Scotland at Your Service

Connoisseurs Scotland assists in planning the ultimate luxury vacation

By: By Maryann Hammers

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Click here to read an interview with the concierge at Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy Castle in the Scottish Highlands inspired Queen Victoria to write, "I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot."

The classic fairytale castle — reputedly known as Scotland’s most expensive hotel — continues to enchant royals (Queen Elizabeth II frequently vacations here with family) and non-royals alike. Its possesses 17 guestrooms with frescoed ceilings and Venetian crystal chandeliers, a dining table presented as a gift from the King of Norway and a Michelin-star chef who prepares custom menus for each guest.

Interior of Inverlochy Castle // (c) Maryann Hammers
Interior of Inverlochy Castle 

Nearby, about an hour from Edinburgh in the rolling hills of Perthshire, you’ll find the 850-acre Gleneagles Hotel, one of world’s most famous luxury golf resorts. When it opened in 1924, it was described as "the eighth wonder of the world." It’s even more impressive today with a new Espa-managed spa, new Spirit Suites that are said to be among Europe’s finest and several excellent restaurants, including The Strathearn and the new Mediterranean-influenced Deseo.

So, what does this major resort have in common with an exclusive, storied castle? Both are members of Connoisseurs Scotland. This invitation-only consortium serves as a resource for travel agents whose clients demand the best. Its members include Scotland’s 19 finest hotels, plus the Hebridean Princess, a small luxury cruise ship, and the Royal Scotsman leisure train.

Connoisseurs Scotland not only serves as a resource for locating and learning about Scotland’s luxury five-star properties, but also helps travelers and agents plan trip details, from arranging for chauffeurs to booking private yacht cruises.

"We are a convenient, one-stop shop for the best Scotland has to offer," said Jeremy Hawkings, chief executive. "We are not a central reservation system, but we do offer advice and help create itineraries. There is nothing better than to have an expert in the country at your disposal."

The organization, which is a Virtuoso member, began 14 years ago with just six hotels and has since expanded to 21, with every property in the group considered the best in its location. They include Boath House, a Georgian mansion; Castleton House hotel, a charming six-room country house; Knockinaame Lodge, a historic hunting lodge overlooking the Irish Sea; Hotel Du Vin, a boutique hotel in Glasgow; and Old Course Hotel in the hip and historic coastal university town of St. Andrews, which overlooks not only the sea, but also sits on the world’s oldest golf course.