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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the questions we most frequently get asked.

Why should I book a holiday with McKinlay Kidd?

Our philosophy is to offer exceptional holidays in special places, tailored to your individual requirements. We use our expert knowledge to seek out the best that Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales have to offer – the best places to stay, the best experiences, the best routes, the best local guides. We take away the hard work by researching and arranging it all for you.

We pride ourselves on offering excellent personal service to our customers, and have received independent recognition for this. Our recent accolades include winning “Best Specialist Tour Operator” in the Telegraph Travel Awards 2017, AITO (The Travel Specialists’ Association) “Tour Operator of the Year” Gold in 2016 and Bronze in 2018 & 2019, based on independent customer reviews, and “Best Small Tour Operator” worldwide in the Guardian/Observer Travel Awards in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

You can read independent reviews from past customers about our service and their McKinlay Kidd holiday on the AITO website.

How does the tailor-made service work?

Simply browse our website for suggested holiday ideas and inspiration. Then let us know your own ideal requirements, either by completing the online enquiry form or by calling us to discuss on 0141 260 9260. If you are calling from outside the UK the number is +44 141 260 9260. We also offer a toll-free number for callers from the USA & Canada – 1 866 922 8538, as well as a toll-free number for callers in Australia – 1-800 760 824.

We will then send you a detailed personal proposal tailor-made to your holiday requirements. This can easily be adapted or amended to suit, so do let us know what you think of it. Once we have agreed the ideal option we will check availability and confirm to you what the final details are. All you need to do then is pay a deposit to confirm the holiday.

Do you arrange holidays for groups?

Yes, we offer a range of small group tours by rail with scheduled departure dates. You can find details here.

The personal nature of our service also means we can offer excellent trips for pre-existing small groups, such as parties of families and friends or special interest, corporate and incentive groups. The group size is usually 6 to 25 people. In some cases we can arrange for the group to have exclusive use of a hotel or guest house, or even a castle! We can help with arrangements for special experiences and entertainment – a distillery tour, a piper or ceilidh band, boat trips or guided walks and activities for example. Please fill in the online enquiry form or call us on + 44 (0)141 260 9260 to discuss your requirements.

Do you offer accessible holidays or cater for special requirements?

The personal and tailormade nature of our service means we can usually provide options suitable for customers with mobility issues or other special requirements – for example, we know which properties provide ground floor rooms or offer full disabled facilities. We can arrange for medicines to be kept refrigerated. We ensure that any special dietary requirements are communicated to accommodation providers, as long as you notify us at time of booking. We can also arrange for special assistance on flights and trains, given advance information.

Do you arrange corporate events?

We are delighted to help with corporate or incentive events which include at least two nights’ accommodation. We can cater for parties of up to 25-30 people and can arrange exclusive use of a hotel or guest house or even a castle if required. We have arranged press trips, launch events and team-building trips. We can help with special arrangements such as booking golf tee-times, spa treatments, whisky-tasting, gourmet dinners, classic car driving, and even tank driving! Please fill in the online enquiry form or call us on + 44 (0)141 260 9260 to discuss your requirements.

Do you offer a gift voucher service?

We are delighted to help you with gift suggestions and can provide personalised gift certificates or holiday information packs. Simply drop us an email or call us on 0141 260 9260 to discuss what you require. The minimum gift voucher value is £200. Payment terms are the same as for all our holidays – deposits of minimum £100 per person or full balances if departure dates are within eight weeks. We can also provide open-ended holidays as gifts, provided we receive a deposit for every person travelling. We can then arrange exact dates with the recipient to suit them and arrange for the payment of the balance in the normal way. Vouchers are valid for 12 months.

When is your office open?

Our office is normally open Monday to Friday between 8.30am – 6pm and on Saturday between 9am – 5pm. We are closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day (26 December) and New Year’s Day. When the office is closed, and occasionally during very busy periods, calls will be diverted to an answering machine, where you can leave a message, and we will call you back.

Once you have booked a holiday with us, you will be provided with an emergency 24/7 contact number so that you can reach us if needed at any time while you are away on your trip.

What type of accommodation do you offer?

