From eco lodges and boutique bothies to yurts and treehouses, our favourite 20 Scots rustic boltholes

The sun may soon set on summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a getaway. You’re never more than an hour or two’s drive from a wild beauty spot in Scotland, and an explosion in rural retreats in recent times means you don’t have to rough it in the wilderness.

From eco lodges and boutique bothies to yurts and geodesic domes, these rustic boltholes allow you to unplug in comfort even if you do go off-grid. And don’t worry – for those that shudder at the merest hint of camping, we’ve found lodges with private spas and hotels in scenic settings that’ll give you the dose of luxury you crave.


Bracing winds, standing stones and vast white beaches fringed by sand dunes: the Outer Hebrides offers a brand of wilderness unlike anywhere else in Scotland. Lean into the rugged beauty of the landscape by staying in an eco-friendly dwelling that melds with it. With their turf roofs and stone walls, Blue Reef Cottages in Harris appear to be at one with the grassy hillside surrounding them. The cerulean glint of the Atlantic Ocean in the curved bay windows, however, reveals two one-bedroom Hobbit houses perched above the sweeping sands of Scarista. Though based on neolithic housing, the amenities are anything but Stone Age; underfloor heating, a jacuzzi bath and a sauna will ensure you feel suitably pampered. (From £1,600-2,200 for a week’s stay.)


In the 1920s, JM Barrie wrote the screenplay for Peter Pan while on Eilean Shona. One century later, the tidal island – positioned off the coast of the West Highlands in Loch Moidart – still possesses the same magic that inspired Neverland. Car-free and only reachable by boat, part of Eilean Shona’s charm lies in the journey to get there. The rest comes from the adventures that await. Free from the shackles of motoring around, visitors spend their days wild swimming, crabbing, hiking and wildlife watching. The island’s owner offers an array of accommodation to pick between, from a grand nine-bedroom home to the one-bedroom Shepherd’s Cottage, an impeccably styled off-grid bolthole with a wood burner and fresh water from its own private spring. (From £1,100 for a week’s stay.)


Braid your hair and dig out those flares to visit this coterie of bohemian caravans, or roulottes, in the Scottish Borders. If the meadow of wildflowers doesn’t get you in the mood for peace and love then the interiors of the roulottes just might: think rich Moroccan-inspired hues, silk and velvet textiles and furnishings sourced from around the globe. Handcrafted from sustainable timber in France and Holland, the roulottes are environmentally friendly with a luxe spin – some have eco hot tubs and one has a wood-fired sauna. Activity-wise there’s plenty to do nearby, whether you fancy a ramble in the Eildon Hills or a mosey in the nearby town of Melrose. (From £115/night; two-night minimum stay.)


Farmers Jane and James Foad offer a fine line in agritourism with three boutique farm bothies on their Newton of Begshill steading. The Sheep Shed is a charmer, plonked in a golden field of malted barley and boasting its own wood-fired hot tub and pizza oven – an iconic duo if ever we heard one. It sleeps two, but the others sleep four should you need more space (well-behaved dogs are welcome too). Wherever you stay, you’ll receive a welcome hamper containing a bounty of goodies, including Jane’s homemade strawberry jam and home-baked bread, as well as a selection of board games. Whisky fans won’t want to stay indoors, though – the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail is right on the doorstep and ripe for a pilgrimage. (From £145/night; two-night minimum stay.)


You’ll feel as though you’ve stumbled upon a settlement of time-travellers from the future when you clap eyes on the cluster of geodesic glamping domes at this campsite by the banks of Loch Tay. The multi-faceted silvery tents with rustic boarded flooring are perfect for a family break with dogs in tow, sleeping two adults and two children (or three adults). There’s bedding, seating and a wood-burning stove inside, with an amenities block and campers’ kitchen a short stroll away. On-site activities include gorge walking and off-road Segway trekking and there’s no shortage of scenic walking routes, not least a climb up Ben Lawers, the highest mountain in the central Highlands. (£80 per night, based on two adults sharing.)


Planning a group getaway can be tricky when some of you like embracing the great outdoors while others break out in hives at the thought. Black Isle Yurts may just have a solution that suits all in its newest addition, Larch, which sleeps five. Though located beneath a canopy of trees and designed to resemble a traditional yurt, it is fully insulated and double glazed with a separate kitchen area that gives it a roomy, modern feel. Non-outdoorsy types could even be won over to the green side by the walking trail through semi-ancient native woodland that leads to a sandy beach where pods of dolphins are often spotted. You won’t get that in a Hilton. (From £121/night; two-night minimum stay.)


