Travel restrictions have reduced our options but the desire to get away for weekends and enjoy dining out is strong. We explore the best places to experience the glories of the Scotland during the pandemic. The hotels, restaurants and cafés who go the extra mile to be COVID safe and still make their guests feel relaxed. To keep cosy on your winter adventures, be sure to pack your treasured, luxury knitted cashmere and lambswool accessories from My Cosy Store, Hawick – home of Scottish knitwear.
Up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Scotland is available at the Scottish Government website. (Updated 13th November 2020)
Beautiful places and safe spaces – featuring the pick of Scotland’s best hotels, restaurants and cafés that go above and beyond to keep guests safe.
Cameron House, Cameron Lodges, Loch Lomond
Cameron Lodges are beautifully situated on banks of Loch Lomond, within the grounds of Cameron House resort. They offer the reassurance of home with all the luxury of a five star golf resort. The spa is open for guests, with yoga and Pilates classes, treatments and a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the loch. The Cameron Clubhouse is open for dining or guests can have meals delivered to their room.
Dunkeld House Hotel, Dunkeld, Perthshire
With 280 acres at its disposal, there’s plenty of room for social distancing at Dunkeld House Hotel. Great care and sensitivity have been taken to ensure safety without compromising the guest experience. There are a variety of dining options, including restaurants, room service or an outdoor marquee that is subject to less restrictive measures on food and alcohol. The gym, pool and spa pool are open as are the resort activities, including, shooting, fishing, 4×4 driving and quad bikes.
The Fife Arms, Braemar, Highlands
Already legendary in the few short years since opening. A stay at this reimagined hunting lodge on the edge of the Cairngorms is the ultimate antidote to the lockdown blues. Dressing up for dinner is a must such a glamorous setting, the perfect opportunity to dust down the glad rags. A magnificent staging post for a host of Highland outdoor adventures. As you would imagine every effort is made to offer guests total reassurance, including temperature checks for guests and staff.
Gaurdswell Farm, Kinnaird, Perthshire
Ever conscientious, Gaurdswell Farm has taken every care with the safety of their guests, their team and their local community. In such safe hands, it is entirely possible to give in to the peace and tranquillity of the setting, to enjoy a few days kicking back in one of the ravishingly rustic cabins or cottages, gazing at the rolling pasturelands and feasting on homegrown treats from the farm shop.
Monachyle Mhor, Balquidder, Perthshire
Something of a trailblazer, Monachyle Mhor is an exemplar in the world of cool, sophisticated boutique hotels. In these tricky times Mhor continue to the lead the way, with their extensive commitment to wellbeing and safety. Guests can choose between the decadent rooms with space to sprawl, cosy and intimate farmhouse snugs or one of the self-catering wagons or cabins. There’s even a whimsical, deeply inviting Scandi treehouse by the loch. All this and we haven’t even got started on the exceptional seasonal Scottish food, sourced from the surrounding family farm.
The Pierhouse, Appin, Argyll
Another cracker on the coast, The Pierhouse is literally a stumble to the shore, smack on the edge of Loch Linnhe with the island of Lismore beckoning, an almost swimmable distance away. In terms of setting, service, style and food, it is all that is most prized about a trip to the West Coast of Scotland. The personal message on the website from owner, Gordon Campbell Gray, says it all you need to know about the warmth of the welcome you’ll receive and the high regard in which you and your safety will be held.
Windlestraw, Walkerburn, Scottish Borders
Windlestraw is an independently-owned small luxury hotel overlooking the picturesque Tweed Valley in the stunning Scottish Borders. Set within two acres of private, landscaped grounds, Windlestraw was originally built in 1906, as a wedding gift for the future wife of the Scottish cashmere mill owner, John King Ballantyne. Award-winning Windlestraw offers 5 star gold accommodation and an intimate three AA rosette dining experience. Guest numbers are strictly limited during the pandemic and those lucky enough to bag a room will receive a highly personal, yet sensitively distanced stay.
Restaurants and Cafés
Archerfield Walled Garden, Archerfield, East Lothian
Forming part of the Archerfield Estate , the 18th Century Walled Garden boasts an inviting garden café serving simple family friendly food with an emphasis on seasonality, plus a gift shop and well-stocked food market. Visitors are encouraged to explore the restored kitchen gardens, the extensive estate grounds and follow the Magical Fairy Trail through the woods.
Born in the Borders, Lanton Mill
As the name would suggest, there’s a distinctly Scottish feel and lot of warmth and humour to everything produced under the Born in the Borders banner. The menu in the Lanton Mill restaurant is pure no nonsense scran, the murals a brilliant, pop art mash up of Scottish icons and the beers from brewery, simply lip smackingly good. A great lunch spot for families with plenty of space for kids to run around safely.
Drift, North Berwick, East Lothian
Operating in the current conditions is especially challenging for a small gem like Drift that plies its café trade from an upcycled shipping container perched on the cliffs facing the Bass Rock. Hats off to the whole team for making it work and keeping everyone safe in a way that retains all that makes this place so special. In addition to the new adapted layout inside, there’s the #DRIFTaway trailer for those who prefer their brunch, coffee and cake al fresco.
Loch Fyne, Cairndow, Argyll
Let there be no pretenders. This is the place to indulge a fancy for seafood, Loch Fyne’s original oyster bar and home to great heaps of sweet briny oysters, langoustines and Tarbert lobster. An old Scottish institution with a loyal following, that will always welcome new faces, entirely trustworthy and steadfast in uncertain times. Somewhere that the new normal can almost feel like the old normal.
Restoration Yard, Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian
Set in the glorious grounds of Dalkeith Country Park, Restoration Yard is the perfect place to meet outdoors to enjoy a crisp winter walk followed by a restorative visit to the Kitchen, to enjoy brunch or lunch in the beautifully restored 18th century stables. The Larder is also open for take-aways, just enough of a nibble to refuel before visiting the eclectic selection of clothes, homewares and gifts in the fabulous Store. Younger visitors will be delighted to know that the adjacent Fort Douglas adventure park is open for fun and frolics.