You’ve been planning it for months: time off work is sorted, the accommodation is booked, the agenda is finalised and everyone is looking forward to their first ever large group holiday together.
But bringing together lots of families and personalities for one single holiday can present challenges. You’ve not lived together before, you all have different agendas, and the annoying habits that seem faintly amusing at Christmas can suddenly become unbearable, making arguments a distinct possibility.
This Luxury Scottish Castle is one of those stunning castles that once experienced, will never be forgotten. When you are driving towards Glenisla and you get to the top of the brow and you look out across the panoramic scene in front of you, it feels as though you have you have just stumbled across a hidden world. The Gene Kelly moment in Brigadoon perhaps. Continuing on and it is quite a few miles down the hill and up the glen before the true majesty of the location of the castle becomes apparent. What a castle and to use the famous quote – life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away, and this is one of them as you see this amazing castle for the first time!
This 16th century tower house was built in 1560, but due to the constant warring and turbulent times of the day, only lasted to 1640 when it was burnt to the ground. It remained empty for 350 years until in 1998 re-building commenced and today it is offered on a luxurious self-catering basis. Gone are the cold days of old and there is now under-floor heating in the Great Hall. In each bedroom you will find a whisky decanter for your enjoyment, as well as a “service en chambre” box, filled with a variety of luxury teas and coffees for you to choose from.
When you stay at a castle in Scotland there are a number of things that you look for in advance and hope to experience during your stay. Does it have the “wow factor” on arrival – yes! Does it have unique charm and character – yes! Will you be speechless when you see the Great Hall – yes! I think it ticks a lot of the boxes. Being surrounded by the stone walls when you enter the building, to the white washed vaulted ground floor rooms, to the outstanding Great Hall, all the way to the individually designed luxurious bedrooms – not only will you be impressed, but your guests will be amazed.
Within the Great Hall is a fine example of a Jennifer Merredew painted ceiling. If you have been to Dairsie Castle or Plane Tower, you will have seen her work before – but she is an exceptional painter of ceilings in the traditional Scottish style with a modern twist. Whilst she works to a brief and in this case it was to tell historical tales of the castle in images and text, she always gets in some humour and you can find yourself staring at the ceiling for a very long time understanding it all. And why not, there is so much up there.
Whatever takes your fancy, be it dressing up for an “Outlander” themed weekend or a family holiday over the summer, this Luxury Scottish Castle will cater for your needs, combining comfort with authenticity. Contact Scotts Castle Holidays today for more information.
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Sydney J Harris
When was the last time you put your phone away, shut down the computer, turned off the television, sat outside and listened?
The birds singing, the wind rustling the leaves in the trees, a lawn mower whirring away in the distance, the sound of a plane passing overhead…. These sounds of silence are everywhere if you look for them.
But when did you last hear them? Really hear them?
Our hectic lives mean we’re working longer hours than ever before, we’re bombarded with media messages from the moment we wake up until the moment we close our eyes, and our world is full of distractions and technology.
Time to immerse yourself in the luxury relaxation of a hot tub, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure, relax muscles, relieve pain, and improve your sleep. How many more reasons do you need?
Here are some of our favourite hot tubs from around the world:
1. Large upmarket lodge near Aberfeldy, Scotland:
2. Hotel Ranga, South Iceland:
3. 16th Century borders tower, Scotland:
4. French chalet:
5. Historic Highland castle:
6. Bay Crest lodge, New Zealand:
7. Holiday lodge with heated indoor pool & jacuzzi near Fort William:
8. The Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dubai:
9. Large country house on the West coast of Scotland:
10. Historic Highland lodge, Scotland:
What do you think?
Which of these is at the top of your hot tub holiday wish list? Share in the comments below or on the Facebook page.
PS And if you’re ready to totally switch off, unwind, and spend quality time with your favourite people, start that process by taking a look at our round-up of fabulous properties with hot tubs in Scotland.
The Scots have always loved their food and have come up with some fabulous products and dishes, including porridge, butteries, smoked fish, clapshot, champit tatties, rumbledethumps, skirlie, Forfar bridie, Dundee cake, Lorne sausage, haggis, stovies, cloutie dumpling, cranachan, Abernethy biscuit, oatcakes, pancakes, scones, bannocks, shortbread and not forgetting soups like Cock-a-leekie and Cullen Skink. However, today it is the turn of the humble porridge or as they like to market it these days as a “super food” due to the fact it lowers cholesterol!
Oatmeal has a long history in Scotland because oats are better suited than wheat to the shorter growing season. Oats became the staple grain over the centuries and was traditionally ground down to become oatmeal, which hot water and or milk is added to become porridge, with the addition of salt and sugar depending on your taste. Porridge oats takes to anything, and is excellent with nuts, berries and fruit, whilst the addition of a chopped banana is a great start to the day.
