Natalie French

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The Scottish Highlands have it all: dramatic coastline, majestic mountains and captivating wildlife. Home to Britain’s Highest peak, Ben Nevis, and one of the most spectacular beaches in the world, Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris - it’s no surprise to hear it was named as one of the ‘Best of the World’ destinations for 2023 by National Geographic. When it comes to a place to rest your head, choose from five star hotels to croft cottages, all with loch or sea-views a plenty. 

Situated on a headland of Loch Ewe, Shore Croft was designed to take full advantage of the surrounding scenery with views to the Torridon mountains and out to sea; on a clear day you can spot the Outer Hebrides. Built overlooking the pebble beach, the one-acre garden – complete with firepit and secluded seating area - has direct access to Duncan’s Beach. Here you’ll spot an array of wildlife from seals and otters to dolphins and white-tailed eagles. If you can tear yourself away from the house, Gairloch is a mere 20 minutes away; the perfect base to explore Wester Ross, Torridon and beyond. 

Penned as an unadulterated luxury honeymoon hideaway for two, this little beauty was featured on Channel 4’s Extraordinary Escapes (chosen by Sandi Toksvig and Philippa Perry); it’s so popular it is already taking bookings for 2025. Outdoor hot tub, infrared sauna, Danish wood-burning stove and monsoon shower come as standard here. Swing in the Fatboy double hammock out on the decking or take a soak in the free-standing bath; his n hers decadent marble vanity unit offer private views over the forest and the secluded shores of Loch Nevis. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a stop at The Old Forge - mainland Britain’s remotest pub with yet more loch views - to sample the locally-brewed Knoydart real ales, single malts or a G&T.

This five-star retreat can be found on the leafy banks of the River Ness in the Scottish Highlands. As a 19th century Grade B listed house, there’s plenty of period features, paired with modern design. Just a 10-minute saunter to Inverness’ historic city centre, the hotel itself sits in its own tree-lined gated grounds, so peace is guaranteed. From the complimentary glass of chilled champagne to welcome you, to the exquisite bedrooms and suites, the warm and personal touch is second to none. With the wild Scottish Highlands on the doorstep, Ness Walk is a great place to start (or finish) the 516-mile North Coast 500 route; if you prefer to stay local there’s plenty of whisky distilleries on your doorstep. Fly into Inverness Airport with daily connections from Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and London or take the scenic railways from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond.

If you’re looking to escape the rat race, Mint Croft is here for it. These two beautifully restored, one-bedroom, crofters’ cottages – The Blackhouse and The Croft House - are located on the remote coastal village of Geary on the Isle of Skye. Stunning sea views come as standard from the Waternish peninsula overlooking Loch Snizort. Designed for couples, the cottages were named as one of ‘Britain’s Best Honeymoon Hideaways’ by British Vogue. Coastal walks and wildlife spotting will be high on your wish list, whilst foodies – especially seafood lovers - should book a table at Scotland’s most northerly Michelin starred restaurant, Loch Bay. 

This adult-only country house bed and breakfast is the ideal place to kick off a Scottish island hopping adventure, located just a 10 minute walk from Oban’s ferry terminal. Once the summer home of the Duke of Argyll (Chief of one of the most powerful (and infamous) Scottish clans: Campbell), the hotel has been beautifully restored; four new suites have roll-top baths, marble tiles and underfloor heating. Don’t miss fuelling up on a traditional full Scottish breakfast first – where locally sourced fayre is served to the backdrop of the stunning Oban Bay. Uninterrupted views can also be enjoyed from the terrace or lounge bar with your favourite tipple in hand; with over 100 whiskies on the menu, it could be a long night. 

Surrounded by grazing sheep, at the end of a private farm track, in one of Britain's most outstanding National Scenic Areas, you’ll find The Brochs of Coigach. These architectural gems take their name from Iron Age roundhouses; you’ll find several ruined remnants across the Highlands and Islands. Awarded the highest possible grading by the Scottish Tourist Board and by the Green Tourism Business Scheme, expect five star, high-end, boutique-style luxury with loads of natural light and killer views. Each window frames the uninterrupted views of the sea and the islands and mountains, beyond. Keep your eyes peeled for sea eagles, Minke whales, pods of bottlenose dolphins and seals. While inside, oil paintings by Scotland's top modern artist John Bellany hang on the walls. 

These cosy, mountain-style cabins are just a short drive from Fort William – home to the highest mountain in the British Isles - and offer sweeping views of Loch Lochy. You can wander down the pathways to the pebble beach on the loch shores. Enjoy a mix of rustic charm and luxury as you gaze out across the glens and evergreen forest, becoming even more stunning come winter in the snow. Beautifully furnished, each cabin has its own private outdoor patio and spacious living, dining and open kitchens; you can take your four-legged friend, too, with dog-friendly cabins available. Nip to The Whispering Pine Lodge to feast on fresh seafood with an Asian twist.  

This original Victorian Highland lodge is set within a whopping 26,000 acre estate in the West Highlands, making Shieldaig Lodge the ultimate hideaway. Escape here for some well-deserved R&R. Think: leather sofas, open fireplaces, roll-top baths and views across the shores of Gairloch, where you can watch boats come and go and seals frolicking on the waterside. Perfectly positioned for the North Coast 500, don’t miss the stunning and nail biting drive along the winding single track Bealch na Ba road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula – one of the most scenic drives in the world. Whisky lovers should make a beeline for the Liberator Bar – home to 250 award-winning whiskies, with a at least one from every post World War II distillery in Scotland. You can even create your own perfect blend of whisky, under the guidance of a whisky expert. 

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