From defending your own castle to cosy hideaways by the seaside, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders will bring your storybook holiday to life. Here, every property comes with its own intriguing stories and quirky historical facts, and many are set in jaw-dropping landscapes. Explore the great outdoors, experience the warm welcome of local market towns or get the thrill of adventure on tracks, roads and at sea. And all of it is set right on your doorstep.
If this sounds like your perfect idea of spending a few days, read on. We have picked nine unique self-catering and exclusive use accommodation options that will get you dreaming about your next trip.
Please note: In light of the coronavirus pandemic, health and safety are of paramount importance. Stay safe and adhere to current government guidance. If you are going for walks or exercise, always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and stay close to home. Closures and access restrictions may apply and will be lifted in line with government guidance. Always check with places directly and avoid all non-essential travel.
A small, cosy cottage nestled on the beach of picturesque Cove Harbour, only reachable through a rock-cut tunnel, the Blue Cabin by the Sea seems straight out of a novel. With its bright colour scheme covering both the exterior and interior of this fabulous little sanctuary, it’s impossible to miss. Traditional straw-back Orkney chairs invite you to relax while specially commissioned art pieces add to the quirky style.
The attention to detail inside is only matched by the outstanding natural beauty outside: Relax on the beach and spot herons and goldfinches, go rock pooling and watch fishing boats drift past.
The historic charm of an ancient Border peel tower meets 21st-century comforts and style; Aikwood Tower is sure to amaze anyone who stays here. While the imposing castle-like structure evokes strong links to the Scott’s, a renowned Border Reiver (cattle thieving) family, the interior will make you feel like a lord or lady. Sensitively restored to frame 500 years of history, sumptuous furnishings will see you relaxing in front of the impressive stone fireplace or taking in the views from your bedroom window.
The surrounding rolling hills, as well as the woodland trails through the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys, will see you plotting your own adventures and making memories throughout your stay.
Trade your ideas of the traditional Scottish cottage for Scandinavian chic right in the heart of the Pentland Hills. Among heather-covered hills and breathtaking views, Eastside Farm’s Westside Woodshed is – despite the name – anything but a shed. It boasts a sitting room with wood-burning fire to relax in front of after a day out exploring as well as a private garden with a wood-fired hot tub.
Here, contemporary style meets iconic Scottish landscapes and fluffy neighbours. After all, Eastside is a working sheep farm with direct access to some of the best tracks in the Pentland Hills Regional Park.
Where: St Abbs
Feel like you’re holidaying at the edge of the world, with a stay at one of four cottages at St Abbs Lighthouse. Perched high on the cliff tops of St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve, the cottages spoil visitors with magnificent views of the North Sea, while seabird colonies that have made their home in the rugged, rocky outcrops and steep cliff sides are the only neighbours.
For a peaceful experience close to nature, check into one of the wee shepherd huts at Rubersview. Situated on the edge of Minto conservation village, each hut has a unique vintage style and comes equipped with a wood-burning stove to keep you cosy. Though a shepherd hut might suggest the presence of fluffy sheep, here, you will instead find stunning views across the Teviot valley and a private honesty bar in the grounds.
For an extra dose of rural life head out on a walk up Ruberslaw Hill to survey the surrounding landscape or try one of the fantastic pubs and restaurants of Denholm.
Spending a few nights here will soothe your soul. No counting of sheep necessary.
As you enter Borthwick Castle, you are transported back through 600 years of the country’s history in truly opulent fashion. The interiors reflect the picture-perfect location as well as the historical atmosphere: Medieval grandeur spreads through every room, and those staying at Borthwick can enjoy grand banquets in the Great Hall or go off exploring up spiral staircases and passages.
The scene of a daring escape by Mary Queen of Scots and attacks by the Cromwellian army, history has left visible marks on this imposing fortress. Still, it dominates the surrounding landscape, guarding the valley it overlooks.
Escape the everyday and get back to nature. Effortlessly blending into the lush countryside, these authentic yurts offer a fantastic glamping experience. Let the tranquillity of the landscape, the meandering rivers and streams of the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys enchant you, as you while away the evening roasting marshmallows on your private fire pit. Colourful rugs and cushions, twinkly solar lights and cosy wood burners add perfect rustic charm to this traditional accommodation.
The second you step foot into the grounds of this former grain mill, you will never want to leave. The Old Mill, a converted 1700s water mill, is a bijoux escape that is sure to win your heart. Many original features and quirky nods to the buildings’ industrial heritage have been retained – including the water wheel of the Old Mill – to add to the homely atmosphere. No modern comforts were spared either, with underfloor heating and handcrafted finishes elevating the airy, open space.
If you can tear yourself away from the cosy interiors, meander along the Boondreigh Water to the old millpond. With quirky old artist cabins scattered around the grounds, there is lots to discover. Alternatively, greet the resident sheep and get involved in the action by assisting with shepherding. Lovers of wildlife will enjoy spotting everything from deer to salmon, and – if you’re lucky – even otters.
Spend your holiday overlooking a loch, with your very own boat moored right underneath your accommodation. Staying at the Boathouse at Coldingham Loch means unwinding with beautifully tranquil scenes right on your doorstep, or in this case, your pier. The Victorian boathouse sits right on the shore of the loch, making it the perfect spot get away from it all. Watch the abundant wildlife that calls this landscape home, and – if you’re a keen fisherman – set out onto the loch for fly-fishing.