The 11 coolest hotels
Everyone loves a touch of luxury and there are plenty of hotels around Scotland that can offer you that ... and more. From hotels with great views to ones on a private island, from quirky to those with a slice of history, here are 11 that will make your s
Portree, Isle of Skye
BUILT in 1810 by Lord MacDonald of Sleat and once surrounded by orange trees – hence the hotel’s name – Marmalade is a 10-minute walk from Portree harbour and offers fine views over Portree Bay and to the Cuillins beyond. But if the exterior is resolutely Georgian, the interior is 21st century to the max – the 11 rooms have a chic, pared-back Scandinavian feel and a colour palette of mustard and grey. As the name suggests, the hotel’s Chargrill Restaurant specialises in grilled steak and seafood and there’s an emphasis on locally-grown and locally-sourced produce. That ethos extends beyond the dining room: many of the hotel textiles, such as the throws that cover the beds, are made by local company Skye Weavers on their bicycle-powered looms. How cool is that?
BUILT in 1963 by the Scotstoun-based Blythswood yard, the Leith-registered MV Fingal spent most of its working life as a Northern Lighthouse Board ship working out of Oban and Stromness. And now that it has been returned to Leith and berthed near to the Royal Yacht Britannia (whose parent company owns it) it’s seeing out its days as … a luxury hotel of course, what else? Each cabin is named after a Stevenson lighthouse but there’s more than a touch of old-style ocean liner luxury to the rooms. As if that wasn’t the perfect excuse to unleash your inner Bing Crosby or Ginger Rogers there’s also a magnificent ballroom with a sweeping staircase. Just one snag, though: after a delay in gaining the green light from the capital’s planning panjandrums, the hotel won’t now open until January.
3Isle of Eriska
WHO hasn’t wanted to live on their own private island? At the Isle of Eriska Hotel you can, if only for a few nights – covering 300 acres it’s located at the mouth of Loch Creran, 12 miles north of Oban, and offers fine views over Loch Linnhe and the Morvern mountains beyond. There are 16 bedrooms in the main house, built by acclaimed Scottish architect Hippolyte Blanc in 1884 for a branch of the Stewarts of Appin, as well as five spa suites in the garden, two cottages and six “hilltop reserves” complete with hot tubs and balconies. The sumptuous dining room specialises in game and seafood and there’s a cornucopia of spa treatments on offer as well as a 17-metre swimming pool, a sauna, a steam room, a whirlpool bath and a gym. And if you’re the time-poor, cash-rich sort that takes leisure seriously and isn’t prepared to waste time travelling, the hotel can accommodate helicopters and sea planes. Tides permitting, of course.
DESIGNED by the late Edinburgh-born architect
Bob Fitzgerald, this chic city centre hotel was inspired by the simplicity and famously clean lines of Germany’s Bauhaus art school. The homage even extends to the names of the rooms – here you can stay in suites named after Walter Gropius (the Bauhaus founder) and Wassily Kandinsky (who taught there), as well as other early 20th century design luminaries such as husbandand-wife team Charles and Ray Eames, of Eames chair fame. Art history lessons aside, there’s a bar serving cocktails and afternoon tea, though the hotel kitchen serves only breakfast. For anything else you’ll have to hit the streets, but the hotel’s central location means you’re spoiled for choice.
5Blythswood Square Glasgow
IT’S not unusual for the stars to stay in Glasgow’s only five-star hotel when in the city, with Sir Tom Jones a recent guest. The seven-storey hotel now has a luxury two-bedroom penthouse apartment, complete with private lift, wet room, dining room and
roof garden. For a real taste of how the other half live, you can even avail yourself of the services of a private chef and butler. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the £2,500 tag, however, the hotel – once townhouses owned by the city’s wealthy merchants – has more than 100 bedrooms (without private staff). After sipping a cocktail or two in the elegant Salon, guests can treat themselves in the spa, or even get a haircut with a barber shop and beauty salon on site.
BUILT in 1901 in the Arts and Craft style by the celebrated Edwardian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and used as a country house by several well-heeled owners, among them the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton and ScottishAmerican socialite Evelyn Forbes, Greywalls also served as a military hospital during the second world war. It wasn’t until 1948 that it became a hotel, by which point it had been added to by another famous architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, and had had a garden laid out by the inestimable Gertrude Jekyll. She also designed the amazing garden overlooking Lindisfarne Castle on Lindisfarne, another Lutyens project. It’s no surprise, then, that today Greywalls is a Category A-listed building with prices to match. Handy for the adjacent Muirfield golf course and renowned for its restaurant (Chez Roux, run by the famous haute cuisine dynasty) it’s easily one of Scotland’s coolest hotels. King Edward VII, Barbra Streisand and Brigitte Bardot certainly thought so: they’re just a few of the celebrities who have stayed there.
