Scotland is such an appealing family destination because it marries two highly sought-after experiences in one trip: city and country. Not only is Edinburgh the capital city, but it is a total gem. There’s no other city in Europe quite like it, with its history, iconic castle and even a volcano you can hike up. And if families are looking for absolutely spectacular, take-your-breath-away scenery, the Scottish countryside will not disappoint.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in bookings in Scotland recently, as it really offers everything for families,” says Ciao Bambino travel advisor Brendan Considine. “Scotland is often not seen as a luxury travel destination, like London or Paris, but I can assure you that we are able to offer families exclusive travel experiences not readily available to the masses. Scotland has some of the most unique properties in the world.” As a Scot himself, Brendan would know!
No truly memorable vacation is complete without somewhere special to lay your head each night. Here are our recommendations for the best of the best luxury hotels in Scotland for families.
Have a Harry Potter fan in the family? A stay at The Balmoral in Edinburgh is a must. J.K. Rowling wrote the last book in the series while staying here. Beyond that, it is one of the most iconic buildings in the city, with its enormous clock tower looming large over Princes Street Gardens and the Royal Mile. The Balmoral is a Rocco Forte property, a hotel brand synonymous with luxury designed for families and offering programs, gear and gifts for babies right up to teenagers.
Also called The Caledonian, the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh recently underwent a £24 million renovation. ‘The Caley,” as it is affectionately known among locals, has embodied the very best in Scottish hospitality for more than a hundred years. Situated at the west end of Princes Street (which runs parallel to the Royal Mile), this former Victorian railway hotel nestles in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and is just a two-minute walk from the designer shops and fashionable bars and restaurants of George Street. Many rooms offer castle views.
No resort in Scotland can top Gleneagles in terms of the array of activities and amenities offered onsite. You could stay here for a week and still not do it all. If you do pry yourself away from the three championship golf courses, spa, falconry, archery, equestrian and off-road vehicle courses, you’ll be well-situated to explore the gorgeous scenery of nearby Cairngorms National Park. It is not hard to see why this resort consistently wins luxury and family travel awards.
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Cameron House is the perfect home base for exploring Scotland’s Loch Lomond, and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery while still offering kids plenty to keep them busy. Guests rave about their stays at this loch-side property, convenient to the Highlands as well as the Lowlands. We love that it is easily accessible from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, so it works well for a few nights no matter what your Scotland itinerary looks like. Its indoor activities also stand out, including a pool and cinema — handy when that rainy Scottish weather rolls across the lake.
The islands along the western coast of Scotland should be included in any nature lover’s Scottish itinerary. What better way to explore than by staying on an isle of your own? Isle of Eriska Hotel is just that: a private island near the picturesque coastal town of Oban. It also makes a great base to explore the more remote Isle of Mull. Scottish Highland cattle graze on the grounds and gray seals swim in the waters that surround the island; activities like golf, sailing and shooting lessons can also be arranged.
Near Pitlochry, which visitors often use as a base for visiting the Highlands, Fonab Castle has a stunning location on the banks of Loch Faskally. Its original 19th-century structure, which has the feel of a grand manor house, adjoins a contemporary wing whose glass panels showcase the scenery in spectacular fashion. A variety of activities are available in the immediate area, including adventure academy experiences, Land Rover tours and Scottish safaris.
Period properties aren’t often noted for their spacious suites, but Glencoe House is the exception. This stately mansion, dating back to 1896, was designed by the same architect who designed the Royal Family’s Scottish country estate (also called Balmoral). Families who love fine dining but find it challenging with children will love that five-course meals are served in the private dining room of your suite, not in a restaurant. Glencoe itself is one of the most scenic areas of the Highlands, so there are adventures aplenty beyond the amazing view out the suite window.
This property has so much to offer visitors: two-Michelin-star dining, outdoor activities galore and beautiful countryside views. Besides, haven’t we all wanted to stay in a real Scottish castle? Inverlochy Castle is well situated for exploring some of Scotland’s most impressive sites, such as Ben Nevis, Fort William and a ride on the Hogwarts Express. The Isle of Skye is within day-trip distance as well.
Devotees of Scottish history will be familiar with Culloden Battlefield, site of the final Jacobite Rising in 1746, and Culloden House was the headquarters and lodging of their leader Bonnie Prince Charlie. Because it is just minutes from Inverness and Loch Ness, it’s the perfect place to stay for those hoping to catch Nessie in action. There are plenty of other sights to see in the area, but many guests choose to spend their stay romping around the hotel’s surrounding 40 acres and enjoying the incredible hospitality of the staff.
One word for this hotel: majestic. For lovers of the outdoors, The Torridon is truly bucket list-worthy, with its 58 acres, loch and mountain scenery, plus activities ranging from sea kayaking to gorge scrambling to archery. Unlike many large resorts, it has an end-of-the-world feel to it, and many come to Scotland seeking out just this type of private, serene oasis.
Should you fancy something even more exclusive, reach out to our team.
“At Ciao Bambino we can offer entire estate stays; the opportunity to be flown to Scotland’s remote spots; unique Michelin-star dining events; and stays at five-star properties with incredible views. What sets us apart is how easily we are able to coordinate this for big, small and multi-gen families,” Brendan says.
Scotland is a country where vacation dreams come true — and these properties make for spectacular places to have those sweet dreams each evening, as well as lots of fun during the day.
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Editor’s Note: All photos courtesy of the hotels unless otherwise noted.
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Loved taking my kids to Scotland when they were very young and looking forward to taking them now as adults. Can’t wait to go to Cameron House!