Whether your passion is for glamping in pods or yurts, enjoying award-winning dining in luxury country hotels or even living like royalty in Balmoral estate, there’s a heavenly holiday experience for everyone in our ultimate resort round-up – as chosen by Paul Trainer and Ailsa Sheldon.


Situated right by the pier at Galmisdale, staying at the Eigg Camping Pods makes exploring the beautiful Isle of Eigg a breeze. The pods are simple but comfortable, with electricity and heating, individual fire pits and communal cooking facilities, plus a wash house just over the road.

The Herald:

From Eigg Adventures you can rent a kayak and paddle around the bay, keeping an eye out for curious seals, or hire a bike and pedal over the island to Laig Bay and Cleadale. The pods are community-owned and operated so staying here helps look after the island too. AS
An Laimhrig, Isle of Eigg PH42 4RL




Hidden in the woods at Easter Hillockhead Farm in the Black Isle are eight cleverly designed handmade yurts. The yurts are off-grid with no running water, but all have cooking facilities and a wood burning stove to keep you cosy, and lanterns and candles for light and ambience.

The Herald:

The central hub has showers, washing up facilities and dazzling views over the Moray Firth. Nearby is the pink-hued Rosemarkie beach and the atmospheric Fairy Glen woods. A stay at Black Isle Yurts is perfect for wildlife lovers, families, romantic breaks or anyone in need of a digital detox (that’s all of us then!). AS
Eathie Hill, Rosemarkie IV10 8SL




As the leaves on the trees start to turn, what could be nicer than a weekend in Big Tree country? A stay at The Taybank ticks all the boxes: a lively bar with cracking live music, elegant and cosy rooms with stacks of books and enormous baths, and an incredible restaurant overlooking the river.

The Herald:

We feasted on langoustine dipped in garlic butter and vegetables grown in the hotel’s garden. The Tayside also has a casual eating option by the river, with open air cinema nights and a great buzz. The best bit? A 12 o’clock check out as standard and breakfast in bed. AS
Dunkeld PH8 0AQ




Having once endured a week trying to keep a tent up in the wind on Harris, next time I’ll book a stay at relaxing Scarista House. Overlooking three miles of sandy beach and turquoise sea, this former manse house offers simple and elegant rooms with coastal views.

The Herald:

There’s a cosy living room that retains the traditional style of the house, squashy couches for curling up with a book by the fire, and a truly excellent restaurant. A set menu reflects the best island produce, including local cheeses, dived scallops and fresh langoustine straight from the Minch. AS
Isle of Harris HS3 3HX




Pretty seaside village Elie is an East Neuk favourite, and The Ship Inn occupies a prime position right beside the beach. Rooms have an understated elegance, sea views and a beachy vibe.

The Herald:

On a warm day enjoy the beach bar and barbecue on the terrace or watch The Ship Inn cricket team play on the wide sandy beach. When the weather turns cooler, warm up after a walk along the delightful Fife Coastal Path with board games by a roaring fire in the bar and a deep bowl of Cullen Skink, made with St Monan’s smoked haddock. AS
Elie, Leven KY9 1DT




An impressive, idiosyncratic renovated 17th-Century farmhouse set on a 4,000-acre Highland estate near Kingussie, Killiehuntly is part of Wildland properties, a conservation project from Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne. They own vast swathes of Sutherland and other properties in the Cairngorms.

The Herald:

The Scandi-Scot interiors blend design cues from Denmark and Norway with Orkney chairs, Shetland sheepskin and highland farmhouse cosiness. There are four double rooms upstairs, a hayloft and two self-catering cottages. There’s fishing at Loch an t-Seilich, mountain bikes are available to borrow, and your neighbours will be Scotland’s only free-roaming reindeer herd. PT
Killiehuntly, Kingussie PH21 1NZ




Kilcamb Lodge occupies an enviable position on the shores of peaceful Loch Sunart with 22 acres of gardens to explore. The hotel changed hands last year after the previous owners retired but remains independent, family-run and a very relaxing place to spend a few days.

There are 12 rooms of varying sizes, with either loch or garden views.

The Herald:

After a day’s hillwalking in the area, my room felt designed for relaxation: a deep bath with Highland Soap Company bubble bath, then curling up with tea and homemade shortbread while I perused my personalised dinner menu.

Head Chef Gary Phillips has run the kitchens at Kilcamb Lodge for 13 years and is responsible for the consistently excellent reputation of the restaurant. Few chefs know local produce like he does. There are two separate food offerings: a simpler bar menu or the dining room tasting menu.

For hotel guests, the tasting menu is part of the package and really contributes to the convivial feel of staying at Kilcamb. In the dining room and in the cosy bar guests swap tips on where they’ve been walking, kayaking, and exploring.

The Herald:

The tasting menu took us on a tour of local delights: a juicy hand dived scallop with pickled cauliflower and capers, tempura broccoli, cured salmon gravlax with celeriac, then a delicious local sea trout with mussels.

