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10 Scottish staycations for foodies

Published: September 1, 2020 at 8:42 am

From a whisky bar with rooms on the banks of the River Spey to beachfront barbecues at an Elie inn and ethically culled wild venison at a Highlands wilderness reserve, we’ve found the best foodie sleepovers in Scotland

Looking for Scottish holidays? Want to find foodie holiday cottages in Scotland? How about hotels in Scotland for food-lovers? Read about our staycation ideas below.


Scottish holidays for foodies

Glamping and gin, Cairngorms

Inshriach is a 200-acre mini Highland estate in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. It’s home to a rustic gin distillery where owner Walter Micklethwait concocts small-batch Speyside gins in an award-winning shed (Channel 4's Shed of the Year, 2015). The estate's elegant country house is perfect for a large family gathering (sleeping up to 18, with or without a chef), but for a back-to-nature experience there's a cluster of quirky glamping options peppered throughout the tangled woodland. The four off-grid beds for two include a yurt hunkered into the hillside with views over the River Spey to the mountains beyond. The bonkers Beer Moth is a converted 1950s fire truck, now kitted out with a Victorian double bed and wood burner. The quaint shepherd's hut is old-school romantic and cradled by juniper bushes (the key ingredient in gin – most of the botanicals are foraged from the estate), but for those who want something a little more contemporary, there's the Bothy Project, partly funded by the Royal Scottish Academy, and an artists' residence for half the year with a bare-bones bush shower and compost loo.*


Gin_bothy project

Gourmet hotel and cookery school, Perthshire

The story began with an escape to the country. Ex-banker-turned-chef Chris Rowley and his wife Rachel dabbled with the supper club concept in Edinburgh before taking the plunge and moving to rural Perthshire. Their first venture, Ballintaggart Farm – a rustic restaurant with rooms and cookery school – was an instant hit. It's no longer a working farm, but much of the produce is grown in the kitchen garden and orchard. Alongside cookery classes, they also run five-course seasonal feasts that showcase the local larder. Then, in 2018, the duo turned a once-tired Victorian hotel, The Grandtully, into a sleek gourmet getaway with Chris's brother and bar impresario Andrew, who mixes negronis in the wood-panelled bar. In the restaurant, the daily changing menu features small plates such as Murthly Estate venison carpaccio, fermented salsify and rocket, while more filling dishes include Loch Etive sea trout, sea kale and lemon aioli.*

According to its website, Ballintaggart Farm is “working hard to put in place additional hygiene, spacing and operational changes to ensure the safety of our team and guests as we continue to adapt and return to a new normal.”


Ballintaggart Farm

Beach barbecue, Fife

You can flip flop from your room to the sand in seconds at The Ship Inn in the seaside village of Elie. The wee Kingdom of Fife, just a pebble's throw from Edinburgh, is famously foodie. Curving around the coast there's legendary fish and chips in Anstruther; the poshest farm shop in Scotland in St Andrews, complete with café, steak barn and butchery classes; and just inland, Fife's latest gourmet hotspot, Kinneuchar Inn. The Ship, meanwhile, is well-known for its beach cricket during the summer season and barbecues in the beachfront beer garden. As well as its signature burgers in a brioche bun and Belhaven Best battered haddock and chunky chips, the seasonal menu champions local shellfish and seafood.*

According to its website, The Ship Inn is “very excited to welcome guests back and has been working hard on new protocols [to keep] you all safe”. For more information, visit its COVID-19 page.


The Ship Inn Fife

Gastronomic pitstop, Loch Fyne

Inver, an award-winning outpost on the shores of Loch Fyne, is the ultimate west coast pilgrimage for foodies. After stints at Noma and Fäviken, chef Pam Brunton and partner Rob Latimer took a punt that Scotland was ready for their version of ‘new Nordic’ cuisine. Inver is a visionary restaurant in an old whitewashed croft house, where traditional Caledonian dishes are reimagined and elevated not just to another level, but a whole new stratosphere. Using local wild and farmed ingredients, innovative dishes include smoked cod’s roe, green gooseberry and pink beetroot, alongside chilled courgette and smoked almond soup with rosemary honey. You can also expect home-baked sourdough bread and cultured butter, which you can buy at Inver’s shop along with homemade preserves and beer brewed with help from Fyne Ales. If you’re staying over, splash out on one of the luxury bothies. Breakfast delivered to your door in a wicker basket is a gourmet treat, with homemade bircher muesli or granola, fruit compote and yogurt, freshly baked pastries and bread, eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice.*

According to Inver’s website, “In the wake of the COVID-19 disruption, to try and manage our limited staff’s time fairly, we’ve had to adapt our public restaurant opening times. Please check our restaurant page for up to date service times.”


