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Best of Scotland Tour Review

My husband and I are just finishing up the Best of Scotland RS tour, and since everyone on this site has been so helpful, I thought I should add a quick review of my tour in case it can help someone else. This was our first tour with anyone, and I was a bit hesitant. I was worried that difficult group dynamics might make everything uncomfortable, and I knew that being only 30 we would likely be the youngest by far on this particular tour. I quickly found that all those fears were completely unfounded. We arrived in Edinburgh three days before the tour started and really enjoyed having some free time to explore and adjust to the time change. We booked the extra nights at the tour hotel and they were very nice about merging our reservation with the tour so we didn't have to change rooms. We were the youngest by probably 20 years, but everyone was so welcoming and kind that I felt at home quickly. Because of all the talk about hotels maybe being quirky and discussion about more emphasis being on the location of the hotels, I was prepared for the hotels to be of a lesser quality than I was used too. They were so much nicer than I expected though! The breakfasts were all pretty good and the included dinners were very, very nice. There were a few things on the itinerary that I didn't think I would love - the whisky distillery tour and the battleground tour - just because they aren't really interests of mine. I discovered that even these I enjoyed very much. Our guide was very good about making our bathroom stops and lunch breaks at interesting places, so we saw lots of nice little towns and natural sites and castles that weren't on the itinerary. The guide also included so many extras I wasn't expecting, such as snacks like fruit and shortbread on the bus, dark chocolate to go with our whisky samples, and gifts at our goodbye dinner. She even arranged to have a bagpiper come after dinner one night to play for us and teach us about the history of the bag pipes. She offered many different kinds of extra walks in our free time, and she helped arrange dinner together on one of our free nights for those who wanted it. She played all different styles of Scottish music for us on the bus that coincided with the sites. She was always teaching us about the culture - ancient history as well as current history and politics and even pop culture as she pointed out places where things were filmed and where famous people had lived or visited. She even planned a picnic for us one day where she brought all sorts of locally produced cheeses and fish and fruit and she bought locally made beer and other beverages.
Each site we stopped at we usually had around 2 hours to see, which may not have been enough for some people but was perfect for us. I can't get over how much I saw and learned and we experienced in 10 days. I was surprised by just how nice the hotels and dinners were and how much I liked my tour members. I probably could have found a cheaper way to come to Scotland, but I wouldn't have been able to create such a full cultural immersion experience, and I would have wasted more time. Each place was so organized. We got on and off the bus and checked in and out of hotels quickly, so there was no wasted time. Our guide usually gave us our room assignments on the way to our new location, so we just got off the bus and asked for the key and we were in. All the tour members followed directions and were always on time. This was only my first tour, but most of the other tour members had been on several. One person had been on 10. I apologize if this sounds like a commercial, I just wanted to give a full, honest review and this was my experience. Please let me know if you have any questions about the tour. I really appreciate all the great tips I got on here. Can't wait for my next tour!

Posted by
484 posts

Thanks for this excellent review. Questions: what were the names of the hotels? Dark chocolate and whiskey - how is this flavor combination? Is this a UK thing? What types of cheeses do Scots make?

Posted by
556 posts

Hi,

Glad you really enjoyed the tour! Scotland was my second (I've done 4). The age ranges definitely vary and as you take some more tours, you will probably find a few younger people to hand with. On my first RS tour, I was 37 (I'm now 43) and I usuallt you find at least 1 or 2 people a little closer to my age. Perhaps Italy and France would be good choices for your next tour as I think there tends to be families and couples of all ages in those tours.

Have fun planning the next one! Maybe you'll be the ones saying you've been on 10 tours!

Enjoy!

Posted by
600 posts

Thanks ladies.
Barb: in Edinburgh we stayed at the Parliament House Hotel. Next we stayed in Aberfeldy at the Moness Resort, but this was a change from their normal plans. They usually stay in Kenmore, but the hotel they used was booked for an event. In Inverness we stayed at the Royal Highland Hotel. This was the quirkiest, but still nice. In Oban we were split between two guest houses, Glenburnie and Wellpark, and both were very nice. I don't know if the dark chocolate and whisky combo is good because I don't like whisky, but the other tour members seemed to like it. It a apparently a new trend in Scotland. As for the cheeses, we had a locally made cheddar and blue cheese and a soft butter cheese. They were all very good.
Gretchen: We are already planning the Germany, Austria and Switzerland tour next year and hope to do Italy the next year!

Posted by
1248 posts

I do not like whisky but ended up at several distilleries while in Scotland with my whisky enthusiast friends. Two of the four distilleries offered chocolate to go with their samples (Highland Park and Talisker). I didn't think it did much for the Highland Park (can't remember which one we ate it with -- it was the big tour with seven samples including 40-yr old). I really enjoyed it with the Talisker. There they paired the sample with a truffle fudge type of chocolate. I quite enjoyed it!

Posted by
484 posts

Thanks for the info. - I will check in to these places. I think Glenburnie in Oban was very close to where I stayed 2 years ago. Sounds familiar. I miss Scotland. Thanks for the update.

Posted by
865 posts

Thanks for the report, Tamara. I'm currently on my 9th tour and was thinking about doing Scotland next year. Now I want to go even more!

By the way, you will love the GAS tour!

Posted by
1 posts

Thank you for taking the time to post. My husband and I have never been on a tour or even abroad. We are planning the Scotland tour and I found your comments beneficial.

Posted by
600 posts

Jentrex - it's a great choice for a first adventure because Scotland's culture has enough that is unique to give you a good European cultural experience, but enough that is familiar that you don't feel overwhelmed. You will love it!