The rickety wooden bridge connecting the Isle of Eriska to the mainland isn’t quite indicative of the luxury in store at this private island resort. For a start, the baronial mansion is all period features and open fires with grand bedrooms dominated by four-poster beds. Then there’s the Michelin-starred restaurant, and a spa offering Ishga and Espa treatments. In short, you won’t be roughing it – this is where the fanciest of people go when they want to disconnect from the daily grind. The 300 acres of land are yours to explore, with views of the dramatic Morvern mountains and Loch Linnhe at every turn. Stay in one of Eriska’s self-contained Hilltop Reserves and you can drink up the scenery from your own hot tub. (From £420 per double room/night.)


Fans of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces might recognise this dinky treehouse nestled in a bluebell wood. It, alongside Brockloch Eco Retreat, was highlighted by the programme a few years ago for its innovative design: inside, there’s a bed, sofa, wood-burning stove and a skylight that affords glimpses of the starry sky beyond the tree tops. There’s no TV or WiFi and you may even struggle to get a phone signal, making it an ideal retreat for those who struggle to switch off voluntarily. Here, there’s no option but to succumb to the balm of nature. Red kites, red squirrels and deer are regularly on the scene, and guests are also welcome to visit the working farm that the two retreats are part of. (£150/night, two-night minimum stay.)


Known best for its mountain biking and hiking trails, this sprawling eco campsite near Crieff is a haven for adventurous types. There are 16km of blue, red and black single-track bike trails, 43 Munros within an hour’s drive, and walks that meander through woodlands and up hills. You’ll need somewhere to rest after all that exercise and, happily, you’ll have your pick. Bring a tent if you fancy wild camping, or stay the night in a hand-crafted Nordic kata with a wood-burning stove. There’s also an eco lodge, farmhouse hostel and five medium-sized campervan pitches. (Camping and campervanning from £12 per person/night during peak season.)


Even the hardiest of campers can be put off by biting winds, which perhaps makes the comfort of glamping a more attractive proposition in winter. Howe of Torbeg is well set-up for it, with four glamping pods that all have electricity (including electric heating), plus access to a heated shower block and a communal log cabin warmed by an indoor wood-burning oven. The site is located just outside Ballater within the heart of the Cairngorms, so even if it is chilly it’s worth wrapping up well for a hike in the UK’s largest national park. And if you feel it’s cheating to stay somewhere hooked up to the grid, the site also has a solar-lit Shepherd’s Hut with a wood-burning stove. (From £55/night for a pod and £75/night for the hut.)


Mhor 84 isn’t quite the no-frills experience most would expect from a place pitching itself as a motel. Yes, it’s located just off the A84 – making it an ideal stop-off point for travellers en route to the Highlands – but there are plenty for whom Mhor 84 is a worthy destination in itself. The wee-budget sibling of boutique favourite Monachyle Mhor, it features simple, contemporary décor with artsy flourishes and a restaurant serving hearty favourites with a twist. A cheese and kimchi toastie or spiced buttermilk chicken burger will get you energised for a day of outdoor pursuits; Mhor 84 is on the Rob Roy Way and Sustrans Cycle Route 7, so there’s ample opportunity to stretch your legs. (From £120 per room/night.)


Right on the shores of Loch Duich amid the rugged Kintail Mountains sits 57 Nord, a Scandinavian-inspired cottage designed around the concept of indoor-outdoor living. Its neat larch exterior is harmonious with the surrounding landscape and interrupted only by sliding glass walls that look out directly to the water and Eilean Donan Castle beyond. Those therapeutic views, combined with white walls and minimalist furniture in muted hues, make for a meditative space, heightened by personal touches including a welcome hamper of local produce. The owner suggests making day-trips to nearby beauty spots such as Skye and Bealach na Bà, a twisty mountain road on the Applecross peninsula with a double-hairpin bend known as ‘the devil’s elbow’. (From £1,050 for a three-night stay.)


This curved igluhut is on a working farm in North Berwick, not far from the dramatic ruins of Tantallon Castle. Clad in wooden tiles using a traditional Estonian technique, its spruce-shingled exterior gives it a distinctive look. Inside it’s painted white, with a restful interior comprising a king-sized bed, kitchenette, en-suite shower room and living area. Take your morning coffee out on the decking area as you plan what’s in store for the day ahead. Seacliff Beach, which has the UK’s smallest harbour, is nearby, and its proximity to Seacliff Stables would allow you to explore on horseback. (£115 per night plus £20 for cleaning per booking.)


