Half-term is always a funny time when deciding what to do with the kids – not long enough to warrant a flight and a holiday miles away, but too long for a couple of days out to sustain their interest and your sanity!
Determined to get away from London, after much planning and plotting, we eventually looked towards Scotland, our beautiful northern neighbour – a perfect choice as, although it was nearer than our usual holiday destinations, it was also far enough away that the whole family would benefit from some time together, removed from the day-to-day grind of England’s capital.
City breaks were always going to be the best option for us and after trawling through brochure upon brochure we decided upon an Inverness and an Aberdeen Hotel both run by our new favourite hotel chain, Best Western, which would give us ample scope in which to explore Scotland.
While the idea of city breaks is glamorous in theory we decided that in practice a hotel based slightly out of bustling Inverness might be our best option and the Lochardil House Hotel proved to be perfect. Situated close to the rolling highlands, yet just a couple of miles from the city centre, the hotel was the perfect base from which to begin our Scottish Adventure.
First up, naturally, was a day of Nessie spotting at the beautiful Loch Ness. Just six miles from our Best Western Hotel in Inverness, we were able to scan the water for hours, but sadly Nessie remained elusive (although our five-year-old daughter was pretty sure she spotted something in the water that she assured us looked just like the dragon from Shrek!).
Next up was a quick trip to Cawdor Castle (for me this one I’m afraid. Years of studying Macbeth had left me more than a little curious and despite their protestations the children loved it too – again the scenery is breathtaking and the majesty of the castle is amplified by its stunning setting).
Anyone who hasn’t been to the wonderful northern city should certainly pencil it in as a ‘destination desired for future visitation.’ Its open, clean streets have a wonderful continental feel, lined by the iconic, old, stone facades. As well as its proximity to the infamous Loch Ness, it is within easy distance of two of the nation’s most historic battlefields (the Battle of Blar nam Feinne and the Battle of Culloden) and its position overlooking the northern wilderness has earned it the nickname the capital of the Highlands of Scotland.’
The bustling and interesting city of Aberdeen is also a wonderful destination for a family friendly hotel break. We hugely enjoyed the city with its plain, granite buildings, strikingly contrasted by the long, sandy coastline, a juxtaposition that earned the city its nickname: ‘the Silver City with Golden Sands.’
Our choice of Aberdeen Hotel was again positioned just outside the city centre, but the stunning design of the Summerhill Hotel and Suites was about as cosmopolitan and glamorous as it gets! Aberdeen itself is glorious. Known throughout Scotland as the Granite City it is a shopping Mecca and kept a usually surly teenager smiling for the whole two days we were there. We also stopped off at the excellent maritime museum and were lucky enough to hit the city’s Jazz Festival (usually held on dates throughout March), which left the restaurants and bars buzzing with music and performances.
Scotland, for us was an undiscovered delight and the perfect choice for a short family holiday that managed to keep everyone occupied and happy – no mean feat! We shall definitely return and I urge anyone who hasn’t to pay the nation a visit.
Mandy Waters is a freelance travel writer and mother of two.