Top 5 festive hotels where Scotland begins

For some people, Christmas and the holiday season are the most wonderful time of the year to spend with family and friends from near and far. While grandparents can enjoy the often rare opportunities in these modern and increasingly digital times to interact with their grandchildren in person and play with them some real board games that do not involve computer screens, parents can enjoy a harmonious family gathering that includes the older generation as well as the younger generation – if they are not too busy Festive shopping, decorations and preparations.

But there are also people – perhaps an increasing number – who just want to break away from the traditions of home and family. For them, a Christmas tree is no longer necessary and an open fire can easily be created on a large TV screen. They are no longer looking for a festive getaway, instead preferring some outdoor activities amid the winter elements, followed by a fine dining experience and hilarious time for two or with their children, whether they are still young or already adults. These are the people I think of when I share with you the 5 best festive hotels in the south of Scotland.

SCHLOSS Hotel Roxburghe, near Kelso, Roxburghshire

The hotel invites its guests to enjoy the festive magic of the castle – hoping that no one will grow up looking into the sky on Christmas Eve for reindeer and a sleigh. A 3-night package is available with a selection of flexible options for this special time of the year. Residents can relax with the crackling of open flames, culinary delicacies and, with a bit of luck, wake up to a beautiful white Christmas morning in the heart of the Scottish border.

Guests at SCHLOSS Roxburghe can also indulge in a truly unforgettable Hogmanay, celebrating the New Year. The 2-night package includes a luxurious stay in a beautiful country estate, plus all meals and amenities. Scotland is world famous for its Hogmanay celebrations. No one is sure, but the word Hogmanay may come from Gaelic or Norse. Everyone is greeted at the bells (midnight) with a warm Scottish welcome and everyone will leave for home after making new friends.

Cringletie, near Peebles, Scottish border

To celebrate Christmas at Cringletie, guests can arrive in style in a chauffeur-driven limousine on Christmas Eve from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Newcastle airports. Cream tea, champagne and hors d’oeuvres await, plus a welcome dinner at Sutherland Restaurant. Christmas morning offers some activity options on the estate or in the Walled Garden. The highlight of the day is of course the sumptuous lunch, and in the evening a light buffet dinner is served at the conservatory. 3 Nights package includes a cooking show and some celed dances after Burns’ Boxing Day Light Dinner.

The Cringletie’s Hogmanay Celebration Package can be enjoyed at leisure, and includes 3 nights in this stately cottage plus all day and evening meals and entertainment. A class to teach guests how to dance cilidh is held on December 30, which is a welcome warm-up for the dance of the ceilidh troupe in Hogmanay. Cocktails are served in the Garden Room on Hogmanay, followed by a delicious dinner. On New Year’s Day a festive brunch will give everyone a good start into the new year and a gala dinner will complete this stay at the Scottish Borders where Scotland begins.

Knockinaam Lodge, near Portpatrick and Dumfries & Galloway

Guests are welcome to join the 3 nights Christmas house party at Knockinaam. It’s a great place to get away from it all and spend time with your loved ones. At the dead end of the road and overlooking the Irish Sea, the inn is there to take care of all your culinary desires – from a welcome dinner on Christmas Eve and a bountiful lunch on Christmas Day to a wonderful farewell dinner on Boxing Day.

For Hogmanay Knockinaam Lodge, it offers a comfortable 3-night break to welcome the new year in style, spend time away from the hustle and bustle of business and family life, as well as reclaim well-being and inner strength to face new challenges for the year ahead. Traditional Hogmanay festivities focus on a gourmet dinner, proper piper and ceilidh – and welcome the New Year with a dip in the Irish Sea from Knockinaam’s private beach!

Glenapp Castle Hotel, near Ballantrae, Ayrshire

Glenapp Castle becomes a winter wonderland at Christmastime when the entrance sparkles with fairy lights and Christmas trees. Guests step inside to enjoy the warmth of a roaring open fire in the living room and indulge in this magical setting. If they want to make the festive season truly memorable for partners or families, they should opt for a 3 night stay in this picturesque part of Ayrshire. This will include hawk shows, stars, shooting mud pigeons, archery, treasure hunts, open fires and new friendships, something for the whole family.

The New Year is always a highlight of the Scottish calendar and always has its own unique style. Glenapp Castle’s 3-night stay and New Year’s Eve party is no different, offering luxurious accommodations, Scotch dancing, tie and glamorous evening gowns, banquets, drama, and an ice curling contest. Of course Auld Lang Syne is at the bells. A true taste of Scotland and memories of a lifetime are guaranteed in a wonderful castle setting.

Dunstan Houses, Edinburgh

If guests stay at Dunstane homes over Christmas, they will never need to lift a finger but will be treated to all the luxuries that come with a truly unforgettable Christmas holiday. They are encouraged to hang up their socks and simply enjoy a festive break Dunstane-style. The hotel is flexible about the length of this hangout, where you can experience the magic of the Scottish capital in a full festive swing, but at least two nights for the Christmas experience and three nights at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festivities is highly recommended.

Because of the owners’ orchid background, festive food and drink will always carry the spirit of Orkney. From Christmas Eve to New Years Eve, residents can choose from wine and chopped pancakes on arrival, a 5-course Christmas Day lunch and Boxing Day dinner as well as a whiskey or gin tasting followed by a welcome dinner on December 30, which is a sumptuous 5. Of course the Hogmanay dinner and a traditional steak dinner on New Year’s Day. No offense to Glasgow, but there is no better city in Scotland to be in when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve than Edinburgh!

Depending on their personal preferences, visitors to Scotland can decide on either a very relaxing and fun Christmas holiday or the entertaining Hogmanay experience in full swing – the choice is yours! Perhaps you’d prefer to stay in a quiet, intimate country house that feels almost like home but without the stress of turkey cooking times and who’s doing the dumplings afterward. Or, if a festive atmosphere and an exclusive ambiance is important to you during the Christmas season, I suggest celebrating in appropriate style at a Scottish castle hotel.

For the discerning traveler who has time on his Twixmas period, my recommendation is to explore Scotland Begins Here (southern part of Scotland), stay in the country house of your choice, then choose the castle hotel at another time as the kind of place you’ve always dreamed of. For Hogmanay at the end of the trip, there is nowhere else but Edinburgh with a wealth of additional shopping opportunities, a leisurely walk along the Water of Leith and the new Johnnie Walker Experience on Princes Street.

Dorothy Welch is the CEO of Luxury Scotland. Luxury Scotland offers true Scottish hospitality, gourmet cuisine and unique experiences.

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