From Johnnie Walker whisky tasting and resident artist painting to beekeeping and perfume making, the beautiful Scottish landscape is an idyllic spot in which to learn new skills in luxurious surroundings. Here, Luxury Scotland www.luxuryscotland.co.uk – an exclusive directory of the finest Scottish hotels – round up their ultimate upskilling holiday highlights.
Paint the Panorama
Nowhere offers a more inspiring place to capture the panorama in paint form than the Crinan Hotel. Each of the 20 bedrooms are akin to a personal gallery, featuring local artwork. Opening onto Argyll’s rugged coastline, they have been designed by renowned Scottish artist and hotel proprietor Frances Macdonald (Ryan). Under the guidance of her contemporary artist son Ross, individual guests and small groups are invited to enjoy short painting breaks. Working areas, fully stocked with materials, are set up specifically to take advantage of the sweeping vistas. Guests can also take inspiration on a trip with Ross aboard the hotel’s MV Sgarbh, a fully restored fishing boat, to the magical Corryvreckan whirlpool and the ancient Island of Jura, with a delicious lobster lunch.
Cask and Cellar
Taste rare whiskies in Johnnie Walker’s private underground cellar, deep beneath Edinburgh’s bustling center. A shrine to the Scottish golden nectar, the Whisky Maker’s Cellar Experience offers connoisseurs the opportunity to sample straight from the cask. Led by one of their master makers, there is an exceptional array of drams – from exclusive blends to experimental whisky with champagne yeast – giving guests a great understanding of the journey from grain to bottle. Make a weekend of it at one of three equally delightful Edinburgh hotels. For quirky glamour, with copper bathtubs and heritage tweed, try The Dunstane Houses, two stylish Victorian villas with a whisky bar to continue the tasting experience. Or, for a different type of refreshment, sink into the dreamy spa at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, which has a relaxing rooftop hydro-pool. Float away on the Fingal, a beautifully restored, 23 cabin, art-deco yacht with old-world elegance which is permanently berthed upon the waterfront.
Ghillie’s Guide to the Countryside
Experience the majestic wilderness of the Isle of Skye at Kinloch Lodge, a remote and refined 16th Century hunting lodge. Tucked between a shimmering loch and soaring mountains, it is a gateway to exploring the outstanding natural landscapes. Kinloch’s own ghillie, Mitchell Partridge, is an exceptional guide to the area’s wonders. As “custodians of the countryside”, ghillies have an intimate connection with the local landscape, and Mitchell brings this alive sharing skills, history, knowledge and ‘craic.’ Head into Kinloch Forest or the shores of Loch na Dal to forage for ingredients that might end up in a post-outing cocktail; experience the thrill of catching the wild Scottish salmon while fly-fishing; stalk deer on the hill; or just enjoy the breath-taking beauty of the island on a Wild Walk. The charming, hotel, still owned by the descendants of the Macdonald Clan, combines the relaxed comfort of highland hospitality with delectable food, whisky on tap and super king-size beds.
A Castle Feast for the Senses
The 21-bedroom Glenapp Castle, a magnificent 1870 five-red-star hotel in Ayrshire, is brimming with authentic activities in a beautiful, baronial ambience. The 110 acres of lush grounds are home to an eclectic array of activities including perfume making, beekeeping and foraging. The art of perfumery begins in the fragrant gardens, foraging for ingredients before being taught the wonders of creating their very own personal scent. Then, why not explore the Glenapp Castle Estate, the bountiful gardens and surrounding area for gourmet delights and incredible wild flavors. The hotel’s foraging expert has been teaching about wild food for 30 years and regularly works with leading chefs, distilleries and bartenders. Guests can learn about the natural history, health benefits and food uses of wild plants and mushrooms – how to cook them and make delicious drinks with them. The experience includes a wide selection of foraged tiples and tasters and concludes with wild food picnic and foraged cocktails in the garden, woods or at the Azalea Glasshouse. In a buzzy corner of the grounds stand the estate’s beehives, guests can get up close and personal, in ‘bee suits’ to discover the inner workings of the hive and honey tasting with head beekeeper, John Rennie.