There was a time, not so long ago, when the usual hotel experiences in Scotland were something one tolerated rather than embraced. Too often, it seemed like you were staying at something more like grandma’s house than a modern hotel. Fortunately, that era has gone the way of the gutta percha.
Today, you’ll find excellent and uplifting accommodations offerings in every corner of Scotland. The larger golf resorts have perfected the pampering of overseas guests, while smaller hotels and guest houses have upped their game, as well. And many of Scotland’s historic hotels and guest houses offer a glimpse of a kinder and gentler era that makes staying in them a relaxing escape from all the ills of the modern-day world. Truly, you’ll find that Scotland’s accommodations are now on par with its golf—and that’s saying something.
Here’s a list that you may want to peruse before booking your next Scottish golf adventure, arranged by region. With its help, you can stay as well as you play on your next trip to Scotland.
ST. ANDREWS & FIFE
The St. Andrews area, with the Old Course as its centerpiece, is Scotland’s most powerful golf magnet. In addition to all the Links Trust courses, you can tee it up at Kingsbarns, Crail, The Duke’s Course, the two Fairmont St. Andrews courses, Lundin Links, Leven, Elie, and the fabulous new Dumbarnie Links. The local accommodations choices are just as alluring.
Old Course Hotel: Owned by the Kohler Co. of Whistling Straits fame, the Old Course Hotel is five-star luxury all the way, with elegant rooms, a top-notch spa, and a location right on the 17th Hole of the Old Course that puts you within walking distance of the first tee. Make sure to secure a course-view room and enjoy sunrises over the links.
Rusacks St. Andrews: Overlooking the 18th fairway of the Old Course, Rusacks recently underwent a 44-room expansion that has given the world even more of a good thing and will permit even more golfers to enjoy its ideal location (as well as its sweet rooftop bar).
Fairmont St. Andrews: A large hotel with expansive facilities (and two visit-worthy golf courses), the Fairmont is a top choice for meetings and conventions. But it’s also perfect for visiting golfers, who will find its large rooms to be exceedingly comfortable and its service top-drawer. They even have American power outlets
Rufflets Country House: Located just west of the center of the Auld Grey Toon, Rufflets offers a quiet, natural experience set on 10 acres of gardens and wooded countryside. This seven-bedroom turreted mansion is a wonderful place to relax and luxuriate between rounds of golf. Get the full Rufflets experience by dining on the terrace when the weather is fair.
Carnoustie Golf Hotel & Spa: This is a large hotel with 95 rooms and 10 suites that sits right behind the 18th green of the Carnoustie Championship Course. But it has a smaller hotel vibe that makes it a very comfortable place to station yourself when visiting this area, just north of Dundee. Many rooms offer direct views of the course and the famous Barry Burn.
Perthshire is the gateway to the Highlands—a wild and wooly region characterized by rolling hills, farmland, and two very nice golf resorts.
Gleneagles: Gleneagles is a destination unto itself. With three superb courses, including the PGA Centenary Course that hosted the 2014 Ryder Cup and the James Braid-designed King’s and Queen’s Courses, the golf is fantastic. Equally fantastic is the rest of the resort, with its five-star rooms and suites, superb restaurants and bars, spa with indoor pool, and wide range of off-course experiences, including shooting, fishing, and falconry.
Murrayshall: This charming country house and estate sits on 365 acres of Perthshire countryside and offers 27 holes of challenging and very enjoyable parkland golf. The former home of Lord Lynedoch, it’s a sophisticated hideaway featuring 40 rooms and suites. Its location is picturesque and peaceful, and the wining and dining first-rate. Make sure to enjoy the sweets and savories at afternoon tea if you can.
Cameron House: A devastating fire closed the hotel for several years, but like a phoenix Cameron House has risen from the ashes to once again offer some of the most luxurious accommodations in Scotland. The hotel has its own strong course, The Carrick, and the views from your room of the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond will make you wish you never had to check out. If you can finagle a round at Loch Lomond Golf Club (good luck!), you’ll forever be in love with this area.
East Lothian is one of Scotland’s most attractive golf destinations, with great courses up and down the coast. Located a short drive from Edinburgh, it’s here that you’ll find celebrated links like Muirfield, North Berwick, Dunbar, Kilspindie, and the three busy courses at Gullane.
Greywalls Hotel: Life doesn’t get much better than staying at Greywalls, an elegant Scottish Edwardian country house, and teeing it up next door at Muirfield. The rooms and suites here hearken back to a bygone era—but with all the modern creature comforts. In addition, there are Cottage Rooms, as well as The Colonel’s House, which can accommodate up to eight fortunate guests. The Chez Roux restaurant here is one of Scotland’s finest dining spots.
Marine North Berwick: For years, the Marine has been the place to stay when visiting North Berwick. After an expansion and major refurbishment in 2021, it’s even more appealing. The Marine overlooks North Berwick’s famed West Links, with captivating views of the sea and the area’s main natural attraction, Bass Rock. You have a great view of Bass Rock from the hotel’s stylish Bass Rock Bar, as well. And it’s all just steps from one of Scotland’s most historic and enjoyable golf courses.
