Taking the high road

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2008, 12:00am

Eriska island, scotland

Picture the scene The mountains and lochs of Scotland and a classic E-type Jaguar racing along carrying a pair of newlyweds. Their destination a historic country house tucked away on a private island off the west coast of Scotland. It is not everyone's immediate idea of a honeymoon destination, but there is no denying the romance of Scotland, especially when you throw in the added elements of a private island and a journey in a classic car. Scottish holiday specialist McKinlay Kidd (www.seescotlanddifferently.co.uk) offers a four-night package with the option of travelling over the mountains from Glasgow by seaplane or driving yourself from Edinburgh in one of its collection of classic cars. The Hotel Eriska, a sprawling mansion, sits on the small private island of Eriska connected to Oban Bay in Argyll by a scenic old bridge. Its facilities include a spa, an indoor heated swimming pool, gym, sauna, steam room, and an aromatherapy and reflexology suite. Stay in a suite and you will have your own hot tub, sun lounge and garden.

Best time to go The west coast lies in the path of a gulf stream which makes it warmer than the rest of Scotland. However, it also makes it more unpredictable. You can never guarantee from one day to the next - or one hour to the next - what the weather will do. April and May, and September and October are more settled.

Upside Breathtaking scenery, culture and heritage - Scotland has a lot going for it, especially if you are looking for something a little different than a beach holiday. With the sea, mountains and wild flora and fauna, you can get back to nature while historic hotels - often refurbished old castles or stately homes - offer a grandeur which has made it a favourite setting among filmmakers and the British Royals. Even the weather has its upside. There is something strangely romantic about a misty landscape and if it gets too chilly, what could be more appealing than snuggling up with an aged malt whiskey and your loved-one in front of a real fire.

Downside It is a long journey to Scotland and there are no direct flights from Hong Kong which means you will find yourself travelling via another city. And then there is that weather known for its unpredictability in the summer and freezing temperatures and long nights in the winter which means you cannot travel light and will have to pack for all weather.

Getting there and costs Many of the main European carriers fly to either Glasgow or Edinburgh, or both, via their home city, including KLM, British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France. Emirates also flies to Glasgow via Dubai. Once there, it is another three-hour journey by car to the coast. A four-night stay split between five-star accommodation in Edinburgh and the private island hotel will cost up toHK$10,500 per person, plus an extra HK$6,000 to HK$15,000 for the classic car hire. Alternatively, two nights (bed and breakfast) on the island arriving by seaplane will cost about HK$8,000 per person.