The top 5 castle hotels in Scotland


Whenever visitors are asked what they love most about Scotland, castles often comes top of their preference list. This doesn’t come as a complete surprise. After all there used to be more than 3,000 castles in Scotland with Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye being the oldest one and the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for the past 800 years. The north east of Scotland is also home to the only dedicated Castle Trail in the country.

While some of these ancient buildings have completely decayed over time or have been left in ruins, others are in the custody of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and the National Trust of Scotland (NTS). Both organisations care for the historic and cultural heritage by promoting their castles as visitor attractions. And then there are those castles which have been restored to their former glory and re-opened as historic B&Bs and guest houses as well as luxury 5-star hotels. These properties are preserving their ancient ambience while offering the comfort of modern amenities – so here are my top 5 castle hotels in Scotland!

Schloss Roxburghe

This historic estate, set in the peaceful countryside of the Scottish Borders (Where Scotland begins), features a 20-bedroom luxury hotel, a championship golf course and a wide range of outdoor activities. The restaurant offers a top quality, varied menu with an emphasis on fresh, home-grown produce. The “Schloss”, being the German word for a castle, is little more than an hour’s drive from both Edinburgh and Newcastle, therefore lending itself as a getaway destination.

The history of this time-honoured building is highlighted by grand open fireplaces and period stucco decoration on ceilings and walls. The Scottish themed interior design of the rooms combines tartan colours and patterns with oak and natural stone. The result is a pleasing blend of timeless elegance and contemporary style. The estate was formerly owned by the Duke of Roxburghe and has undergone extensive refurbishment comprising additional suites and a new restaurant as well as ample spa facilities including a heated outdoor swimming pool for the year 2021.

Glenapp Castle

Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire can be described as a perfect hideaway. Set in beautiful scenery in south west Scotland this 5 red star luxury hotel invites guests to recharge, reconnect and feel at home whether they are travelling on their own or together with friends. The service at Glenapp Castle is tailored to the personal preferences of guests and pays attention to detail. Period furnishings and interiors add to the beauty of the building which is surrounded by delightful gardens and woodlands.
The castle is only a short distance away from the coast offering spectacular sea views.

Glenapp Castle has 17 guest rooms on the ground, first and second floor, all accessible by lift. Each room is individually designed to a high standard in a unique combination of fabrics, art and antiques. The award-winning restaurant offers one of the finest dining experiences in the south west of Scotland. For hotel residents there is a range of daytime activities available, from exploring the stunning coastline to going on a Hebridean sea safari to remote islands inhabited by an abundance of wildlife.

Crossbasket Castle

This 17th century castle has been sensitively renovated and transformed into one of Scotland’s best luxury hotels and dining venues. Crossbasket Castle features 9 beautiful and individually appointed guest rooms which strike the right balance between traditional style and modern design. Guests dine in elegant surroundings at the latest contemporary fine-dining restaurant from the Roux culinary dynasty. The menu offers fare from Scotland’s renowned natural larder with an added touch of creative flair from the iconic Roux team.

The castle grounds comprise a large area of woodland, extensive nature walks and a pleasant stretch of river complete with waterfalls. Due to the conveniently short distance to the city of Glasgow there is plenty to do, see and explore while on the castle’s doorstep guests can enjoy a round of golf, fishing or hiking.

Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy is a charming 19th century Scottish castle near Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland. During a visit to her home at Balmoral on Royal Deeside in 1873, Queen Victoria spent a week at Inverlochy sketching and painting. In her diaries she noted “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot”. Inverlochy belongs to Scotland’s finest castle hotels. The service carefully considers the comfort of guests, ensuring they can enjoy a care-free, relaxed luxury holiday. Each of the 17 bedrooms and suites has their own individual style and design, offering grand views of the grounds and the private loch.

At the Albert and Michel Roux Jr at Inverlochy Castle restaurant guests can choose from a menu of fine dishes prepared from best locally sourced produce. Nestling in the foothills of the mighty Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom, Inverlochy Castle is set amidst some of Scotland’s most iconic scenery.

