Head to Scotland for romance on 14 February and beyond
Robert Burns was inspired to write poetry about it; members of the Royal family have been married in it; even members of the public have decided to pop the question at one of its darker visitor attractions in 2019*. Scotland is often named the most romantic destination**, and it’s not difficult to see why.
From the stunning natural beauty of Orkney and the Highlands and sweeping coastal views in Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire; to beautiful beaches in Shetland and secret spots near Edinburgh; to cosy hotels in which to snuggle up near a warm fire in Perthshire and the Scottish Borders, not to mention historic castles all over the country which have seen their fair share of love over the years, there are plenty ways to fall in love in, and with, Scotland.
Check out the following picks for top romantic places to stay, the best places to propose or even have a honeymoon in Scotland. What’s more, for visitors who can’t make it on Valentine Day’s, check out some romantic films and TV – including recent releases Mary, Queen of Scots and Outlander - made in Scotland to get in the mood for that romantic trip north.
Romantic places to stay
Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa, Pitlochry, Perthshire
What better place to wake up than near beautiful scenery and wildlife? Nestled in the heart of Highland Perthshire, Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa is a unique five star hotel. It draws inspiration from its historic past and photogenic surroundings whilst adding the odd contemporary twist. Offering blissful solitude, or thrilling adventures in the form of white water rafting for more adventurous couples, it’s a world away from reality.
Blue Cabin by the Sea, Scottish Borders
Something a bit different for couples looking for the ultimate escape, the Blue Cabin is self-catering in the heart of the Scottish Borders. Called “the coviest of coves” by Stephen Fry***, the nearby Cove Harbour offers freshly caught lobsters and crabs, obtainable daily from local fisherman. Ideal for anyone looking to be miles from the nearest neighbours, the only things to hear are waves crashing on the beach or perhaps a friendly seagull.
Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway
A 10-bedroom boutique hotel located near the picturesque fishing village of Portpatrick and near to the very southernmost tip of Scotland, the hotel includes a private bay with a beach for romantic walks. Also offering tasty dining options from an award-winning chef, there is a magical aura about the place offering outstanding beauty and the perfect base from which to explore the region, including a stargazing experience in the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, Galloway Forest Park.
Popping the question
Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire
A castle on a hill-top is the stuff of myths and legends and the story of Cinderella. In reality, Dunnottar Castle is situated on a cliff-top that looks out to the sea and is a photographer’s dream. Full of history, it could be the setting of many a proposal. The castle can also be booked for weddings.
From breathing in views over freshwater and hills, to enjoying adventures by bike or by boat, Loch Lomond could be the setting for many a love story. What about a picnic on the west bank of Loch Lomond in Luss by the village’s pier? Then stay over at the famous Oak Tree in Balmaha not too far away.
The Roman Chapel, Orkney
The iconic building, located on Orkney’s coast, looks as if it could belong in another time period or a film set: it is a beautiful Roman Catholic chapel in Lamb Holm which was constructed by Italian POWs during the Second World War. Hauntingly romantic, it is a popular tourist location and has links to Italy through the chapel’s artist, Domenico Chiocchetti.
St Ninian’s Isle, Shetland
St Ninian’s is a stunning tombolo (a natural sand causeway with sea on either side) on the west coast of Shetland, linking the South Mainland with the Isle. The beach itself is often compared to beaches in the Caribbean, and there is an archaeological site located on St. Ninian’s Isle. If that wasn’t reason enough to visit and fall in love Shetland has been chosen as one of the places in the world with the best sunrises****. What could be more romantic than that?
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
A stunning cliff-top castle on the beautiful west coast, Culzean Castle has a long history of romantic intrigue. Explore the woods, beaches, parkland, and swan pond for a romantic stroll all year round, along with the restaurant, with the dramatic exterior of the castle setting the mood. The interiors of the castle – including Robert Adam’s Oval Staircase – should not be missed, along with the magnificent Eisenhower Suite, named after the former US president. The suite is available to stay in, either as a single room or as a suite of rooms for exclusive use for weddings.
Dundas Castle near Edinburgh
One of Scotland’s most beautiful and historic castles, Dundas Castle is also a popular wedding venue and is available to hire as an exclusive use venue. The estate has the separate Boathouse self-catering accommodation for a cosier stay located by a tranquil loch. The castle also offers an exclusive Outlander experience, as part of an exclusive use stay, with Dundas being the base as guests explore local locations from the highly romantic TV series before enjoying an authentic Outlander feast with local Scottish tastes.
