Hi guys, a question to anyone with insight on this. My wife and I will be in Scotland in Early July 2022 for about 2 weeks. After 4-5 days in Edinburgh we have a car booked and plan to wonder the countryside for the next 10 days or so - going where we feel, stopping where we want. Would it be simple enough for us to find available rooms in B&Bs along the way, particularly throughout the Highlands and Islands at this time - as opposed to booking in advance? I am reading a lot about this being high period and many locals doing staycations still. Any thoughts? Thanks much.
You will lose a lot of time if you try to find available rooms along the way. Depending where in Scotland you are travelling demand will be high. For example anywhere in the Highlands and Islands is likely to see good places booked solid. I guess it depends how much stress you like to add in to your holidays and how choosy you are about where you stay? I am a B&B owner on Skye and am already 30% full for July . Bookings are coming in all the time. So I'd highly recommend booking.
The days of driving along in touristy parts of Scotland and seeing lots of 'vacancies' signs are long gone I'm afraid.
Thanks @skygirl. I was half expecting that answer. May have to take some of the spontaneity out of our trip to maybe book B&Bs in at least a few "anchor" locations - Skye, Oban, etc - and maybe take our chances in between.
I agree with Skyegirl. As more people have begun traveling finding places to stay at the last minute is more difficult, especially in popular locations during high season. Even my wife and I who never made advance reservations do so now. In smaller towns off season, where fewer tourists go, I’m sure you can still arrive and find a place at the last minute.
Rather than making all your reservations, you may be able make reservations for the first couple stops, then makes reservations a few days in advance for other parts of you trip. You may not get your 1st or 2nd choice and you may spend considerable time looking online to find a place, but that would give you more freedom to wander.
I used to love to do this. My sister and I were traveling in Scotland and England and discovered the book a bed ahead service at the local tourist office. You could go in that morning and for. small fee would get a place. You told them what you needed including whether it was single or three thistle establishment. :). If they still have this service, in a pinch they will generally find you some place so you are not sleeping on a park bench. Skyegirl may know if they still offer it.
If we go back 10-20 years this would have been possible. Not now. Even booking today for July you may find it difficult to find accommodation in popular places. Many people are still taking staycations and many places will already be fully booked. Some parts of Scotland and particularly and the islands are sparsely populated and there isn't much accommodation anyway.
You may find you are wasting a lot of time (and increasing stress levels) trying to find accommodation as you travel. If you do find accommodation, it may not be where you want to stop.
I had a great deal of difficulty finding affordable rooms for my July 2019 trip to Scotland. I booked in January. I didn't have a car, so I needed places close to public transportation. You can afford to be a bit more flexible. On the other hand, I am not at all picky about my rooms. Tiny spaces with cheap furnishings are perfectly OK as long as they are clean, the bed is comfortable and the Wi-Fi works. Still, I struggled.
All the thoughtful responses are much appreciated. Seems I will definitely have to tighten up on the spontaneity I was hoping for. Will go ahead and book in some of the more busy locations, take our chances in some of the less busy areas and pack a tent and 2 sleeping bags just in case!
Early July means that the Scottish schools will have started their summer holiday (it’s mid July in England), so I wouldn’t leave anything unbooked. The days of rocking up at popular places in school holidays and finding rooms is past.
Even the campsites on Skye were full when I visited in mid May!
I just finished up the process of finding lodging my a similar trip this coming May. It took me almost two days of quasi full time surfing and emailing to get B&Bs lined up. Probably 80% of the places I contacted were already full. Granted, almost all of them are in touristy, more in demand areas but I've never experienced anything like that (and we've traveled in Europe a lot!)
Plus, you will probably pay a lot more for the same room if booked only days ahead of time.
23 days in May.... about 20 of them in Scotland proper. Started looking in November, saw that some good places were already booking up, and the stuff that was available, while good, was not plentiful. Glad I booked early.
Honestly, it sounds like your trip would be better suited in a campervan so you can stop where you want. Maybe not at likely full campgrounds, but your freedom levels would be much higher.