Scotland Trip Costs

Home » UK » Scotland » Scotland Trip Costs

This post may contain affiliate links.

We just got back from a 10 day UK road trip, mostly in Scotland, but we flew into the UK in London and so started from and returned to Luton airport. We hired a car at around 11 UK Pounds per day (we have separate annual excess insurance) and had a really lovely time exploring the Scottish Highlands (with kids).

Scotland trip budget costs
Scotland trip costs guide.

I’ll be writing a full post on our Scottish road trip soon. It was an awesome tour of Scotland’s highlights and hidden gems, but in this post, I’m going to show you everywhere we stayed in the UK and Scotland to give you an idea of how much this trip to Scotland cost us, for accommodations, fuel, car hire, admissions and food. It was expensive.

I’m from the UK. I’ve lived in both Wales and London and travelled to almost 60 countries. Visiting Scotland costs a lot!

Scotland Costs

This trip to Scotland is one of our most expensive trips yet outside of Singapore and Bhutan. Here is what we got for our money in terms of hotels, guest houses, AirBnbs and traditional Scottish B&B accommodation.

I’ll also quickly mention other costs of this road trip, car hire, fuel costs in Scotland, admission prices and so on, but the full Scotland road trip, with highlights and attractions, will be in our next blog post. It was breathtakingly beautiful, the sun shone and we had a great time. There was one major letdown for us, we’ll tell you about it later.

The information in this Scotland travel blog was correct at the time of publication but things do change so it’s important to check and research for yourself. This post was published a few years ago.

Scotland Trip Costs – Accommodation

Climbing Ben Nevis Scotland costs price
We paid a lot for an Airbnb in Fort William. But walking up Ben Nevis costs nothing. Full blog post on that coming soon.

We spent weeks looking for accommodation in Scotland in advance, trying every booking engine and platform. It was surprising how high the prices were.

We stayed in some beautiful places and some less beautiful. Some were a complete rip-off, and some were very fairly priced.

Most lodgings included breakfast and it was generally good. One hotel in particular (Gartmore House) was amazing and the cheapest of all.

Today, we expect these prices will be even higher as the cost of living in the UK has gone through the roof, but the pound may be deflated, which could help.

General Accommodation Costs in Scotland

I think the high prices probably come down to a lack of availability. We were travelling during early summer, May. It was school holidays in parts of the UK but not in Scotland. Very few hotels were coming up in our searches compared to any other country we’ve visited.

This was maybe down to a combination of a general undersupply and popularity, everywhere seemed fully booked long in advance.

Once on the ground, we did notice a lot of old-style British Bed and Breakfasts. Most had their “no vacancies” signs up but I suspect that many of these don’t have an internet presence and that booking accommodation the old-fashioned way, with a British bed and breakfast guide and a phone, may be necessary.

Internet isn’t great in many places in Scotland, so if the owners aren’t Internet users, I bet they don’t even have websites let alone listings on the big booking engines.

We trust the big booking engines and use them every time, so these small places are throwing away trade.

We even stopped in one cafe that had a sign, “We don’t have wi-fi, we talk to each other instead”. That’s not a good attitude. We stop for a coffee and to use wi-fi while travelling without a UK mobile connection. We need wi-fi to check plans, work, contact accommodation and so on. If a cafe doesn’t supply wi-fi we’ll go elsewhere.

All prices we mention below are for a family of 4 and we generally picked the cheapest and best value we could find. We didn’t want to share bathrooms and we checked that everywhere had wi-fi.

Hostels may have come in slightly cheaper, but even for camping bothies with no bedding, we regularly saw $100 per night. We’re not making it up, why would we? It wasn’t cheap up there.

When we stay in London we usually find places between 50 and 120 UK pounds, so Scotland worked out far more expensive for us.

Is AirBnb a good choice for Scotland ?

