FOR A ROMANTIC GETAWAY:
Neidpath Castle, Scottish Borders
Forget antler wall hangings and dark rooms, this small castle overlooking the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders has some of the best interiors on this list. There’s only one bedroom, so you’ll get the entire property to yourself during a romantic weekend away. The Mary Queen of Scots chamber – which she did indeed stay in – has a four-poster bed, a roll-top bath and an open fire. Downstairs, you’ll find a small kitchenette with fridge and provisions for a continental breakfast. Dinner can be cooked by a local private chef. After exploring the quaint nearby town of Peebles, return to the castle to hunker down in the cosy living area with its warm interiors and fire.
From £433 per night.
FOR AN ULTRA-LUXE TRIP:
Hilltop Manor, Perthshire
When you need to pull out all the stops, this ultra-luxe country home should be at the top of your list. Surrounded by nearly six acres of land, the manor overlooks Aberfeldy in Perthshire. The historic property, with its mountain views and impeccable design, sleeps up to 18 across nine double bedrooms. Look for charcoal tones, oil paintings, large open fireplaces and wood panelled walls. There’s a grand living area and dining room for group meals, a snug for relaxing in the evenings, and numerous outdoor areas for lounging or al fresco dining. There’s even a wood-fired hot tub tucked away in a meadow that overlooks the mountains.
Price available on request.
FOR A FOODIE WEEKEND:
Rowallan Castle, Ayrshire
Ayrshire in south-west Scotland has the best of both worlds: rolling country hills and miles of scenic coastline. This spacious castle near the village of Fenwick was built in the 12th century and has since been restored, with some original features intact. There are four bedrooms sleeping up to eight, alongside three modern bathrooms with luxury toiletries and fluffy bathrobes. Groups can cook meals in the kitchen, or ask the estate’s private chef to cook a special meal. You can also make the short walk to the Glasshouse Restaurant to enjoy dishes that highlight the region’s produce in a cosy and atmospherically lit dining room (castle guests receive a 10% discount on their bill). Any golfers in the group can play the estate’s championship course.
From £1,200 per night.
FOR A MURDER MYSTERY NIGHT:
Thirlestane Castle, Scottish Borders
On arrival, Thirlestane Castle might look like something out of a period drama, but its interiors have been carefully restored with tasteful pops of colour and antique furniture, resulting in a chic amalgamation of old and new. The castle has a few private apartments to rent, including the former private quarters of the 14th Earl and Countess of Lauderdale. Accessible via the castle’s grand sweeping staircases, the apartment sleeps up to six across three double bedrooms, each with views of the estate’s parkland. There’s a spacious living area with a grand chandelier, as well as a small kitchen for group meals. Guests can also hire one of the grand dining rooms for special occasions and events (think murder mystery nights), and try various county pursuits from deer stalking to shooting.
From £195 per room per night.
FOR A WALKING HOLIDAY:
Duchray Castle, Perthshire
Duchray is a pastel-coloured castle in the Queen Elizabeth Forest, just outside the small village of Aberfoyle in Perthshire. The 500-year-old property has been renovated to give it modern amenities and the sort of boutique interiors you’d expect at a cosy country hotel. Guests can stay in the main castle, which sleeps up to eight, or the adjoining West Wing which has two bedrooms. There’s also the option to stay at Duchray Lodge, which has two bedrooms and a shared family bathroom. Each space is bright and light, with working fireplaces and self-catering facilities. There are 80 acres of parkland, woods and rivers to explore, as well as hiking routes around nearby the mountains. After a long walk, guest can dry off in the heated boot room before cosying up beside the fire.
From £400 per night.
FOR THE VIEWS:
Craigard at Carrick Castle Estate, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
Within 19th-century Carrick Castle, Craigard is a six-bedroom property. It’s in the middle of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, with views over Loch Goil and out to the surrounding mountains, which look majestic year-round. Bedrooms have plush decorative accents, with modern en-suites offering free-standing baths or rainfall showers. Elsewhere on the estate, there’s loch access for wild swimming, an outdoor hot tub overlooking the water, and a BBQ area for summer evenings.
From £875 per night.
FOR A GROUP GETAWAY:
Turrets in the Trees, Highlands
A great alternative to Airbnb, Plum Guide has a wide selection of luxury holiday homes around the world. This grand 18th-century, seven-bedroom manor house is just 30 minutes from Inverness in the Highlands. The property has cosy country interiors with a wood-panelled living room where you can cosy up by the fire with a bottle of red. In the adjoining dining room, you can arrange to have a private chef prepare a three-course meal made with local ingredients, before settling down in one of the spacious rooms overlooking the grounds. Outside, you'll find farmland and lochs in every direction. River Alness is nearby, as are some of Scotland's best golf courses.
From £2,809 per night.