Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I book a holiday with McKinlay Kidd?

Our philosophy is to offer special holidays in special places, tailored to your individual requirements. We use our expert knowledge to seek out the best that Scotland and Ireland have to offer - the best places to stay, the best experiences, the best routes, and we take away the hard work by arranging it all for you. And as each of our holidays is individually booked, you have complete freedom and independence during the holiday itself.

We pride ourselves on offering excellent personal service to our customers, and have received independent recognition for this, winning "Best small tour operator" worldwide in the Guardian/Observer Travel Awards in 2011 and 2012.

How does the tailor-made service work?

Simply visit our website and browse the suggested holiday ideas for some inspiration. Then let us know your own ideal requirements, either by completing the online enquiry form or by calling us to discuss on 0844 873 6110. If you are calling from outside the UK the number is +44 844 873 6110, and we also offer a toll-free number for callers from the USA & Canada - 1 866 922 8538.

We will then send you a detailed personal proposal tailor-made to your holiday requirements. This can easily be adapted or amended to suit, so do let us know what you think of it. Once we have agreed the ideal option we will check availability and confirm to you what the final details are. All you need to do then is pay a deposit to confirm the holiday.

Are all your holidays self-drive?

Outside the cities the vast majority of the accommodation we use is either slightly off the beaten track or in locations where public transport is very limited. This means that for many of our holidays a car is recommended. We offer car hire at very competitive rates, or we can arrange driver guides. (For information these cost around £400 per day including the car).

What if I want to use public transport to get around Scotland or Ireland?

We offer an increasing selection of holiday options by public transport, enabling you to enjoy your holiday car-free.  These include touring by train in Scotland and Ireland and island-hopping in Scotland.  We use our detailed knowledge to ensure you still stay in carefully-selected small hotels and guest houses, and we include pre-arranged taxi transfers where appropriate so that you can reach these hidden gems.

Can you book flights or ferry or train travel to Scotland or Ireland for me?

We are more than happy to advise you on the best routes, and alternative arrival points for your holiday. We hold a small business ATOL licence which means we are able to arrange flights within the UK and Ireland, including from the main cities of Scotland to the outer islands. We can also arrange ferry travel to and from Ireland.  Ask us for a quotation. We are also happy to arrange train travel, and charge a small administration fee for this service.

What type of accommodation do you offer?

We work with small hotels and guest houses, predominantly three star and above, though our philosophy is to seek out special places rather than tick off facilities. Most have between 4 and 20 rooms, and are owner-managed. Many are off the beaten track in superb locations - some best kept secrets. In the cities we work with slightly larger hotels to ensure excellent quality for our guests.

Do you offer any self-catering holidays?

While we do offer some excellent centrally located apartments in Edinburgh, we do not currently offer any other self-catering or cottage accommodation.

How do you choose the hotels and guesthouses you recommend?

We carefully hand-pick all the accommodation and other suppliers we use, based on our own personal experience and knowledge. We have visited all of them ourselves, and keep in close contact with the owners to ensure our knowledge is completely up-to-date. We also receive regular feedback from our guests. We look for high standards of personal service, attention to detail, excellent food and unique character. Many of the places have hands-on owners, who ensure our guests are extremely well looked after. We only work with a small number of hotels and guest houses, and aim to ensure these are the best that Scotland and Ireland have to offer.

Can you tell me the names of the hotels you use?

We give you full descriptions and can provide any other details which you may require but do not provide the hotel names until we have taken a deposit. We will of course give you the names and full directions to your accommodation once you have booked.

Do you offer accessible holidays or cater for special requirements?

The personal and tailormade nature of our service means we can usually provide options suitable for customers with mobility issues or other special requirements - for example, we know which properties provide ground floor rooms or offer full disabled facilities. We can arrange for medicines to be kept refrigerated, and we ensure that any special dietary requirements are communicated to accommodation providers, as long as you notify us at time of booking.

How much do your holidays cost?

Our holidays usually cost between £80 and £150 per person per night, depending on the grade of accommodation and experiences included.

How much does your service cost?

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £8 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday. We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value.

All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

How do I check availability?

Simply complete the short form on each specific holiday page, or our general enquiry form on our website, or call us on 0844 873 6110 with your preferred dates.  As many of our small business partners do not have online availability, we will check availability for all elements of the requested holiday for you, then respond as soon as possible - at the latest within 24 working hours.

Is my chosen holiday likely to be available?

We will always do our best to find a suitable option for you at the time you prefer to travel. As we work with small hotels, and offer special experiences such as whale-watching, availability can be limited, especially at popular times. The further in advance you are able to make your arrangements, the more likely we can secure exactly the holiday you want. This is especially important if you wish to visit Edinburgh during the Festival (most of the month of August) or take a family trip at half-term, or spend Hogmanay (New Year) in Scotland.

What sort of protection do you provide?

In compliance with the UK Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 and the Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing) Regulations 1995 an insurance policy has been arranged with Travel & General Insurance Services Ltd (tagis), to protect customers’ prepayments in the unlikely event of our financial failure and paid in respect of:

  • non-flight inclusive packages commencing and returning to the UK
  • the ground handling aspects of packages where the customer is responsible for arranging travel to the destination

offered on this website (subject to the terms of the insurance policy), for:

  • a refund of such prepayments if customers have not yet travelled, or
  • making arrangements to enable the holiday to continue if customers have already travelled,

Customers’ prepayments are protected by a topp policy. In the unlikely event of financial failure please contact the claims helpline on 0870 0137 965. A copy of the policy is available on request.

