Chill out in a Cool Cottage!
When hiring a cottage, you want to make sure it’s cool. So where better to look than Cool Cottages Scotland?
The brainchild of Jason Clark, their website offers an insight into the cream of the country’s quirky cottage crop, from holiday homes in trees and on stilts to stunning conversions of village halls and even Victorian chapels.
And each has been personally tried and tested by Jason (or someone he knows) to make sure it’s of the highest Scottish standard and will offer a brilliant break visitors will enjoy.
Jason, 46, from Stirling, has a real passion for Scotland.
He has more than 20 years’ experience of home holidays, from remote hillwalking adventures in Knoydart to family breaks in the tourist honeypots of Loch Ness and Aviemore.
“We’ve been all over, from the Highlands to the Borders,” he says.
“We’ve stayed in cottages of all shapes and sizes and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly,” Jason laughs.
“So we’re well-placed to help people find the perfect property for a staycation.”
The father-of-three, a tourism exec for Stirling Enterprise, adds: “The latest figures show Scotland’s tourism industry is continuing to grow, with an increase of 9% of people spending a night in the country in 2011.
“And it’s no surprise as there’s so much to do, from Munro-bagging, ice climbing, skiing and snowboarding to mountain biking, cycling and canoeing and you can’t beat island hopping on the West Coast or family holidays off the beaten track.
“More people are enjoying staycation holidays. But trying to find that special cottage online can be a bit of a lottery. That’s where we come in.”
Jason and wife Anna, parents to Harris, 12, and Max, 9, set up Cool Cottages Scotland in 2010, with details of just a couple of cottages. Now it boasts more than 40 cottages and up to 1,500 visitors a month.
“We used to be inundated with requests from friends for recommendations of good holiday homes, and I’d spend hours emailing them a list of website links,” he explains.
“One day I had an idea to put them on a website. That way I wouldn’t have to spend time making lists and it would be available for anyone wanting advice on cottages to see.
“It started as a hobby, but it snowballed.”
Cool Cottages Scotland includes details of quirky cottages, as well as a list of top tips, from things to do and places to see to the best local haunts for food and drinks.
“We don’t take payments from owners or agencies it’s all based on experience and recommendation, so if a cottage isn’t up to scratch, it won’t make the site,” Jason explains.
“We have an eye for some of the quirkiest cottages.
“We’ve stayed at a converted signal box, a cottage based on a squirrel’s nest and one you can only access through a tunnel with a torch and you carry your luggage in a wheelbarrow.
“We like to spread the word about these hidden gems so others can enjoy them.
“Where you bunk down can really make or break a holiday, so we’re happy to help holidaymakers pluck out the most beautiful and unusual accommodation there is to find.
“But we’re pretty sure we haven’t seen it all and there are so many more to discover.”
Cool Cottages Scotland does the hard work so you don’t have to. Here are some of their top picks:
The Tree House, Appin
An amazing lodge, complete with tree trunk in its centre!
It’s a unique place to stay and ideal for romantic breaks or even honeymoons.
An oak staircase leads up to the gallery, spiralling around the central oak tree. The double bedroom has a king-size bed and great views.
Stylish decor and furnishings complete the luxury experience.
A new luxury eco-lodge with stunning sea views across to Orkney.
From the superb welcome pack of local bread, cheeses and jams, to the luxury bedding and rain showers, this place oozes five stars.
The sea views from the huge glass windows and decking are amazing. It’s the perfect place to relax.
The Cow Shed, Perthshire
A luxury hideaway for couples, with panoramic views across Highland Perthshire.
This stylish one-bedroom conversion of a former cow byre has fantastic state-of-the-art facilities.
The owners have an eye for interior design borne out by the upmarket furnishings and lighting, including lovely Harris Tweed curtains and cushions.
The decor throughout is top-notch with the colour schemes reflecting the muted greens and browns of the landscape.
The Laggan Drey, Fort William
This award-winning house on stilts right in the heart of the Cairngorms Natoinal Park is remarkable.
It’s your chance to see things from a red squirrel’s perspective with dramatic mountain views.
A superb location for a huge range of outdoor activities, including snowsports, of course!
No. 8 Victoria Rd, North Berwick
An amazing holiday house by the sea with ocean-themed bedrooms and a secret garden and sauna.
From the outside, this 200-year-old house, which sleeps up to nine, looks like a typical North Berwick cottage.
But once inside, you can see all the way through the house into the 100ft-long back garden.
Cnoc na Long, Ardnamurchan
This former croft house is close to stunning sandy beaches and the famous Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.
A short climb up the hill behind the house gives stunning vistas across Sanna Bay looking north towards the islands of Muck, Rhum, Eigg, Canna and Skye.
It’s within easy walking distance of the village of Portuairk, and a plethora of beaches and rock pools.
Blue Cabin by the Sea, Borders
Only accessible on foot through a smugglers’ tunnel and across the beach, the Blue Cabin is a truly magical place!
The picture-perfect Cove Harbour sits on the doorstep. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all although there is a flat screen TV and WIFI if you want to keep in touch with the modern world!
Kids will love the adventure of carrying your kit (or using the complementary wheelbarrow) through the tunnel by torchlight. It’s straight out of The Famous Five.
Little Court, North Berwick
Little Court is a cosy former fisherman’s cottage, packed full of character and only two minutes from the beach!
Every room tells a story the lovely wooden flooring is from the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh.
Although there are no sea views, you wake up to the sound of the seagulls and can almost smell the sea.
For more information, visit coolcottagesscotland.com or download the app from iTunes.