Back in September I spent the weekend up in Scotland visiting a couple of Canopy & Stars’ lovely properties for Malaysia Airlines’ inflight magazine. I’ve written before about the company (here), so it was great to be able to experience some of what they have to offer first hand. Both properties are brilliant choices if you’re thinking of honeymooning in the UK (or even looking for somewhere for your first night) and after something that’s a bit more quirky and interesting than your average hotel.
I knew I was going to love Roulotte Retreat as soon as Avril and Alan, the owners, said to me “we don’t have a roulotte free for you tonight, but we can put you in our gypsy bowtop caravan”. Oh, okay, if you insist. Whether it’s from the books I read as a child, or because a distant relative had one in their garden when I was younger, I’ve always loved the romance of a bowtop, so it was with immense pleasure that I fastened the wooden doors and climbed up into the bed that night. Even better was waking the next morning to find the sunlight softly filtering through the gauzy curtains, and stepping out onto the dew-damp grass to see the hills rising beyond the meadow.
That said, as cosy and lovely as the bowtop was, it would be a shame to miss out on the star attractions here: the roulottes. These French gypsy caravans were handcrafted especially for Avril and Alan after a painstaking search on the Continent, and both feature gorgeous wood carvings, beautiful sari material (which the couple bought in India), and features like wood-burning stoves (perfect for those chilly nights) and chaise-lounges. If I’d had my way, I would have quite happily have stayed for a few days, just lying on the chaise-lounge, alternating between reading and gazing out at the hills, and, occasionally, when I could muster the energy, getting up to make a cup of tea (the roulottes each have a small kitchen area).
I spent my second night in Davenna, beautifully decorated with peacock motifs and colours – deep blues and turquoise, which created a very exotic, Indian feel. They are just the right size for two, though you may find that after a few days you need a little more space – but then, with all that lovely countryside on your doorstep (literally), you won’t have to go far for that. When I visited, there was just two roulottes, but there will eventually be another six, all positioned around the lovely lochan.
I’m ashamed to say that this was my first ever visit to Scotland, and though the entire weekend made me resolve to get back up there as soon as possible, it was experiencing Lochhouses’ amazing position that really cemented this for me. A beautiful, windswept stretch of coastline lies just over the sand dunes from the tents here – it’s so gorgeous that you could easily lose hours soaking it all up (I only wish I’d had the time). Lochhouses really epitomises glamping – yes, these are tents, but they’re not just any tents, they’re huge safari tents, large enough to accommodate two bedrooms, a kitchen/dining/living room, and a cupboard bed (yep, that’s exactly what it sounds like – a bed in a cupboard); plus a small toilet at the back (with showers being added this year).
There were so many things I loved about Lochhouses – the shop that’s housed in a boat that the owners rescued from the beach, the outside seating carved from old tree trunks, the rabbit hutches and chicken coops (where you can find eggs for your breakfast in the mornings) – not to mention the chickens basking in the sun on the tent decks. It’s, unsurprisingly, perfect for families, so well worth considering if you’re taking your kids on honeymoon with you, but as there’s only a handful of tents it’s also private enough for couples. Plus, this year Lochhouses will be introducing an amazing honeymoon tent; set up on the dunes, away from the other tents, it’ll boast views directly over the coast, which you can enjoy from your own verandah.
I can honestly say that these were two of the nicest places I’ve ever visited in the UK – the mix of quirky but beautifully done accommodation in wonderful countryside settings, with warm, friendly owners, made them utterly charming, and I left both determined to return for a longer stay. Best of all, the accommodation at both is so gorgeous that if the worst happens and you have a week of typically British rain, you really won’t mind being stuck indoors with your new husband/wife.
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