Discover award-winning hospitality in the South of Scotland

by Sara Barton, 21st December 2023
Discover award-winning hospitality in the South of Scotland

Are you planning your next getaway with friends & family or simply a quiet romantic retreat? Then we have some award-winning recommendations for hotels offering superb experiences, luxurious bed and breakfasts and unique self-catering stays. All of them beckon travellers seeking a memorable stay in the South of Scotland. This curated collection were all recognised for their dedication to excellence in hospitality at the South of Scotland Thistle Awards earlier this year – with two of them winning national awards as well. These unique venues offer an exquisite blend of comfort, authenticity, and unparalleled service.

Deluxe B&Bs

The Ghillie is everything you could want in a five star B&B. The attention to detail is perfection itself, personalised from pre-arrivals communications to the service you get once you are there. You will definitely feel you are staying with friends who want to make you feel welcome and at ease. The breakfast comes from local providers and your hosts even ensure the bacon is cut to a precise thickness to ensure the perfect cook!

The Ghillie B& B in Melrose.

You can get a great feel of what is going on in Moffat before you arrive via the monthly blogs from the Queensberry House B&B. And if walking is your thing, this is definitely the right place for you, as the owners are the organisers of the annual walking festival. The B&B works with local businesses , offering its guests loyalty cards and local discounts via these super collaborations. There are many stories to be told here and one visit is unlikely to be enough! Take a look at their various packages showcasing the best of the local area.

Queensberry House dining room. Breakfast is included in the room rate, Queensberry House
There is so much more than the excellent breakfast on offer at Queensberry House B&B!

Nestled in the hillls near Thornhill sits the luxurious two-bedroomed Nithbank Country Estate. Winning the regional Best B&B or Guest House, Nithbank went on to win the national Thistle Award too showing it really showcases the very best of Scottish hospitality. Homemade scones and jam await you on arrival and breakfast is a veritable delight of locally sourced ingredients. The rooms offer the ultimate in comfort and modern luxury and your hosts Melanie and John are true ambassadors for all things local, including the nearby Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.

Nithbank Country Estate won the national Scottish Thistle Award for Best B&B Experience.

Inviting hotel experiences

In the heart of Kirkcudbright sits the Selkirk Arms Hotel, a hotel run with care and passion by Chris Walker and his team, who consistently deliver excellent service, as seen on their online reviews. The hotel offers a wide array of interesting packages from Stargazing to Birdwatching, Cycling to Art Tours – all working with local guides and businesses to provide you with a really complete experience of the area. To boot, there are more and more reasons to visit as the hotel helps instigate new events such as the Kirkcudbright Book Festival coming up in March and the Kirkcudbright Fringe, which had its inaugural weekend in September. Book in and there is even a downloadable guide book to help plan your stay!

The Selkirk Arms Hotel, selkirkarms
The Selkirk Arms in Kirkcudbright offers an array of experiences for its guests.

If it is a bit of pampering you are after, be sure to book into the family-run Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries. Opening in spring, the Spa at The Cairndale Hotel, will be a new destination spa for the south of Scotland, offering treatments, spa days and wellness retreats. After a day of pampering you can relax in one of the hotel’s glass domes in the garden and have the best seats in the house for the glorious night sky as you enjoy drinks and your evening meal.

Exterior, Cairndale Hotel
The Cairndale will be opening a new spa in the spring to offer a range of treatments for guests.

Those looking for excellent dining and a warm welcome will find both at Cringletie near Peebles. The hotel’s chef, Iain Gourlay, chooses produce from the estate’s Walled Garden to complement the local suppliers he uses to showcase the very best of the Borders larder. Perhaps you will be enticed by the hotel’s Gourmet Sunday package offering a seven-course tasting menu and overnight stay, allowing you to extend a weekend away with a very special treat. Check out this and the other Special Offers on the hotel’s website. Excellent reviews, superb food and an imaginative array of different packages helped put the Cringletie in the winning position at the 2023 South of Scotland Thistle Awards for Best Hotel Experience.

Sample some truly delicious cuisine while you stay at Cringletie near Peebles.

Self-catering with a twist

Finding that perfect get-away location with plenty to do nearby can be a challenge but the Loch Ken Eco Bothies near Castle Douglas have this covered in spades! You may think the name rings a bell and indeed the cottages featured on BBC Scotland’s programme, Scotland’s Great Escape in 2022, reaching the grand final. These four environmentally friendly cottages are all unique and offer experiences for guests via its sister company, the Galloway Activity Centre, to offer a whole range of activities from sailing, kayaking, waterslide fun park to climbing wall and zip lining and laser quest. The accommodation offers private spaces to relax, a log burning hot tub and a kayak or stand up paddle board to head out and explore Loch Ken. And it may be off-grid but there is still internet connectivity!

The Loch Ken Eco Bothies offer off-grid accommodation with comfort and plenty to do!

For an altogether quieter off-grid experience for just two, head to Tiny Home Borders nestled by the slopes of Ruberslaw. With your own private lochan, wild swimming is a tempting option, as is having a go with the paddleboards provided. Warm up afterwards in the Swedish wood-fired hot tub – also ideal for stargazing on a clear night. Don’t think this out of the way location means you have to sacrifice luxury – cosy up in fluffy bathrobes and slippers and there are delicious local food options to try if you are so inclined. The only noise you are likely to hear is the calling of the red deer herd which shares the landscape with you or the calls of the birds of prey overhead.

Starggaze under the canopy after a day of wild swimming in your private lochan.

Games lovers will adore a stay at Arden Holiday Cottage, which offers an immersive escape room challenge to be solved by guests, so the fun starts before you even unpack! And once you have settled in, more than 140 board games await your attention! If that doesn’t sound quite your thing, then there are options of getaways focusing on well-being with Reiki, Indian head massage, meditation and reflexology all on offer from local practitioners. Its quirky approach won Arden Holiday Cottage both the South of Scotland and National Thistle Award for Best Self-Catering Experience.

Rural setting , Alison Boyes
Arden Holiday Cottage offers a Geek Retreat as well as Well-Being breaks.

Guests needing some serious pampering, whether a couple or larger family group are warmly welcome at Airhouses, near Lauder. This excellent collection of self-catering accommodations was recognised for its outstanding hospitality as winner of the national Scottish Thistle Award Best Luxury Experience. Set on a working farm, there are a whole host of inviting options for all ages from treasure trails for the young ones to facials and massages for the adults. There is a choice of cottages for larger groups or pods for two – all with hot tubs to soak away your worries and your cares! And the extras menu offers fabulous options you can preorder for delivery to your door – whether it’s a delicious breakfast, fresh veg and local meats or a full hog roast to feed up to 10 people.  

inside the lodges at airhouses , airhouses
Enjoy the stunning views at the Airhouses in Lauder and maybe a hog roast!