost kisses the hills and the water turns a pinky hue as the sun sets. There’s no place better to enjoy this than from the lochside Venachar Cabins, or more specifically, than from their own wood-fired hot tubs. Designed by local architect Darran Crawford, the cabins seamlessly bring the outside in, with floor to ceiling windows that maximise the magical views of the water. A short stroll from the cabins takes you up a forestry track to a hidden lochan, which freezes over most winters to create a postcard-perfect winter wonderland. Truly magical.

The Fife Arms, Braemar, Aberdeenshire

Rather confusingly not in Fife, the Fife Arms is one of the most iconic hotels in the Cairngorms. It exudes traditional Scottish charm, with tartan carpets and oil paintings, but without straying into the saccharine.  Built in the 19th century, the hotel is a category B listed building with strong links to the Royal family (Balmoral is a mere 15 minutes away). Be sure to enjoy a dram in the cosy ‘Bertie’s Whisky Bar’, inspired by Queen Victoria’s hedonistic heir, King Edward VII, or a cheese fondue round the fireplace in the ‘Alpine Hut’. There’s no shortage of scenic walks to enjoy in the surrounding countryside, before rewarding yourself with a hearty meal in the Clunie restaurant. Why not try the Balmoral Estate grouse with beetroot and blackberry, to quite literally eat like a king?

The Herald:

Brucefield Estate, Alloa, Clackmannanshire

Experience a taste of Scandinavia in Clackmannanshire at the Danish-inspired Schenbothies on Brucefield Estate. Full-height triple-glazed windows keep in the heat from the wood-burning stove while enabling you to soak in enjoying views of the surrounding woodland and wildlife. There are no TVs in the bothies – instead you can light marshmallows on the firepit outside or simply snuggle up with a book and a glass of wine. Guests staying during the festive season will be offered the chance to fell their own Christmas tree from the woodland (and then plant a new one), with locally sourced Christmas delicacies included in the welcome hamper. You’ll feel like you are a world away from civilisation, despite being less than an hour away from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling.

The Herald:

The Bothan at Mackays, Durness, Sutherland

Found on the very edge of mainland Scotland, you can hardly get more of an escape than a visit to Durness. And the Bothan at Mackays feels like it’s on the edge of the world, with just a short stretch of grass separating you from the wilds of the Atlantic Ocean. The space is small, not much bigger than a garden shed, but is well equipped with everything you need, and although the winds are wild it just adds to the sense of cosiness as you curl up in bed. Durness is a popular stop on the North Coast 500, but a lot of tourist spots are closed for the winter- offering a rare opportunity to have the place to yourself.

The Herald:

Isle of Eriska Hotel, near Oban, Argyll and Bute

What better way to get away from the festive madness than on a private island? The isle of Eriska is easily accessed from the mainland via a road bridge, but the entire island is owned by the hotel, leaving it mercifully unscathed by tourists. There’s an array of beautiful walks to go on around the grounds, where you can see highland cattle, badgers, grey seals, otters, herons and, if you’re lucky, golden eagles. Warm up afterwards around one of the three roaring fires or enjoy their famous afternoon tea. Those really wishing to push the boat out can stay in one of six ‘hilltop reserves’ that look right across Loch Linnhe, boasting a large outdoor decked area with a spectacular sunken hot tub.

The Herald:

Bracken Treehouse, Leuchars, Fife

500 metres from any other building, built into the trees in dense woodland, Bracken Treehouse is the perfect place for anyone seeking a bit of solitude. The star attraction is the outdoor bath on a deck that juts out into the tree canopy — you’d struggle to find a better place to sit and stargaze. You can also enjoy a view of the unpolluted night sky from the warmth of the bed, which sits beneath a large skylight. The well-appointed kitchen has everything you need to be self-sufficient, but if you fancy a day out then the town of St Andrews isn’t far away, with the charming East Neuk of Fife just beyond.