— the central highlands —
 best scotland touring base

— edinburgh: urban —
apts. in scotland’s capital

inverness & the north
city apts & highland cottages

 — special request regions —
glasgow • borders • islands 

Northern Scotland

Inverness & the Northern Highlands



Northern Scotland’s Inverness Castle ranks among the most strategically important castles in Scotland. The north tower (left) is open for visitors and provides a prime observation point across Inverness city toward the hills of the Northern Highlands.

Explore Northern Scotland from
Inverness & the Northern Highlands

Northern Scotland is Highlands & Islands and much more.

Home At First’s Northern Scotland extends north-south from the northern tip of mainland Britain at John o’ Groats south beyond Loch Ness as far as Fort William, and east-west from the fierce North Sea shore of eastern Aberdeenshire west to the rugged Atlantic coast of Wester Ross and mountainous Isle of Skye. Northern Scotland isn’t all remote highlands and islands. The region offers many of Scotland’s great attractions set amid ever-changing scenery. Tucked amid the folds of the mountains and the sea-inlets are dozens of villages and towns worth discovery. The regional capital of Inverness, qualifies as Britain’s northernmost city, with much of its original 17th century architecture lining River Ness, which divides the town in half and passes below impressive Inverness Castle on its way north to the Beauly Firth.
          Inverness is the both the capital of Northern Scotland and the region’s geographic center. Home At First‘s Inverness city apartments make excellent bases from which to explore Northern Scotland. And, while this can best be accomplished by rental car, from Inverness it also is possible to explore limited portions of the region by railway lines that extend to all four compass points: west to Kyle of Lochalsh by Skye, north to the seacoast at Thurso and Wick, east to Aberdeen on the North Sea, and south through Aviemore and the Cairgorms National Park to Pitlochry, Central Scotland
          An hour north of Inverness Home At First has rural cottages on a Highlands Estate in the former county of Ross-shire, its 3,000 square miles extending across mainland Scotland from the North Sea west to the wild Atlantic coast. Fish, bike, canoe, and hike on our Highlands Estate, and golf on any of several nearby challenging links and parkland courses. Using our exclusive Northern Scotland Activity Guide, you explore the Northern Highlands independently, touring the region by car from sea to sea, and from Inverness to John o’ Groats in the far north of Britain, returning to your cozy Scottish lodging each evening.

Explore Northern Scotland — discover history & remarkable scenery from either of two superb touring bases: Inverness apartments or Highlands Estate cottages. 

  • 18th century buildings line the east bank of River Ness, Inverness
    INVERNESS: The east bank of River Ness lined with attractive 18th century cottages & churches.

Explore Scotland by Independent Day-trips from your Inverness apartment or Northern Highlands cottage —
       Begin your discovery of Scotland by exploring your home region: the small city of Inverness and the eastern portion of Scotland’s Northern Highlands. The intricate regional geography of rivers, hills, firths (fjords), and moors offers a fascinating array of places to explore. This part of Scotland has extraordinary history with associations with Picts, Highland clans, Vikings, Jacobites, and British Royalty.

Touring Northern Scotland by Car: Further from home, your explorations by car can take you on a long circle tour west and south through some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery: across the Northern Highlands to the rugged coast of Wester Ross, through spectacular coastal mountains to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye. From Skye, the return route passes picturesque Eilean Donan Castle, winding past several of Scotland’s highest Munros before tracing the west shore of Loch Ness back to Inverness and home.
       Another touring route circles west across Ross-shire to the fishing port of Ullapool on Loch Broom, north into remote and thinly populated northwestern Sutherland before turning southeast and returning home via the Dornoch Firth and the Royal Burgh of Tain with its Glenmorangie Distillery.
       A third day-trip by car heads east into the historic counties of Nairn, Moray, and Banffshire before turning southwest and traversing the distillery-dense Speyside Whisky Route, brushing Cairngorms National Park, then turning north to return to Inverness and home.

Touring Northern Scotland by Train: Guests staying in Inverness city apartments have the option of touring without driving by taking the train. From Inverness station in the city center (within walking distance of Home At First‘s Inverness apartments), trains depart on scenic lines west for Kyle of Lochalsh, north for Wick and Thurso, east for Elgin and Aberdeen, and south for Aviemore in the Cairngorms and Pitlochry in the Central Highlands. Although railways do not go everywhere in Northern Scotland, Inverness-based guests using a ScotRail Pass can easily fill a week with rail adventures throughout the region and return each evening to their apartments in the happy capital of Northern Scotland.

