As summer comes to an end in Scotland (not entirely sure if it ever really started) and summer holidays to warmer climates seem like a life time ago, I have started to look at ideas for one last holiday before the end of the year.
Last year, in October we headed off to Iceland for a magical escape that I will definitely not forget in a hurry. However, it got me thinking, do we really need to head so far away to achieve the same relaxation and sense of adventure? Could there be something just as great still in Scotland?
Everyone, let me introduce you to a wee place at the very top of mainland Scotland known as John O’ Groats!! The answer to my questions.
A tiny hamlet set amongst a stunning and rugged landscape that allows for a complete escape from hectic every day living. It is here that you will find the new multi million pound Natural Retreats Resort known as ‘The Inn’.
Over the last two years the hotel has been carefully restored, and a new Scandi style extension was added which provides a dramatic splash of colour against the rugged and wild coastal landscape. Tucked away in an area of outstanding beauty and wild Scottish landscapes, I was amazed at the choice of accommodation available and the stunning interior design. Can we please discuss how gorgeous all of it is!!
All of the apartments and lodges at Natural Retreats in John O’Groats are contemporary and sympathetically designed, using local materials from Scottish larch to Caithness stone, the design includes interior elements with a Scandinavian vibe. Along with antler chandeliers, wooden flooring and panoramic views, you’ll find light fixtures created out of lobster pots and rope sourced from local fishing businesses.
I am so so so hoping I can get some time of work in October to book a relaxing weekend away to this beautiful area of Scotland. As the autumn weather closes in I couldn’t imagine a better place to snuggle up with my partner and appreciate the beautiful country I call home.
As the average holiday goes, Iceland is probably something a little bit different, and I completely understand with many, when they say that they are put off because of the cold and often wet weather. However, I urge you all to ignore the fact that yes its cold, and yes it’s highly likely that you will experience some sort of precipitation whilst you’re there, and focus instead, on the majestic island full of adventures with beautiful scenery, friendly locals and laid back living.
We visited Iceland in October of last year which turned out to be a great time to go with pretty good weather the entire time we were there, even though we had read prior to us going, that this can be one of the wettest months. The temperature dropped to a chilly -5 but with some cosy layering and a thick jacket we were prepared for our adventure! We decided to opt for self catering rather than staying in a hotel and chose an apartment through Airbnb. It offered us a central location just off the main shopping street in Reykjavik called Laugavegur.
With so much character and beautiful sights it truly is a magical city. We were surprised as to how much there was to see and do and only wish we’d been there longer to experience it all! Some highlights include:
- Hallgrimskirkja is a stunning cathedral situated at the top of the hill when you walk through the city, it’s a great spot for photos- you can go up to the very top of the church spire and see for miles across the Reykjavik rooftops and far beyond to the ocean and mountains.
- This is a city of food! There are cafes, bars and restaurant tucked into every nook and cranny available. You don’t need to walk very far before you come across somewhere that makes your mouth water. We especially liked K-bar and The Noodle Station, both found on Laugavegur.
- The Harpa Concert Hall. You definitely need to pop along and see this mesmerising bit of architecture if you’re visiting Reykjavik. It sits on the edge of the promenade backed by snowy mountains and the sprawling ocean and is just breathtaking; despite the cold we ended up standing outside it for about ten minutes.
- The Golden Circle Tour. This is apparently Iceland’s most popular tour and after experiencing it for myself, I can definitely see why! You start by travelling through Icelands remote and beautiful scenery, full of snowy mountains and sparse volcanic landscapes. The first stop was Gullfoss, which is a huge waterfall and one of the natural wonders of the world. The sheer size and power of it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, if you’re lucky you’ll glimpse a water rainbow forming through the spray! The next stop is the geysers which was an incredible experience and felt like we’d stepped back in time to some prehistoric era. The Strokkur geyser erupts every 5-8 minutes and is such a mind blowing sight!
- Northern Lights tour. A trip to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without attempting to see the northern lights. Seeing them is one of those things that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. We stayed out until 2 in the morning looking for them. It was a perfectly clear night with no clouds in the sky but unfortunately we had to go home empty handed… (at least it’s an excuse for me to pursuade my boyfriend to take me back to Iceland!) I think next time we’ll probably rent a car so as we can venture out whenever we want.
Here are a few photos from our trip. I would love to return again during the winter months and explore much more!