Updated: 23rd March 2021
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A land of lochs and munros, castles and craggy coastlines, Scotland brings breathtaking beauty to any trip. With cliff-hugging lighthouses and grand castles to admire, there is plenty to explore. Even better though, did you know you can even stay in these unique attractions? Yep, there is a wealth of unusual places to stay in Scotland which will help you make your trip even more special.
So, forget the chain-hotels to typical accommodation ideas, and opt for something a little bit different instead.
Stay in a lighthouse on the South West Coast 300
While the islands and the highlands often get the most attention when it comes to Scotland road trips, the borders region and area below Edinburgh and Glasgow are more than worthy of their own trip.
The South West Coast 300 is a route that celebrates this, and encaptures plenty of Scotland’s finer things – from castles to fortresses, woodlands to coast.
One of the most striking and historical spots along the route is the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, a 200-year-old structure at Scotlands most southerly point. As an unusual place to stay in Scotland, you can actually book to spend a night or two here, in the cottages on the grounds and sleep in the historical setting.
Rock yourself to sleep on a canal boat
A canal boat holiday in Scotland provides another unusual place to stay, and you can do this both in the city and the country.
There are a few houseboats you can rent to stay at in Edinburgh, or perhaps you want to stay on the famed Loch Ness and find the mythical monster – this is also possible on the Scotia W houseboat.
Canal Boat trips and tours are popular too, with routes such as Falkirk to the Kelpies always a winner, as you sail through lochs and along the beautiful natural waterways of the country. With a growing number of people deciding to buy a canal boat as an alternative to a camper van, it’s not surprising that these options for a unique stay are becoming more common on the likes of Air BnB.
Check-in to a legit Castle
While settling in for the night isn’t going to be possible in the famous Edinburgh Castle, luckily Scotland is a land of castles, so there are plenty more options for those seeking a more regal stay.
Across the nation, you have plenty of choices, depending on which region of Scotland you plan to visit.
Popular castles to stay at include the 12th-century Tulloch Castle, not far from Inverness, where striking vies of the highlands await, or the adorable Kilmartin Castle, a 500-year old beautiful building that offers bed and breakfast options in the Argyll region.
Escape city life with a country farm stay
Lush hills and green open spaces define Scotland, and with the woolly Scotland coos a staple of the countryside, it’s not surprising that farm stays are growing in popularity.
If you are looking for an unusual place to stay in Scotland and nature is calling your name, then checking into a working farm in the highlands or along the coast is a wonderful idea, especially for families.
Enjoy the chance to breathe the fresh air, see the farm animals in their natural environment, and enjoy fresh farm-to-fork dining with either a BnB stay, or a self-catering option.
Add a splash of history with a Landmark heritage stay
With a whole host of historic accommodation options across the country, it makes sense to spend at least a night or two in a heritage building during a road trip around Scotland.
The Landmark Trust provides a great database of accommodation options to choose from, all of which are in historic buildings.
Chose from the likes of an eccentric 18th-century home built in the shape of a pineapple for a rather unusual stay, or something a little more traditional such as a laird’s house (a laird is the Scottish equivalent of an English Lord).
Go traditional with a Scottish island cottage vacation
You can never go wrong with a cottage stay in Scotland, a cosy and comfortable staple for a British Holiday. This especially rings true on the Islands, where self-catering options to really get away from it all might become even more appealing.
While you will find plenty of options on the likes of Vrbo, there are also dedicated websites for booking this kind of accommodation, such as the Independent Cottages portal.
Often set in more scenic locations than hotels, traditional cottages in stone-work with open fireplaces and spacious gardens can usually cater for larger groups or extended families, as well as the smaller, more quaint cottages.
Sleep in an Iron Age roundhouse
For something really special, and to feel like you are being transported to middle earth, the Brochs of Coigach are waiting for you.
Located on the northwest coast – looking out to the ‘Summer Isles’ –these Iron Age roundhouses are almost hidden in the greenery of the surrounding area. Fully renovated, and now complete with luxury furnishings, the stone exterior of these historic homes hides the modern style of the interiors.
Offering a truly unusual holiday in a gorgeous setting, the sounds of nature rule supreme here, and the Brochs provide a blissful escape from reality.
Cosy up in a Castle ground camping pod
Camping in Scotland is unsurprisingly popular, given the epic views and stunning nature of the country. While wild camping is legal in parts of Scotland, some areas have their own by-laws so it’s worth planning where to stay in advance.
Regardless, if the weather isn’t on your side, or you simply want a shower, the occasional stay in an official campsite is always welcome.
For one of the more unusual camping spots in Scotland check out the camping pods at Brodick Castle. Set in the gardens of this castle on the Isle of Arran, these little wooden huts, some with fire-places, offer much more rainy weather-friendly camping options in a stunning location.
Grab a budget stay in an Edinburgh Uni Hall
I’m throwing this option in for anyone who is looking to visit Edinburgh during the festival season when accommodation is not only scarce but the prices skyrocket.
I am often working in Edinburgh during August, and not wanting to spend all my wages on a place to stay, I book to stay in the University accommodation, which is plentiful.
When the students are in term, which covers most of the festival season, the halls are rented out at fairly reasonable prices, ideal for a longer stay. You can see find more money-saving tips in my Edinburgh Festivals budget travel guide.