Discovering Home At First’s Northern Scotland — Activities

Activities: In addition to touring by car or train, visitors play links or parkland golf, try fishing for salmon and trout, visit numerous (scotch) whisky distilleries, search for castles in all states of repair, keep an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster, and encounter important historic sites of fact like Culloden Moor battlefield (where the Jacobite cause was lost) and of fiction like Cawdor Castle (where Shakespeare’s Macbeth became King of Scotland). For more activities, see the following slide show:

  • GOLF: Classic links courses line Northern Scotland's east coast, including top-ranked Royal Dornoch Golf Club, considered among the best in the world. Harry Williams Photo © VisitBritain.

Discovering Home At First’s Northern Scotland — Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the driving like? Northern Scotland roads — mostly two-lane, but many one-lane (“single-track”) roads, and the occasional three-lane road, plus the A-9 north/south national highway that is at times a 4-lane motorway — follow the profiles of the glens (valleys), hugging the shores of the lochs (Scottish lakes, sounds, and fjords), and occasionally climbing mountain passes to reach the next glen. With few people traffic congestion is rare, except in Inverness, where the one-way street system is often confusing and finding parking can be aggravating. Traffic can also back up on some key mountain pass routes, on the busy streets of market towns, and on the winding, narrow streets of antique villages.

How far can we day-trip by driving? Despite the almost total absence of high-speed motorways, Home At First‘s Inverness apartments and Highland Estate cottages make great bases for exploring its fascinating region with two coasts, larger towns of Tain, Dornoch, Nairn, Elgin, and smaller towns and villages including Ullapool, Fortrose, Cromarty, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Applecross, Gairloch, Torridon, Aviemore, Thurso, and Wick within reach. Regions accessible by car include the Far North (Sutherland & Caithness), Wester Ross, Isle of Skye, Speyside and the Cairngorms, Loch Ness & Lochaber.

What can we realistically accomplish if we opt to travel by train? Using a ScotRail Pass valid for 4 days of rail travel during an 8-day travel period, Home At First guests to Inverness can travel to the four points of the compass:
• Rail service east on the 3-hour journey from Inverness to Aberdeen operates almost hourly, making it possible to visit Aberdeen as a long day-trip with 2-6 hours in Aberdeen.
• Rail service west on the very scenic 2.5-hour journey from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh operates every two hours from about 9AM, provides a 2-hour lunch stop in Kyle, and returns to Inverness in time for supper.
• Rail service north to the top of mainland Scotland operates twice each morning on the 4.5-hour journey from Inverness to Wick (via Thurso). Taking the earlier train permits a 2-hour lunch stop or 5.5-hour visit in Thurso or a 4.5-hour visit to Wick before returning to Inverness by 5PM or 8PM. Intermediate stops along of interest along this route include Tain, Golspie, Dunrobbin Castle, and Brora.  
• Rail services south on the main line from Inverness to Perth, Edinburgh, and Glasgow depart Inverness hourly. Journey time to Edinburgh or Glasgow is about 3.5 hours, sometimes requiring a change of trains in Perth. Leaving Inverness at around 8AM means being able to visit Edinburgh or Glasgow for up to 6 hours before taking the train back to Inverness in time for a 9:30PM arrival. Stops along this route include the interesting small towns of Aviemore, Blair Atholl, and Pitlochry, as well as the historic small city of Stirling

What is there to see and do? We tell you in very practical detail in our exclusive “Northern Scotland Activity Guide” created specifically for the use of Home At First guests in Northern Scotland.  

Home At First’s Northern Scotland — The Lodgings:

Apartments in Inverness

Sample City Apartments

  • Several Home At First Inverness Apartments are located here.
    Several Home At First Inverness Apartments are in this modern building. The ground floor houses a restaurant, a pub, & shops.

  Shown and described below are two popular Inverness City Apartments enjoyed by Home At First guests. They are shown here as samples of different sizes and capacities, and to illustrate the standard of quality that comes with all apartments regardless of design, size, style, and location. While the range of apartments to choose from is extensive, the standard of quality and service is the same regardless of apartment.

ARRIVAL & HOSTING: Each apartment’s host or hostess will meet you at the apartment when you arrive to explain its operations. Your host/hostess is also ready with suggestions for activities, shopping, and eating and is on-call in the event of questions, emergencies, or (unlikely) problems.

LOCATION: The apartments are a five-minute walk uphill to Inverness Castle. Restaurants, shops, cafés, churches, Inverness’s train and bus stations, and its tourist information office are all within 10-minutes walk of the apartment, meaning you do not need a car to explore Inverness. And, whether using a car or a ScotRail pass, exploring Northern Scotland is easily done from Home At First‘s perfectly-situated apartment in Inverness.




with castle view

  • The apartment's spacious open-plan dining area, living area, and kitchen open onto the furnished terrace.
    Open-plan dining-living-kitchen with terrace access.

       Set in the epicenter of Inverness at the prime corner intersection of convenience and choice, this modern, second floor apartment is stylish, practical, and wonderfully located. The views from the apartment’s furnished, wrap-around terrace of the towers of Inverness Castle and the River Ness invite outside breakfast, dinner, or simply lounging with drinks and snacks.

