My husband and I are planning a trip to Scotland for several weeks beginning the first week in September and are wondering about lodging availability. In 2009 we rented a car and were able to meander around parts of the Highlands, stopping for the night when we felt like it, never having a problem finding a B&B or hotel in which to stay. This time, we will concentrate on the Outer and Inner Hebrides, northwestern Highlands, and Orkney Islands. Does anyone have recent experience in securing lodging at a moment’s notice (outside of festival times) in those areas? We enjoy having flexibility but, again, are wondering if traveling conditions in Scotland have changed over the past 7 years to the extent that we will need to make reservations before we go. Any information will be greatly appreciated.
Have you considered booking for your first stop then calling ahead (by a day or two when possible) to book the next? You could keep some of the flexibility, but have some confidence that you won't be sleeping in your car.
Although you are likely to be able to get accomodation by turning up, this time you say you are crossing to the islands. I would be less flexible simply because of the ferries. Unlike the rest of the country the ferries will restrict where you are staying so booking ahead would give more piece of mind.
Thank you both very much for taking the time to answer the question -- great ideas. Thanks again.