Best dog-friendly cottages in Scotland
With the huge expanse of the highlands, the dramatic vistas of windblown islands and many a forested glen, Scotland is an incredible place for a dog-friendly holiday. We look for places with character and individuality for our collection of dog-friendly cottages in Scotland, so you and your best friend can roam the glens and master the munros with more than cosy beds and baskets to come back to. Here are five of our favourites for experiences that’ll have your tails wagging.
Make sure your dog has his sea legs, because boating is a big part of staying at one of the most remote dog-friendly cottages in Scotland. After jumping on the ferry from the mainland you’ll be picked up at Arduaine pier and taken to your new home, one of three that constitute almost the entire collection of holiday cottages on the island. Your booking includes the use of a launch with an outboard motor, which is handy for popping over to the shops at Oban, and sightseeing boat trips can take you to the Corryvreckan whirlpool and the dramatic Grey Dog tidal race. Wildlife abounds in the sea, in the air and on land – bottlenose dolphins, seals and Minke whales are all regularly spotted, White-tailed eagles swoop through the skies, otters hunt on the shoreline and deer roam the woods. There’s so much to explore, but part of the beauty of staying here is the peace of being in a place with no roads, no cars and no phones. There are three cottages to choose from, but for a really special escape you can hire them all and pretty much have the island to yourself.
A paradise for the adventurous walker and the hardier breeds, with miles of highland wilderness to explore and stunning views of the mountains that change every minute with the shifting sun. Owners Jan and Nigel have crafted every detail of the cottages to make them havens of cosiness and style in the highlands. Two identical four-person homes are separated by a shared boot room, where you’ll find the dog beds too. Despite the remoteness of the setting (nearest shops are a few miles away) you’re blessed with an array of award-winning eateries around Torridon and the Applecross peninsula, so you can finish wild days with an evening of indulgence. Head out to the Falls of Balgy and a secret sandy beach in the mountains around a freshwater loch, hike through the hills then find a great pub or a superb restaurant and settle in for local seafood overlooking the Minch with Skye and the Hebrides on the horizon.
This gorgeous, sustainable chalet is one of the cutest dog-friendly holiday cottages in Scotland we’ve ever seen. Upstairs in the mezzanine is a giant timber frame bed that’s so cosy you’ll want to nap all day, but the area will lure you out with its many attractions and owners Suki and Bill will make sure you’re well-fuelled enough to enjoy them all. They’ve stocked the cupboards with home-made jam, marmalade, scones and bread, and can supply you with meat and eggs from the smallholding, all of which are also available through their company Unusually Good Food. Bill can give you a crash course on using the smokery or foraging and your own best friend will get to meet Bob, their dog. Once you’re ready to roam, head off to climb Rubbislaw, the Eildons and many more before coming home to the cabin in the meadow and soaking up the peace with the firebowl glowing.
Deep into the glens north of Dundee might not be the sort of place you’d expect to find one of Scotland’s finest luxury dog-friendly cottages, but Balbinny is exactly that. Three cottages, each sleeping four, are all decorated with an understated elegance, awash with pale wood colours and natural light. They are gathered around a stunning room with a pool, jacuzzi and a long glass wall so you can swim and soak with views of the hills, but even better is getting out to explore. Hike pass the pictish stones and along the Lemno burn, roam through Isla in the west to the Glenshee ski resort or up Glen Esk to the Folk Museum. Stop to try the local specialties – scallops and langoustines, Arbroath smokies – or raid the farmers’ markets and pick up anything from great beef to whisky and local potato vodka. You and your dog will come home tired, full and happy to lounge on the sofa or slip into spa.
If you like your holidays not just dog friendly but also with an eyebrow-raising level of creativity, then let Knock Old Castle knock your socks off. Everything from the sofa cushions to ceiling murals, via some inspired patchwork wallpaper and the model sheep on the roof, to the 360 windows in the tower, has been designed to delight. Bedrooms are scattered over the many floors of the 14th-century keep and the modern extension houses your lounge and kitchen. Despite being less than an hour from Glasgow, the 75-acre estate feels wonderfully remote. Take your daily walks in the hills and woods, or head down to the shoreline to bark at the surf and nose in the rock pools. Finish the day with fish and chips at The Viking in the lovely seaside town of Largs.
Chris is our copywriter, who spins enticing articles out of rough notes and travel tales. Having grown up in rural Wiltshire with only cats, he defected to Team Dog and now roams the countryside with Porth, a gorgeous spaniel named after a Welsh town in what he considers to be a joke. They love disappearing into the hills and coming back hungry for a good pub meal, although Porth has not been convinced to follow Chris into vegetarianism.