We work with small hotels and guest houses, predominantly three star and above, though our philosophy is to seek out special places rather than tick off facilities. Most have between four and 20 rooms and are owner-managed. Many are off the beaten track in superb locations – some are best kept secrets. In the cities we tend to work with slightly larger hotels to ensure excellent quality for our guests.

How do you choose the hotels and guest houses you recommend?

We carefully hand-pick all the accommodation and other suppliers we use, based on our own personal experience and knowledge. We have visited all of them ourselves, and keep in close contact with the owners to ensure our knowledge is completely up-to-date. We also receive regular feedback from our guests. We look for high standards of personal service, attention to detail, excellent food and unique character. Many of the places have hands-on owners, who ensure our guests are extremely well looked after. We only work with a small number of hotels and guest houses and aim to ensure these are the best that Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales have to offer.

Can you tell me the names of the hotels you use?

We give you full descriptions and can provide any other details which you may require but do not provide the hotel names until we have taken a deposit. We will of course give you the names and full directions to your accommodation once you have booked.

Do you offer any self-catering holidays?

We occasionally use centrally-located apartments in cities. If you are interested in self-catering or cottage accommodation as part of a touring holiday, please let us know at time of enquiry. The best places often book-up a long time in advance, and some come with minimum one-week stay restrictions.

Do you offer any family-friendly or pet-friendly accommodation?

We hold information on accommodation with family rooms and we know which places welcome dogs and other pets so please ask at time of enquiring. It is true to say that such facilities can be highly-sought after, particularly during school holidays, so booking six to 12 months in advance is usually a good idea.

Are all your holidays self-drive?

No – we also offer guided and car-free trips.

One of our specialisms is in touring by rail or car-free – either independently guided or as part of an escorted small group. We find this is a very popular option for those who prefer not to drive or navigate, leaving you free to sit back and relax as the scenery rolls by.

In some off the beaten track locations, where public transport is limited, many people do choose to drive. We offer car hire at very competitive rates.

Alternatively, we can arrange driver guides. (For information, driver guides cost from around £500 per day including the vehicle, so can be a good option for a small private group.)

Are there any restrictions on car hire?

We work with many different car hire partners in various locations. Many impose lower and upper age limits due to insurance terms. Some also have particular driving licence requirements. Please check with us at time of enquiring.

If you require an automatic vehicle or have any other specific requirements, please let us know when you first enquire. Standard hire cars in the UK & Ireland are manual (stick shift) and the supply of automatic vehicles is very limited in some locations.

What if I want to use public transport to get around Scotland, Ireland, England or Wales?

We offer an increasing selection of self-guided holiday options by public transport, enabling you to enjoy your holiday car-free. These include touring by train in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland and island-hopping in Scotland. We use our detailed knowledge to ensure you stay in characterful small hotels and guest houses, and we include pre-arranged taxi transfers and day-tours with local guides where appropriate. This means you can still reach the hidden gems and destinations beyond the end of the train-line or bus-route.

What if I have a Railcard?

If you have a valid UK Railcard, such as Senior or Two Together, or Scotrail card such as Club 50, please let us know when you enquire and we will ensure the best value fares for any train bookings.

Can you book flights, ferry or train travel to Scotland, Ireland, England or Wales for me?

We are more than happy to advise you on the best routes, and alternative arrival points for your holiday. We hold an ATOL licence through the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority which means we are licensed to arrange flights within the UK and Ireland, including from the main cities of Scotland to the outer islands. We can also arrange ferry travel to and from Ireland. We are happy to book train travel, charging a small administration fee for this service. Ask us for a quotation if such travel is not included within the holiday description.

What if I have preferred travel times?

If your arrival and departure travel times are restricted at all, such as needing to connect with international flights or other arrangements, please let us know at time of booking and we will do our best to accommodate, subject to timetables.

How do I check availability?

Simply complete the short form on the specific holiday page on our website or call us on 0141 260 9260 with your preferred dates. As many of our small business partners do not have online availability, we will check availability for all elements of the requested holiday for you, then respond within 24 working hours. We cannot guarantee availability until we receive your deposit payment and confirm the bookings.