Dessert was a tasty play on cranachan, with a whisky parfait, oatmeal crumble, honey sponge and raspberries. After a peaceful night I woke up to an incredible view of silvery Loch Sunart before wandering down to the sunny dining room for local smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, feeling like an honoured house guest. AS
Strontian, Acharacle PH36 4HY




It was the location that drew me to Northern Sands. The small, family-run hotel overlooks the end of Dunnet beach, a long, sandy bay with dunes on the coastal road between John O’Groats and Thurso. It’s a great beach for swimming and watersports or a windswept walk. Thurso is just a few miles away but Dunnet feels wonderfully remote.

The Herald:

Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the Scottish mainland, is a short drive from the hotel. It’s an impressive sight, an active 19th Century lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson, on top of 300-foot cliffs. Dunnet Head is also an important RSPB bird sanctuary. Fulmars swoop up and around the cliffs, which are home to nesting kittiwakes and guillemots.

Next door to the hotel is Dunnet Bay Distillery, home of Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass vodka. Book in for a tour to explore the family-run distillery, enjoy a tutored tasting and a relaxed G&T by the wood burner. The distillery welcomes children so gin lovers travelling with small people don’t have to miss out.

The Herald:

Hotel rooms are spacious and simple with tartan accents, good hot showers and views over moorland and the beach. Downstairs there’s a lively bar and an excellent restaurant. The catch of the day was a delicious salmon fillet with roast vegetables and was followed by what might be Scotland’s most generous cheese board (I’ll keep checking!).

In the morning a hearty Scottish breakfast and plenty of good coffee was the perfect start to a day exploring Caithness. AS
Dunnet, Thurso KW14 8XD




Woodlands have taken the cabin hidden in the woods idea and turned it into a luxury retreat. ‘Riverbed’ cabins are perfect for a romantic getaway. Wallow in a heat-pump powered hot tub on the decking overlooking the river and surrounded by trees.

The Herald:

Inside huge round windows give just a hint of hobbit, and breakfast is delivered in a basket to your door. The larger ‘Seabeds’ have space for kids, a kitchen/ dining area, and expansive views over the loch. On-site there’s an activity centre with everything from archery to e-bikes, and it’s an ideal base for exploring Glencoe and Lochaber. AS
Ballachulish, Argyll PH49 4AA




Sitting on the banks of the river Tay, resplendent in 280 acres of beautiful Perthshire countryside, Dunkeld House retains the sense of luxury and period features of a country house while offering modern facilities like a spa, swimming pool and health club. This impressive accommodation is about an hour’s drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh cocooned in woodlands and historic surroundings – the house was originally built as the county retreat of the 7th Duke of Atholl.

The Herald:

The restaurants at the hotel feature Perthshire game, salmon and local vegetables and berries across their menus. For dessert, try handmade artisan chocolates from Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier, paired with a matching whisky. Visit in autumn for adventures across their estate with wild salmon fishing, Land Rover driving on off-road tracks, clay pigeon shooting, cycling or a round at Dunkeld’s golf club. PT
Dunkeld, Perthshire PH8 0HX




This four-star caravan and camping park is in a 200-acre country estate, four miles outside Edinburgh, with holiday homes, wigwams and shepherds huts to hire. Combine the tranquility of the countryside with excursions into the capital.

The Herald:

The land of Mortonhall was originally granted to Sir Henry St Clair of Rosslyn in 1317 by Robert the Bruce and a fine country mansion house, which sits alongside the park, was built in 1769. The Stables bar and restaurant has seating in the stately home’s courtyard, with a wood-burning stove for autumn nights. Order scampi, steak and ale pie or haggis, neeps and tatties. PT
Frogston Road East, EH16 6TJ




Spending a night in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage sounds like the start of an adventure story, so tell your own on the Galloway coast. Corsewell Lighthouse has been guiding ships to safety since 1815.

The Herald:

Since automation the keeper’s accommodation is now a small, family-run hotel with mesmerising sea views towards Ireland, and back to Kintyre and Ailsa Craig. Rooms are simple but charming, and in the restaurant a changing five-course menu delights diners in the deep blue dining room. There’s a ruined Iron Age fort called Dunskirkloch to find in the grounds and miles of gorgeous coastline to explore. AS
Kirkcolm, Stranraer DG9 0QG




Sitting on the beachfront at Luss, this hotel enjoys panoramic views over Scotland’s most famous loch. It has 48 guest bedrooms and a range of conference and banqueting facilities for up to 200 guests. The addition of the new AmberRose Spa offers an additional dimension of luxury treatments and therapies from the leading brand Germaine de Capuccini. It has dedicated manicure and pedicure stations, while guests can also take time to relax and unwind in the thermal suite or Himalayan salt and herbal sauna.

The Herald:

Ready for autumn, there is now a smokeless gas firepit on the patio with seating for up to 20 guests and views of the changing landscapes around the loch. Colquhouns Restaurant offers waterfront dining – order seafood linguini with prawns, mussels, and smoked haddock. PT
Luss, Argyll & Bute G83 8PA




Fonab is a Scottish Baronial castle that has been transformed into Pitlochry’s only five-star hotel and spa with 42 individually designed bedrooms. Sandemen’s, the 3 AA Rosette restaurant within the castle, serves a fine dining tasting menu with matching wines chosen by their sommelier. You can also enjoy afternoon tea in the brasserie, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a spectacular view across Loch Faskally and Ben Vrackie.

