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Your holiday starts in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and one of Europe’s top city holiday destinations. Visitors from all over the world are drawn here by the wealth of historic sites, galleries, museums, shops, restaurants and bars, not to mention the spectacular sight of Princes Street and the castle rock. Yet it’s still perfectly possible to avoid the crowds and find quiet cobbled streets, peaceful cafes and, above all, to simply soak up the ambience of this most scenic of cities. With our local knowledge we are ideally placed to give you plenty of suggestions, including the more unusual, off-the-beaten-track hidden gems that only a local would know.
Located in the vibrant south side of Edinburgh, this elegant Baronial house dating back to 1780 has been converted into a modern hotel. Newly refurbished rooms present a cosy and comfortable haven away from the bustle while the stylish bar is the ideal spot in which to enjoy coffee or a dram while you plan your day or reflect on your evening out.
Next you head north over the spectacular Forth Road Bridge, through Perthshire and across the Highlands to Speyside, famous for its whisky, castles, rivers and glens. This memorable drive incorporates many potential stopping off points, including the Dalwhinnie distillery.
In a prominent, elevated position above the banks of the River Spey, your first hotel is a newly refurbished Victorian gem whose family owners have worked tirelessly to create a tranquil haven, the ideal place from which to explore. Stepping across the threshold, guests notice an immediate calming of mood, the chic, modern décor sitting comfortably alongside original features like ornate plasterwork, original tiled flooring and impressive oak staircase.
The bar/lounge is a relaxing spot in which to enjoy a dram on any one of the large sofas, with real log fire blazing away when required, while dinner can be enjoyed either formally or in a more relaxed setting, with the very best of local, seasonal produce taking front and centre.
Those more serious about their amber nectar won’t fail to be wowed by newly built ‘The Still’, and its carefully locked and beautifully displayed collection of some 500 or more rare, indulgent and exceptional malts.
Conveniently located at the heart of Speyside’s Malt Whisky Trail, your hotel lies within a couple of miles of the excellent Cardhu and Macallan distilleries. Glenfiddich and Strathisla are also within easy striking distance, as is the fascinating Speyside Cooperage – worthy of a day trip in itself. Most importantly for many the Aberlour distillery is within easy walking distance, ideal for the trip.
We can recommend and plan your own itinerary and make any bookings for your tours – just let us know your preferences.
Aside from these attractions there is no shortage of other options in the area – with excellent salmon fishing on the Spey, walking on the Speyside Way, 15 nearby golf courses and numerous places of historic interest, from Pluscarden Abbey to romantic Cawdor Castle. Venture slightly further afield and you will discover the attractions of Inverness, capital of the Highlands, the mysteries of Loch Ness with its fascinating visitor centre or the pretty fishing villages and long sandy beaches of the beautiful Moray Coast.
Now to the Isle of Skye, with your route taking you past famous landmarks such as Loch Ness and Eilean Donan castle, before crossing the Skye Bridge to reach your next base in the south of the island.
Sheltered by a gently curving bay, your charming whitewashed hotel sits right on the seashore, enjoying expansive views over the Sound of Sleat to the wilderness of Knoydart. This, the most southerly part of Skye, is an area of great natural beauty, often referred to as the “Garden of Skye” thanks to its abundant bird life and profusion of wild flowers. This is a Gaelic-speaking community and the bar is a convivial meeting place for the locals, who mix happily with hotel guests, often to the accompaniment of traditional music and Gaelic song in front of the roaring log fire. Twelve bedrooms (six in the Garden House) are decorated with pretty cotton and linen chintzes and there are four new suites in the recently restored stables, each enjoying superb views across the water to the lighthouse of Isle Ornsay. Candlelit meals in the wood-panelled dining room reflect the estate’s culinary riches, with wonderful shellfish and game featuring prominently on the menu. Langoustines are landed at the old stone pier, and oysters come from the hotel’s own oyster beds.
On the little harbour right beside the hotel is the headquarters of “The Gaelic Whiskies”, where you can sample an excellent range of connoisseur brands before browsing in the nearby craft shop. Your holiday includes a tour of the famous Talisker distillery, beautifully situated in a remote location on the west coast. Away from the whisky, don’t miss the enchanting walk to the Point of Sleat, from where you can gaze across to the small isles of Rum and Eigg and dream of future visits! On the way down to the Point of Sleat, it’s worth stopping off at the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle, with its fine arboretum and lovely garden.
