The Instagram Guide to Scotland – Part 2*

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Yesterday I shared some of northern Scotland’s most instagrammable places to stay, and I’m back with even more! With hotels from Aberdeenshire right down to the Borders, you’re guaranteed a good time – and there’s never been a better time to book either. Many hotels and inns currently have incredible offers on, so whether you’re looking to enjoy a night, a week, or even longer, have a look through the options, and remember to always book direct!

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If a family reunion is on the cards, or if you’re just after a little extra privacy, a self-catering option might be best for you. Perfect Manors at Achnagairn is a seriously glamorous option. US ‘reality’ show The Bachelor even chose the property for it’s Scottish episodes! With the option to enjoy one of their gorgeous ‘mini manors’ or simply enjoy a guest room, you can lord it up for the whole of your stay! Bookings can be made here.

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The Old Manse of Blair is a must-stay if you’re adventuring in The Highlands. Situated in the heart of the Cairngorms, it’s close to Blair Castle and the House of Bruar – ideal if you’re looking to stock up on some country casuals! With incredible dining options, as well as uber chic rooms – you can even take some delicious souvenirs home with you from their own farm shop! Bookings can be made direct here.

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Right before winter fully kicked in, I was lucky enough to enjoy a stay at the stunning Luxury Hideaways in Perthshire. Two cabins tucked away in a quiet field, this is the spot to head for if you’re looking for a little luxury isolation. Enjoy a private hot tub, opulent picnic (which comes in your cabin) as well as the comfiest of beds in your own private pod. Divine! Bookings can be made directly here.

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If you’re in the mood for a bit of traditional luxury – you can’t fail with Edinburgh’s iconic Balmoral Hotel. With an address like 1 Princes Street – you can tell it’s a hotel at the heart of the city, and you can literally stroll straight off a train and into your room. We were lucky enough to enjoy an evening in one of their stunning Castle View Suites a few weeks before lockdown hit, and it was heavenly. Don’t miss an opulent breakfast in bed with views across to the castle! You can make your booking here.

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Lockdown has been a long few months – so if you’re planning an adults-only weekend, House of Gods should be your first port of call. Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Cow Gate, the hotel has a slick, Gucci wallpaper clad bar, and rooms inspired by the Orient Express. Incredibly glamorous, and filled with luxe accents, this is a hotel unlike any other. You can create your own rockstar-rider, or simply enjoy some in-room cocktails. Bliss! Bookings can be made here.

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If you’re based near Edinburgh, and looking to get some sea air – Dunbar is a fabulous choice. Close to some fabulous golfing and foodie spots, The Royal Mackintosh Hotel is right in the heart of town. With traditional, cosy interiors and bedrooms with stunning sea views, it’s the ideal spot to enjoy this summer. You can book direct here.

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I’m always surprised at how convenient it is to drive from Edinburgh to Peebles. About an hour, with roads running through the hills, you feel like you’re a million miles away, and you can’t find a more centrally-located hotel that The Tontine at the very heart of Peebles. Family run, with a history which dates back to the 1800s, The Tontine is a fabulous base to explore the stunning Scottish Borders, and their cosy rooms are adorable! You can book direct here.

 

The Luxe Guide to Scottish Staycations – Part 1 – The Instagram Guide to the Scottish Highlands*

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After nearly 100 days in lockdown, and countless cancelled plans, we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the channel. As of July 15th, Scottish hotels and restaurants are being allowed to welcome guests again, so the biggest question now, is where to go?

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We’re a bit spoiled here, with some absolutely incredible spots to enjoy, so I thought I would share some of my top picks for enjoying a little luxury after a rather stressful few months. I’ve made sure to pick a few options dotted around the country, with options which will suit all sorts of trips, from romantic to family, with everything in between!

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Starting at the top, you can find one of Scotland’s most luxurious hotels – Links House Dornoch. Overlooking the green at Royal Dornoch, this 15-room hotel is heaven for golf fans, but even if you’d rather spend the day relaxing, it’s still the place to go. The hotel are currently offering the ultimate Highland Staycation for those wanting to enjoy the very best that the country has to offer with their 48 Hours in the Highland package. Their new fine dining concept Mara looks absolutely dreamy too, with incredible seasonal produce sourced locally to the restaurant. You can book direct with the hotel here.

