Have you ever visited a place on your travels where you connected with so much, you just knew you had to return? For me, that was Traquair House. A couple years ago, my friend Ian Walker of Borders Journeys took me on a visit to this magnificent place. Traquair is about an hour by car from Edinburgh’s city center (accessible by bus or train too) and is so worth the journey. There’s so much more to Scotland than its capital city and Traquair House really gives you a great taste of Scottish history and culture.
In fact, it has over 900 years of history as it dates back to 1107, making it Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. And let me tell you, she looks great for her age. Traquair House is many things: museum, family home, brewery, bed & breakfast. On my first visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine Maxwell Stuart, 21st Lady of Traquair, who currently lives at Traquair with her family. She explained to me that Traquair was originally built as a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland, and then gifted to James Stewart, the 1st Laird of Traquair in 1491. This has truly remained a family home throughout the centuries.
Lady Catherine describes Traquair as an “authentic piece of living history” and I couldn’t agree more. History truly comes to life here and I really felt it while walking up an ancient stone staircase, exploring the many decorated rooms, crawling through a hidden passageway, and looking out onto the giant hedge maze. An afternoon visit simply wasn’t enough to explore every nook and cranny of this place; I just knew I had to return.
When I discovered they had three rooms available to book on a bed & breakfast basis, I was beyond thrilled. Traquair House is open to visitors from April – October (with weekends only in November), but their rooms are available to stay in year round! Therefore, when Ian and I returned on a week day in November, we had the place to ourselves. I had the pleasure of staying in the beautiful Blue Room which was incredibly comfortable. All three of their spacious double bedrooms have antique furniture, canopied beds, private bathrooms, and best of all… wifi! Okay, that wasn’t the best part, but I was very happy about a 900 year old house having wireless internet. How else was I going to Snapchat my stay?
My absolute favorite part about staying at Traquair House was having full use of the Lower Drawing Room. This room is on the tour when you visit during the day, and I just couldn’t quite believe we were getting to use it as our personal living room. We took full advantage and immediately lit the fireplace, browsed through the books, admired the old portraits, and snuggled up on the sofas to watch Outlander on our laptops. For those of you living under a rock, Outlander is a fantastic television show. Author Diana Gabaldon began writing the Outlander series in the 90’s, which is a story about a 20th-century English nurse who time travels back to 18th-century Scotland. Thanks to the huge success of the recent TV adaptation, fans of Outlander have been pouring into Scotland. Lucky for tourists, Outlander primarily shoots in Scotland which means there are so many filming locations to explore!
If you’re a fan of the show or a Scottish history buff, then you’ll know exactly who Bonnie Prince Charlie was and his involvement in the Jacobite uprising in Scotland in the 1700’s. He was another royal who visited here and Traquair’s famous Bear Gates have been closed since the Prince’s visit to the house in 1745. Following his visit, the Laird of Traquair at the time decided to close the gates and vowed never to open them until a Stuart returned to the throne. Traquair has made good on that promise and the gates are still closed to this day. That’s just one of several fascinating stories about Traquair’s impressive past.
In the morning, breakfast is served in the Still Room which was another room on my tour the first time I visited Traquair. Painted in a lovely blue color, you get to admire all of the precious Chinaware that’s used at Traquair, as well as a stunning view outside that looks onto the hedge maze. We were served the most delicious scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with fresh orange juice, homemade jams, granola, and a selection of breads.
I truly enjoyed every minute of my stay at Traquair House and would love to bring some of my close friends and family to visit next time. A night at Traquair costs only £190 for double occupancy and £110 if you’re traveling solo. Considering how many royals and aristocrats this house has hosted over the past 900 years, it offers tremendous value for guests today. It is affordable luxury at its finest which is what this blog is all about! Whether you’re a tourist or a native Scot, Traquair needs to be on your must-see list.
More information about Traquair House:
Website – http://www.traquair.co.uk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/traquair.house
Twitter – https://twitter.com/traquairhouse
More information about Ian Walker & Borders Journeys:
Website – http://www.bordersjourneys.co.uk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BordersJourneys
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Bordersjourneys
Tripadvisor Reviews – http://bit.ly/1N4RXHp
Have you ever stayed in such a historic home? Is Traquair going on your list? Let me know in the comments below!