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Luxe Stays in The Scottish Highlands

Written by  Maxine Albert

Scotland captivates with its untamed landscape of dramatic mountains drenched in mists, heather clad hills, glens and moorland. The Highlands have recently upped their luxury quotient with new offerings making for spectacular stays that attract more high-end travelers to the stunning locale.

The Gleneagles Hotel Debuts Its Transformation
The iconic 5-star Gleneagles Hotel unveiled its multi-million pound renovation led by new owner London-based Ennismore last summer. Since its opening, the esteemed 93 year old resort set on 850 acres of stunning Perthshire countryside where the Highlands begin, has been the go-to destination for refined travelers seeking the ultimate Scottish luxe experience. The revamp includes an impressive array of new dining options, upgraded accommodations and new stylish spaces where guests can relax and enjoy the resort’s clubby ambiance.
Two hundred thirty-two elegant rooms and suites done in neutral colors with four poster beds, vintage armoires, leather trunks, outdoorsy photos, plush rugs and fabrics have been refurbished. Updated corridors feature antique Persian patterns and herringbone wall coverings.
The Glendevon, formerly an event space, has been redesigned into a light, beautiful guest lounge and afternoon tearoom, and the Century Bar is now a glamorous garnet red with Scottish design accents. Also new, the oak paneled Auchterarder 70 bar at Dormy Clubhouse done in 1920’s style, and the sumptuous, sexy American Bar. New dining venues include The Garden Café with its scenic outside terrace and Birnam Brasserie, a Parisian style bistro. These are in addition to acclaimed Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s only two-Michelin starred restaurant and the opulent Strathearn where I relished an exquisite meal of the finest local fare.
In November the resort unveiled Little Glen, a supervised area for children ages 2-9 with an arts and crafts workshop, indoor tree house, toy campfire with tepees and play stables with hobby horses. The Den, an unsupervised facility of linked rooms for 6-15 year olds contains everything from pool, air hockey, myriad games like Chinese checkers and scrabble, to film screenings.
Gleneagles is a spectacular playground for all ages. In addition to three championship golf courses, guests can try their hand at horseback riding in the equestrian center, cycling, tennis, gundog training, clay pigeon shooting, fishing, archery, falconry and more. I especially enjoyed my session with adorable falcon Angus and superb teacher, Duncan. Top off a day of fun filled activity at the pampering spa.

Killiehuntly - A Gem in the Heart of The Highlands
Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne Storm Pedersen, both dedicated conservationists, bought and refurbished Killiehuntly located in the heart of the Highlands on the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains. Opened in June 2016 with a sleek redo, the 17th century farmhouse on a 4,000 acre estate blends contemporary Danish design with Scottish country décor. Call it Scandi-Scot chic.
With a color palette of muted greys and taupes, natural wood floors strewn with striking rugs, white linen drapes, a drawing room with fireplace, comfy sofas, arty photos and Scottish throws, small reading area and modern Danish furnishings in the four farmhouse rooms, plus six outside in several cottages, it’s utterly charming.
Each room comes with a Danish Mismo backpack for picnic lunches when guests wander out. Whether walking, hiking or biking, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the wild beauty of the Highlands. Meals are family style for breakfast and dinner and the food is exceptional. Talented chef Hans Freudenberg uses local, seasonal ingredients including vegetables from their garden and eggs from the estates’ own hens to create culinary magic. Everything from freshly baked breads and muffins, to the produce and seafood was extraordinary. I would return just to experience Han’s stupendous farm to table food again.

Craigellachie Hotel - The Speyside Whisky Trail
 Built in 1893, The Craigellachie Hotel located in the center of the Speyside Whisky Trail, recently underwent a multi-million euro revamp after famed London nightclub owner Piers Adam fell in love with the locale and bought the property. Speyside is the largest whisky region in the world with over half of Scotland’s distilleries and the hotel’s new Quaich bar is regarded as one of the world’s leading whiskey bars Lively and stylish with 1,000 single malts and blends including their own recently launched brand, Copper Dog, (also the name of the hotel eatery) it’s popular with locals and tourists alike.
The twenty-six room hotel is now lighter, handsomely decorated using Scottish country fabrics, four poster beds and cashmere throws from close by Johnstons of Elgin. Original features such as fireplaces and antique furniture have been restored in keeping with its traditional style. Craigellachie feels like a charming countryside family home.
Venturing out amid the beautiful surroundings you can hike to the white sandy beach at Lossiemouth or up to the top of nearby Glen Livet. Wild salmon and trout fishing on the River Spey, known as an angler’s paradise, is just a short walk from the hotel’s doorstep.
After a day of activity grab a seat by the fire at the welcoming tavern. It’s not surprising that the food is fantastic since Speyside is home to some of Scotland’s finest produce including, organic Aberdeen, Angus beef and fresh fish from the Moray Firth. Accompanying the food, live music from guitars to fiddles, local beer, fine wine and the best whiskey cocktails ensure a happening Highland’s night.

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