Home to a host of great links courses, including Royal Troon, Prestwick, Western Gailes, Dundonald, Barassie, and the Ailsa and King Robert the Bruce courses at Turnberry, Ayrshire is a region you can spend a week in and never play the same glorious course twice.
Dundonald: The Kyle Phillips-designed links course at Dundonald is one of Scotland’s most underappreciated. Though it doesn’t sit right on the water, it’s every inch a championship-caliber track and well worthy of a go. Starting recently, the club also offers on-site accommodations that put you right at the heart of all that Ayrshire has to offer. Choose one of the standard Links Rooms or opt for one of their self-catering two-, four-, or six-bedroom luxury Lodges, which have wee putting greens right outside their doors.
Marine Troon: As its sister hotel in North Berwick recently did, the Marine Troon is undergoing an extensive refurbishment at the moment. But it’s due to reopen just in time for the golf season to ramp up in late spring 2022. From your window at the Marine, you’ll be able to look out over the closing holes at Royal Troon, which is just a short walk from the hotel. And if the refurb at the Marine North Berwick is any guide, you can expect the updated Marine Troon to offer a level of luxury and comfort worthy of a royal title itself.
Trump Turnberry: The links golf at Turnberry is legendary, and it has only gotten better over the past decade, with improvements made to the famed Ailsa course and a complete redesign of the resort’s second course, now the King Robert the Bruce course. Together, they offer one of Scotland’s best one-two punches. The rooms, self-catering cottages, and suites here are just as spectacular—with the Lighthouse Suite by the water offering the epitome of exclusivity.
Glenapp Castle: Looking for something even more luxurious and special? Station yourself at Glenapp Castle, a Scottish Baronial-style hotel where the 17 traditionally decorated suites and Castle Penthouse Apartment exude Old World charm and will have you thinking you’re living in a fairy tale. This is Victorian splendor at its best.
ARGYLL & THE ISLES
This part of southwestern Scotland is a links golf lover’s paradise, with unique courses that benefit greatly from their off-the-beaten-path locations. The hotel product has been elevated considerably lately, making it an even more attractive destination for anyone adventurous enough to travel to the area.
The Machrie: You’ll need to take a ferry (or helicopter or plane) to get to the island of Islay (pronounced EYE-la), but what you’ll find at the end of your journey will make it more than worthwhile. The links course at The Machrie underwent a transformation between 2014 and 2017, and there’s debate about whether the new course is better than its forebear (which had 18 tantalizing blind shots). But there’s no debate about the upgrading of the hotel there. Today, The Machrie Hotel offers 47 elegant rooms, suites, and lodges, some with terraces that offer spectacular views of the links and Laggan Bay. And all of Islay’s renowned distilleries are close by.
Ardfin: Getting to the rugged, windswept island of Jura requires determination, but what an experience awaits you there. The Ardfin Estate is home to a truly stunning links golf course that hugs the island’s rocky shoreline and beach. Its accommodation offerings are equally impressive (and expensive). This is five-star luxury in a historic setting, with splendid rooms in the Quads (converted from outbuildings) and stately Jura House, which is available for groups of up to 20 on an exclusive-use basis. The top-shelf experience here, combined with the remoteness and ruggedness of Jura, all add up to a destination unlike any other in Scotland.
Aberdeen in the northeast of Scotland is home to some spectacular links golf, including Royal Aberdeen, Trump International, Cruden Bay, Murcar, and Fraserburgh. The parkland golf in this area has much to commend it, too—in particular the two courses at Newmachr and the Knight’s Course at Meldrum House.
Meldrum House: This 13th Century manor home sits on 240 acres straight out of a postcard. Whether you stay in the Manor House itself, the Estate Rooms wing, or the more contemporary Stables building rooms, you’ll be surrounded by centuries of grandeur and wonderful views of the estate. There’s also a lodge building, The Chain Lodge, with five more en suite guest rooms. Whichever you choose, make sure to schedule a meal or drinks in the 800-year-old Cave Bar, which offers more than 120 whiskies and boasts the world’s largest collection of Glen Garioch whiskies. Make sure to play the course, too—it’s worth the time.
Culloden House: Golfers have long been drawn to the Inverness area by the stellar links course at Nairn. With the debut of Castle Stuart in 2009, the visitor numbers increased even further. Should you be headed this way, Culloden House is the place to stay. Bonnie Prince Charlie bivouacked here at the time of the Jacobite Rebellion in the 1740s, and today this elegant Palladian mansion is even more welcoming. There are 28 charming bedrooms and suites, many with crystal chandeliers and marble fireplaces.
Links House Dornoch: Located just steps from the first tee at Royal Dornoch, Links House provides a comfy country house experience with a range of accommodations options. Choose from one of the eight luxury suites in its smart Mews and Glenshiel buildings, the five deluxe rooms in the Manse building, or opt for one of its two roomy apartments. Whichever you choose, you’ll have the two Royal Dornoch courses at arm’s length, with other courses like Brora, Tain, and Golspie just a short drive away.
What is your favorite hotel in Scotland?