From seaside hideaways to secluded woodland cottages and quaint cottages, there’s something for families of all shapes and sizes.
“Homestays offer more flexibility than hotels because you provide your own food and the ability to cook what you want, when you want,” says Charlie Carvill, commercial director of The Retreat Group.
“You’re not surrounded by other people, it’s very personal and special when you come to a party or want to have a good time together. Private accommodation is more private and you have a lot more space to enjoy.”
The Retreat Group was formed in 2020 to offer a variety of self-catering rental accommodation nationwide.
The Aviemore based company now has an extensive range of one to four bedroom retreats that can sleep up to ten people in locations that the whole extended family can enjoy.
“The shelters are in different areas,” explains Carvill. “Some are quite rural with plenty of outdoor space and hot tubs, and many are close to nearby activities, which are great for families.”
One such accommodation is the four bedroom Pilmuir Cottage near the Boat of Garten, a charming little village surrounded by the woodlands of the Cairngorms National Park.
The converted coaching inn borders the spectacular River Spey and is set in an Area of Outstanding Beauty.
The Cairngorms National Park is the largest in the UK and offers plenty of activities for all ages.
Landmark Forest Adventure Park in Carrbridge is just a ten minute drive north of the cottage. Attraction visitors can travel back in time and meet more than 22 prehistoric dinosaurs, make waves on the Wild Water Coaster with its three exhilarating raft rides, and soar high on the Tarzan Trail rope challenge.
Highland Wildlife Park is also in the Cairngorms and 20 minutes’ drive from the Boat of Garten. People can spot Scottish wildlife and endangered animals by driving through the reserve and exploring the areas on foot. Animals waiting to be spotted include polar bears, red pandas, Amur tigers and European gray wolves.
Just south of the Cairngorms on the Eastertyre Estate near Pitlochry is the retreat group’s two bedroom Gardener’s Cottage. It sleeps four people and is an ideal base for exploring the Cairngorms National Park and the beautiful wider Perthshire region.
Over on the West Coast, overlooking Oban Bay, McCaig’s Tower Apartment is a four bedroom, pet friendly property with a high chair and a cot.
Families can explore attractions in and around the compact seaside resort, including McCaig’s Tower, a prominent landmark on Duncraggan Road that dates back to the turn of the 20th century when it was built as a family memorial.
The climb up the hill to the viewing platform is well worth the effort as the views over Oban and the bay are second to none.
The town has a number of small galleries and independent shops and in the evenings the bay is the perfect place to watch the West Coast sunset over the water.
Over on the East Coast, the Old Toll House is a luxury, family-friendly, three bedroom retreat in Fife, sleeping eight, seven minutes from St Andrews and 20 minutes from Dundee. The property was completely refurbished last year and features a patio area in the garden with a hot tub to relax on warm summer evenings.
With the sound of gently sparkling water in the background and reduced light pollution, it’s perfect for stargazing on a clear night.
According to the Retreat Group, the Old Toll House is a good fit for groups taking a golf vacation and for those visiting family and friends at the nearby University of St Andrews.
For those green-fingered family members, however, Cambo Gardens, seven miles south of St Andrews in Kingsbarns, would be an easy day trip from the house. The attraction offers spectacular 2.5 acres of Georgian walled gardens, woodland walks and plenty of outdoor areas for families to enjoy.
At Lost Elf Village, younger visitors can explore caves and cabins, while the Glingbobs and Tootflits trail will keep kids of all ages entertained.
The dog-friendly café is open daily from 10 a.m. and serves vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Also nearby is St Andrews Museum, housed in a magnificent Victorian mansion in Kinburn Park, where visitors can discover the city’s history from the 12th century to the present day through a fascinating collection of exhibits and artefacts.
Through September, the museum is hosting the family-friendly Explore! “Travellers and Trailblazers” exhibition with objects from all over the world. It runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday.
Most retreat group accommodations have WiFi and all have a fridge, freezer and cooking facilities. Those with wood-burning stoves will be provided with enough logs to keep things cozy for three days, which should get you started.
Summer travel 2022: Get very close to nature