In the Scottish Borders region, famed novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott built Abbotsford, a baronial estate where his life, hobbies, and historic memorabilia are on display. Scott found tranquility and inspiration at the countryside abode, set among lush woodlands and the River Tweed.
Today, daily visitors wander the gardens or go nose to spine with his extensive library of books and antiques, which occupy the house in such vast quantity Scott affectionately dubbed it his “conundrum castle” or “flibbertigibbet of a house.”
The prolific writer is described by Britannica as “the master of a rich, ornate, seemingly effortless literary style that blended energy with decorum, lyric beauty with clarity of description.”
As you step into Abbotsford, that same disposition is evident: a whimsical cascade of energy and life. His highly regarded Waverly series of novels and scores of poems are a peek into the luminary’s mind, whereas visiting Abbotsford is like hobnobbing with Scott himself.
The estate’s expanse alludes to a man whose creativity could not be hindered, and the kaleidoscope of artifacts expose a compulsive antiquarian who teetered between success and turmoil.
After his death in 1832, Scott’s granddaughter Charlotte Hope Scott assembled an adjacent residence, the Hope Scott Wing, where today the pleasures of old-world luxury still live.
The Hope Scott Wing
Once graced by the likes of Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, President Ulysses S. Grant, and J.M.W. Turner, the Hope Scott Wing is a seven-bedroom country retreat, accommodating up to 15 guests looking to blend personal respite with historical indulgence.
“It keeps Scott’s legacy alive,” says Carole Allan, house manager of the Hope Scott Wing. “He was a great advocate of taking time out for your health and mental well-being, and the Hope Scott Wing enables people to take that break from today’s hectic modern life.”
Being the home of Scott’s descendants, it overflows with family heirlooms, artwork, books, furniture, and even a snug area featuring the original well, thought to date back to when Scott purchased the house. “You are living in history, but with modern day comfort to aid your relaxation,” Allan says.
The Hope Scott Wing is in keeping with the baronial design of the conundrum castle next door and embraces 19th-century living: whether it’s resting in the master bedroom’s replica Chippendale four-poster bed, unwinding in a claw-foot tub, or inhaling the aroma of 1800s hardbacks. A fireplace and grand piano warm a jovial evening in the sitting room, and the snooker room encourages cheeky competition enriched with single malts.
Staying at the Hope Scott Wing enables guests to freely roam the property once the neighboring museum closes to the public. “In the evenings, when the visitors have gone, guests have private access to the gardens, allowing them to walk in Scott’s footsteps and imagine a time gone by,” Allan says.
Groups can opt to self-cater or supplement amenities, such as a private chef who will concoct breakfast, lunch, and dinners with a view of the River Tweed. If a special occasion befits the stay, visitors can take their meals in Scott’s historic dining room once shared by William Wordsworth and American writer Washington Irving. Staff at Abbotsford can also organize in-house spa treatments, salmon fishing excursions, hunting, and guided tours of the region, which boasts four famed ancient abbeys and Scotland’s great countryside.
In his poem “The Lady of the Lake,” Scott writes, “Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking, Morn of toil nor night of waking.” And that is what a night (or many) at the Hope Scott Wing aims to do.
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