The Herald:

The hotel offers a boat tour along Loch Tay to guests with a chance to spot ancient ruins, crannogs and hear some local folk tales. For a more energetic journey they also offer canyoning experiences in the Falls of Bruar and white water rafting along a six-mile stretch of the River Tay from Aberfeldy to Grandtully. PT
Foss Rd, Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5ND.




There’s no shortage of smart city centre hotels but I love the Kimpton Charlotte Square. The decor is bold and art-filled with stacks of vintage luggage and travelling ephemera. The rooms are comfortable and stylish, and the service is impeccable.

The Herald:

The guest bedrooms are set around a domed central atrium, with an abundance of light, plants, and wicker furniture. There are two top restaurants on site – Baba and Aizle – so you don’t even have to leave the hotel to eat some of Edinburgh’s best food. Don’t miss the opportunity to swim in the lovely basement pool, or even book a massage. AS
Edinburgh EH2 4HQ




Situated on the southern peninsula of Sleat on the Isle of Sye, Duisdale House is a luxury boutique hotel, built as a hunting lodge in 1865, gazing over to the Knoydart wilderness. Its 22 bedrooms include accommodation in three lodges, sea view suite and cottage.

Dishes in the two AA Rosette restaurant include west coast brown crab with pickled mussel and apple, venison with beetroot and bramble then strawberry with elderflower and wood sorrel. Duisdale is dog-friendly and the whole hotel can be booked for weddings. It has five sheltered yacht moorings in the bay.

The Herald:

The Sonas Hotel Collection, founded by Anne Gracie Gunn and her late husband Ken, now managed by her and her family, bring together three properties on Skye. Nearby Toravaig House re-opened after re-decoration of its nine bedrooms. During the day, cream teas and charcuterie boards are served in the lounge by the fireside.

The 21-bedroom Skeabost House, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is situated in 23 acres of woodland on the edge of Loch Snizort, seven miles from Portree. A two-bedroom Gate Lodge designed for couples or families opened in August. On an island in the river are the ruins of two small chapels associated with St Columba. There has been a home at Skeabost since Viking times. PT
Sleat, Isle of Skye IV43 8QW




The reinvigorated and reimagined version of the hotel opened in May this year with 89 updated guest rooms, The Rabbit restaurant, The Seal bar and leisure facilities, including an indoor pool, squash court, sauna, and treatment rooms.

The Herald:

Throughout the Victorian sandstone hotel, enjoy unobstructed views of the Ayrshire coastline, the Isle of Arran and Royal Troon Golf Club, which will host The Open for the tenth time in 2024. The Rabbit and The Seal have menus led by Rusacks St Andrews’ Executive Chef and Masterchef: The Professionals winner, Derek Johnstone, featuring seasonal ingredients and local suppliers from across Ayrshire. Try local mussels served with ‘nduja, fennel, cider and lovage and Arran Farm ice cream for dessert. PT
Troon, Ayrshire KA10 6HE




Reconnect with nature, enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding on the loch or some wild swimming, bag a few Munros across the Ben Lawers mountain range or settle into the award-winning outdoor spa. Taymouth Marina is a stylish self-catering holiday destination that allows you to set your own pace.

The Herald:

The peaceful setting combines access to the Scottish wilderness with Scandinavian-style sauna experiences, charming accommodation and a water sports centre. Oscillate between relaxation an exhilaration. Stay in apartments with contemporary interiors and their own hot tub. The Ferryman’s Inn gastropub has a menu centred around a wood-fired pizza oven and open grill.

The Hot Box, Taymouth Marina’s sauna, has windows for views across the scenic location. To cool down, a slide goes directly into Loch Tay. PT
Kenmore, Perthshire PH15 2HW




This is a traditional 1810 country house hotel in woodlands below a waterfall on a loop of the River Forss: a wild setting with dramatic countryside under Caithness skies. Each of the 14 bedrooms, distributed between the main house and lodges on the estate, have recently been restored to their traditional glory. It’s an excellent base for exploring the north Highlands with cliff walks, castles and brochs.

The Herald:

The hotel restaurant’s tasting menu features dishes such as Scrabster scallops with onion and almonds, sea trout with fried potatoes and spinach or beef fillet with carrot and tomato. Tain cheese and oatcakes are the perfect finish with your choice from the house’s collection of 300 malts. PT
Forss, nr. Thurso, Caithness KW14 7XY




Mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year with a stay on the monarch’s personal Scottish estate at Balmoral Castle. There is a range of self-catering holiday cottages set around the castle, its gardens and the Old Brig O’ Dee. The two Colt Cottages can be rented together or separately.

The Herald:

Deliveries can be arranged from local suppliers, including H M Sheridan Butchers, Deeside Deli and The Highlanders Bakehouse. The Garbh Allt Shiel cottage is five miles west of the castle in the Ballochbuie Forest. For most of the year the open ground in front of the property is inhabited by a large number of deer. The granite house can sleep up to seven people. PT
Ballater, Aberdeenshire AB35 5TB