The best bothies to stay at in Scotland holiday cottages

The best bothies to stay at in Scotland

Ed Roberts 06 September 2022

The bothy has been a part of the Scottish landscape for many centuries and they seem to be almost as natural as the lochs, glens and Munros that characterise so much of the country. 

Traditionally used as places to take shelter overnight on a long walk, many have since been converted into cosy accommodation perfect for a romantic getaway, and can be found all across the country, from the islands to the Highlands.

If you are planning a holiday to Scotland, this guide will help you find some of the best converted bothies across the country. Some used to be public bothies, whilst others have been established from small barns or stone cottages. If you are looking to get to know the area close to your bothy, read our handy guide to the 10 best coastal villages in Scotland.

Take a look at our collection of Scottish bothies to rent and other cottages perfect for a couples' getaway by clicking the button below.

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FAQs about traditional Scotland bothies

The word bothy originates from the Gaelic word ‘bothan’ which is a small type of cottage belonging to farm workers. Bothies are found in remote mountain and glen locations across Scotland. In modern terms, they are classified as a bothy if they provide shelter for walkers. Bothies in the original sense are always unlocked so that they can serve as a refuge from the weather for anybody that needs it.

Bothies come in all sizes and offer accommodation space for three or more people. Some have floor space for dozens of wayfarers. Facilities are at the bare minimum; there may be a fireplace and a wooden platform on which to unroll your bedding. There is very rarely any electricity or Wi-Fi, no running water and no toilet facilities in a bothy – they are very primitive shelters and serve a purpose to provide somewhere dry to shelter from the elements. Rangers or estate managers generally keep them in a liveable state, but everybody should do their part to keep them litter free and dispose of waste properly.

A bothy experience is to be cherished; it is accommodation at the very limits of comfort and isn’t for everybody. People wear their bothy stays as a badge of honour!

There are 83 public bothies in Scotland. To view a list of current ones and their facilities, visit the MBA (Mountain Bothies Association) website.

Ben Alder Cottage Bothy (also known as McCook’s Cottage) is said to be the most remote of Scotland’s 83 bothies. It is located on Ben Alder, which is one of Scotland’s most remote mountains. Its 1,147-metre-high peak looms above Loch Ericht. The nearest village is Dalwhinnie (18 miles) at the head of the loch.

Six pretty Scottish holiday bothies to rent

The Weighbridge Bothy – Balblair | Sleeps 2 guests plus 2 dogs

The Weighbridge Bothy – Balblair | Sleeps 2 guests plus 2 dogs

If you love cycling and driving in the Scottish wilds, then you’ll adore the Weighbridge Bothy which is located in some of country’s best-loved landscapes. Located along the North Coast 500 and situated 3 miles from Bonar Bridge in Sutherland, this bothy is close to golf courses, a village pub, whisky distilleries, and a railway station at Invershin (4 miles); there is lots to do within a 10-mile radius.

This is a cosy bothy for two guests plus two dogs with great views out towards Carbisdale Castle – it comes complete with all the home comforts you could ever want including a Smart TV and a BBQ.

Goodhope Bothy, Dumfries and Galloway | Sleeps 2 guests plus 2 dogs

Goodhope Bothy, Dumfries and Galloway | Sleeps 2 guests plus 2 dogs

This former barn is a haven for those looking for a romantic getaway in a secluded spot. Unwind in the private hot tub after a long day of walking, fishing or cycling in the local area. Inside, it has everything you’ll need for a cosy holiday escape with your partner.

Goodhope Bothy is very close to the Annandale Way, a long-distance trail that runs 241 miles from Invershin in the highlands to Drumcrieff, near Lockerbie, in the south. Set on a smallholding, you are also within easy reach of Moffat (8.5 miles) and larger Dumfries (13 miles).

The Towers Bothy, Isle of Arran | Sleeps 4 guests plus 2 dogs

The Towers Bothy, Isle of Arran | Sleeps 4 guests plus 2 dogs

This beautiful 19th-century courtyard bothy has a wonderful location on a private estate close to Machrie Bay (1.5 miles) on the Isle of Arran. With its characteristic thick stone walls and open-plan living area, The Towers Bothy is a compact yet cosy prospect on the Dougarie Estate which affords you access to a beach, Loch Iorsa and a boathouse.

Local attractions include walks with views across Kilbrennan Sound to the Mull of Kintyre hills, Brodick Castle (11 miles), Goat Fell (14 miles), and the Isle of Arran Distillery (12.5 miles).