Return to the mainland via the ferry from nearby Mallaig. Your route south will take you through more stunning Highlands scenery, including the beaches of Arisaig and Glenfinnan, before turning south and stopping overnight on the coast south of Fort William.
Originally the home of Loch Linnhe’s Pier Master, this historic restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, really is a special place to contemplate the dramatic beauty of the west coast. The views are stunning and the once prolific steam traffic has given way to the blissful sound of silence. Mouth-watering langoustines and lobster are kept fresh off the end of the pier, before being served to you by candlelight in the cosy conviviality of one of Argyll’s finest restaurants. As you contemplate the sunset over the distant Morvern hills, you may be lucky enough to glimpse otters and seals.
After a morning visit to the Oban distillery, enjoy another scenic drive south to Tarbert and on to Kintyre, with your destination the town which was, around a hundred years’ ago, Scotland whisky capital – Campbeltown. Once the home to 30 working distilleries, just 3 remain – Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia. Mind you these are excellent, independent operations and Springbank is a personal favourite. Your tour will either be this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
Recently fully-restored by its American owners, this historic harbour front hotel, is an imposing building overlooking Campbeltown Loch itself – that’s the one made famous in song by Andy Stewart, who wished it were whisky! As well as a fine Scottish restaurant, the Black Sheep pub is a welcoming meeting place. You are also within walking distance of all of the town’s distilleries.
After a morning to explore the beautiful and often overlooked Kintyre peninsula – perhaps visiting the world-famous Mull of Kintyre itself, your next destination is the tiny ferry port of Kennacraig, from where you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Islay, renowned for its distilleries.
Situated in the heart of the 18th century ‘island capital’ of Bowmore, this historic whitewashed inn by the harbour has seen a host of changes over the years. Most recently it’s been brought up to date with stylish en-suite bedrooms featuring splashes of tweed and contrasting earthy tones, while downstairs you’ll find a new conservatory with gorgeous views across Loch Indaal. What a great spot in which to enjoy a dram. The hotel’s award-winning restaurant offers an “a la carte” menu incorporating seasonal dishes using the finest locally sourced produce, while for more informal dining, the lounge bar offers an all-day menu.
Once the ancestral seat of the Lords of the Isles, Islay is a fertile island of low heather-clad hills, attractive beaches, numerous historical sites and more whisky distilleries than any other Scottish island! The Bruichladdich distillery is particularly worthwhile visiting as it features an excellent visitor’s centre where you can take a tour round the workings and sample the malts. Ardbeg and Laphroaig also offer fascinating insights into the traditional methods of whisky production.
Islay is also a haven for hill-walkers and bird-watchers – it is home to the huge Loch Gruinart bird sanctuary and its vast numbers of migrating geese. In the island capital, Bowmore, you can visit the unusual Round Church (no corners for the devil to hide in!) or if history is your thing, the Museum of Island Life in Port Charlotte is well worth a visit, as are the ruins of Finlaggan Castle, home of the Macdonald chiefs, and Kildalton Chapel with its early Christian cross.
Cross back to the mainland and retrace your steps past Loch Lomond to Glasgow. You might like to stop at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar en route to enjoy their excellent selection of seafood and a stop in the whisky specialist shop – Loch Fyne Whiskies – in Inveraray is a definite recommendation for some last minute purchases.
From Edinburgh to the Mull of Kintyre, via Speyside, Skye, Oban and Islay, covering most the main whisky areas of the country.
£1695 per person November 2023 to March 2024, £2075 per person for April & October, £2145 per person for May to September.
The above pricing does not include stays over Christmas or New Year from 23 December to 8 January . If you are interested in taking a holiday across these dates, please get in touch for a bespoke quote.
Prices are based on two people sharing a room for nine nights on a bed & breakfast basis. This includes our services to plan and book visits and tours of distilleries of your choice along the route. Tours of the the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh, one distillery in Speyside, Talisker on Skye, Springbank in Campbeltown and one distillery of your choice on Islay are included. Others can be arranged at a small additional cost. The holiday includes return ferry travel for a car and two adult passengers from Skye and to/from Islay, as well as taxi transfers in Speyside and on Islay.
Some upgraded rooms may be available at featured hotels.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
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This holiday can be arranged from January until December – though stays over the Christmas or New Year period from 23rd December to 8th January will require a bespoke quote.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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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 7 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.