The mighty Gleneagles Hotel has just undergone an £18 million redevelopment and now has a redesigned leisure area for children and teens, a world-class destination spa and a Mediterranean food market-style restaurant. It also has the Spirit Suites, stunning two-bedroom suites, ideal for families.
Small children can run amok in the well-equipped Playroom with its own sandpit, water area and storytelling corner. A must-do activity is going junior off-road driving in mini Land Rovers and Argo Cats – incredible eight-wheel-drive, tiller-controlled vehicles. Gleneagles is, of course, renowned for its golf, and children as young as four can take part as parents proudly look on and dream of them becoming the next Tiger Woods. Oh, and there’s also a fabulous ESPA spa for Mummy.
Edinburgh is an irresistible city for families. It’s walkable and there’s tons to do, from the castle to the zoo. The Balmoral Hotel, with its majestic clock tower, is an inspired choice for families staying more than a day. It’s on Princes Street – Edinburgh’s main drag – with fabulous views of the castle. Most attractions (including Harvey Nichols) are within walking distance.
A Balmoral Family Affair package means parents book one bedroom and receive another bedroom for their children free. Children under three receive complimentary food and drinks, and for parents there’s the Michelin-starred restaurant and the Balmoral Bar for cocktails or a superb malt whiskey, and the spa here has also been rated as one of the world’s top five urban spas by The Sunday Times.
Scottish icons don’t come much bigger than Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which is why a stay in the grounds of Cawdor Castle is such a magical experience for children and adults alike. Located in a beautiful and easily accessible part of the Highlands of Inverness, near Nairn, Cawdor Estate is spread over 20 miles and has been in the ownership of the Earls and Thanes of Cawdor for more than 700 years. Dotted around this historic estate are wonderful cottages. If you fancy a large family gathering, book Drynachan Lodge which sleeps up to 22 people. On the outside they look like traditional fairytale hideaways – especially the vibrant blue Lochanshelloch Cottage – while inside they’re surprisingly chic, and cosy, too. Activities on the Estate are plentiful and include river fishing, horse riding, shooting, golf and a multitude of spa treatments.
Badrallach in Ross is a Highland loch-shore croft that sprawls across 30 acres of remote Scottish landscape, and offers a choice of accommodation to suit different families’ needs for a perfect holiday: a bothy; a self-catering cottage sleeping four; a campsite; and bed and breakfast at the main house. Badrallach is at the gateway to the Scoraig peninsula, accessed only by footpath (10 miles) or boat, and there are guided walks where you might just catch sight of wild goats, mountain hares, pine martins, red deer or see tawny owls, cormorants or eagles.
Loch Lomond is one of Scotland’s finest stretches of water and the De Vere Deluxe Resort at Cameron House is set upon its shores with wonderful views over the dramatic peaks of the Scottish Highlands. There are great walks in the 350 acres of wooded parkland that are perfect for spotting kingfishers, otters and water voles.
The new spa has a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the Loch, and there are hydro and thermal treatments available, while the crèche at the spa takes children from newborn upwards if you opt for a couples’ treatment. Other activities include archery, quad biking, hawking and pony trekking, or take a tour of the Loch aboard the resort’s 46-foot motor cruiser, Celtic Warrior.