The Torridon Hotel, Highlands
Located on the world-famous North Coast 500 driving route, the luxurious Torridon Hotel should be on any couple’s must-stay-at list. The warm and inviting welcome of the hotel contrasts with the rugged and moody mountain scenery of Torridon. Situated on the banks of Upper Loch Torridon and opposite the imposing rock fortresses of Liathach and Beinn Alligin, it’s a stunning retreat that guests will not want to leave.
Love film? Check out these Scotland-set features to get in the mood for a romantic trip…
Mary, Queen of Scots (2019)
The thrilling new Mary, Queen of Scots film, which stars Saoirse Ronan as the titular Queen, and Margot Robbie as her second cousin and rival monarch Elizabeth I, covers a tumultuous period of British history – including Mary’s whirlwind romance with Lord Darnley - and offers the perfect excuse to explore Scotland and the many fascinating historical connections to Mary Stuart, as well as some the stunning filming locations used in the film.
Outlander (TV series)
Fan favourite Outlander has brought many visitors to Scotland, if not only to see the breath-taking Scottish scenery shown on screen in real life, but also for a chance to see the real-life heart-throb Jamie Fraser in the flesh! From ancient and mysterious standing stones to dramatic castles, magnificent stately homes and breath-taking landscapes, visit Scotland after seeing this and embark on an inspiring journey.
Outlaw King (2018)
Netflix’s Outlaw King tells a pivotal story about one of Scotland’s most important historical figures, Robert the Bruce (played by Chris Pine) and his first victory against the English army. It also features his burgeoning romance and marriage to the feisty Elizabeth de Burgh (portrayed by Florence Pugh). Directed by David Mackenzie, the film was shot entirely in (what was 13th century) Scotland and is the biggest movie to be made on Scottish turf to date. Visitors might want to check out Seacliff Beach in East Lothian after seeing it, which is featured in the film in a memorable romantic scene for Bruce and Elizabeth!
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
In this Bollywood film, some of which was filmed in East Lothian, Glen Coe, Stirling, and Eilean Donan Castle, the character Anjali was in love with her best-friend Rahul, but he had eyes only for Tina. Years later, Rahul and the now-deceased Tina's eight-year-old daughter attempts to reunite her father and Anjali.
Gregory’s Girl (1989) Filmed entirely in Scotland, in North Lanarkshire, including the Abronhill High School, this an unforgettable story of teen romance, as Gregory (played by John Gordon Sinclair) fights to win the affections of the girl he fancies, Dorothy, not least because she is on the football team and a better player than him!
For more inspiration for a holiday to Scotland, check out www.visitscotland.com
Notes to editors
*”Man proposes to girlfriend in Edinburgh Dungeon’s judge’s courtroom”, Edinburgh Evening News, 23 January 2019: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/man-proposes-to-girlfriend-in-edinburgh-dungeon-judge-s-courtroom-1-4859645
**Orkney was named the UK’s most romantic destination at the Mills & Boon Romantics Awards in 2015: http://www.scotlandnow.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/orkney-named-uks-most-romantic-5610168
*** As quoted on the website of Blue Cabin by the Sea, Berwickshire: http://www.bluecabinbythesea.co.uk/
****Lonely Planet, the World’s Best Sunrises, 2013: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/the-worlds-best-sunrises/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d277b101
Notes to Editors
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- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
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- This will be supported by five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
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Scotland’s Themed Years
- Following an industry consultation, the Themed Years will now take place every second year to enable more time for planning and opportunities for collaboration.
- 2020 has been designated as a year in which Scotland’s Coasts and Waters will be showcased and celebrated with a programme of activity designed to support the nation’s tourism and events sectors.
- The year, led by VisitScotland will sustain and build upon the momentum of Scotland’s preceding Themed Years to spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled Coasts and Waters, encouraging responsible engagement and participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors.
- A year-long programme of events, activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink – whisky.
- Join the conversation using #YCW2020
- 2022 will be the Year of Scotland’s Stories - a celebration of our rich literature, film, oral traditions and myths and legends.