The Bothy – Dunning, Perthshire | Sleeps 2 guests plus 2 dogs

The Bothy – Dunning, Perthshire | Sleeps 2 guests plus 2 dogs

This delightful old farm bothy has been tastefully converted into a secluded hideaway which is perfect for a romantic break. Overlooking the Perthshire village of Dunning and the local countryside, this rural cottage in Scotland is well-positioned for exploring this lovely area of the country. The Bothy is split level with a restful mezzanine bedroom and a compact yet cosy layout for guests to snuggle up and relax after exploring the area.

Local highlights include Strathearn (5 miles), Gleneagles House (9 miles), Auchterarder Golf Club (6 miles) and Wyndham Duchally Country Estate (7 miles).

Loch Ness Bothy, Loch Ness | Sleeps 2 guests

Loch Ness Bothy, Loch Ness | Sleeps 2 guests

Loch Ness needs no introduction as it is perhaps more famous than Scotland itself, with its stories of the monster that lives in the country’s largest (by volume) lake. Providing the perfect hideaway in 50 acres of private estate on the banks of Loch Ness, from here you can explore the loch, take a hike along the Great Glen Way or a wander over to the local settlements of Invermoriston (1 mile) and Fort Augustus (7 miles). Further afield from Loch Ness Bothy, you can embark on adventures at the historical museums and castle at Drumnadrochit (13 miles) or Scotland’s most northerly city, Inverness (29 miles). 

For more ideas of where to base yourself have a look at our guide to some of the nicest Highland towns.

This property is split-level with a ladder up to a gallery bedroom with a sloping roof; like all bothies, this holiday rental is small yet personable and more than suitable for a cosy break with your loved one.

Bothan Buie, Strath, The Highlands | Sleeps 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Bothan Buie, Strath, The Highlands | Sleeps 4 guests plus 2 dogs

If you are looking for big skies and island views, then Strath is where you need to be. This beautifully converted bothy might seem like its located at the end of the earth but there is still so much to see and do for nature lovers in the Western Highlands. 

Bothan Buie is less than 2 miles from the beloved Gairloch Beach and other attractions such as the Torridon Hills (29 miles), Gruinard Beach (19 miles), and the fishing village of Badarcho (7 miles). There are several great pubs in the area of this welcoming and warm, 300-year-old Scottish lodge accommodation too.

The best traditional bothies in Scotland

The Lookout, Isle of Skye: best for first-timers

The Lookout, Isle of Skye

This bothy is perfect for those wayfarers on their first overnight hike. It is a former coastguard watch station perched at the edge of a tall cliff at Rubna Hunish, Skye’s most northerly tip. Less than 2 miles from the road, The Lookout is favoured by birdwatchers and whale watchers because of the stunning views all the way to Cape Wrath.

There are no facilities beyond sleeping platforms and a fireplace at this bothy. There is room for seven people. Bring your own wood fuel.

Stay nearby: Portree Bay House | sleeps 4 guests 

Suileag Bothy, Highlands: best for intermediate hikers

Suileag Bothy, Highlands

Suileag Bothy is a wonderful spot to take refuge from the elements if you are hiking to the sandstone pillar, Suilven, at the edge of the UNESCO Geopark of Assynt. Around 2 miles from Glencanisp Lodge near Lochinver, this bothy isn’t too hard to get to.

Facilities include sleeping platforms and a fireplace. It can get very cold because of its exposed position, so bring lots of layers!

Stay nearby: Heather Brae House | sleeps 2 guests 

Barrisdale Bothy, West Highlands: for dedicated hikers

Barrisdale Bothy, West Highlands

Located halfway between Inverie and Kinloch Hourn, the Barrisdale Bothy on the Knoydart peninsula is very remote. This is a cross between a bunkhouse and a bothy with three rooms, running water and a WC. The location is stunning and there is also a campsite if there is no room when you arrive.

This bothy is perfect if you are in a group, as there are options for camping. Be warned: there is no fireplace at this bothy so go prepared.

Stay nearby: Mountain View Cabin - Kinlochleven | sleeps: 2 guests + 1 dog

Stay at a bothy-style cottage in Scotland

We hope you have been inspired to visit or stay at some of the best bothies in Scotland. Searching for somewhere to stay? Look no further than our Scotland cottages which offer the perfect base for all of your adventures.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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