One of the most famous producers in Scotland is “Scotts”, which started life in 1880 in Glasgow and a century later it was bought out by Quaker Oats Ltd. Today it is the largest oat mill in Western Europe, with its products being sold not only in the UK, but also in Scandinavia, France and even in the Far East. Another producer is “The oatmeal of Alford” which is milled at Alford in Aberdeenshire. In fact it is a few miles from the 15th century castle at Auchleven, which can sleep up to 14 people on a self-catering basis. What better way to have your porridge, than by buying your oatmeal locally and having it served up at a castle in Scotland.
Whilst the famous writer Samuel Johnson disparagingly wrote of oats as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people” – it continues to thrive and is a staple part of any diet, be it in Scotland or any part of the world. Regardless of status, be it in a cottage or a castle in Scotland, go for “oat cuisine” over haute cuisine. To enjoy “the true taste of Scotland” of Scotts porage oats in Scotland contact Scotts Castle Holidays today to arrange your Scottish holiday for an ultimate “Scotts” experience.
Having recently returned from a trip to the west coast of Scotland which consisted of travelling over mountain, through glens and past lochs to get to my castle destination, it got me thinking about the old legends and stories. At the Baronial Castle, where the clan chief has resided for many centuries, it was the belief throughout the highlands of Scotland that every castle had a “brounie” to watch over the chief and his family, and this was the case here. What is a “brounie”, you may well ask? Well, it is from the gaelic (traditional Scottish language) “brùnaidh”, and is best described as a “hobgoblin” or in modern parlance a “house-elf”, rather like Dobby in the Harry Potter books. This legend was common throughout Europe and would be known as a “tomte” in Scandanavia and “heinzelmännchen” in Germany.
The legend goes that this “brounie” stayed with the family for centuries looking after the clan chief and his family, and was particularly vocal whenever anyone from the clan Campbell tried to integrate with the family. But the story that resonates most with tourists of today is the one associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite rebellion of 1745/46. Like many clan chiefs he took part in the attempt to restore the Stuarts to the throne in Scotland and supported the Jacobite cause. One night the “brounie” spoke to the chief in the vaults of the castle and warned him of the danger and proclaimed “there is a stranger arrived this day in the North, whose fortunes you will follow and never return”. The chief knew immediately that Bonnie Prince Charlie had arrived, and said “I shall now either live in a way becoming the descendent of an ancient and honourable race, or else I shall die gloriously in the best of causes, the restoration of my rightful King to the throne of his ancestors.”
After gathering men from his clan, he was amongst the first to join Charles Stuart on his march to Edinburgh. At the battle of Culloden on the 16th April 1746, the clan chief was still there and ready to fight for the cause. After an hour of bloody battle on that fatal day, the Jacobite troops were already in retreat and the clan chief was left dead on the battlefield, whilst Bonnie Prince Charlie fled the scene. Bombarded by cannon shot and mortar bombs, the Jacobite tactics of charging the enemy had been mastered and the rebellion was over. Thus was fulfilled the doleful prophecy of the “brounie”. Worse was to follow, as the government confiscated the clan lands and the Argyll Militia destroyed the castle.
However, like all good stories, there is a happy ending. A few years later in 1749, the lands are returned to the clan and the chief’s son, now the 18th chief, aged 14 is in charge and by 1794 is able to get the construction of the new castle underway, further up the glen from the old castle. Perhaps the “brounie” aided him on his way and guided the clan to remain part of these lands for all these years right up to the present day. Whatever the legend, there is no doubt the amazing amount of history here at both castles, old and new, with the Baronial Castle available for let on a self-catering basis for up to 13 people throughout the year. Whilst the old castle remains a magnificent ruin, a charity is now in the process of killing off the ivy and starting a restoration project.
But where is the “brounie” today? Well, when I was there I saw no evidence of him (Harry or Munn is his name), but perhaps if I had stayed longer I may have spotted him somewhere. Or maybe I did, as on the stairs there is a stylised figure holding a crest – perhaps that is the “brounie”? I will definitely stay longer next time to find out more, as staying at this Scottish Castle is a legend in itself, and a great experience for anyone wanting a genuine Scottish Castle Holiday with Scotts Castle Holidays.
Visiting castles in Scotland is special at any time of the year, but there is always a particular resonance in winter, with the contrast of the soft snow and the hard stone. I recently returned to this 16th century Castle, a few miles from Selkirk and it looked as pretty as a Christmas card on the outside.
Once inside, the thick stone walls retain the heat and the castle itself is cosy and warm. In the Great Hall, with its vast inglenook fireplace, the open fire throws out a fantastic orange glow, and even with the modern pictures and sofas, there is still the hint of medieval times.
