Throughout history, the vast mountains of northern Scotland have inspired virtually everyone who has come upon them. Shakespeare's Macbeth described them as a place where "the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses." More recently, National Geographic Traveler said the range, known as the Highlands, "retains the aura of remoteness and mystery" despite its popularity with tourists. For those who want true isolation in this isolated part of the world, the Drynachan Lodge could be just the retreat.
A country house on the historic 60,000-acre Cawdor Estate, the Drynachan Lodge has hosted oil tycoons, Hollywood types, and British soccer star David Beckham. Located about 15 miles from Scotland's Inverness airport, the lodge sleeps up to 20 people. The estate is owned and managed by the present-day Cawdor family: Colin, the seventh Earl of Cawdor, his wife, Isabella, a former Vogue fashion editor, and their three children. The big house, a traditional Highland sporting lodge furnished with classy comforts like velvet sofas, is located amid the mountains. If you're interested in the property, contact Helen Jenkins, the bookings manager for Cawdor Estates (www.cawdor.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Situated on the banks of a river in the middle of the estate's massive, scenic moors, the lodge comes with a price tag befitting its luxuriousness. To rent out the place, it's $10,800 (at the current exchange rate) plus tax for seven nights for eight guests. Visitors can also arrange shorter stays of three nights or more for a party of at least eight for $285 plus tax per person per night. Guests get three meals a day -- plus afternoon tea -- prepared by French and Scottish chefs. The meals are part of the Scottish experience: Your dinner could very well be a plate of Highland smoked venison or pork casserole pie.
When not enjoying the food or the breathtaking vistas, guests have plenty of other things to do and see in the area. You can sign up for scenic horseback riding trips, fishing excursions, and walking tours for preset fees. Venture out from this oasis and you'll find the nearby Cawdor Castle, a 14th century private fortress still in use today by the Cawdor family and open to visitors. To complete the Scottish experience, you might try your luck at spotting the Loch Ness Monster, rumored to lurk in the waters just 20 miles away.
By Laura Cohn