7Monachyle Mhor Lochearnhead
FANCY ditching the traditional hotel room and staying instead in a 1950s Pilot Panther showman’s wagon? Or how about the old waiting room from the Port Appin to Isle of Lismore ferry, renovated and repurposed and turned into a cosy double located next to a chic bothy with a wood-burning stove designed by two architecture students? Trip along to Monachyle Mhor and you can lay your head in these and other dwellings, each as cool and quirky as the rest. There are six “feature” rooms, six courtyard rooms, and four whitewashed and coolly spartan farmhouse rooms. The hip factor doesn’t stop there, either. The award-winning restaurant uses locallysourced (and even hand-foraged) produce and the Lewis family who own Monachyle Mhor also have their own bakery turning out that artisan sourdough we’re all so fond of these days.
LOCATED just off George Square in a converted print works and boasting 104 rooms, Z Glasgow is one of a group of similarly-named hotels with several branches in London (including one in uber-cool Shoreditch) as well as in Liverpool and Bath. Z Glasgow’s mission statement makes clear it’s aimed unashamedly at what it calls “urbanites” rather than tourists, and truth to tell the rooms aren’t massive. Then again, urbanites don’t visit Glasgow to sit around watching Cash In The Attic – they go there to shop, visit top cultural destinations such as the nearby Gallery Of Modern Art and to sample the legendary nightlife. They tend to eat out as well, so Z Glasgow dispenses with room service and provides Z Café instead, offering breakfasts, light lunches and pre-theatre drinks.
9Crossbasket Castle Blantyre
FORMERLY a Barnardo’s home, an educational college, a centre for a Pentacostal ministry and at one time the residence of Charles Macintosh of raincoat fame, this grand old building was restored in 2011 and now boasts a Roux Brothers restaurant (all the better for being located in a dining room decorated with gold leaf) and bills itself as one of Scotland’s most luxurious hotels. Few who visit would argue. Prime among the palatial suites is one with its own tower, though you can also choose to stay in the less grand Gate Lodge. The grounds, meanwhile, contain riverside nature walks and there’s even a waterfall though if you want to venture further afield, you can arrange to have a Range Rover delivered direct to the hotel. They’ll even lay on a helicopter if you need one.
10Corsewall Lighthouse Dumfries and Galloway LOCATED in the northern Rhinns of Galloway and still a working lighthouse, Corsewall offers a varied selection of suites and rooms both in the main building itself and in adjacent buildings. Built in 1815 and now A-listed, it offers views of the Kintyre peninsula, Ailsa Craig and, on a clear day, the coast of Ireland. It’s ideal for golfers (there are two local courses nearby and Turnberry isn’t too far away) as well as birdwatchers and walkers drawn by the rugged coastline. And, of course, it will appeal to lighthouse nerds: at night you can see the beams of several Scottish and Irish lighthouses and both Mull of Galloway and Killantringan light houses are a short drive away. The restaurant is small but comfortable and typical dishes include Galloway pork fillet, smoked chicken, Scotch beef and roast monkfish.
SITED in a grand Georgian building on George Street in Edinburgh’s New Town, this boutique hotel is one of the capital’s liveliest upmarket spots – expect to find footballers partying in the bar alongside the hip visitors and well-heeled locals. It has a 100-strong cocktail menu overseen by an award-winning “mixologist” and next door in the restaurant you can take afternoon tea or sample a menu that runs from the comforting (burger with smoked cheddar and fries, anyone?) to the indulgent (a 500g Scottish rump steak to share – or not, if you’re super hungry). Upstairs, the rooms are coolly elegant, though if it’s character you want head for The Black Room. Located at the top of the building it has walls the colour of ebony and one of those 1960s-style wicker “egg chairs” suspended from the ceiling by a chain.
The stylish Isle of Eriska hotel, left, north of Oban, offers fine views over Loch Linnhe and the Morvern mountains; Blythswood Square, below left, is Glasgow’s only five-star hotel; Corewall lighthouse in the Rhinns of Galloway, bottom left, is still a working facility and offers views all the way to Ireland; Marmalade, on Skye, below right, was built more than 200 years ago; while Tigerlily in Edinburgh, bottom right, is one of the capital’s liveliest upmarket venues and can offer more than 100 cocktails