PSA: Scotland Is The Most Underrated Country In The UK
While Scotland is currently top of mind thanks to Hollywood actors like James McAvoy and hit series Outlander – to visit the country nestled at the top of the UK is one of a kind.
Genuine, steeped in history and devoid of the standard tourist eye-roll many destinations deliver; we recommend you shift your UK and European plans lower and slide Scotland to the top.
For those searching for a taste of the spectacular country - there is so much to see in such little time! - we recommend starting in Edinburgh before branching out to the Highlands, and other neighbouring regions.
Being a comparatuvely small and easily accessible capital city, you can easily tick off the most popular tourist attractions before delving into the diverse experiences on offer.
Start your day early to make the most of Scottish sunshine with a hike towards Arthur’s Seat – 250.5m above Edinburgh. Named after King Arthur, the mighty cliff face is no easy feat to summit, but the 360-degree views pay dividends on your sweaty brow. After you catch your breath, it’s hard to not feel like royalty, standing above it all.
When you return from your hike you will find yourself at the bottom of the Royal Mile at Holyrood Palace aka Queen Elizabeth’s official residence in Scotland. Next travel up the straight road, stopping in at local stores (and maybe a cheeky pint!), all the way to Edinburgh Castle perched above the city. The must-see landmark was the backdrop for Scottish royalty and warfare dating all the way back to the 12th century.
After your large dose of history, it’s time for the strong stuff. Scotch Whisky.
No better place will you learn the rich history and even more intoxicating smell of the local brew than at the famed Scotch Whisky Experience.
Celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, pick your level of tour - 'Gold' if you’re keen to taste samples from each of the four whisky regions. But first climb aboard a literal barrel ride and learn exactly how the sweet nectar is distilled in the Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands and Islay. By the end you'll be able to tell the signature flavours apart; citrus or smoky to vanilla, fruity and nutty.
But where do you hang up your kilt at the end of a long day of exploring?
Edinburgh boasts a vast array of accommodation for visitors, but only one stands out as a true Scottish experience: Prestonfield House.
Perfectly preserved with artefacts dating back to the 17th century, we half expected royalty to emerge from one of the suites.
Only a stone’s throw from the city centre, you enter the long driveway as if in the middle of the Scottiish countryside. Overlooked by Arthur’s Seat (which you conquered earlier that day), it’s time to journey back in time. Each detail including the traditionally clad staff, is perfectly curated with each room carefully hiding any 21st century technology from plain sight. Who knew time travel came with your booking.
If you're an Outlander fan, you will squeal at the luxury touches, tartan and detail that feel straight out of the historic set (after all they are entirely genuine). Even a member of the hotel staff is called Jamie! (He smiled kindly as I gushed.)
Once settled in your room, you need not go far to enjoy the full value of the estate, particularly the stunning in-house restaurant Rhubarb.
The steak and ale pies at the local pub can wait, because you’re about to have the most sumptuous Scottish meal boasting locally sourced produce from artisan suppliers. Not to mention the extensive wine list from its award-winning cellar.
After you finish your feast, retire to one of the drawing rooms for tea or coffee, but more importantly to soak in the ambience.
Prestonfield is truly unlike any other. But we shouldn't be surprised, as is the Scottish way.
Title Image: @nancyli0123