       One flight of stairs or a short elevator ride leads to the secure building entry door. Descend two floors by elevator to the secure underground garage and the apartment’s designated parking space. The apartment’s entry hall has an video entry phone. In addition to keys to the apartment, guests receive a numerical code to access the garage door, the elevator, and the building entry door.

Utility Cupboard

       The flat’s spacious, open-plan kitchen, living, & dining areas comprise its main room. A large flat-screen TV is visible from everywhere in this room. The dining area seats six. Free WiFi is provided, as is a cell phone with free calls to the UK, EU, USA, and Canada. The very well-equipped kitchen has a refrigerator-freezer, dishwasher, electric range, convection oven, toaster, coffee maker, & microwave. There is a clothes washer in the apartment’s utility room, as well as a useful powder room in the hallway. The apartment is non-smoking only, and is centrally heated. Daily maid service is an extra-cost item available on request.

      The 2 bedrooms feature king-sized beds & walk-in-shower-equipped bathrooms en suite. One bedroom accesses the furnished terrace. 




with RIVER view

  • The living room with balcony and view of Inverness.
    The living room has balcony access & a river view.


      Centrally located in Inverness, this modern, fourth-floor apartment is both stylish and practical — an ideal accommodation for two persons. The views from the apartment’s furnished balcony north along the River Ness invite outside breakfast, dinner, or simply lounging with drinks and snacks. 

          An elevator takes guests to the secure building entry door on the ground floor or to the secure underground garage and the apartment’s designated parking space. The apartment’s entry hall has an video entry phone. In addition to keys to the apartment, guests receive a numerical code to access the garage door, the elevator, and the building entry door.  

Utility cupboard with washer and Hoover
Utility Cupboard

      The flat’s spacious, open-plan kitchen, living, & dining areas comprise its main room. The living room area includes a sizable flat-screen TV. The furnished balcony opens off the living room via glass French doors, providing an excellent view north along the River Ness.

       The dining table by the well-equipped kitchen area seats four. The very well-equipped kitchen has a refrigerator/freezer, dishwasher, electric range, convection oven, toaster, coffee maker, & microwave. There is a clothes washer in the apartment’s utility room, as well as a useful powder room in the hallway. Free WiFi is provided. The apartment is non-smoking only, and is centrally heated. Daily maid service is an extra-cost item available by request.

      The spacious double bedroom features a king-sized bed and walk-in-shower-equipped bathroom en suite.

Home At First’s Northern Scotland — The Lodgings:

Northern Highlands Estate
Cottages in Ross-shire

Sample Rural Estate Cottages

  • Northern Highlands Estate — Old Main House
    Old Main House: 3 bedrooms; sleeps 4 adults + 2 children.

  Shown above are images of Home At First‘s Northern Highlands Estate to illustrate show areas for hiking, boating, swimming, fishing, the estate office, the activities center, and the estate owner’s castle with its elaborate Italianate gardens.

  Shown and described below are images of several of the Northern Highlands Estate Cottages enjoyed by Home At First guests: exterior views in the left column, and interior views in the right column. They are shown here as samples of different sizes and capacities, and to illustrate the standard of quality that comes with all of the estate’s cottages regardless of design, size, style, and location. While the range of cottages to choose from is extensive, the standard of quality and choice of activities is the same for all.



  • Northern Highlands Estate — Old Main House
    Old Main House: 3 bedrooms; sleeps 4 adults + 2 children.

       Several guest cottages are set across the many acres of the Northern Highlands Estate. (Five cottages are featured in the slide presentations on this page.) Each cottage is unique in location and capacity, yet all reflect the rural country elegance of a Highlands retreat and share the estate’s privacy, security, and its common guest activities.

       The Northern Highlands Estate has a single gated entrance by the the estate’s office. From here, guests follow paved single-lane roads to their cottages. Three cottages are clustered around the estate’s activities center. Two are adjacent to the estate’s manicured gardens and its castle, a private residence not open to the public. Other cottages are set away from other buildings, some on remote portions of the estate a few minutes drive from the estate entrance. These latter are ideal for guests looking for peace and privacy in a pristine natural setting away from traffic, except for an occasional estate farm tractor.

       The Northern Highlands Estate provides a comfortable rural retreat for its guests. It also provides a convenient base for touring throughout Scotland’s Northern Highlands. Day trips by car lead north through Sutherland to Caithness and the northernmost shores of Britain; west across Ross-shire through some of Britain’s highest mountains to its rugged, attractive west coast; south and southwest to Inverness, Loch Ness, the Highlands of Lochaber, and to the romantic and rugged Isle of Skye.



