"There are two seasons in Scotland, June and winter." Billy Connelly is about right. While Scotland might be nippy this time of year, the weather's no excuse not to head north. It's perfect for a good dose of soul-searching and resetting that the New Year needs. Find the perfect Scottish eco-stay, from hill perched and loch facing to luxury off grid school houses on far-flung islands. Walk, read and cosy up by the fire. It's what winter was made for.
Luxury Scottish eco-lodge The Knoydart often crops up as one of the best eco-stays in the UK. This wild at heart lodge sleeps 10, although you might not want to share the hot tub that overlooks Loch Nevis with that many. The house has green credentials as long as your arm and is powered by rainwater from the hills. There’s no mains electricity up here and no roads, Mallaig is as close as you can get and then it’s a passenger ferry. The Knoydart community operates a local garden where you can buy seasonal veg, artisanal bread is delivered and fresh fish and shellfish can arrive at your door as can plenty of homemade local treats. Delicious in every sense of the word.
Head to the Hebrides this winter where two turfed roofed lodges await on the isle of Islay. These Scottish eco-stays have been built by Argyll craftsmen to create dry stone walls banked into the hillside with views over Glenastle Lochs or Kintyre. With an open plan kitchen and living room, floor to ceiling windows and an eco-chic vibe, each lodge is a spacious stay for two to four adults. The pub’s a ten minute drive or you can have locally sourced meals delivered to you, prepared by an award-winning chef. Explore the windswept beaches of Islay, known as the Queen of the Hebrides, before sinking into a cedar hot tub or sweating it out in your own sauna.
If you’re looking for a seriously removed Scottish eco-lodge, how about an off-grid school house on a tiny island? No mobile reception or Wi-fi and a 45 minute walk from the jetty - this is the digital detox you’ve been looking for. It’s taken a year to restore the building (designed by Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa), and while there’s no electricity, there is lashings of hot water to soak in roll top baths or for invigorating outdoor showers after a Scottish swim. The house and six cottages mix modern-country chic with eco-friendly vibes for something stylish and sustainable. Remote, romantic and really, really lovely.
Just past Ullapool in the north west corner of Scotland and nudged into a hillside are two Stone Houses built from turf, stone and glass. These popular retreats have panoramic views of the local mountains and you can watch the Scottish weather churn through its changes. A ten minute walk puts you in the village or head up into the hills above Loch Broom via the path network on your doorstep. Solar heated and kept warm with recycled material including car windscreen insulation, the houses hit the eco-luxury nail on the head. Treehouse has its own sauna, a private birch wood and a waterfall.
If you want to get away from it all, and we mean all, you can sit and watch the water lap gently at the edge of Loch Eriboll, three hours past Inverness on the top tip of the Scottish mainland. Croft 103 is actually two glass fronted cottages that invite long candlelit evenings waiting to see the Northern Lights. Wake up to epic views in complete privacy and hike to your heart’s content. Cook local shellfish in the modern kitchen or arrange to have the freezer filled with meals. The cottages have are carbon negative, local sheep’s wool insulates the roof and they were built using local stone and local crafters.
The private Scottish Isle of Eriska will open four remote eco-lodges in time for Easter next year in addition to the two hilltop reserves it currently has. With Relais & Chateaux status, the island offers a luxurious but environmentally friendly take on the Scottish highlands, using renewable water systems and sensitively built lodges. Choose to self-cater or indulge in the Michelin star restaurant known for its local produce and foraged food or relax after a day's hike in the ESPA spa at the main hotel.
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