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 Scotland’s largest 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.
But no truly memorable vacation is complete without somewhere special to lay your heads 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 brand synonymous with hotel luxury designed around and for families. They offer programs, gear and gifts for babies right up to teenagers.
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Also called The Caledonian, the Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh recently underwent a 24 million-pound renovation. ‘The Caley,” as it is affectionately known among Edinburgh 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 the historic Edinburgh Castle and is just a two-minute walk from the designer stores 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 did pry yourself away from the three championship golf courses, spa, falconry, archery, equestrian and off-road vehicle courses, then you’d be well situated to explore some gorgeous scenery in the nearby Cairngorms National Park. It is not hard to see why this resort won the Conde Nast Best Family Hotel Award in 2014.
It never fails: Ask any kid what they most remember about their vacation and they’ll undoubtedly say the hotel pool. When the Scottish weather doesn’t cooperate for enjoying the beautiful scenery of Loch Lomond, Cameron House brings the fun inside with an amazing indoor pool and plenty of children’s activities, including a kids’ club. But guests still get that historic Scottish charm, as Cameron House is in an old loch-side mansion and is located within reach of both the Scottish lowlands and highlands.
The islands along the western coast of Scotland should be included in any nature lover’s Scottish itinerary. What better way to do that than by staying on your own island? The Isle of Eriska Hotel is just that: its own island near the picturesque coastal town of Oban. It also makes a great base to explore the remote Isle of Mull. Scottish Highland cattle graze on the grounds and gray seals swim in the waters that surround the island, yet activities like golf, sailing and shooting lessons can also be arranged.
Old Course Hotel is a 5-star property is situated right on St. Andrews’ famed golf course. St. Andrews itself is a gorgeous seaside/university town (where Prince William and Kate Middleton met), and the greater Fife area is also incredibly scenic and beautiful. The hotel offers a luxury kids’ program, which includes children’s professional golf lessons on the course for those interested. There are a variety of customized experiences in the area, such as beach kayaking, horse riding and coastal path biking and tours.
Near Pitlochry, which visitors often use as a base for visiting the Highlands, Fonab Castle has a stunning loch-side location. For anyone dreaming of staying in an authentic Scottish castle, this is one of the finest options you’ll find. 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 featuring 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 will be adventure aplenty beyond just the amazing view out the suite window.
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.
See the destinations, activities and hotels we love with kids >
Editor’s Note: All photos provided by the hotels unless otherwise noted.
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