Coveting a stylish, nature-steeped staycation? Enjoy a Highlands fling with five-star flair at Dunalastair Hotel Suites
Untamed, wild and restorative, the Scottish Highlands have long provided a slice of serenity for stressed-out millennials seeking a digital detox. But the precise locale of your secluded bolthole matters because, despite this region’s vast lochs and acres of uninhabited wilderness, the recent but rapid uptick in LNER-shuttled staycationers has lead to a boom in camera-wielding DFLs intent on ‘getting away from it all’. In short, remoteness isn’t guaranteed, especially if you decide to hit some of the more well-known hotspots (hello, Loch Ness). Step forward Kinloch Rannoch near Pitlochry – a postcard-perfect village that fringes the rugged shores of Loch Rannoch and lies to the south of Cairngorms National Park. Here, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, the rolling hills of Perthshire really are studded with ancient forests, glistening lakes and majestic stags instead of touring Winnebagos. Yes, a hardy band of wild campers may linger lochside during peak season, but you’ve pretty much got the emerald peaks and heather-cloaked hillsides to yourselves outside of summer.
Fusing contemporary design details with period features and heritage materials, Dunalastair Hotel Suites delivers opulent, characterful interiors and a five-star service. Guests can expect cosy suites with all the mod cons, including an in-room coffee machine and luxury toiletries courtesy of The White Company, as well as rejuvenating views over the village and surrounding countryside, which ribbons around the hotel’s manor house-style exterior and beckons you out for a hike. Foodies are well catered for too, with an exclusive 7-course tasting menu championing local delicacies, such as slow roasted venison with Swiss chard, sloe berries and mini blue cheese fondant available in the chic upstairs Library. (Spoiler: vegetarians and vegans don’t miss out either: during my visit we devoured a veritable feast of grilled smoked tofu with red pepper and coriander couscous, plus a vanilla poached pear with candied walnuts.) Lavish meals aside, the hotel’s main draw is its unique setting, and staff are happy to organise everything from hiking adventures and landscape photography classes to fishing trips and guided excursions with Highland Tours’ local expert insiders.
Head to nearby Queen’s View Visitor Centre for some soul-enriching grabs for the ’gram over Loch Tummel, which boasts the same fringe of Caledonian pine forest, cascades of wild flora and freshwater peaks today as when Queen Victoria herself stood in the same spot back in 1866. Next, hit the Rannoch Tea Rooms, which is thought to be the most remote tea room in Scotland and has become something of an institution thanks to its charming interiors, trackside setting (it’s literally located inside Rannoch Train Station) and homemade scones fresh from the oven. Don’t miss a guided meditative walk through the forest with mindfulness guru Melanie Santorini, either. A former priest turned retreat leader and spiritual mentor, Santorini’s unique knowledge of the area and passion for the healing power of nature is infectious, and you’ll soon be hugging a tree and feeling all the better for it (yes, really). See her site for details on upcoming retreats run in partnership with Dunalastair Hotel Suites.
How to get there
The most stress-free (and sustainable) way to travel to the Scottish Highlands from London right now is via train. There’s a direct service from London King’s Cross to Pitlochry with LNER, which runs one daily service and offers tickets from £47.50 one way. Travel First Class for a plush experience complete with meals, reclining seats, generous legroom and arresting views.
Rooms at Dunalastair Hotel Suites start from £189 per night, including daily breakfast. For further details or to book, visit dunalastairhotel.com.