Throughout Scotland, there is generally a high standard of all types of accommodation including B&B's, guest houses, country house hotels, larger hotels, self catering cottages, youth hostels and camp-sites.
If you are travelling independently, a useful tip is to call in at the local Tourist Information Office (listed at the end of each chapter) which will find suitable accommodation at short notice through their Book-A-Bed-Ahead scheme. This, of course, depends on availability and, in popular areas, can occasionally lead to disap- pointment if all rooms are taken.
To help you plan your trip in advance, each area tourist board publishes accommodation guides to their region which list a wide range including camp-sites and hostels. There is a 10 percent booking charge on the Advanced Booking Service as well as the Book-A-Bed-Ahead scheme, but this is deducted from your accommodation bill.
The Scottish Tourist Board inspects hotels and guest houses that are members of their scheme and grades/classifies them annually, so this is a useful indicator to help your choice. Grades and classification are included in the guides and also indicated by blue oval plaques placed outside an establishment with information such as whether it is Approved, Commended, Highly Commended or Deluxe.
The accommodation found in the Additional Information section of each chapter of this book is categorised by a star system based on price as follows:
Hotels often offer restaurants, bars and leisure facilities all within the property which can be quite useful in Scotland when the weather turns nasty. Special deals are also advertised in local and national press. Hotel chains such as Best Western, Consort, Mount Charlotte, Thistle and Stakis have hotels throughout the country and are worth contacting through your travel agent.
Country House Hotels
This is one category of accommodation Scotland does particularly well. With individually designed rooms, open log fires, home-made scones and jam in the afertoon and excellent dinners at night, they add a much more personal touch. They, too, form themselves into marketing associations such as Pride of Britain, Connoisseurs Scotland and the Tartan Collection. Some of the member hotels are quite pricey but you are assured of a unique and comfortable stay.
B&B's & Guest Houses
Scotland's Bed and Breakfast and Guest House industry offers some of the best budget accommodation available. It forms into a vast network of excellent and varied accommodation facilities, most now with en-suite bathrooms as well as television and coffee-makers, all at very reasonable prices. Look out for the Scottish Board's grading system for some assurance of standards.
Self Catering Cottages
These are available, especially in more remote areas, for those that wish to enjoy a quieter or more activity-oriented break such as hill-walking. There are companies that specialise in this type of accommodation such as Country Cottages in Scotland (Tel 01328 851 155).
Youth Hostels & Camping
Youth Hostels represent excellent value for money as well as the camaraderie of close quarters with fellow travellers from around the globe. You are required to join the Scottish Youth Hostel Association to use these facilities at a very modest fee and this can be done at any SYHA establishment when you arrive. The SYHA address is for more information or to join in advance is 161 Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh EH9 16Q Tel 0131 229 8660.
Camping in Scotland varies wildly and is dominated by caravanners whose site facilities also allow tents. Most sites are well provided for with showers and washing-up facilities, although others are simply a corner of a field. Wild-camping is possible especially in the north-west, but permission should be sought from the landowner where-ever possible.
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