Alternative Holidays At Home By Sophie McNaughton

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be spending this summer looking for a job and trying to find the cheapest rucksack available for festival season. While party holidays in Ibiza and backpacking trips across Europe are all well and good, they usually cost a good bit of doe and if you’re trying to make that last precious SAAS payment last for as long as possible, you’ll want to make every penny count.

If you fancy becoming a tourist in your own country and staying in the weird and wonderful accommodation Scotland has to offer, have a wee read at our new guide on alternative holidays at home!

Glamping

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Never mind dragging your Tesco Value two-man tent into Pink 3 at T in the Park this year, why not camp in style in this Stuc a’Chroin yurt in Stirling! At only £98 a night, this yurt sleeps 4 adults and has space for 1 child. The Trossachs yurts provide a cosy, homely sanctuary in the midst of an arts and crafts haven with plenty of creative courses on offer at the nearby West Moss-side Centre. The yurts innovative glamping design is a fusion of Kyrgyk and local materials with every felt wall-hanging, thick rug, wood-burning stove and decoration handpicked to create a Zen, traditional Kyrgyzstani place to stay.

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On a boat

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The legend of the Loch Ness Monster has enthralled people all around the world for decades with tourists coming from all over, hoping to see our famous sea-dwelling creature. This spacious 8 passenger hotel barge, Scottish Highlander, operated by European Waterways, is the perfect way to see the breath-taking scenery of the Highlands and get that little bit closer to catching a glimpse of our mysterious Nessie. With traditional tartan furnishings, landscape paintings and at 117 feet, the Scottish Highlander barge has every comfort you need for a cruise around the best and most beautiful of Scotland’s Highlands. The highlights on this trip include: a visit to Glencoe, a tour of the Glen Ord whisky distillery, a tour of Cawdor Castle (home of Shakespeare’s Macbeth) and much more. Prices for this cruise vary depending on how long you want your trip to be and what activities you decide to do.

A treehouse

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This one might be a bit pricey but who doesn’t want to fulfil their childhood fantasy of living in a treehouse? For £445 a night which includes a bottle of champagne, beers, soft drinks, chocolates, fresh fruit basket, cheeseboard, biscuits, continental breakfast, breakfast tea and coffee, and a 4 course dinner in The Castle (so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth!), you can stay in the Fernie Castle Treehouse perched on six lofty sycamores in Fife. Each bedroom has a huge elm king-sized bed and other furnishings specifically designed to create a woodland yet modern feel with electricity, heating, an alarm, telephone, flat screen TV, CD player, coffee maker and fridge included. This Treehouse suite is everything your nature-loving, tree-climbing, adventure-hungry inner child could ever hope for.

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A haunted castle

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Voted the no.1 most haunted B&B by TripAdvisor, Barcaldine Castle near Oban is the perfect setting for all you ghost hunters and Black Witch Project fans! The owner of this spooky mansion has said: “The occurrences that have been reported by many guests usually are centred around the ‘Caithness’ room. A high number of guests have commented that they wake up in the night and feel like there is pressure being exerted on their back or legs, as though someone is sitting on them! It only seems to occur at one side of the bed.

“Other guests have seen strange lights moving round the room in the night, with no obvious explanation. Sensitive guests often claim that they feel a presence in the Great Hall. Some believe that there is someone sitting in the large black chair in the corner. Photographs sometimes display unexplained blueish outlines”.

Situated on the gorgeous shores of Loch Creran on the West Coast of Scotland, Barcaldine Castle has been a bed and breakfast hotel since 1911 following its bloody history in which Donald Campbell, the Laird of Barcaldine, was brutally murdered inside the castle in the 1600s, during the Massacre of Glencoe. From £140 you can test your bravery and experience the ghoulies for yourself in this amazing haunted house. So just remember, if things go bump in the night in this hotel, don’t worry. It’ll just be the other guests making themselves known. Ooooooo.

A train

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More famously known as the ‘Hogwarts Express’, you can take a trip on The Jacobite Express, voted the World’s Best Rail Journey by Wanderlust magazine, from £290 per person. As part of this experience package, you will be taken along the West Highland Railway Line in fabulous first class to Mallaig where you will spend two nights at a small, family-run hotel in the highland village of Spean Bridge. With spectacular views from your hotel of Ben Nevis, Loch Lochy and the Great Glen, you can gaze at the astounding scenery while working up an appetite for dinner in the hotel’s popular restaurant serving organic, home-cooked food. The accommodation offers comfy sofas and cosy corners in the sitting rooms, a library and real fires to keep your toes toasty on those cold Scottish winter nights. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this experience is a must! Just imagine sitting in the carriage, gazing out the window, wondering if a Dementor might come aboard. Well I suppose that would be a bit unnerving, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen!

A relaxing break on the West Highland Line Experience is the perfect way to let the stress of city life melt away and get back to basics with nature, some good wholesome grub and some Hogwarts vibes. What more could you want?

Another train because trains are great!

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I’ll sound like Sheldon Cooper by this point but I do love trains!

From £100 a night, you can stay in the Railway Carriage at The Old Station, a quirky converted train carriage near St Andrews. Near some of the country’s best golf courses, scenery and walking opportunities, The Old Station offers guests a unique experience and a great place to stay. With access to en-suite shower-rooms, TV, a hospitality tray, fridge, trouser press, clock radio, hair dryer, Edwardian dressers, antique artefacts and artistic décor, The Old Station provides accommodation like no other with a exceptional blend of Scottish tradition and quirky design to create an inventive yet comfortable place to stay.

Along with your suite, furnished in colonial style and surrounded by the two-acre gardens of The Old Station Country House, you will have access to bed and breakfast, a guests’ lounge with a library in the main house and ample private parking. Renowned for its comfort, generous hospitality and delicious cuisine, The Old Station is the ideal getaway for those celebrating a special occasion or just looking for something a bit different. I mean, come on, you’ll be sleeping in a train, that’s so cool!

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So if you’re looking for something different and exciting to do this summer, forget air miles, backpacking and hostels, have a look at all the great places to stay and things to see on your own doorstep. Explore the wacky and wild accommodation on offer across Scotland this summer and remember to ditch the sun cream and fish out the wellies!