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Romantic hotels and Scotland seem to go together - it's that combination of the get-away-from-it-all element, the outdoorsy, misty, Celtic twilighty-ness (what?) of Scotland, plus the cosy thought of crackling log fires in wood-panelled, mellowed but welcoming Highland lodges. Stop. That's enough. I think I just wrote a sentence in Scots Baronial.
It was almost St Valentine's Day when we thought about this, so we brainstormed a few romantic places to stay. There are lots. (We didn't even start on the boutique hotels in Scotland's cities that can also be classed as romantic hotels.) These are some we know from personal experience or by reputation.
In Argyll, watch the sun go down over the hills of Ardgour, across Loch Linnhe, from the dining room of The Holly Tree at Kentallen, ideally while eating a plate of the best squat lobsters you'll ever eat. I certainly did. When we were there, we were told that they are caught locally by a wee man in a boat, who delivers them directly to the hotel. (I think this counts as several romantic experiences at once.)
Explore Balquhidder Glen, north of Callander. It was here that Romantic poet William Wordsworth, on the 1803 Scottish tour, saw a local girl working at the harvest. The result was one of his better-known poems 'The Solitary Reaper' with its lines about the singing girl 'Breaking the silence of the seas / Among the farthest Hebrides'. Also 'The music in my heart I bore / Long after it was heard no more.' Totally romantic, don't you think?
Then stay at nearby Monachyle Mhor Hotel (left) - a small family-run award-winning luxury hotel in the heart of the Trossachs. It's a perfect romantic break hotel with fourteen individually designed rooms . Discover it along a single-track road that winds along the banks of Loch Voil. The award-winning menus by Tom Lewis and his team are based on fresh Scottish produce - much of it sourced from their own farm - which is on the hotel's doorstep. (Johanna as a Scottish tour guide stayed here twice last year while guiding clients - she tells me the food is some of the best she has ever had in Scotland - lucky her!)
Castle Venlaw Hotel is in the Scottish Borders near Peebles - and is another place that springs to mind amongst romantic break hotels. All rooms have four poster beds and luxury bathrooms as well as fibre optic lighting, candles, a music system and your personal champagne cooler. We had our own wedding reception here - though that was before the concept of a personal champagne cooler. But you didn't really need to know that.
Quite close by is Traquair House (right), the home of the Earls of Traquair and still lived in by their descendants, the Maxwell Stuart family. It's a romantic hotel of a kind - but it's also sometimes described as the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. Honeymoon couples are treated to a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine. Catherine Maxwell-Stuart who lives here with her family makes you very welcome in her ancient family home. Johanna has guided many clients here.
The Peat Inn is near St Andrews. It has a long-established reputation as simply one of the top places in all of Scotland for its food. But it's also a romantic hotel, or more accurately a restaurant with rooms, as you can stay over in their Residence. It has beautifully appointed suites with bedroom and separate living room uniquely on two levels. (We hear...Johanna has eaten here but not stayed.)
Then there is Kinloch Lodge Hotel and Restaurant. Take the ferry 'over the sea to Skye' from Mallaig (or the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh) to discover this especially romantic hotel. This is the home of the chief of the Clan Donald and his wife, Claire Macdonald, a noted cook/writer. This Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel is charming, cosy and welcoming. Enjoy the very best of local and seasonal produce - the afternoon tea home-baking is especially delicious. (This is a classic romantic break hotel. We have both stayed here for work reasons and Johanna has also taken one of Lady Claire's cookery courses.)
Blue Reef Cottages on the Island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides are two turf roofed, self catering, five star luxury cottages, each with its own sauna and jacuzzi, is the ideal romantic retreat. Enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful uncrowded beaches. These cottages are totally private yet close to an award winning restaurant. (So they aren't, strictly speaking, in the romantic hotels category, but we hear great things about them!)
Away in the west, and still on the subject of places that have romantic break potential but are not hotels, the Green House at Glenelg ticks the get-away-from-it all box, with its four poster bed, wet-room, heated Italian stone floor and a cosy wood-burning stove. Enjoy breathtaking sea and mountain views from the deck, plus a traditional wood burning Finnish Hot Tub. They can even arrange for you to explore secret beaches, bays and islands for BBQs and picnics in their fast RIB. (This was suggested to me by Johanna again and, I believe, amounts to a hint. It is new for 2012.)
The Creel - visit this award winning restaurant with rooms located in St Margaret's Hope in Orkney for some amazing award-winning food and very warm welcome from the husband and wife team Alan and Joyce Craigie. Enjoy the freshest of fish plus prime Orkney beef and seaweed-fed lamb from North Ronaldsay plus home-baked bannocks and soda bread. The three rooms all have beautiful sea views over St Margaret's Hope Bay. Breakfasts are pretty amazing too, we hear.
At the other end of Scotland - almost - Glenapp Castle on the Ayrshire coast was built in 1870 and is a fine example of Scots Baronial architecture - a style that seems to have romantic built in. Restored to high standards, every room has carefully chosen antique furniture and original art - just the setting for a romantic break.
After you've found accommodation, you'll need some romantic things to do. Take a look at our romantic break page.
Or go here for some more romantic hotels - it's our main accommodation in Scotland page.
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