Travel Scotland: the best hotels and self-catering accommodation to enjoy autumn's tree colours
Perhaps it’s time for us to embrace the US and Canada hobby of leaf peeping, which mainly involves travelling and photographing areas where the deciduous trees are showing off their fiery foliage. There’s a similar custom in Japan, called momijigari or koro.
Recently, Lonely Planet voted Scotland as one of the best places in the world to see autumn colours. So, rather than flying off to seek sunshine or staying in the increasingly grey cities, celebrate the trees with a stay at one of our top luxury hotels or favourite self-catering spots in the countryside.
Perthshire is Big Tree Country, and this 42-bedroom Scots Baronial castle hotel is at the heart of it. You’re not far from vantage point, Queen’s View, Allean Forest, or Faskally Woods. The five-star venue itself is surrounded by trees, and the vistas of Loch Faskally from the new Pod Experience dining spaces and restaurant 1892 on the Loch are especially excellent. If you’re planning a visit, it’s worth noting that it’s also not long until the launch of a nearby attraction, The Enchanted Forest, which runs from October 5 until November 5. Once you’re done with squirrel spotting and tree hugging, try their Woodlands Spa, where there’s facilities including a pool, Jacuzzi, aroma steam room and more, alongside treatments from the likes of beauty brand, Ishga.
Foss Road, Pitlochry (01796 470140, www.fonabcastlehotel.com)
You want trees? You’ll get them at this ‘ecotourism hideaway’, with some woody residents that are over 300 years old. The owner of the 1000 acre estate, Victoria Bruce-Winkler, has encouraged and protected the biodiversity in this area, and regenerated the ancient woodland. She offers accomodation at the two bedroom Slackbrae cottage, or at one of their newer Schenbothies, which sleep two, with mezzanine level beds, and floor-to-ceiling windows to take advantage of the greenery. As part of the stay, you can plant a tree - currently, Scots Pine, as it supports other species.
Forestmill, Clackmannanshire (01239 690 013, www.brucefieldestate.scot)
We think that the Scottish Borders comes into its own in spring, when the lambs are at full force, and autumn. This five-star hotel is in a lovely spot, near Floors Castle and the River Tweed, where rowan, elm, ash and oak grow by the banks. If you’re in an outdoorsy mood, they offer plenty of country pursuits, including fishing, archery and clay pigeon shooting. If you’d rather gaze at the trees from a warm nook, there’s the spa, with its massive relaxation area, al-fresco pool, and Aromatherapy Associates treatments.
Heiton, Kelso (01573 450 331, www.schlosshotel-roxburghe.com)
For each stay at one of these new cabins, which look out onto Loch Fyne, they plant a tree. If the surrounding silver birches could give you a thumbs up for that, I’m sure they would. These luxury bothies, each of which sleeps two, are also near the wonderful Arkinglas Gardens, where there is one of the tallest trees in the UK - a 135-year-old European Silver Fir. It's an evergreen, so it just silently (and maybe jealously) regards the other trees’ boughs changing colour. Any stay with the Kabn Company feels like an immersion in nature, but you also get luxurious perks, like a stove, cosy bedlinen, a walk-in shower and generally gorgeous but minimal decor. Make sure to visit their on-site eating experience, Wild Kabn Kitchen too.
Cairndow (07392 712 465, www.kabncompany.com)
If you don’t want too much of a soft and bucolic view, but prefer something more dramatic, try this five-star hotel. On its 58-acre estate, it has all the trees to peep at on its walking or cycling trails, but there’s also a nearby sea loch and mountains.
Annat by Achnasheen, Wester Ross (01445 791 242, www.thetorridon.com)
Glen Glack Cabins
The new cabins on the Blair Atholl estate are all aptly named after trees. So you can stay at Hazel, Juniper, Larch, Rowan or Willow, each of which sleeps two or four guests and is perched on the edge of Cally Loch in Dunkeld. We’d especially like to make a weekend homestead of the single bedroom Juniper, since it’s painted the colour of an autumn maple leaf. If you can’t get a free slot at those additions, Atholl Estates also offers shepherds’ huts, woodland and highland lodges.
Blair Atholl, Perthshire (01796 481 355, www.atholl-estates.co.uk)
There are plenty of leafy walking routes round here, as the location is part of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. As well as the main hotel, you can stay at their In the Trees modernist hut, which is almost as tall as the woodland that surrounds it. The altitude will help you work up an appetite for dinner in the restaurant that’s looked after by executive chef Marysia Paszkowska. Once you’ve finished forest bathing and eating, there’s further natural healing thanks to their new bee therapy experience – the UK’s first apipod, which involves reclining on sheepskin-covered beds above active hives and meditating to the sound of 60000 bumbles buzzing.
Balquihidder, Lochearnhead (01877 384 622, www.monachylemhor.net)
This self-catering venue, which sleeps 14, including four children, has just opened and is also in Big Tree Country. It’s near the beautiful Balnaguard Glen, where you’ll find a waterfall, birch trees and a huge juniper woodland. The back of the converted farmhouse looks over a patch of meadow, and is surrounded by mature trees. Indoors, and the neutral decor provides the perfect backdrop to all the greenery, and you can warm up by the bright orange range, or in the living room, which is slung with snuggly textiles.
Grantully (01887 447000, www.ballintaggart.com)
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