Your guide to Scotland’s newest luxury escapes

·3-min read
 (Corbis via Getty Images)
(Corbis via Getty Images)

There was a wonderful moment a few years back at a kilt-makerin Inverurie when Prince Charles took the cup and saucer offered to him — likely a brew of the put-hairs-on-your-chest Scottish blend black tea than a second-flush Darjeeling from Fortnums — and topped it up with a dram of whisky. It seemed fitting for a man with such strong links to the UK’s northernmost country. The royal family has always adored Scotland, with its wild, craggy landscape, stark, icy-bright beaches and madly remote islands where Atlantic puffins, kittiwakes and razorbills outnumber humans thousands to one. The steadfast tradition here must also be part of the draw but King Charles and Queen Camilla are quick to embrace change, too. Last month they popped to Ballater, just down the road from Balmoral, to check out Fish Shop, their rather glam new local, sister to the much shouted-about Fife Arms hotel in nearby Braemar. Here they can pick up cod and chips taken to the next level. Scotland is fixing up and looking sharp.


East Neuk is where savvy Edinburgh weekenders head on a Friday night. The pretty fishing villages and wide-screen Firth of Forth views north-east of the capital have always been a hit but recently this stretch of Fife coastline has evolved into a foodie hub that’s gathering much wider attention. Bed down in the snappily designed cottages at Banchory Farm, from where it’s a 50-minute waterside drive to the action. Book ahead for a lunch table at The Kinneuchar Inn with its revved-up, local-produce-leaning menu that’s anything but pub grub. A Michelin star can be found in Anstruther at The Cellar, after which you can refuel with a smooth flat white from Baern Café. For a longer-lasting take-home treat, track down Falmouth College of Art grad Bjørn Rune Lie, who creates stylised colour-pop, watercolour prints of East Neuk’s crow-stepped gable houses.


The capital’s grand old Balmoral hotel has long been top dog in terms of where to stay. But Edinburgh’s newest opening, the heel-clicking Gleneagles Townhouse, from the team behind the mothership behemoth in Auchterarder, Perthshire, is the one to book now. With a whip-smart address on St Andrew Square and a flurry of plumped cushions and fringe-edged sofas, it has more than a whiff of a certain Berkeley Square club in London. Hotspot-of-the-moment goes to Bard in Leith, the curator supremos Hugo Macdonald and James Stevens’ part shop, part gallery, part crafts movement that champions the country’s best designers and makers. It features those resurrecting historic methods (spot the farmers’ milking stools carved in Shetland) but also those exploring more modern innovation, such as 3D-printed vases made from recycled and bio plastics.


On the west coast of Argyll and Bute, this is the longest of the sea lochs in Scotland. It’s that kind of easily accessible wilderness, less than two hours from Glasgow but with a raw edge that makes it feel much further. A lot of noise, justifiably, has been made about the excellent Inver with its earthy, rooted menu of delights (razor clam with rhubarb, oyster soused in sea buckthorn) as well as the neat shepherds huts and crisply contemporary bothies in which to stay the night. Further north, the Friday night pop-ups at Ardkinglas Estate are a little less buttoned-up but no less delicious. Chef William Hamer mainlines the thrill of cooking over fire with his newly launched Wild Kabn Kitchen supper clubs, where the five courses might showcase langoustines straight out of the loch and ember-baked vegetables plucked from the walled garden.

Issy von Simson is the Editor of Loupe, sign up to the newsletter here.