From the newest distilleries to eco-fabulous hotels, Scotland’s luxurious, sustainably minded lifestyle makes a dream vacation here even more dreamy.
Where can you let your brave heart run wild over picturesque fields, experience the magic of cobblestone streets and castles that inspired the wizardry of Harry Potter, and take in the daredevil landscapes explored by 007 in Skyfall? These epic scenes are only in Scotland. And it’s the same awe-inspiring drama of the landscape that has captured the imagination of so many that makes the country such an ideal setting for an epic trip—that travelers can feel good about too. Today the Scottish countryside and cityscapes that have inspired works of art and literature throughout the ages (from the poetry of Robert Burns right up to modern-day pop culture juggernauts like Men in Kilts and Outlander) are also home to plentiful opportunities for eco-fabulous experiences.
In 2021, as travelers consider how to make sure their first big vacation counts after the many months of pandemic lockdowns, Scotland lets visitors savor a distinctly grand way of life and immerse themselves in the great outdoors, all in sustainable style. Luxurious, over-the-top stays and adventures that also prize green initiatives are available throughout this culture-rich land, whether that’s a stay fit for a royal in the Highlands or exploring the history of the nectar of the gods, Scotch whisky, that begins in Edinburgh. (Kilts not included.)
Making wide-open spaces even greener
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For those looking for a completely different experience from their day-to-day and to spend time in nature, a stay at the luxurious The Torridon in the Scottish Highlands is unlike any other retreat the globe over. Set on 58 acres of parkland estate at the head of a sea loch, the fairytale-like turreted Victorian-era boutique hotel (erected in 1887) is just the location to revive the senses—from taking in the fresh mountain air while hiking the surrounding peaks to kayaking over Loch Torridon or stargazing at night (the area has some of the darkest skies in all of Scotland, adding up to a jaw-dropping nightly show overhead).
You can sleep soundly here knowing The Torridon is committed to sustainability, too: the Green Gold Tourism Award-winning hotel uses biomass for energy for the resort, created onsite from woodchip and timber (local rhododendron wood also crackles in the hotel’s open fires), and pure water is extracted from a bore hole on the estate, saving some 10,000 plastic bottles per year. Electric car chargers are on site too, for those who want to power up for a drive along the fabled North Coast 500 touring route.
A standout nature experience even further off the grid in the heart of the Highlands, the luxury log cabins at Eagle Brae allow guests to fully absorb themselves in untamed wilderness, in high style. Here, they’ll settle in to a beautiful dog-friendly cabin made from giant cedar wood logs and bestowed with hand-woven textiles and a mix of traditional Scottish hospitality and Himalayan charm, with wildlife right outside the door.
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The luxe five-star Highlands hideaway offers largely carbon-neutral holidays with accommodations that are entirely self-sufficient for all utility and energy needs: Eagle Brae has its own micro-hydro scheme that provides electricity and hot water to all the cabins, while biomass wood-pellet burners provide underfloor heating throughout. Drinking water is sourced from a natural, sustainable underground supply, treated on-site and gravity fed to all cabins. Nature lovers will love the brand’s Plant-a-Tree initiative that invites each guest to plant a tree during their stay to offset the carbon output of their trip to and from Eagle Brae. Win-win!
A toast to sustainability
Scotch whisky lovers have plenty of reasons to celebrate the sustainable initiatives in Scotland when embarking on a whisky-tasting journey. There are over 130 distilleries to tipple at. Visitors can start out in the historic city of Edinburgh, with a trip to the new Johnnie Walker Princes Street (opening this summer), inspired by the four corners representing Scotland’s whisky-making regions. Guests can take in sweeping views of Edinburgh Castle from the rooftop of the historic building, while exploring the delicious flavors of Scotland, whether that’s sipping a world-class cocktail or a dram of a rare scotch, nibbling locally sourced Scottish small-bite cuisine, or partaking in inventive whisky dinners created by top chefs and whisky masters.
The sustainably minded traveler will want to raise a glass to the million trees being planted by the iconic whisky-maker between now and 2025. (The initiative is part of the brand’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and restoring the natural resources used to create its range of Scotch Whiskies.) Make it a double: the brand has also created the first 100% plastic free paper-based spirits bottle. Sláinte to that!