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A short break in Ayr, Scotland, with 3 suggested itineraries
Recently I undertook a journey across Scotland, staying at some of the country's best bed and breakfasts along the way. I put together my own itinerary and it was pretty amazing if I do say so myself!
This is the first of four blog posts covering each destination I stayed at, starting in Ayr, a seaside town just 30 minutes south from Glasgow. You can use each blog post as a stand alone guide for visiting the featured location or follow the series of blog posts to recreate my Scottish road trip if you have more time.
Either way, I know you won't be disappointed so let's head to my first suggested stop in Ayr...
Where to stay in Ayr
Ayrs & Graces Luxury Bed & Breakfast
I spent 2 nights at Ayrs & Graces bed and breakfast, located by Alloway, home to many Robert Burns attractions and a short drive from the scenic Ayrshire coast. Check out my recommended itineraries below to discover some of the best things to do in and around Ayr.
Ayrs & Graces is situated in a quiet elevated plot conveniently close to the town of Ayr which maximises the surrounding views of green fields and grazing sheep. As I pulled in to the drive I was greeted by the surprising sight of owner Paul's collection of luxury cars (his day job is a 747 captain) and if you ask very nicely he might even let you sit in his Ferrari. This was the first clue I wasn't staying at your average B&B!
I think it is fair to say that owners Paul and Rhona are not your average hosts either, and for me, their sunny personalities and positive enthusiasm for life was infectious. I honestly left with more of a bounce in my step than when I arrived and feel like I've made new friends for life.
Their accommodation is bright and modern with guest room names themed around local poet Robert Burns. I stayed in the Brig O'Doon Suite, named after the iconic local landmark featured in the poem Tam O'Shanter which is less than a mile away from the B&B.
My room felt very homely with a padded window seat, TV, hospitality tray and even a wee dram of whisky for anyone wanting a nightcap, but with such a comfortable bed, I didn't need any extra help to enjoy a sound night's sleep. The en-suite bathroom was spacious with quality toiletries and a fluffy bathrobe, perfect for relaxing with my feet up after a busy day exploring.
If you prefer to spend some time getting to know your hosts and fellow guests, an open plan lounge area with striking artwork and panoramic windows allows you to do just that.
Its not all about the inside space though, Rhona and Paul have developed some gorgeous places to soak up the countryside views including a decked terrace, a cosy summer house, and their latest addition, a fabulous garden dome with 360 degree vistas so you can sit outdoors no matter what the weather is doing.
Rhona has a background in catering which is a real asset when you're running a B&B and she is the star of the kitchen. My cooked breakfast was perfection and I didn't have to compromise on choices as my gluten free diet was well catered for. Looking out at the greenery while I sipped my coffee was a real tonic to start the day.
Breakfast at Ayrs & Graces is a very sociable affair, with Rhona and Paul on hand to give you advice about what to do and where to go - they gave me a great tip about the cafe in Turnberry Lighthouse which I had no idea existed. They even offered to give me a lift to the restaurant I had booked in Ayr for my dinner that evening and it is this type of personal service that makes Scotland's best bed and breakfasts stand out from the rest.
Not only is Ayrs & Graces a member of Scotland's Best B&Bs, it is also one of only a few bed and breakfasts in Scotland to be awarded a 5 star gold.
I had a brilliant time staying with Rhona and Paul, they were the perfect hosts and I wouldn't hesitate to book with them again in the future.
What to do in and around Ayr
Now you have your accommodation sorted, you might be wondering how best to spend your time in bonnie Ayrshire so I've suggested 3 road trips that include some of Scotland's lesser visited gems.
THREE ROAD TRIP ITINERARIES
Using Ayrs & Graces Bed and Breakfast as your base, these routes are all easy to follow. I have included all the highlights so you can personalise each route to your own interests. It is unlikely you will have the time to to visit every place listed so I suggest picking a few places that you definitely want to include and adding in more attractions if you have time left over.
OPTION 1 - AYRSHIRE COAST
BEST FOR - BEACHES, CASTLES AND PICTURESQUE HARBOURS
This route takes you on the scenic road along the Ayrshire coast, littered with historic castles, quaint fishing harbours and beautiful beaches.
Greenan Castle - Walk along the beach and view the remains of the 16th-century castle perched on the cliffs above
Heads of Ayr Farm Park - Get close up to a wide range of animals including rare breeds and exotic wildlife
Dunure - Take a stroll around this pretty harbour settlement and stop by the 13th-century castle, the village was used as an Outlander filming location
Electric Brae - Try out this natural optical illusion where your car appears to defy gravity and freewheel uphill
Culzean Castle and Country Park - You could easily spend a full day touring the castle, wandering the manicured gardens, following nature trails and exploring the coast
Maidens - Another picturesque harbour village with a nice beach and a tearoom with sea views
Turnberry - Walk across the golf course to the scant remains of Turnberry Castle, the birthplace of Robert the Bruce followed by tea and cake at the lighthouse cafe
Girvan - A traditional seaside town, the golden beach goes on for miles and a climb up Byne Hill offers some of the best views in Ayrshire
Kirkoswald - Visit Souter Johnnie's Cottage, once home to the shoemaker featured in Tam O'Shanter by Robert Burns, the neighbouring Souters Inn serves great food
OPTION 2 - AYR TO LEADHILLS
BEST FOR - HIDDEN GEMS AND HEADING OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
This return road trip includes takes you off the main tourist route to visit some of Scotland's more unusual attractions.
Dumfries House - Book on a guided tour of the 18th-century country house and take a wander around the pretty gardens
Crawick Multiverse - Explore this former open cast coalmine which has been transformed in to a an artland inspired by space, astronomy and cosmology
Sanquhar - Visit the town to learn about its famous local knitting pattern at The Tolbooth Museum and stop by the oldest working post office in the world
Mennock Pass - As scenic as the best Highland roads, there are lots of photo stops to enjoy the view
Wanlockhead - Explore Scotland's highest village - be sure to visit the museum, take a tour of a former mine, pan for gold or enjoy a drink in Scotland's highest pub
Leadhills - A neighbouring contender for Scotland's highest village, take a ride on the heritage railway, visit Teddywood Bear Village, look inside Scotland's oldest subscription library or walk the heritage trail
OPTION 3 - ROBERT BURNS TRAIL
BEST FOR - HISTORY AND PHOTOGENIC LOCATIONS
Follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns, Scotland's National Bard, who was born in Ayrshire and spent much of his life there.
Alloway - Visit the cottage Robert Burns was born in, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Brig O'Doon, Alloway Auld Kirk and the Burns Monument surrounded by lovely gardens
Tarbolton - Join a tour of The Bachelors' Club, co-founded by Robert Burns
Mauchline - Stop by the Burns House Museum, and visit the room once lived in by the poet. Then pay your respects at the churchyard where four of his children are buried
Dundonald Castle - The 14th century castle is not directly connected to Burns, although he may well have visited the former home of Robert the Bruce's grandson as he had family connections in the area
Ayr Beach - You can't stay in Ayr and not visit the beach, a great spot at sunset
Hopefully this has given you some ideas for a trip to Ayrshire, one of Scotland's lesser explored regions. To discover more fantastic bed and breakfasts around the country, pop over to Scotland's Best B&Bs website.
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