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One of my biggest to-dos in Scotland has to be exploring the NC500 as well as experiencing the country’s stunning West Coast beaches. With crystal clear waters and white sands, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d washed up somewhere exotic. The West Highland Hotel, perched in the quaint fishing village of Mallaig is perfect to base to enjoy the best of the West. With an absolutely stunning dining room, The Terrace, which enjoys views stretching across the water to Skye, The West Highland Hotel even has the option to book family rooms – perfect for that long overdue reunion. You can book direct here.

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If you’re looking for a hotel experience you’re not going to forget – The Garrison Hotel in Fort William is a must visit. Built on the site of the town’s former jail, cells have been transformed into snug rooms (some even have bunks), whilst if you’d prefer to enjoy a bit more space – guest rooms are a seriously stylish choice. Situated in the heart of town, this insta-friendly spot even has a stylish restaurant to enjoy. The Garrison Hotel is available to book direct here.

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Just before the madness of Christmas descended, we were treated to a dreamy stay at the Airds Hotel in Appin. A member of the Relais et Chateaux group, the hotel is beautifully cosy, and a perfect spot to escape to this summer. Driving to Appin from Edinburgh was glorious, and we meandered through mountains and passed by castles, we felt miles away from the every day. The meal we enjoyed in their restaurant was a real highlight of the winter, and above everything, the service we enjoyed here was incredible. You can book direct here.

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Fun fact: I was planning to spend my birthday weekend down in the heart of the Cotswolds, but lockdown got in the way – so you can imagine how happy I was to find out about The Taynuilt Inn – a Cotswolds inspired hotel nestled deep in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. I’m more than slightly obsessed with the quirky interiors, with antiques and art dotted around, and the in-house restaurant and bar has a menu filled with comforting classics. Rooms can be booked directly here.

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If you’re heading up to Aberdeenshire this summer, you’d do well to stop in to enjoy a stay at the historic Maryculter House. With links dating back to the Knights Templar, the hotel has beautiful, newly renovated bedrooms, dreamy en-suites and a menu of once-in-a-lifetime experiences to enjoy (seriously, they’re unbelievable), so it’s worth booking an extra night or two, to make sure you don’t miss out. Rooms are available to book directly here.

I’m working on Part 2 now – so stay tuned, as there are some incredible spots, you’re not going to want to miss!

The Insider’s Guide to Edinburgh*

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When it comes to visiting a city like Edinburgh, it’s all too easy to get distracted by the idea of tartan and castles, and miss out the capital’s real gems. From some of the country’s best hotels, to restaurants and even some of my favourite salons and spas – there’s always somewhere to add to your ‘must-visit’ list!

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First up, if you’re not a local, your first job is to find your favourite out of the many hotels in Edinburgh city centre. If you’re only staying a night or two, I’m always a fan of enjoying a little luxury, and Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel is one of the city’s finest. Originally built as a luxurious base for rail travellers, the hotel’s iconic clock keeps visitors and locals alike on time day and night, thanks to it being set 5 minutes fast so travellers don’t miss their trains (apart from New Year’s Eve when it’s bang on). The building’s exterior is absolutely glorious, and you can’t miss it when you’re exploring the city.

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With 187 rooms to choose from, guests can bring furry family along for the fun, as the hotel has a number of pet friendly options, and General Manager brings along his own dog, Lucy, who sometimes makes appearances in the Lobby.

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Not only does The Balmoral take the crown for Edinburgh’s most central location, but it might just be the foodiest spot to enjoy too! Home to Number One – which has held a Michelin Star for nearly 20 years, it’s a must-visit for those celebrating a special occasion (or who just fancy enjoying some top tier cuisine). If you’re after something a little more relaxed, Brasserie Prince is also a fantastic option, with fine French dishes served up daily.

