Where to stay in Scotland
Hotels in Scotland range from five-star luxury, mostly in Edinburgh and Glasgow, to quirky, individual, small hotels in the Highlands. Outside the cities, many hotels make a special effort to cater for walkers and cyclists with facilities such as drying rooms and bike sheds.
VisitScotland runs a Green Tourism Business Scheme, which encourages all types of accommodation to improve their environmental credentials, for example by using low-energy lightbulbs, featuring local produce on the menu or promoting wildlife walks in the area. You can search for GTBS-accredited properties on VisitScotland’s website (www.visitscotland.com). There are over 700 members, each given a Bronze, Silver or Gold award.
Grading: Accommodation in Scotland is classified using a star rating system of 1 to 5 stars.
Bed and breakfast
Family-run bed & breakfasts can be a good way to see the country (particularly in remote parts of the Highlands), with the chance to chat to locals thrown in. Hosts usually offer a classic Scottish breakfast with eggs, bacon, toast and often haggis. Accommodation can range from the flowery and fussy to the über-modern.
Camping can be a chilly option in winter, but for those who love the great outdoors sleeping under canvas can be a bargain. Scottish campsites range from basic to resorts including all mod cons, on-site entertainers and swimming pools. Hiring a campervan is an increasingly popular way to tour the country. Roadside scenery can be dramatic, and generally there is far less traffic than in England. Wild camping is encouraged in Scotland, and you can camp on most enclosed land, be it in the hills or by the beach.
Cabins: Self-catering cabins and lodges are a good option for those who want to stay in a remote location, watch the wildlife and try their hand at cooking. Cabins are more usually found in the Highlands, and are typically near a small village, or on a farm. They range from basic to luxury versions, some with Wi-Fi, DVD players and open fireplaces. The owners may arrange fishing licences and activities such as falconry.
Youth hostels: Scottish hostels are well established on the backpacker trail, with good, city-centre locations, and remote establishments aimed at the hiking crowd, hitting the trails in the Highlands and islands. Facilities vary, but many offer Wi-Fi and common rooms, while some have lovely peat fires and offer breakfast. Buildings range from the modern to historic.
Unique accommodation: Scotland has some unusual places where you could settle in for a few days, from castles to converted churches and even lighthouses. Lighthouse accommodation is scattered around the Highlands and islands. Indulge a sense of history and romance and book a weekend in a castle with four-poster beds and five-star service, or there are even self-catering castles.
Mountain huts : Known as bothies, Scotland’s mountain huts are basic shelters for walkers and climbers, usually in simple stone buildings. Most have no facilities ie no running water, no electricity, no bed and sometimes not even a fireplace. Some may have a sleeping platform. You need to take everything you’d take for camping, minus the tent. The Mountain Bothies Association (www.mountainbothies.org.uk) maintains many bothies and lists them on their website.