This policy is provided by Travel & General Insurance Services Limited (tagis) registered number 02527363 and underwritten by International Insurance Company of Hanover  Limited (Inter Hannover), registered number 01453123. tagis and Inter Hannover are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

In addition, when you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from us you will receive a confirmation invoice and ATOL certificate from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 9481. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking. For further information visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk. The price of our air holidays includes the amount of £2.50 per person as part of the ATOL Protection Contribution (APC) we pay to the CAA. This charge is included in our advertised prices.

Please note that we strongly recommend that you arrange your own travel insurance policy in case you need to cancel or curtail your holiday.

Do you offer last minute deals?

We offer a personal holiday service, and are delighted to check availability for last minute holidays up to three days prior to departure, and design a suitable route and itinerary. Only occasionally - and usually only from late autumn to early spring - will our hotels have any special deals available. If this is the case, we will let you know when you enquire.

How late can I book?

Due to the personal nature of our service we can usually take bookings up to 72 hours before departure. Full balances for all bookings confirmed within 7 days of departure must be paid for by debit card or electronic funds transfer.

How can I pay?

We accept Visa or Mastercard and also debit cards from UK banks. We can also of course take sterling cheques or bank transfers. Due to the level of bank charges for credit cad payments we have to impose a 2% surcharge for balance payments (though not deposits) made by credit card. We make no charge for debit cards or other payment methods.

Can I book online?

Yes indeed: a booking form and secure payment zone can be found here.

You can also download a booking form and either post or fax this back to us, or you can call us with your credit/debit card details. Please do not send credit/debit card details by e-mail as this is not secure. We are very happy to accept payments by bank transfers and can supply the relevant bank details to you on request.

When is your office open?

Our office is normally open Monday to Friday between 9.15am and 5.15pm. We are closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day (26 December), the first two days of the New Year (it's a big celebration in Scotland!) and Easter Monday. When the office is closed, and occasionally during very busy periods, calls will be diverted to an answering machine, where you can leave a message, and we will call you back. Once you have booked a holiday with us, you will be provided with an emergency 24/7 contact number so that you can reach us if needed while you are away on your holiday.

When do I receive my holiday tickets and vouchers?

Around 2-3 weeks before you depart you will receive your full holiday pack, including detailed directions and recommended routes for your trip. We also include a touring map of Scotland/Ireland as required and a selection of leaflets for the areas which you are visiting, as well as our increasingly popular "Robert's Recommendations" - personal suggestions for things to see and do.

Do you offer a gift voucher service?

We are delighted to help you with gift suggestions and can provide personalised gift certificates or holidays. Simply drop us an email or call us on 0844 873 6110 to discuss what you require. The minimum gift voucher value is £200. Payment terms are the same as for all our holidays - deposits of £100 per person or full balances if departure dates are within 8 weeks. We can also provide open-ended holidays as gifts, provided we receive a deposit for every person travelling. We can then arrange exact dates with the recipient to suit them and arrange for the payment of the balance in the normal way.

Do you arrange holidays for groups?

The personal nature of our service means we can offer excellent holidays or short breaks for small groups. We often make arrangements for parties of families and friends, and can cater for larger groups of up to 25-30 people. In some cases we can arrange for the group to have exclusive use of a hotel or guesthouse. We can help with arrangements for special experiences and entertainment - a distillery tour, a piper or ceilidh band, boat trips or guided walks for example. Please fill in the online enquiry form, or call us on 0844 873 6110 to discuss your requirements.

Do you arrange corporate events?

We are delighted to help with corporate events which include at least two nights' accommodation. We can cater for parties of up to 25-30 people, and can arrange exclusive use of a hotel or guest house if required. We have arranged press trips, launch events and team-building trips. We can help with special arrangements such as booking golf tee-times, spa treatments, whisky-tasting, gourmet dinners, classic car driving, and even tank driving! Please fill in the online enquiry form, or call us on 0844 873 6110 to discuss your requirements.

Can you tell me more about the company?

We, Robert Kidd and Heather McKinlay, established McKinlay Kidd in 2003, having had over 20 years experience working for some of the biggest names in the UK travel industry. We love Scotland & Ireland, love travelling in both countries, and love sharing our knowledge. We have a small office based in Glasgow with a great team based there, who themselves share our passion for travel and offering great customer service. We all travel regularly and extensively throughout the country to check out new ideas and keep up to date with our recommended hotels.

Do you offer holidays to any other destinations?

We currently specialise in holidays in Scotland & Ireland only.

Where do you go on your own holidays?

Usually Scotland or Ireland! There are still some far-flung corners we've yet to reach, but much of the time we go back to favourite haunts: visiting at a different time of year or in different weather means there's always something new and stunning to take your breath away in these beautiful countries. We also love Africa - special favourites are Samburu and Lamu in Kenya, Zanzibar, Namibia, Cape Town and the Robertson Valley in South Africa. Our first experience of whale-watching was in Patagonia in Argentina. Closer to home we enjoy exploring hidden corners of Europe such as the Mani peninsula in Greece. Venice also has a special place in our hearts.

-->