Fonab Castle

This 5 star hotel sits in the heart of Highland Perthshire. Inspired by its historic past and its stunning surroundings, Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa has been lovingly restored. The odd contemporary twist adds to its unique charm. Fonab Castle offers 42 bedrooms including the Penthouse Suite on the fourth floor with unrivalled views of Ben Vrackie and the awe-inspiring Loch Faskally. The interior features Ulf Mortiz glass studded wallpaper adorning the walls which are tastefully decorated in muted velvet creams.

Sandeman’s Fine Dining is a 3 AA Rosette award-winning restaurant. The wood-panelled interior provides an elegant ambience. Guests can choose from a varied menu offering familiar classics fused with a modern twist as well as a 7-course gourmet tasting meal.

Best of all – these five castle hotels can be combined to an ultra luxurious Scottish castle experience. The distance between each of them ranges from just 75 miles (120 km) to 145 miles (235 km), allowing for a complete round trip to all five castles from/to Edinburgh Airport at a total distance of just 565 miles (900 km)! Depending on whether guests decide to stay one, two, three or four nights in each of these luxury properties, an experienced travel designer can turn such a trip into a bespoke once-in-a-lifetime Scotland itinerary. Cruising Scotland from castle to castle in a chauffeur-driven limousine will also cast a spotlight on the following attractions:

– Roxburghe: Floors Castle (Duke of Roxburghe) and Abbotsford House (Sir Walter Scott)
– Glenapp: Culzean Castle (General Eisenhower) and Dumfries House (Prince Charles Trust)
– Crossbasket: Bothwell Castle (Edward I.) and Pollok House (Sir William Stirling Maxwell)
– Inverlochy: Urquhart Castle (Loch Ness Monster) and Jacobite Steam Train (Harry Potter)
– Fonab: Blair Castle (The Atholl Highlanders) and The Queen’s View (Queen Victoria)

Dorothy Welsh is the CEO of Luxury Scotland. Luxury Scotland offers true Scottish hospitality, culinary delights and unique experiences.

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Comments (8)

  1. Carole says:

    I can vouch for both Glenapp and Fonab, having stayed at both. My husband and I have experienced Hogmanay packages at these castles and they were both fantastic in their own different ways. Glenapp was more like a house party environment, with the owners on site as our hosts, whereas Fonab was the big party atmosphere. In both cases we enjoyed sumptuous New Year’s Eve dinners followed by traditional pipers and dancing till the wee small hours. Activities on the other days included falconry, curling and walks in the local area when weather permitted. There is nothing like a true Scottish Hogmanay experience in a castle – which is the perfect environment for Christmas lights and roaring fires in winter. We highly recommend the experience.

  2. Sue West says:

    When you think of Scotland and castles it’s inevitable that you think of Balmoral and the Royal Family. There’s definitely something grand and regal about the Scottish landscape. As far as I’m concerned if you want luxury in Scotland, a castle is the way to go.

    • Dear Sue, I could not agree more with your view that »if you want luxury in Scotland, a castle is the way to go«. To experience the feeling of living like a Lord or Lady in grand and regal atmosphere surrounded by breathtaking landscape reminds us of Royal life in former times.

    • Gaynor says:

      Which all begs the question was “The Crown” and the scenes at Balmoral a good advert for castle-living?

      Although as usual in Scotland there was a fair bit of rain around there were some breath-taking shots of the glorious landscape.

    • Dear Gaynor, please rest assured that there is plenty of sunshine in Scotland! Otherwise we could not grow and harvest so many fruits and vegetables. And especially the barley which we need for our whisky. On an average the north-east of Scotland (where the Castle Trail is) is more dry than the west coast (where the higher mountains are).

  3. Belinda says:

    The only castles I got to see where those in the middle of the city and in the middle of a theme park. I’m planning another UK tour that now includes Scotland, precisely for this reason, a chance to stay in a castle. Good to see a couple of my choices land on this list.

  4. Dear Belinda, I am very pleased to read that you are planning another UK with a chance to stay in a castle and I am very happy to hear that some of my choices match with your list.

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