Hello, Highlands!

Springtime is an excellent time to visit Scotland and I had the pleasure of doing just that over the Easter holiday weekend. The four-night and three-day trip was just enough time to get a taste of the Highlands region. There is so much more for me to see and I know I’ll be going back as soon as I can. I spent the majority of my time singing Loch Lomond and attempting to work on my gaelic accent, but I also made certain to enjoy the sights and attractions. Listen to this beautiful rendition of Loch Lomond while you read through my recommendations (click on the chorus below). Let it draw you in to the magic of the Highlands – my gift to you!

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scottland a’fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

Links House

This magnificent luxury boutique hotel situated steps from the Royal Dornoch Golf Course offers excellent accommodations to make your Scottish experience one that you will never forget. Charming, elegant, and peaceful, this property will sweep you right off your feet and you may never want to leave. With a world class golf course at the foot of your bed, access to fishing streams, hiking trails, horse back riding, cycling, and hunting, any guest will feel spoilt by the huge array activities available to them.

links house georgian style luxury boutique hotel
One of the three Georgian style buildings at Links House. The putting green is a great source of entertainment for guests.
sporting bothy at Links House
A view of Links House from behind the Sporting Bothy – virtually on the 1st tee of Royal Dornoch Golf Club

I had the opportunity to meet visionary and proprietor, Todd Warnock, who took me on a tour of the property and the surrounding town. His love for the region was evident as we spoke and his friendly and approachable demeanor made the experience all the more delightful.

Todd and his wife, Liz, aimed to create an unpretencious five-star experience with a manor-home feeling. This vision was perfectly executed throughout the hotel’s two Georgian style buildings with the help of talented interior decorator, Helen Lyon. With just eight – but soon to be twelve – bedrooms, you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself.

bedroom Links House
The individually decorated suites provide guests with all the comforts of home.
The simple yet elegant decor creates a peaceful and country chic feeling of relaxation
I loved this plaid sofa in the wood-panelled library. Links House plaid is used throughout the hotel.
drawing room Links House
I was very impressed by the decor detail throughout the hotel, particularly in the drawing room

The hotel is designed for guests to come and go as they please. Guests may wish to wander into the village of Dornoch or further out for a day of whisky tasting in the Highlands. Todd also set out to restore the old courthouse in town and it is now renamed the Carnegie Courthouse and is home to a beautiful tea room, the Carnegie Whisky Cellars, a full range Aspen Spa, and the Dornoch Visitor Centre. 

tea room and deli in dornoch
The tea room and deli at the newly restored and refurbished Carnegie Courthouse in Dornoch.

I would be foolish not to mention the food and fine dining experience at Links House. Newly appointed chef, Jon-Paul Saint, who trained under Albert Roux, Derek Johnstone and Glen Watson, has created an outstanding menu and the attentive staff will look after your every need. The wine cellar is fully stocked and there is also an abundance of local ales and, of course, single malt whisky. Links House is really the perfect retreat and comes highly recommended by moi!

Links House dining terrace
Dining al fresco on the terrace over looking the golf course

Ballindalloch Castle

Exterior of Ballindalloch castleKnown as the “pearl of the north”, the castle is located in Banffshire, Scotland. It has been the family home of the Macpherson-Grants since 1546. The grounds and a few of the state rooms are open to the general public during the Spring and Summer months.

wood-paneled library
The wood-paneled library of Ballindalloch Castle
library with reading nook
This beautiful nook made me want to curl up with a good book.
One of the many formal sitting rooms located on the ground floor of the castle.

Glenfiddich Distillery

Glenfiddich is a Speyside single malt Scotch whisky owned and produced by William Grant & Sons in Dufftown. The whisky is sold worldwide and is recognized as some of the best. Glenfiddich means ‘Valley of the Deer’ in Scottish Gaelic, hence the presence of a stag symbol on all of their bottles. The 90-minute distillery tour provides a unique insight into the age old traditional whisky making process and ends with a sampling of their most popular drams. Drink up!

bar at the Glenfiddich distillery
The bar at the Glenfiddich distillery is a great place for a drink and a bite to eat before a tour.
copper stills for whisky making
The company chooses to keep the shape of their copper stills strictly identical to those first used when the distillery was founded.
This special edition 50-year-old whisky is priced at close to £28,000.00. Better not miss a drop!

 

 

 

Glen Affric

This beautiful nature reserve is dotted with hiking trails and picnic locations and is a must do for any visitor. Glen Affric is a glen, or valley, south-west of the village of Cannich in the Highland region of Scotland, just about 15 miles to the west of the famous Loch Ness. I recommend the 4-mile Dog Falls forest walk where you’ll experience a stunning waterfall, the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, and stunning views over Coire Loch.

view glen affric
A stormy view with snow covered mountains in the distance at the end of my hike.
Scottish Heather in full bloom! (image from britainexpress.co.uk)

Exploring Brussels

Just one of the gilded buildings at La Grande-Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I took some time away from blogging over the holidays but have been looking forward to documenting my latest trip. I spent last weekend in Brussels and had a great time experiencing the city and all that it had to offer. I toured the Magritte Museum, walked around the royal palace gardens, and played around on the docks in Sainte-Catherine. There is more to Belgium then just mussels, waffles, and beer… though, I had my fair share of all of that too!

Chez Richard in the Sablon is a great place for an afternoon snack or a refreshing Leffe beer. Blonde is my go to!

Home Goods in Le Sablon

Pair of leather chairs and illuminated bookcase from Flamant

Le Sablon was my favourite part of the city. The store-lined cobblestone streets and historic cathedral made for a great place to wander around. I stumbled across a beautiful home design store and enjoyed getting lost inside. Flamant is a Belgian brand, but they offer shipping throughout Europe and the UK. Artisan craftsmanship is at the heart of the company’s values and it’s evident in quality of their products. The collections range from classic country to urban contemporary living, so there are many options from which to chose.

Blush pink headboard and crystal chandelier from Flamant
A chaise is a great option for creating a cozy reading nook at home.
I loved this antiqued mirror and glass square coffee table!

Belgian Lace

I was also able to indulge in my passion of fabrics and textiles over the weekend. Belgium is well known for the production of fine lace and trims. I saw some beautiful handwork and made a couple of great purchases. The level of craftsmanship was evident in the detail of each piece; everything was so delicate! Click here to learn more about Belgian lace and its origins. The Lace Palace is a great place to pick some up (1-3, Rue de la Violette).

Intricate needlepoint lace is among the finest and most expensive of kinds of lace available today.
Such detail requires precision and countless hours of work.

 

Placemats and napkins with lace detail and trim

Overall it was a great weekend of culture, shopping, and eating. I’m looking forward to experiencing other parts of Belgium: Bruges just might be next on my list!