In 2014 we decided to travel through Scotland with my parents for two weeks, which led to a little less spontaneity and a little more planning in advance than we usually do, not wanting to risk a late night search for accommodation or even a night in the car.
On many of our trips to the US, we just booked a room for the first night and then went our merry way, either just stopping at a motel hoping for the best, or maybe booking the next rooms on the go, but according to friends’ experiences, that wouldn’t be as easy in Scotland.
We didn’t want to find out the hard way, so we sat down and planned the entire trip. Which turned out to be a lot of fun, actually.The basic outline for our trip looked somewhat like this:
Flight to Edinburgh, next stop Islay, drive up to Inverness, drive back down to Edinburgh.
After some more research and finding nice accommodation online, we settled on more or less this route:
Online research provided us with two main insights: First, Scotland is littered with stunning amounts of bed & breakfast, and second, its’s imperative to book in advance. Far in advance, actually, if you want more than just a simple bed.
For our first night in Edinburgh, we chose a nice apartment on Airbnb – our first time using Airbnb, turned out to be a winner! It was located slightly outside of Edinburgh, in Leigh, which also turned out to be an excellent choice, as Edinburgh was humming with the Fringe Festival.
For the next two nights, we booked a beautiful bed & breakfast – literally, as it only has two rooms, and we took both – on Islay. The Old Excise House also turned out to be absolutely perfect, located in walking distance to three distilleries to the one side and the town of Port Ellen to the other.
As we didn’t want to spend the whole day on the road after leaving Islay, we booked another night at a bed & breakfast, The Moorings, in Tarbert, so we could spend a day relaxing after the ferry ride before hopping in the car again for the trip to Loch Lomond.
Our next bed & breakfast, Waters Edge Cottage, was on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond, where we wanted to spend two nights. This b&b also turned out to be a winner, starting with complementary whisky and serving excellent breakfast.
After leaving Loch Lomond, we traveled up to Inverness, and even a bit further, to Dingwall, where we stayed at the Conon Bridge Hotel. This hotel turned out to be old, a little worn around the edges, but with a lovely pub downstairs – great food, cider on tap, and a nice whisky selection.
As we didn’t want to spend our last day in Scotland on the road, worrying about traffic and fearing to miss our flight, we had booked a last night in a hotel in Edinburgh, in the newish Motel One on Princes Street.
Did it work out?
In one word: Absolutely!
We didn’t have much experience with bed & breakfasts and absolutely none with Airbnb before this trip, but this trip made sure we’d become loyal Airbnb users as well as bed & breakfast lovers.
It was somewhat strange to plan a whole trip like this, but on the road, it turned out to be quite nice to be able to just put the next b&b’s address into the sat nav and relax instead of being on the lookout for “rooms available” signs.