We’re generally not massive fans of staying with AirBnb but we used them twice on this trip, in part because we had credits to use up. One (Fort William) was massively over-priced and one was good. We got to meet a lovely Airbnb family in Kingussie.

Car Hire for Scotland and Fuel Costs

We now use this site to find the best deal and on this occasion paid 11 UK Pounds per day. We have our separate excess insurance, we take this out annually for about $50 but you can also take out this sort of insurance on a per trip basis. It saves us money.

Fuel costs are pretty high in the UK but we didn’t find that price increased much as we headed into Scotland. The cheapest fuel of the whole trip was actually in Fort William, Scotland and not in England. The cheapest petrol was 1.25 UK Pounds per litre. The most expensive was 1.36 UK Pounds per litre near Northampton. Above 1.32 UK Pounds was unusual everywhere.

We didn’t pay any road tolls in Scotland which was great as this can be a huge expense in mainland Europe.

Admission Costs in Scotland

Highland Wildlife Park With Kids Scotland Costs
Highland Wildlife Park was expensive, yes, but it was worth it. Supporting conservation and learning about local and global cold-climate creatures was money well spent. Full post coming!

Admission costs were pretty high too.

We went to two Zoological Society of Scotland properties, the Highland Wildlife Park and Edinburgh Zoo. Admission for our family of four was around 60 UK pounds. Buy a coffee and a light lunch and you’re looking at around 100 UK pounds.

I don’t begrudge paying for places like this because I fully support their vital conservation efforts. If we were to pick one of the two we’d pick Highland Wildlife Park. (We had press passes for most of these places so we only had to pay admission for the kids).

Many places had a parking fee and 3 UK pounds seemed typical. Balmoral Castle didn’t charge for parking, neither did Urquhart Castle.

Kids always had a reduced rate of admission, even my 13 – 14-year-old. That’s great to see as we’re used to Asia where giant western kids usually pay full price.

The Hogwarts Express / Jacobite  Steam Train was hugely expensive and not in any way worth it. It wasn’t a steam train, it was diesel on that day. It was over 80 UK pounds for 1 adult, 2 kids, one way. You need to book well in advance. This was why we came to Scotland, my son asked to ride this train for his birthday, so we weren’t very impressed and no refund or rescheduling was even offered when the steam train was cancelled with no notice.

Food Costs in Scotland

Food in Scotland Costs
This good, home cooked , pork belly, mash and vegetables was under 15 UK Pounds at Silverfjord hotel in Kingussie. Most similar meals were around that price point and portions were huge. I’d actually prefer smaller portions and lower costs, less waste.

Sometimes we bought sandwiches in supermarkets, sometimes we grabbed something quick and junkie in McDonalds or some other cafe, sometimes we bought proper meals in restaurants. We typically paid between 11 and 15 UK pounds for a basic restaurant meal like fish and chips or Chef’s pork belly above. Portions were usually huge.

To buy a sandwich in a British supermarket, you’re looking at 1 – 1.50 UK Pounds at the lower price end.

A Budget For Scotland

As usual, we didn’t set a budget for our Scotland trip. We don’t believe in setting budgets because you just have to pay what it costs. Had we set ourselves $100 or $200 per day maybe we would have had to have skipped Balmoral Castle, the Highland Wildlife Park or the Royal Yacht Brittania. If you have to skip things because of an artificially set budget, what’s the point?

We don’t set budgets and haven’t since year 1 when we aimed to do South East Asia on $50 per day. I would guestimate that this Scotland road trip, including car, food, fuel and admissions cost around $300 per day. That would make it about the same cost-wise as Singapore.

Where We Stayed in Scotland

Edinburgh Hotel, Novotel Edinburgh Park
Novotel Edinburgh Park Review
The Novotel Edinburgh Park. This photo doesn’t really do it justice, it was a good size with desks and tables and a great shower and bathroom. Breakfast was good, a huge buffet, and, being Novotel, it’s a cut above most of the usual chain hotels. The pool was perfect for Chef to train.

