Autumn and winter presents Scotland at its finest. As autumn stretches over the landscape dotting it with bright red, brilliant yellow and rich mahogany, there is still the chance to enjoy walks on the beach, lunch on the terrace or a game of golf in the last gentle warmth of the year. And as winter approaches, firesides burst into life and we sit down to enjoy those hearty roasts and rich, comforting feasts that the summer has denied us.

Staying in a self-catering home-away-from-home, where you can live according to your own timetable, eating, sleeping and enjoying life at a pace that suits you, makes relaxation at this time of year all the more rewarding. And Ayrshire is blessed with some of the country’s best options, from grand castles and luxury resorts to hunting lodges, beachside homes and wild adventure pads. Here are six of the best.

The Herald: Ayrshire CastleAyrshire Castle

Try being the laird of your own magnificent castle at Ayrshire Castle in West Kilbride, Scotland’s unique Craft Town. Originally a 15th-century wedding gift for Princess Mary, daughter of James II of Scotland, the castle now provides sumptuous accommodation for up to 14 guests in bedrooms with wood-burning stoves and four-poster hand carved beds. Short breaks from £1770

The Herald: Trump Turnberry VillasTrump Turnberry Villas

Ayrshire’s coast is magnificent at any time of year but in winter, evenings bring majestic light shows as the sun is sent on its way into the sea. The perfect spot to enjoy this natural nightly performance is at the luxurious Prestwick apartment at Trump Turnberry. As well as two generous double rooms with en-suite bathrooms, the spectacular open plan kitchen/dining/ living area has views out to sea – so a sundowner on the balcony is a must. By day there are all the deluxe facilities that the hotel, winner of the title of Scottish Hotel of the Year 2018, has to offer. These include the spa, golf lessons, high-octane activities of Turnberry Adventures and the run of pretty woodlands bursting with berries and wildlife as the days shorten. £145 per night for four guests, bookings now being taken for Christmas and New Year. 

The Herald: Lunna VoeLunna Voe

To get even closer to the sea, head to Whiting Bay on Arran, and Lunna Voe, a traditional Arran cottage, full of character and charm with country-style furnishings, a wood-burning stove and views to The Holy Isle. Open the door and head straight out onto a shallow, sandy bay to watch swans, seabirds and the occasional seal or otter. From £650 a week.

The Herald: Yurt 1Yurt 1

No one wants to camp in winter … but cosy glamping – in a site that has just scooped the AA’s Glamping Site of the Year award - is another matter. Runach Arainn is a collection of three yurts in a small orchard near the village of Kilmory on the south end of the Isle of Arran. It has private bathrooms, stoves, fire pits, big comfy sofas and Wifi. Sleeping four or six people, it would be ideal for a romantic break or adventurous family holiday. From £140 for two nights. 

The Herald: NoddsdaleNoddsdale

Largs may be best known as a landing spot for war-hungry Vikings, but there is nothing but peace and tranquillity at Noddsdale, an extensive Arts and Crafts-inspired country house set in Brisbane Glen just outside the town. Enjoy the cosy home and wander the grounds with its lawns, ponds, mature trees, shrubs, rock garden, all-weather tennis court and lovely coastal views. Cottages and apartments from £520 for a week, £312 for two nights.

The Herald: Log House AyrshireLog House Ayrshire

No one does winter like the Scandinavians, and Ayrshire is home to a unique Norwegian-style eco-lodge – built in the 1970s to accommodate shooting parties on the Garpel Estate near Cumnock.  The L-shaped log cabin, which sleeps 20 comfortably and cosily, has a deck, large sitting room with open fire and a turfed roof. The house sits in a 6,500-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest  - The River Ayr Way passes by and wildlife watchers may be rewarded with sightings of black grouse, hen harriers, golden plover, or short-eared owls.