Alternatively, use the tailormade enquiry form to request a personal proposal. Please provide as much information as possible about what you would like to see and do and any particular preferences. We will then plan a tailor-made itinerary for you and respond within two to three working days. You can, of course, call us at any time to discuss.

Is my chosen holiday likely to be available?

We will always do our best to find a suitable option for you at the time you prefer to travel, but the later you leave it, the harder it becomes. As we work with carefully-selected small hotels, often in rural locations, and offer unique and special experiences, availability is limited. The further in advance you are able to make your arrangements, the more likely we can secure exactly the holiday you want – many people book six to 12 months in advance.

The peak season, which particularly affects availability in key Scottish destinations such as the Isle of Skye, the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland, runs from May to end September. The Edinburgh Festival takes place across most of the month of August, making this a particularly busy time in the city. Many other local events and festivals can limit availability well in advance across the UK and Ireland so it helps if you can provide an indication of whether you have any flexibility in your travel dates and the specific things you wish to see and do.

How much do your holidays cost?

Our holidays usually cost between £100 and £300 per person per night, depending on the grade of accommodation and experiences included. We provide an overall quotation per person for each holiday which includes accommodation, transport, activities and excursions as described plus McKinlay Kidd’s service throughout. We do not provide a breakdown of the individual elements.

Do you guarantee value for money?

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday. We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value.

All we ask is that you write to us within seven days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

Do you offer last minute deals?

We offer a personal holiday service and are delighted to check availability for last minute holidays up to seven days prior to departure and design a suitable route and itinerary. Only occasionally – and usually only from late autumn to early spring – will our hotels have any special deals available. If this is the case, we will feature them on our website or let you know when you enquire.

What sort of financial protection do you provide?

McKinlay Kidd is a fully bonded tour operator, complying with the strict Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. This means customers’ advance payments are fully guaranteed in the unlikely event of the company’s financial failure. For full details see the information on this link:

Do I need to fill in a booking form?

We ask the lead person making the booking to complete our booking form containing all relevant details of passengers and contact information. Please do include all relevant information such as any special requirements (dietary, mobility etc) or special requests so that we can ensure these are communicated to our business partners and taken fully into account at time of booking.

What if I need to cancel or curtail my holiday?

When you make a booking, you are entering into a contract and accepting McKinlay Kidd’s booking terms and conditions, including our cancellation policy.

We strongly recommend that you arrange your own travel insurance policy at the time of booking to cover cancellation or curtailment.

When do I need to pay?

The full balance is due eight weeks prior to departure.

The deposit you are required to pay is 25% of the total holiday cost or a minimum £100 per person (whichever is greater). In a few other instances, such as holidays including a cruise element and certain flights, the deposit requirement may be higher, in which case we will advise you specifically of this.

How can I pay?

An online booking form and secure payment zone can be found here:

Alternatively, you can download a booking form and either post or scan and email this back to us. We are very happy to accept payments by bank (wire) transfer and can supply the relevant bank details to you on request. If you wish to pay by card, please use the booking form or call us with your credit/debit card details. Please do not send complete credit/debit card details by e-mail as this is not secure.

How late can I book?

Due to the personal nature of our service we can usually take bookings up to seven days before departure, availability permitting. Full balances for all bookings confirmed within seven days of departure must be paid for by debit card or electronic funds transfer.

When do I receive my holiday tickets and vouchers?

As soon as we receive your balance payment, we will send you a receipt and a day by day summary of your trip.

Around three weeks before you depart you will receive full holiday information, including any necessary tickets and vouchers, detailed directions and recommended routes. (If you need to receive this earlier, please let us know at time of booking.) We provide a touring map as required and a selection of leaflets for the areas you are visiting, as well as our ever popular – and exclusive – “Robert’s Recommendations” – our founder and director Robert Kidd’s personal suggestions for things to see and do beyond the obvious visitor attractions.

Our usual practice is to issue your documentation via the “Vamoos” travel app, which can be accessed from a desktop or laptop computer prior to travel and downloaded onto a smartphone (iphone or Android) or tablet. This convenient tool both reduces the need for paper and offers many more features, including a holiday countdown, weather information, useful links, online and offline maps and even a section to create your own travel-log with pictures. We will also provide hard copy information on request.