This room (and castle) has many stories to tell and it is said that one of the previous owners and residents of the castle was a wizard and warlock. Just looking at the old oak door to the Great Hall, with all its carving and ancient graffiti – takes you back in time.
From 1517, the castle site belonged to the Scotts of Aikwood, who eventually built the tower in the 1540s. The marriage stone is still visible in the tower wall above the door, where the Laich Hall enters the tower section at ground level and this commemorates the marriage, in 1602, of Robert Scott of Aikwood and Elspeth Murray of Elibank.
Originally known as Aikwood, because it was located within an oak wood, which the local dialect refers to as “aik wood”, the name was anglicised for a time to be Oakwood, but it has become again Aikwood. Oakwood or Aikwood – it is a great place whatever it is called.
Like many towers and keeps, access internally is by its stone stairs and part of the endearing quirks of architecture and craftsmanship are immediately apparent, as the Kerry-handed (left turning) spiral staircase lies before you and it is 62 steps up to the top floor.
Aikwood Tower is different to most castles and holiday houses in Scotland, because its charm lies in its intimacy. Getting close to the stone walls is part of the package and one that most hotels or more modern castles cannot offer. There is luxury on offer, but it is understated and not necessarily obvious. This is an ideal Scottish castle for a group of up 10 friends for a self-catering break for a week or weekend. For more information, contact the Scotts Castle Holidays friendly sales team who will be delighted to assist further.
“The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.”
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
The daffodils are starting to poke their yellow petals up through the grass as we edge closer towards Spring, which means only one thing: February half-term is on the horizon.
Coming just a few weeks into the New Year, the February break from school provides a welcome opportunity to recharge those batteries after the long dark nights and storms of January, making it the perfect time to explore the glens and lochs that Scotland has to offer.
We’ve pulled together some of the most popular attractions and things to do in Scotland this half-term, so whether you’re looking for excitement, relaxation, education or culture there is something to help you create memories.
The Glasgow Science Centre is home to hundreds of interactive exhibits, designed to entertain curious minds, from the planetarium to the science mall.
The iconic Edinburgh Castle is open throughout half-term with loads for all the family to see and do. Be wowed by the Crown Jewels, experience the roar of the one o’clock gun, tour the great hall and royal palace, and see for yourself the stone vaults which for centuries were used as prisons of war.
One of the most photographed castles in the world, Eilean Donan is recognised all over the world as one of Scotland’s most iconic castles. The attraction opens every day from 10:00-18:00 and is a must-see feature of the Scottish Highlands.
With green woodlands, landscaped gardens and Robert Adam architecture, Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland is the jewel in the crown of the National Trust for Scotland. Discover its fascinating history as you explore its treasure-filled rooms and acres of grounds.
Scotland’s National Aquarium is home to hundreds of wild and wonderful sea creatures, as well as the underwater safari, where you and your family are plunged into a tunnel beneath the water on Europe’s longest moving walkway.
See what you can uncover about Scotland’s fascinating history at one of the country’s interactive museums.
The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh is packed with wonders of the natural world, as well as meteorites, machines and monsters, all designed to keep your family entertained and engaged.
Get up close and personal with Scottish wildlife and endangered animals from around the globe in this beautiful highland setting. Meet Scotland’s only polar bears, see the playful snow monkeys, and discover the majestic power of the tigers, wolves and wildcats. Open every day from 10:00-16:00.
Shortlisted in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards, this nature reserve is just 25 miles east of Edinburgh. Home to some of Scotland’s best wildlife, including the grey seal, bottlenose dolphin, peregrine falcon and whale, it’s offers the perfect way to experience its natural habitat.
Bring all five senses to life at this interactive, hands-on exhibition. Crawl through a giant nose, challenge the robots of RoboRealm and take a trip to another galaxy in the Planetarium. This 4-star attraction is great fun for the family, from little ones to big kids.
“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.” Dave Barry
And where better to do that than Scotland? If you’re looking for the thrill of a snowsports break, there’s no finer time than February half-term and Scotland’s five ski resorts offer plenty of dramatic scenery, challenging terrain and luxury accommodation.
We’ve chosen some of our fabulous properties within easy reach of the five main Scottish ski resorts:
Traditional shooting lodge near Glencoe (where Skyfall was filmed)
Make the most of this half-term by experiencing Scotland’s attractions, mountains, lochs and wildlife – Scotts Castle Holidays can help you find your dream holiday house at any time, whether you’re looking for skiing in Scotland in the February half-term, walking in the mountains in Spring or diving into the culture and excitement of Edinburgh in the Summer – speak to one of our friendly team today.
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