Hopetoun House has a little bit of everything: a grand estate, a beautiful home, and a deer park overlooking the Firth of Forth. You don’t want to miss this gem!
Hopetoun House is one of the most interesting — and beautiful — stately homes I’ve visited. I first learned of Hopetoun House while researching Outlander filming locations in Scotland (yes, I’m that person). A quick Google search later, and the photos I found of the house and grounds convinced me that I needed to visit while in Edinburgh.
I visited the Hopetoun estate with my Scottish friend, Flora, in tow. Her dad kindly offered to chauffeur us around for the day, so he tagged along too. As it turns out, Hopetoun truly has something to interest everyone.
Flora and I loved the house itself and reading about its history. And her dad, well … he loved the giant fungi growing on the back lawn (I later found out that Hopetoun is known for its fungi lawn. Go figure!)
Below you’ll find lots more info about Scotland’s Hopetoun House, including an overview of its history and my experience touring the house and grounds. If you have any questions about visiting the house, please leave me a comment below!
A Brief History of Hopetoun House
Known as Scotland’s Finest Stately Home, Hopetoun House was commissioned by Lady Margaret Hamilton in 1699 for her son, Charles. Lady Margaret’s husband, Sir John Hope, had purchased the land years prior but unfortunately died in a shipwreck before any architectural plans for the home could be drawn up.
Building on Hopetoun House began in 1699 and was completed in 1707. The home was designed by William Bruce, but was later altered and extended by William Adam. By the time the home was finished, both of the original architects and Charles (the first Earl of Hopetoun) had died.
Discerning visitors will notice the two distinct architectural styles on display at Hopetoun House. The original architect, William Bruce, designed the main part of the home to appear more country-appropriate and comfortable. William Adam, who oversaw the extension of the house, took inspiration from the likes of Versailles. As such, Hopetoun House has an interesting blend of architectural styles — it’s very “stately home meets country estate.”
One of the many reasons Hopetoun House is prized so highly is because its interiors have remained almost entirely unchanged since being built. The interiors are a wonderful display of the most popular style of the Georgian era, and most of the furniture is original to the home.
Fun fact: King George IV visited Hopetoun in 1822. It was the first time a reigning British sovereign had visited Scotland in 170 years!
Getting From Edinburgh to Hopetoun House
Getting from Edinburgh to Hopetoun House is doable only by car. There are no busses that run close to the house, so your only option is to drive there.
The Hopetoun estate is roughly 45 minutes away from Edinburgh. On the Hopetoun website, they recommend using “EH30 9RW” on your Sat Nav to get to South Queensferry and then following the signs to the house from there. As I recall, the route to the house is very clearly marked.
Highlights of Hopetoun House & Grounds
I’ve gone into more detail about my visit to Edinburgh’s Hopetoun House in the section below, but I figured I would mention the highlights of the estate first.
- House tour — A must while you’re there! Read the section below titled “Visiting Hopetoun House” for more information on what the house tour is like.
- Deer park — A highlight of my trip to Hopetoun House. There are two type of deer in the deer park, Red Deer and Fallow Deer. You have to walk quite a ways back on the property to find the deer park, but the views along the way are lovely.
- Pet cemetery — If you look closely, you’ll see the tiny headstones tucked away amongst the trees on the property.
- East Bastion viewpoint — One of the gorgeous views near the deer park. You can see across the Firth of Forth from both the East and West Bastions.
- Sea walk trail — An hour-long walk that takes you past the key attractions on the grounds.
- Outlander filming locations — I won’t lie … Outlander was the main reason I visited Hopetoun House in the first place! There’s an entire guide on the Hopetoun website that walks you through the various filming locations. So fun!
Visiting Hopetoun House
Hopetoun House dates back to the 17th century and has a little of everything: a sprawling mansion, a beautiful estate with walking paths, and a deer park filled with the cutest herd of red deer. Unlike most stately homes you visit nowadays, Lord Hopetoun and his family still live here. They live in one wing of the grand home and the rest is free for the public to explore.