We had 2 nights at the Edinburgh Park Novotel and it worked out well. It was my son’s birthday so we splurged a bit, he loves a buffet breakfast and needs good wi-fi. Novotel are always good quality and always cater well for kids.  There was a pool for Chef to train as well as a gym.

There was a kids’ play area near the restaurant and our family room was plenty big enough and well designed. We loved that 2 of us could use the desk for our laptops and there was a small table for use in or on the bed.

This Novotel was our pick because it was close to Edinburgh Zoo and we could arrive from the south (and depart for the north) without having to go into Edinburgh traffic. It was also handy for visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The shops opposite the hotel were a bonus, I needed new hiking boots and got them at Decathlon there.

Novotel Edinburgh Park cost us $270 US per night, around 202 UK pounds and you can see it here. There is also a Novotel Edinburgh Centre.

Trossachs National Park, Stirling, Gartmore House
Best accomodation in Scotland Gartmore House
Our favourite place and takes our award for the best accommodation in Scotland. Gartmore House in the Trossachs was huge, affordable, quirky and fun: such a beautiful spot and very shabby chic.

This place was amazing but it’s in a very old stately home in need of some TLC. Our room was perfect, huge, well decorated and comfortable with views to die for, but the house itself has seen better days. That said, the friendly service, good food and location were fantastic. We loved staying here and walking in the grounds in the evening.

Gartmore House has history and I may post about it some other time. Our bathroom was good too, large and well-kitted out. The Internet was usable but not great. I got a decent signal in reception. We had various teas, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits in our room.

Gartmore House was realistically priced at around 85 UK pounds including a good quality cooked breakfast and we’d recommend it to all but the most picky. See it here.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park has some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland and it is well worth driving from here through the Highlands and Glencoe.

Fort William AirBnb
Fort William Accommodation Costs Airbnb
The most expensive room of the trip! Fort William. Ouch.

Prices were sky-high in Fort William. These 2 bedrooms and tiny bathroom in a loft conversion were over 160 UK Pounds. For that we got a kettle, instant coffee and a few basic tea bags (no Earl Grey, chamomile etc). We didn’t even get shampoo included.

It was clean and well presented but really not worth the money. With Fort William being at the base of Ben Nevis I guess they can ask whatever price they like and get it. We’d recommend staying outside Fort William and driving to the starting point of the Ben Nevis walk instead.

This place is absolutely fine if you don’t mind paying this much. It was a fair hike into town and there was no waterside dining that we could find. We ended up buying sandwiches in a supermarket. The main road runs along the water’s edge right through here.

This Airbnb cost us 168 UK pounds, twice what we paid for Gartmore House.

There is a hostel in Fort William, maybe more than one, but when we were booking there was very little available either in the town or nearby.

Cairngorms AirBnb (Kingussie)
AirBnb in Scotland. Cairngorms Kingussie
A comfortable top floor apartment in a family home in Kingussie Scotland. We were very well provided for here and costs were fair.

This AirBnb was how it should be. The family talked to us like friends and the apartment consisted of the entire top floor of their 3-story Edwardian home. Kingussie is a lovely town in the Cairngorms and we had a good restaurant meal a short walk away with superb service at the Silverford Hotel.

Our Airbnb apartment gave us 2 bedrooms, the master, above, and a large bedroom/dining room with a good quality double sofa bed for the kids. The owners provided us with cereal, milk, bread, jam, fruit and tea/coffee. We had a kettle, small stove-top, microwave and fridge in the second bedroom. The only thing we lacked was a place to wash up, for that we needed to use the downstairs kitchen.

We had our own spacious bathroom with shampoo, conditioner, plenty of towels and a good hot shower.

There was free parking nearby and everything in the town was within easy walking distance.

Kingussie is very handy for Aviemore and the Highland Wildlife Park. It’s about half an hour from Inverness and Loch Ness.