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Just a short walk up to St Andrew Square, you’ll find my new favourite daytime spot – Lady Libertine. A spot with a bit of a split personality, during the day it feels like something out of Mad Men, with original dark wood panelling, sumptuous velvet booths and swathes of marble. They serve up some of the city’s best coffees, and it’s the perfect meeting spot, as you can sit and chat away for an hour or two without feeling too rushed or hurried. Once night hits, the space transforms into a bit of a speakeasy, with sharing plates to savour and a downstairs space which plays host to DJs on selected nights.

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Like most, I’m trying to incorporate a little more self-care into my weekly and monthly routines, which is where Zen Lifestyle comes in. With two locations in Edinburgh (Hanover Street is the most centrally located, whilst the Bruntsfield location is perfect for those exploring a little further out) Zen Lifestyle has become a bit of a go-to. Mixing relaxation with medical-grade treatments, a trip to Zen will leave you looking and feeling your very best. My most-booked treatment is the Diamondtome Facial – an incredibly effective exfoliation treatment which has absolutely transformed my skin in the year or so that I’ve been enjoying treatments. With no irritation or downtime, it’s perfect if you’ve got sensitive or reactive skin, but still want that natural glow. I love how easy it is to customise your treatments too – you can add massages or red-light therapy treatments onto facials, which leave you positively floating out the salon!

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If you’re in need of a bit of a nail-refresh when you’re visiting Edinburgh, Buff CS is a must-visit! Perched up on East Market Street, the salon is a converted railway arch, and it brings a whole lot of Skandi-cool to the capital. Whether you’re after detailed nail art, or a simple manicure, it’s the top spot to try.  I’ve been a regular for a good few years now, and I can’t believe the difference that having a regular manicure has made to my nails, not to mention that I’m in love with their curated selection of products – if you’re in the market for some very cool, hard to find L:A Bruket, this is the spot to pick it up.

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If you’re after a dose of culture during your trip, head to The Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood Palace. Smaller, and often quieter than the National Galleries (which are definitely worth a trip) it’s part of the Royal Collection, and often hosts some really marvellous exhibitions. Currently showing Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, which marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, you can often see less well known pieces, which is always such a thrill. The exhibitions change regularly, and include everything from old master paintings, rare furniture, decorative arts to photography.

The spending money used for this post was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

A Night at Luxury Hideaways, Perthshire*

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To say this month has been hectic is a bit of an understatement. I feel like I’ve been chasing my tail, so when the opportunity came up to enjoy an evening of ‘glamping’, I positively jumped at the chance.

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A night spent in luxury in the heart of Perthshire sounds like the definition of dreamy, and Luxury Hideaways have positively surpassed all expectations. A duo of luxe pods specially-designed by owner Angus, offer guests the chance to switch off and unwind in secluded luxury.

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Each comes equipped with a private terrace and hot tub where you can enjoy views stretching out over the countryside during the day, or simply relax under the stars at night.

As with everything at Luxury Hideaways, the hot tub is the height of technology – it bubbled up at the touch of a button, and you could change the colours of the lights in the water depending on your mood.

Tucked inside are the biggest, fluffiest robes and towels, you can imagine – perfect for warming up after a soak, they were exactly what was needed to warm up after a dip in the tub!

As if the outside out the pods wasn’t impressive enough, the magic really begins inside the pod. A specially adapted Armadilla pod, it’s impressively roomy, with an over-sized, super-king bed, ensuite, television and even a little living area complete with very generous hamper to enjoy!

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Controlled by a wall-mounted screen, you can control everything from the pod’s lighting, temperature to music at the touch of a finger. As you can imagine, I had a lot of fun playing with the controls!

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You can transform the interior with the coloured lights, and depending on your mood, you can lay back under pink, purple, blue, green or even golden lights.

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After I’d indulged in fiddling about the control panel it was time to unpack a little. Rather surprisingly, the pods feel super roomy, even with two people pottering about.

Rather stupidly, we’d headed out for supper prior to checking in, but we needn’t have bothered. Guests are treated to a luxury hamper filled with the finest Scottish produce, which makes up the most indulgent picnic and breakfast. There’s even an icy-cold bottle of Prosecco in the fridge – perfect to enjoy in the hot tub!