And when I say free to explore, I mean free to explore. When we entered the home, there was one ticket taker at the front door and that was it. There were no ropes, no plaques detailing the rooms, nothing. It’s the type of thing a history lover like me dreams of when visiting these old houses, but I never thought I’d have free reign in a place like this!
In all honesty, though, I had goose bumps the entire time I was inside the house because it felt so weird to walk around freely in someone else’s living room when they weren’t there. Although the ticket lady said we shouldn’t touch anything, absolutely nothing stood in our way if we took it into our heads to flop down onto the ornate couches and antique chairs (we were good visitors and restrained ourselves, in case you were worried).
The rooms on the ground floor are the grandest by far. The red room has all the chairs against the walls in the parade style because it would’ve been a multi-purpose room back in the day (for dances and meetings and the like). The red room was the Duke of Sandringham’s study in Outlander, in case any of you were itching to know.
The upstairs of the house is—for lack of a better word—normal looking, like people actually live in it. It’s still extremely nice, don’t get me wrong, but it lacks the overstuffed furniture and fancy fixtures so many grand estates are careful to show off. The upstairs bedrooms are actually the reason I loved Hopetoun so much. It’s the first home of its kind that I’ve visited and felt like I could really imagine the people who lived here.
Everything upstairs seems a little run down, but in a way that shows they’re really used and well loved. It’s like when you go over to a friend’s house and they apologize for being “so messy,” but all you can see are some books stacked in a corner and some dishes in the sink. It’s refreshing to know a grand estate like this has real people living real lives in it.
Touring the Estate
After exploring every inch of the home, we began our tour of the estate. Flora’s dad turned out to be quite the fungi fanatic and he kept stopping us to take a photo of some mushroom or another. He was particularly taken with a massive horseshoe mushroom on the lawn, but didn’t want to take it lest he seemed rude (which I was happy about because holy cow those things are massive!).
So take note, fellow mushroom foragers: if you visit Hopetoun House after it rains, which it does frequently in Scotland, you might just find some interesting fungi!
Unsurprisingly, the estate is gorgeous. There’s a pond in the back lawn you’ll want to stop at, because the reflection of the house in the water is the most beautiful shot.
My favorite part of the entire estate was the deer park. The path to the deer park is on the edge of the estate and overlooks the water. The hedgerow here is tall, and it’d be a very romantic setting if you were in the right company.
I was quite nervous at first because the deer weren’t in the first few fields of the park. But if you just keep going further back, you’ll eventually find them. They’re impossible to miss because they all crowd together. If you’ve only seen the white tailed deer in the US, you’re in for a real treat! Red deer are much smaller, but just as adorable.
General Tips for Your Visit
- Wear comfy shoes — The Hopetoun estate is large and the paths through the grounds are mostly unpaved.
- You must pay to enter both the house and grounds —Even if you don’t plan on going into the house, you still have to pay to explore the grounds. The Hope family still lives here, so you’re paying to enter private property.
- Take a car — Getting from Edinburgh to Hopetoun House is pretty much impossible with public transportation. You need to have a car to get here.
- Visit duration — Give yourself half a day to leisurely tour the house and grounds.
Ready to Visit Hopetoun?
I know I just threw a lot of information about Hopetoun House at you, but I hope you found this post helpful in planning your adventures in and around Edinburgh. If I haven’t made it clear enough already, Hopetoun is absolutely worth the 45-minute drive and I really think you’ll enjoy your visit!
Tell me: Have you been to Scotland before? If so, what’s been your favorite place to visit so far?
More posts you’ll love:
- 15 Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland
- 9 Things to Do in Glawgow, Scotland
- Your Guide to Stirling, Scotland
- How to Spend a Day in Inverary, Scotland
This post was originally published September 2017 and was updated June 2021.