Quirky stays in the South of Scotland

by Sara Barton, 5th April 2023
Loch Ken Eco Bothies | Loch Ken | Dumfries & Galloway
Quirky stays in the South of Scotland

Are you looking for something extra from your next holiday stay? Something a bit quirky, with just that slight difference to set it apart from the last trip – the sort of thing that will make your post-trip dinner anecdotes next level? We’ve got some great accommodation with a twist – whether it’s the location or the experiences on offer, we’re sure you’ll be talking about these long after you’ve returned home. Quirky stays start here!

Gaming addicts’ delight!

Gaming enthusiasts Hester and Paul have gone out of their way to ensure maximum fun for guests staying with them at Arden Holiday Cottage. There are Geek Weekends, games galore, and Escape Room options for all ages! There is the Frightful Fairies Escape room for ages 10 and up, while a brand new challenge has been created for those aged 6-10 years. Groups of adults might fancy the Geek Weekend. Start with an Escape room challenge on arrival followed by a murder mystery the next night and a board game bonanza your final day. One thing is sure, you’ll not get bored!

Rural setting , Alison Boyes
For the ultime gaming weekend head to Arden Holiday Cottage where multiple challenges await all ages.

Camp in a safari tent – and rent some chickens!

You can rent your own chickens for a week while you stay in a canvas tent, safari style at Balnab Farm Holidays outside of Whithorn. There are calves, goats, pigs and ponies for the children to admire and the tent kitchen will keep the chef of the family happy. Or use the outside BBQ area and enjoy the amazing night sky from the deck chairs on the veranda when the young ones have settled down. There’s a hot tub for hire on site, and the coast is a quick 10 minute drive if that. Locally there is the Whithorn Round House to explore, a glorious woodland walk to the beach and St Ninian’s Cave and the Steam Packet Inn for some excellent local Five Kingdoms ale. This is a great location for mixed generational family visits as well as groups of friends.

Charming canvas tent holiday on a working farm with plenty to see and do nearby.

Fancy 18-holes after breakfast?

Stay at New Woll Estate and its 18-hole golf course is playable for free. Imagine planning your round as you finish your breakfast overlooking the greens. The holiday chalets are 4-star with feature fireplaces, attractive gardens and views acoss the course and down the valley to Synton and the village of Ashkirk. You are perfectly situated for a walk to the first tee and the estate has its own restaurant so after your day on the links, you can relax in the knowledge someone else will do the cooking! In addition to unlimited free rounds at New Woll, there is also a discount at the nearby Roxburghe course. This is an ideal break with variety to keep the family golfer happy.

Holiday chalets, free 18-hole course and a restaurant on site make New Woll an excellent choice for golfing enthusiasts.

Horse riders’ delight

Experienced horse riders can enjoy guided tours along the route taken by the Lauder Common Riding while they stay in the luxurious south wing of Thirlestane Castle. The Lauder Common Riding is one of the oldest equestrian festivals in the world, with its route being ridden since the 16th Century. Residents patrolled the boundaries of their settlement on horse back, defending territory against raiders from across the border. While this route is for established riders, less experienced riders can still enjoy a ride along the Scottish coastline or to the moors, whilst enjoying incredible views over the picturesque town of Lauder and Thirlestane Castle.

luxurious stays option: Thirlestane Castle, Lauder
Thirlestane Castle offers great horse riding options for those keen to explore on four legs! Credit: Phil Wilkinson.

Family activity break in eco-style

How about a break with sailing lessons or kayaking around the beautiful Loch Ken? The Loch Ken Ecobothies are ideally situated to make maximum use of the nearby Galloway Activity Centre. There’s archery, laser tag, climbing and a giant swing, not to mention superb walks and cycle trails around the loch. And the bothies themselves are pretty unique. These luxury, off-grid properties are secluded and come with their own log-fired hot tubs, private decking and access to the shore. The latest bothy, the Osprey, sleeps 6-8 and comes with two double sit on top kayaks, 2 paddle boards and buoyancy aids for your use while you stay.

Modern design and comfort at the Loch Ken Ecobothies allow for relaxing after an adventurous day’s sailing.

Yoga anyone?

You may have tried yoga before but how about aerial yoga? This is just one of the yoga options for your stay on the 5,000-acre Barwhillanty Estate? Aerial yoga aims to deliver on strength training and improved flexibility as the aerial hammock supports you and gives you access to move in flight. Or you can opt to stay on the ground with Yin Yang Yoga – where the focus is on joints, muscles and the connective tissues. Join regular weekly sessions or request a private course during your stay. Choose from four holiday cottages on the property and enjoy the secluded location away from the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Barwhillanty Estate
Try different forms of yoga during your stay on the Balwhillanty Estate in Dumfries & Galloway.

Stay in a film location

More than 700 years old, Duns Castle has been featured in films such as Mrs Brown starring Judi Dench and Billy Connolly and TV series (including Frontier on Netflix). The castle itself sits in a beautiful 1200-acre estate, an oasis of calm with its own nature reserve, forest trails and pastures. The Castle is not open to the public, renting out for exclusive use only. It can sleep 23 people in its 12 rooms, ideal for a large family gathering. And further acommodation in the form of several holiday cottages within the estate mean groups of up to 56 can be accommodated.

Duns Castle, Duns Castle Estate
Duns Castle provides a fantastic backdrop for your very own video shoot – no matter what the occasion.

Go foraging

Slogarie Estate has teamed up with local foraging expert Mark who can take you on a guided foraging and feasting tour. A stay here is all about re-wilding (yourself and the environment) and you can enjoy long walks through this 100-acre private estate situated in the heart of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere. Not to mention that cycling, walking, wild swimming, nature spotting are all easily achievable from the estate. Once you’re back at the cottages log fires, fire pits and hot tubs make for fantastic relaxing after a day’s exploration. To boot if you stay in their latest renovation, Keeper’s Cottage, it is powered by renewals making it a carbon neutral stay!

Beautiful Slogarie Estate offers you the chance to get back to nature.

New experiences

Award-winning self catering accommodation Five Turrets offers a huge range of local experiences delivered by their partners – their latest option includes wildlife spotting days out with experienced guides from Go Wild Scotland. Wildlife tours can’t guarantee results but you can hope to see red squirrels in the forest, seals and puffins along the coast and otters along the Tweed river system. Other fabulous experiences on offer include a guided paddle or pedal; a masterclass in cake making or a trek with an alpaca. Whatever you are inspired to try, you will certainly have tales to tell long after your stay in this luxurious and definitely quirky turreted house.

The Five Turrets, a historic townhouse at the heart of the Scottish Borders., The Five Turrets
Five Turrets offers the possibility of booking a wildlife tour via Go Wild Scotland during your stay.

Spectacular star gazing

The Galloway Forest is the heart of the UK’s first Dark Sky Park with some stellar stargazing. Head to Seaview Snugs at Laggan and make the most of the Dark Skies experience. By day head to Kirkcudbright and explore the Dark Space Planetarium then take a tour of the Dark Art Distillery and discover its Sky Garden gin. Maybe take a bottle back with you for a proper Dark Sky nightcap. And enjoy a luxurious soak in the hot tub while you star gaze and watch the Milky Way overhead. A divine break all round.

Hot tub view from Seaview Snugs by day – at night there is an unrivalled view up to the stars.