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We absolutely loved the local touches – on the bed was a box of the loveliest chocolates from Iain Burnett The Highland Chocolatier, who are located in nearby Grandtully. The box featured a number of the brand’s iconic truffles – an indulgent treat to end the week with!

Once we were finished exploring, it was time to kick-back and relax. Each pod has an absolute dream of a floating super-king bed. Kitted out with crisp linens from The White Company – it was perfect for snuggling into – especially with the great range of magazines provided.

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The absolute joy of a break spent in the Luxury Hideaway Pod is the sheer amount of privacy you get to enjoy, as well as the comfy surrounding you find yourself in.

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The attention to detail throughout the whole experience was second-to-none. From being personally greeted from Angus when we arrived, and shown all the features our pod had to offer, to getting to enjoy all that was included in the pod – the night away was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries.

With new developments planned to open in Appin, Turnberry, and Delamere Forest in the coming months, a few nights enjoyed in a Luxury Hideaways UK pod is the perfect way to unwind, and Christmas is coming up, so why not treat a loved one to a gift you can enjoy too!?!

Thank you so much to Luxury Hideaways UK for hosting us – you can find out more and book directly here.

ad| The Affordable Guide to a Luxury Day Out in Edinburgh

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photo via Pinterest

When it comes to enjoying a city break, a trip to Edinburgh can be surprisingly affordable. There are a huge number of airBnbs and luxe hotels to stay in, meaning you can usually find a decent overnight rate (providing it’s not the festival), but even if you’re  only hitting the city for a day out, there’s a whole range of spots you’re going to want to visit (and they won’t break the bank!)

 

If you’re planning a day out in Edinburgh, I always recommend starting your visit at Harvey Nichols’ Forth Floor Brasserie for breakfast. Not only is it a perfect spot to people-watch, but the views over St. Andrew Square are pretty unparalleled. You’ll be able to enjoy a clear view up to Edinburgh Castle, and if it’s clear enough, you can see over the water to Fife.

Once you’re suitably fuelled for your day out – why not head down the stunning National Portrait Gallery. I just love the Victorian Gothic building, and the collection is incredible. There’s no entrance fee to visit (although temporary exhibitions can be charged) and it’s easy to lose a few hours savouring the numerous galleries.

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Feeling thirsty after a morning of culture? Then head along George Street to one of my favourite spots – 127. An instagrammer’s dream, this cafe couples slick interiors with great coffee, and if I need to have a meeting in Edinburgh, this is where I usually suggest. Grab an iced latte or hot chocolate and plan your next stop!

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I don’t think you can head to Edinburgh and not visit a royal residence. Obviously, the most popular spot people head to is Edinburgh Castle, but if you venture into Old Town, a trip to Holyrood Palace is always great fun. You can tell if a member of the Royal Family are in residence if the flag is flying at full mast, but even if you don’t bump into one of them, it’s a great trip. Unlike the castle, Holyrood Palace is furnished, and has hundreds of exhibits to look at, and some of it’s history is wonderfully vivid – look for a ghostly bloodstain left by a murdered lover of Mary Queen of Scots – David Rizzio, as well as numerous letters written by the various kings and queens. It’s a fascinating way to spend a few hours, and if you’ve still got some time to spare, I’d head to the Queen’s Gallery, which hosts a fascinating selection of exhibitions each year.

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Feeling peckish after all that? Then one of my favourite affordable spots for dinner has to be Dough Pizzeria. With two locations, I usually head to the Rose Street shop, which features a few tiny tables and a huge flaming pizza oven. You can order your pizzas online in advance, so they’re ready and waiting for your arrival. Head for the outside benches to sit under Rose Street’s fairy lights for a delicious end to an affordable day out in Edinburgh.

If you’re looking for more ideas for what to do during your trip to Edinburgh, why not check out Megabus’ fantastic guide here.

Thank you to Megabus for sponsoring this post.

 

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