Architecture & Real Estate | November 22, 2020 6:31 pm

Scotland Might Turn Underused Historic Buildings into High-End Hotels

Spain's paradores are a model for the plan

Inner courtyard of Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven
Inner courtyard of Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland.
DeAgostini/Getty Images

If you’ve ever traveled to Spain, you might have spent time staying in one of the country’s paradores — a system of state-run hotels situated in historical structures. Buildings like monasteries and forts, some situated off the beaten path, have been transformed into hotels while keeping the buildings preserved and in the public eye — and providing jobs and revenue along the way.

Now, another European country is considering something similar. A new report by Eve Livingston at The Guardian details the Scottish National Party’s proposal to convert a number of historical buildings into hotels along the lines of paradores — luxurious yet affordable. What’s brought this on now? A desire to stimulate the Scottish economy in the wake of the pandemic.

“Someone brought up the paradores idea and it seemed both fascinating and a really cool way to make the most of our built heritage – monasteries, castles, ruins in the hills that could be turned into high-class hotels, which would generate income, bring in tourists, create jobs, and preserve that heritage for the nation,” said Fergus Mutch, an SNP member involved with assembling the proposal. The party is set to discuss it at their conference next weekend.

Among the people interviewed for the article, both Brian McGarrigle from the Scottish Castles Association and Claire Baker of Scottish Labour seemed cautiously optimistic about the plan, while also pointing out the challenges inherent in the plan.

Mutch also seems to be taking a relatively measured approach to it. “I think seeing the first of these paradores in Scotland within the next few years is a reasonable target,” he said. It’s not hard to see the appeal of staying in a refurbished castle for a few nights, with an evocative landscape right outside your window.