We welcome visitors from all over the world to our 5-star hotel on the banks of the River Ness in Scotland. Many are frequent visitors, who are well-versed in Scottish culture. But if this is your first time in Scotland, you might be unfamiliar with our country and its unique traditions and customs. So if you want to learn more about our culture, read on to discover some of the things that make Scotland special and different from anywhere else in the world.
Scotland is a country steeped in history. This history has shaped us and influenced all aspects of our culture. Over the centuries, we’ve been influenced by the Gaels, Britons, Picts, Romans and Vikings. Icons from Scottish history that you’ve probably heard of include Robert The Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace, Robert Burns, Rob Roy, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Alexander Fleming and Walter Scott. You can read an overview of the history of Scotland here. Our hotel has its own fascinating history too, which you can explore here.
In Scotland, English is the main language, but Scots and Scottish Gaelic are also spoken by some. If you speak English, you should understand us just fine, although we do have our own accents, slang words and dialects. Some people do find it difficult to understand Scottish accents, mainly because we talk quickly and use quite different vowel and consonant sounds to other parts of the world. If you want to brush up before you visit, here are 50 Scottish slang words and their meanings.
The Scottish landscape is unique and amazing. It has two distinct areas. The Highlands, where we are based here in Inverness, and the Lowlands. The Highlands is a wild and rugged region with towering mountains, while the Lowlands has gentler rolling terrain. The two areas are so different because they formed separately and collided together millions of years ago. Scotland has a fascinating geology and is regularly studied by scientists. Its scenery is often voted the most beautiful in the world.
The national dress of Scotland is Highland dress, which features a distinctive chequered fabric called tartan. There are different colours and patterns of tartan, which relate to different clans or kinship groups. Men’s Highland dress typically comprises a tartan kilt and plaid, jacket, waistcoat, belt, sporran, sgian dubh, knee socks and flashes. Women’s Highland dress may include a tartan skirt, dress, shawl or sash. These days, Highland dress is usually reserved for special formal occasions such as weddings and dances.
Traditional Scottish folk music features instruments such as the fiddle (violin), clarsach (harp), accordion and flute. Of course, the bagpipes are synonymous with Scotland. Hundreds of years ago they were played during battle to inspire and motivate the soldiers. They were also played at weddings and formal occasions, and this tradition continues today.
Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and is served in restaurants around the country. This is a meat pudding made with offal, suet, oatmeal and seasoning. Traditionally, the mixture was boiled in a sheep’s stomach, however, most versions today use an artificial casing. Vegetarian versions are also available. Haggis is a delicious meal, served with mashed neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes), but there are also some modern takes, like haggis bon bons, pakora or burgers. Take a look at some of our other culinary delights here.
Scotch whisky is one of the finest spirits in the world, made in Scotland and exported far and wide. An authentic single malt Scotch whisky must be made in Scotland and matured here for at least three years in oak casks. During your stay at Ness Walk Hotel, you can visit working distilleries to discover how this very special drink is made. Our local distilleries, Uile-bheist, Tomatin and Glen Ord, all offer tours and tastings.
A traditional Scottish dance is called a ceilidh (pronounced kay-ley). This is a group activity, where pairs of dancers get together to enjoy Scottish folk music and dancing. Highland dress is encouraged. A ceilidh band will play traditional tunes and a caller will call out the steps, so you don’t have to know the dances in order to take part. Ceilidhs are great fun and may be held regularly within a community, or to celebrate a special occasion.
We have several celebrations and holidays that are unique to Scotland. For example, on 25th January every year we celebrate Burns Night, a night of haggis, whisky and poetry, in tribute to our national poet, Robert Burns. On 30th November, St Andrews Day takes place in honour of our patron saint and is a festival of all things Scottish. And on the final night of the year, 31st December, Hogmanay is our traditional Scottish New Year’s Eve, complete with its own special customs and usually plenty of music and ceilidh dancing, feasting and fireworks.See Our Offers