Inver Scotland

Foraging, Galloway

Galloway Wild Food's mycophile and wild food guru Mark Williams takes guests on a three-hour tramp through the woods in search of ceps and chanterelles, as well as edible roots and shoots from the forest floor. He also offers coastal and hedgerow foraging, and three-day sea kayaking wild food adventures off the west coast. Based in Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, the natural larder here is overflowing with the likes of reedmace and wild radish, samphire and sweet cicely. Accommodation tips on the website include nearby glamping spots, local inns and guesthouses such as the recently renovated Woodlyn b&b in the village.*

Woodlyn Guesthouse has been accredited with the VisitScotland ‘Good to Go’ industry standard mark

gallowaywildfoods.com; woodlyn-guesthouse.co.uk

Galloway foraging

A road trip along the Malt Whisky Trail

Take a stunning road trip along Speyside's Malt Whisky Trail, which winds its way from Morayshire's coast through undulating hills peppered with more than 50 distilleries. The trail links nine of the distilleries, including Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet (stop off for tours and tastings) and the Speyside Cooperage, which makes whisky barrels. A perfect pitstop along the way is the village of Aberlour on the banks of the River Spey, home to the Aberlour distillery, Walkers Shortbread, and the Mash Tun – a whisky bar with rooms. Expect more than 100 single malts and blends, including the exclusive Glenfarclas Family Casks, a collection of 52 single cask whiskies, one for each consecutive year from 1952 to 2003. The price of a dram? From £3.50 to a wallet-busting £1,500. After a nightcap, stumble up to bed in one of the distillery-themed rooms (the Glenlivet Room has sweeping views over the River Spey and a romantic roll-top tub).*

According to its website, the Mash Tun is “following all the Scottish Government guidelines to ensure the safety of both our customers and our staff whilst ensuring that you receive the same high standard of service”.

maltwhiskytrail.com; mashtun-aberlour.com

Mashtun scotland

Farm stay and no-dig organic vegetable growing workshop, Perthshire

Guardswell Farm's 150 acres of grassland cradles a rural getaway where you can switch off, soak up the silence and learn about the land. The family-run enterprise offers an eclectic range of courses and foodie events throughout the year, from spoon carving to no-dig organic vegetable growing with pioneering horticulturalist Charles Dowding. Sleep in the Pinterest-pretty clutch of cabins, cottages or farmhouse (sleeps 10) scattered across the farm, including The Pendicle – a larch-clad bolthole with a wildflower-sown roof, wood-burning stove, fire pit and jaw-dropping views from the decking over a field of Hebridean sheep. Or opt for The Infield, an off-grid hilltop hideaway with a stargazing window above the bed.*

According to its website, Guardswell Farm “will be strictly working to recommended hygiene protocol – however, please be aware that there may be some changes to how we welcome/operate, as we move to a low-touch system with some self check-in”.



Champagne picnics and a farmhouse for foodies, Cairngorms

At the end of a private road through the forest on the Rothiemurchus Estate, Achnahatnich House is an off-the-beaten-track hideaway in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Built in 1900 and once home to tenant farmers, this tastefully renovated three-bedroom house now has a Scandi-chic vibe, its white wood-panelling and soft dove grey palette offset by the odd splash of mustard and Delftware blue. The large open-plan kitchen is the perfect place to whip up a feast, but if you don't fancy cooking you can pre-order a range of freshly cooked meals to be stocked in the fridge (a whole week's worth if you like) from the Rothiemurchus farm shop, made with produce from the estate – think hearty beef stroganoff and venison casserole. You'll also find a complimentary welcome hamper stocked with food from the farm shop and, if you're feeling adventurous, you can book a range of food-focused activities, from champagne picnics by the river to foraging and cooking experiences.*

Achnahatnich House has been accredited with the VisitScotland ‘Good to Go’ industry standard mark


Cairngorms National Park

Gin-tasting experience, Edinburgh

Edinburgh has a long history of distilling, dating back to the first gin craze in the 1700s. Dutch ‘genever’ was imported through the port of Leith and the city soon had a taste for the juniper-based spirit. Today, Edinburgh Gin has two distilleries in the capital. One in the old biscuit factory in Leith, the other hidden beneath the pavement in Edinburgh's West End. You can take a tour and tasting here, meeting the makers and the two custom-made copper stills (Flora and Caledonia), learning about the history, production and different botanicals. Then wind your way back to boutique hotel, The Dunstane Houses, for more gin-fuelled experiences. In the Ba' Bar (the Orkney-born owners named the bar after the Orcadian football game) you can sign up for Scottish gin-tasting, Edinburgh gin-tasting, or Orkney gin-tasting – or just relax with a signature cocktail, such as the Dunstane '98: Brockmans gin, cherry bitters and champagne.*

According to its website, Dunstane Houses has “worked closely with the local authorities in order to apply their safety guidelines and, following expert advice, we at The Dunstane Houses have developed and implemented our own safety programme”. For more information, visit thedunstane.com.

edinburghgin.com; thedunstane.com

Ediburgh gin

Sutherland staycation with a chef

Sumptuous seclusion on a wilderness reserve in the Scottish Highlands is the ultimate staycation. And it comes with a chef. You can seek shelter at Alladale in Sutherland, and never leave the pewter-tinged lochs, brooding glens and heather-sprung moorland of the 23,000-acre estate. There are three lodges sleeping between four and 14. Two cottages – Ghillie's Rest (sleeps four) and Eagle's Crag (sleeps 10) – are kitted out with well-stocked kitchens and freshly prepared meals ready to cook. Breakfast kits feature ready-to-pour pancake mix, all the ingredients for a full Scottish, fruit, granola and yogurt. Alladale Lodge's chef, Natasha Buttigieg, whips up gourmet meals using organic produce from the vegetable beds and state-of-the-art aquaponics garden (the three large greenhouses powered by the estate's hydro-generator ensure zero-waste and zero emissions), along with ethically culled wild venison, local game and trout.*

Alladale Wildnerness Reserve has been accredited with the VisitScotland ‘Good to Go’ industry standard mark


Alladale Wilderness Reserve

*According to gov.uk, “to protect yourself and others, when you leave home you must stay at least a metre away from people not in your household”.

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