Log-burning hot tubs may seem par for the course where bothies are concerned these days, but how often do you get your own dedicated kayak? Both are part of the deal at Loch Ken Eco Bothies, which are linked to the Galloway Activity Centre on the edge of the Dark Sky Park. Kayaking, sailing and fishing are just some of the activities on offer here, and the bothies themselves are quite the spectacle. Each of the off-grid bothies has its own distinct look and amenities, from the rain shower and secret lochan at The Otter to the Osprey’s round-dome ceiling with overhead windows for stargazing. (A four-night stay in The Otter costs £570.)


Whitefalls Spa Lodges are popular with honeymooners and couples seeking somewhere special to celebrate an anniversary. It’s easy to see why. Tucked away on a quiet road above the village of Breasclete and surrounded by moorland, these cedar lodges are so secluded they almost feel like the only dwellings on the island. They aren’t, of course – but they’re definitely the most luxurious. Each lodge has a spa suite equipped with an infrared sauna, walk-in monsoon shower and double-ended spa bath. Press a button on the remote-controlled blinds and they’ll roll up to reveal wall-to-wall picture windows overlooking the brooding landscape. Bookend days out exploring with evenings cooried up inside; Netflix, Sky Movies and an Amazon Alexa are on hand to entertain. (From £1,295 for one week’s stay.)


This village of 10 log cabins near Beauly has a hint of apres-ski chic. The cabins, which sleep between two and six, are made from giant red cedar logs and boast snug, warmly lit interiors with handwoven textiles. Set on an 8,000-acre estate beside an ancient forest, it’s not uncommon to see red deer roaming the grounds – and you can even go guided camera stalking to capture photos of them in the wild. Pony trekking, clay pigeon shooting and dog sledding can also be arranged by the hospitable owners, who go out of their way to give guests a five-star experience. (From £1,581 for one week.)


Presiding over the Tay Valley from a wildflower-strewn hillside, this characterful converted steading occupies a real sweet spot in Highland Perthshire. It has two bedrooms sleeping up to four people and, once booked, is yours exclusively. The vibe is very much rural luxury, with soft sheepskins, knitted throws and a fire pit just outside your bedroom to warm yourself by after a long day out in the hills. A hop and a skip along the road is the owners’ hotel, The Grandtully, which has a restaurant with a well-earned reputation as one of the very best in the area for its delightful dishes created using local, seasonal produce. (From £220 for two people.)


Stop saying you’ve been meaning to do the North Coast 500 and start actually planning your trip – and make these rustic hideouts in Sutherland one of your stops along the way. The Nook, Woodcutter’s Cabin and Twin Peaks look exactly as they sound: a trio of Toblerone-shaped timber lodges staggered down a hill, their pointed roofs mirroring the three Corbetts of Quinag opposite. Each has all mod-cons including an electric cooker, washing machine and TV with a Roku box, but you’ll find better things to look at than a screen when the sun sinks below the mountain. There are no street lights, so on a clear night you’ll be rewarded with the mesmerising sight of a twinkling sky. (From £510 for two people for three nights.)


Boat, foot or buggy: these are the only methods by which you can reach these two minimalist bothies by the shores of Loch Nell near Oban. Nestled between ancient oak trees, Uisge and Beatha are off-grid and perfectly placed for a few days of wild swimming, hiking and fishing. Built around the concept of ‘wild wellness’, both have a private eco toilet, outdoor shower and deck with an open fire pit and wood-fired pizza oven. Guests are given the option to order in produce from Ballygowan Farm and the surrounding area, and even more excitingly, the opportunity to hire a Michelin-trained chef to cook a private, seasonal meal over live fire. You’ll never forget it. (From £450 for three nights.)


A former fisherman’s shelter, this boutique bothy sits on a laird’s estate just yards from the tranquil waters of Loch Torridon beneath the shadow of Beinn Alligin. In keeping with its history, guests are given the details of local fishermen to arrange deliveries of fresh seafood which can be cooked in the fully equipped kitchen for the ultimate boat-to-plate experience. There’s no TV or Wifi but between the underfloor heating, rainfall shower and espresso machine you’ll certainly be living in comfort. That’s when you’re not outside, of course – The Old Man of Storr, Fairy Pools and Quirang are all must-visits in the area, so don’t forget those walking boots. (From £550 per week.)

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992