Edinburgh, Scotland (Vrbo): Now, your vacation is your vacation and we wouldn’t dream of telling you how to plan it given how desperately you need a break. (No, those faces you’ve been pulling on the office Zooms are not subtle.) But just take a look at this perfect picture of a castle on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Take in all that space, the vast grounds, and what we’re assuming is an unpictured dungeon. What we’re hinting at here is that, given the upcoming winter holidays and that this fabulous palace sleeps 24, it might be the perfect time to plan a long overdue family reunion. Here, you can reconnect (or do what our family affectionately calls f-cubed—forced family fun), while still having the space for everyone to spread out—waaaaay out—when things inevitably start to get a little tense.
The most important part of any arrival is obviously making an entrance. Kirkliston Castle holds up its end of the bargain with a grand three-story atrium where you can sweep into your holiday home like the golden age dame you are in your head. We can tell from just the photos that this is one of those magical places where the flowers are always fresh and ready to be the sidekick in your ’grams.
The castle went through a recent renovation which has resulted in something of a mullet situation. The outside is all centuries-old historic brick and towers and crenellations; the inside presents a very contemporary face that is all about 21st-century luxury.
Won’t you please take a seat in the Library Bar, the chicest new hotspot reserved exclusively for you and yours? Pour a glass of bubbly or whip up a fancy cocktail and enjoy the royal treatment.
Welcome to The Orangery, otherwise known as the venue for your (First? Second? Third? We don’t judge) marriage.
If nuptials aren’t in your future, we have another good excuse to offer you for bringing your family together, an option that, dare we say, is even better. The Kirkliston Castle is known to hold events like “mini-Highland Games," which sounds like the perfect way to foster intense competition and pit one group of relatives against the other—all in the name of family love, of course.
A holiday home that offers the option of engaging the services of a chef for the week always earns an extra star in our book. (To which our answer is always: “Without question!”) But when you’re playing Queen for the week, a chef isn’t an option…it is a given. Here, all of your meals will be whipped up by the on-site chef and his culinary crew who specialize in Scottish farm-to-table.
You and your entire retinue—from the spoiled princess that is your sister to the court jester that is your weird uncle—will fit into these grounds. The 12 bedrooms sleep 24 guests, with nine rooms in the main castle and another three in the Gate Lodge for those who need some distance.
Baths aren’t quite so labor intensive in the 21st century—there’s no carting bucketfuls of boiling water from the kitchen to the copper bath. But when you’re playing Queen, it might boost your royal ego if you imagine the “downstairs” residents meticulously curating your evening ablutions.
I think we can all agree that seat warmers were the best inventions ever made. Until today, when we were introduced to the existence of floor warmers. Sayonara socks, your little piggies can stay bare and warm in this castle room.
So, it’s probably time for us to come clean about one little castle fact. It may be hard for American audiences to understand (we hear “castle” and we immediate imagine ourselves swanning around in a diamond-encrusted tiara as Queen Elizabeth or Princess Di), but any old fabulous turreted mansion in Western Europe can claim the title “castle.” The origins of this fine estate are not, unfortunately. royal. Rather, it was built in the mid-19th century by a family of wine merchants. Though, wine merchants do qualify as royalty in our book.
Located just outside of Edinburgh, this home (if you can call it that) offers all the convenience you want on vacation, but with the privacy of distance that all nobles require—nay—demand.
This tub looks drool-worthy as it is. But imagine what it will look like after a day skipping around the castle’s 32 acres—the woodland walk, the perfectly manicured gardens, the tennis court. The grounds are touted for their “tranquility,” though that was probably before they had any family like yours invade the premises.
The builders of Kirkliston Castle kept the estate in their family for generations. Only one other family has called it home, the current owners, who have graciously hung their modern art collection throughout the space for you to enjoy. (OK, they might have done the decorating for their own enjoyment, but when you’re royalty, it’s a given that you will make everything about yourself.)
Ah, a bird’s eye view of your kingdom for the week. On second thought, maybe you should book the 32 acres and 12 rooms, the chefs and wine collection, the piano room and marble room and library bar, the gardens and nature walk, all for yourself. Your family can fend for themselves.
Book Your Stay: Kirkliston Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland $10,720/night via Vrbo