This Airbnb cost us 75 UK Pounds per night. Find them in Kingussie on AirBnb. As usual with Airbnb, we had to strip beds /take the trash out. I find this deeply annoying and would always prefer a hotel.

Jedburgh Bed and Breakfast Meadhon House
Bed and Breakfast in Jedburgh Scotland
The most comfortable, most high quality, most perfect Bed and Breakfast of our trip to Scotland was in Jedburgh. Can you see how soft and squishy those beds are? It was possibly the best British Bed and Breakfast I’ve ever stayed in. Loved it. It cost a fair bit, but it was worth it.

This is how the great British Bed and Breakfast should be. Everything was done well here, from the home made bread and jams to the soft comfortable beds. 10 out of 10 on this one. Breakfast was superb and the little town of Jedburgh is a must-visit.

Jedburgh is ancient and there is much to see here including the Mary Queen of Scotts house and the 12th century Abbey. Find Meadhon Guest House here. The owners here even took the time to get me vegetarian, dairy-free, breakfast sausages. We had tea, coffee and chocolates in our room and the wi-fi was good. This cost us around 130 UK Pounds, breakfast included.

Where we Stayed on the Way to and From Scotland

We flew into Luton rather than a Scottish airport because it was so much cheaper, hundreds of dollars cheaper. This gave us a chance to visit York, see The Angel of the North and catch up with friends at Hadrian’s Wall. Drive time from Luton to Edinburgh is about 6 hours depending on traffic.

Staying in York

The place we stayed in York was grotty and run down. We didn’t get the family room we had booked, we got 2 doubles instead, one with a broken bathroom. So no photos, no recommendation. The included breakfast was various nasty, sweet, highly processed cakes and biscuits left in our room.

It had great reviews on TripAdvisor which were obviously fake, so beware.

But, the flip side is, York was wonderful and a great place to break your journey from London to Scotland. We managed to visit the JORVIC Viking Centre and had a lovely walk around the old city. Maybe try the York Novotel instead or use a B&B guide like the one we mentioned above.

Hotel Near Luton Airport, Kettering. Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn Express Near Luton Airport
Our last night before an early flight from Luton. Inexpensive, fairly spacious and breakfast included.

With all of these chain hotels the standard is pretty good and you know what to expect. Holiday in Express is less expensive than Novotel and everything is of a lower standard, but it’s fine.

We paid 79 UK pounds for a family room with breakfast at this Holiday Inn Express.

So there you go, a rough idea as to what a road trip around Scotland will cost you. Car hire and petrol cost us much less than hotels and other accommodation. We used two and a half to three tanks of fuel to travel 1300 miles from Luton, to Scotland and back. It’s a trip well worth doing, hugely educational, stunningly beautiful and many things to see. All of this will be in our next blog post our Scotland Travel Blog, here.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

6 thoughts on “Scotland Trip Costs”

  1. Looks a fantastic trip. Many years ago, I did a 5 day trip around Scotland and we packed so much into it. So much to see and it is very beautiful.
    I am now thinking of doing this with my husband who has yet to visit Scotland.
    How did you manage to get the car hire so low? How far ahead did you book? I was very impressed by this.

    • We generally just do a lot of hunting around for the best deal. You’d have to ask my husband, he’s good at this stuff. And we take out our own separate excess insurance usually. We don’t book far in advance, we don’t even book flights far in advance, we’re very last minute.

    • @Alyson Long, so here I am in nz planning my long awaited Scotland trip and it seems I am not imagining the cost of accommodation! It has shocked me! I guess there are bnb on the ground that do not advertise on the internet! Thank you for your tips and sharing your experience. I am going in August!

      • Hi Susan, yes, I was shocked too! This post is from a few years ago and costs of utilities have really, really gone up in the UK, so I expect it’s even worse now.

  2. Sounds amazing but probably a bit too expensive for me, in saying that we are going to visit Scotland so I appreciate the tips! Ps: that belly pork looks bloody good!


Leave a comment