Are there any restrictions on luggage?

It depends on the type of holiday so please ask us at time of booking and we can provide specific advice. Especially if you are touring by train or car-free, we strongly recommend that each person brings just one main bag or suitcase which you are able to manoeuvre and lift yourself – so probably no more than 15kg/35lbs. Luggage storage space on trains is quite restricted and porterage is not usually available.

Some hotels in older buildings do not have lifts (elevators) and require bags to be carried up one or two flights of stairs – staff are usually on-hand to help in such circumstances.

If you have any particular concerns about luggage, please discuss this with us at time of booking as we may be able to assist with baggage transfer or storage. We can also provide information concerning hotel laundry services on your trip.

What will the weather be like on my trip?

Where is that crystal ball? The only thing we guarantee on this one is that you will experience weather – possibly four seasons in one day! The weather in the UK & Ireland is notoriously unpredictable – it can be dry, sunny and warm in April or wild, windy and stormy in July. Come prepared with the right kit, from waterproofs to sunglasses, and don’t totally rely on the weather forecast – things can change in minutes and vary within just a few miles.

What if the weather disrupts my holiday plans?

At McKinlay Kidd we always aim to be proactive. While we can’t control the elements, we closely monitor potential disruption to ferry travel, flights and trains which may impact customers on holiday with us. Should disruption occur for any reason, not just the weather, we do our utmost to put contingency plans in place so that you still get the most out of your holiday. It’s one of the benefits of having a tour operator on your side.

Certain excursions, such as boat trips, are weather dependant, which is why we recommend building in flexibility around these. Safety has to be the prime consideration among ourselves and our business partners when it comes to such trips, which does mean that cancellations are sometimes necessary, in which case we will inform you and offer alternative suggestions or a refund for the particular excursion.

If you become aware of any potential delays or disruption during your trip, please contact us immediately on the 24/7 customer service telephone number, which you will find within your holiday information. Please try to call us rather than use email, to ensure we can react quickly.

Do you offer holidays to any other destinations?

We specialise in holidays in Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales only – we think there is more than enough to discover and enjoy here!

Can you tell me more about the company?

Husband and wife team Robert Kidd and Heather McKinlay established McKinlay Kidd in 2003, having had over 20 years’ experience working for some of the biggest names in the UK travel industry. We love Britain and Ireland, love travelling and discovering, and love sharing our knowledge. We have an office based in central Glasgow with a small but growing team, who share our passion for travel and offering great customer service. Team members all travel regularly and extensively throughout the UK and Ireland to check out new ideas and keep up to date with our recommended accommodation and guides. That’s how we keep our promise that we won’t send you anywhere we (or at least someone in the team) haven’t been ourselves!

Where do you go on your own holidays?

On a sunny day, a deserted beach near the Mull of Kintyre is impossible to beat! There are still some far-flung corners of the UK and Ireland we’ve yet to reach, but much of the time we go back to favourite haunts: visiting at a different time of year or in different weather means there’s always something new and stunning to take your breath away in these beautiful countries.

We also love Africa – special favourites are Samburu and Lamu in Kenya, Zanzibar, Namibia and the Robertson Valley in South Africa. Our first experience of whale-watching was in Patagonia in Argentina and the furthest we have travelled is Easter Island, which strangely reminded us a little of the Hebrides back home. We enjoy exploring hidden corners of Europe such as the Mani peninsula in Greece. Venice also has a special place in our hearts.

Can we meet you and the team?

We love receiving visitors at the office in Glasgow and we will make you a great cup of coffee (or tea or whatever else you prefer)! Let us know in advance if you wish to call in on a Saturday or if there is someone you would particularly like to meet – otherwise please feel free to drop in during our normal opening times from Monday to Friday. As our office is in an A-listed historic building, there is a flight of steps to reach the entrance with no lift (though there is a lift once you’re in the building itself), so it is better not to bring luggage, and please call us in advance if you need assistance at all.

Sometimes we bump into customers on holiday when we are out and about travelling too, so you never know!

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