  • Old Main Cottage — Living room with fireplace and TV
    Old Main Cottage: Living room with fireplace & TV


       Northern Highlands Estate cottages are rustic chic, spacious, cozy and comfy. Tweed and brown leather would suit as guest dress, but any long-sleeved casual fits perfectly. The cottages encourage relaxation, outdoor activity, and tranquility. They are ideal for vacationers looking for a peaceful escape from life’s routines.

       The above slide show illustrates the variety of interior sizes, styles, and decor of the five sample cottages introduced in the previous section. When you contact Home At First about travel to the Northern Highlands, we will recommend the most suitable cottage for you based on availability for your travel dates, size of your group, and any special preferences or needs you may have. The Northern Highlands Estate offers cottages that sleep from two to ten persons, and are particularly suitable for couples, foursomes, and families.

       After full days of touring Northern Scotland by car, or playing golf on one of the region’s challenging links courses, or cycling, walking, fishing, or pursuing some other activity on the estate, you will return to your cottage to find a welcoming Highland home ready with peaceful evenings of crisp air, memorable sunsets, and night skies paved with stars.

What are Home At First’s Northern Highlands Estate Cottage like? We offer several cottages on a large, rural, private estate in Ross-shire, not far from the A9 main north/south highway, the Tarbat Peninsula, the Cromarty Firth, and the Dornoch Firth. Each cottage is unique. The cottages come in a variety of sizes, and shapes, and decor. Some have multiple bedrooms and baths; others may have a single bedroom and bathroom. Flat-screen TVs are ubiquitous — expect multiple TVs in larger apartments. All estate cottages have terraces or furnished patios and gardens. All are secure private quarters with private bathrooms, and must meet certain standards of quality and equipment:

HOSTING: All of the Northern Highlands Estate cottages share friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, accessible hosts — the staff who will welcome you at the estate office, introduce you to your cottage, explain its workings, provide information about activities and services at the estate, suggest activities and driving tours off the estate, and be on-call if questions, problems, or emergencies arise. Otherwise, you can expect to see a familiar, friendly face from time-to-time during your stay, at the estate office, and when staff hosts stop by to see how you are getting on.

PARKING: Each cottage comes with designated parking spots convenient to the cottage entrance for loading and unloading luggage, groceries, and people.

FLOORS & ENTRIES: Some cottages are multi-story accommodations requiring climbing one or two flights of stairs. Others are one-story cottages with few or now stairs. Cottage entries are secure.

CARE & CLEANLINESS: The cottages have been thoroughly cleaned prior to your arrival, but are not maid-serviced during your stay. They are normally equipped with laundry machines. Cottages are non-smoking. Some cottages do permit dogs, while a few do not. Please ask at time of booking if you require a no-dog cottage. Basic starter kitchen and bathroom supplies are provided.

BEDROOMS: Bedrooms may have twin beds or double bed in any of three sizes. Multi-bedroom lodgings often have a queen-size or king-size bed in one of the bedrooms. Larger family-size lodgings may have a bedroom with bunk beds or children’s twin beds. All bed linens are provided.

KITCHENS: Full kitchens or practical kitchenettes with at the very least: fridge, coffee maker, tea kettle, stove top range, oven and/or toaster oven and/or microwave. Most have additional counter appliances including dishwashers, as well as clothes washer/dryers. All kitchen and bath towels & linens provided.

BATHROOMS: Most bathrooms have a shower stall or a bathtub with overhead shower. Some few bathrooms may have a bathtub with hand-held shower, or a bathtub for bathing only. Bath towels & linens — although not always face cloths, which Europeans often consider a personal hygiene item — are provided.

ESTATE FACILITIES: The Northern Highlands Estate is a private estate with gated access. Guests are provided with entry instructions so they may come and go at all times. Outdoor activities include archery (with supervision for novices), fishing, cycling, walking, bird-watching, and game spotting. Indoor activities available at the estate’s sports hall include: badminton, basketball, pool, ping-pong, volleyball, and others. All sports and equipment are provided free to guests.

ELECTRONICS: All Inverness apartments have flat-screen, cable televisions. All have free WiFi. Bring or rent a cell phone for your trip. Cell phone service is good on the estate, but can be spotty in rural areas of Northern Scotland.

PROXIMITY TO STORES & SERVICES: The Northern Highlands Estate is a 15-20-minute drive from the market town of Tain, which offers two supermarkets, and a variety of restaurants, cafés, pubs, stores and services. For a broader choice of cultural, dining, and shopping possibilities, plus the regional airport, Northern Scotland’s capital, Inverness, is 45 minutes away by car.

Inverness & the Northern Highlands readily combine with all other Home At First

Scottish regions as well as with most other  Home At First European destinations.

Achieve more than one European travel goal for just one transatlantic airfare.

Request Free Proposal for a Custom-Made Combination Trip with Price Quote Here


Contact HOME AT FIRST: (800) 523-5842 (toll-free USA & Canada) +1 610 543 4348 (worldwide) info@homeatfirst.com