Lords Of The Lochs

The Cayman Islands, the Cote d'Azur, Beverly Hills... Scotland? The past two years have seen the frosty northern nation rise to new ranks as a celebrity hot spot. Bonnie Prince William set the trend by attending St. Andrews University. Then came the pop glitterati: Madonna and Guy Ritchie chose 13th-century Skibo Castle for their wedding--specifically for its isolation and to keep prying paparazzi at bay. Skibo hit the headlines again when Ashley Judd chose it for her marriage to Scottish racer Dario Franchitti in December.

Skibo isn't alone. J. K. Rowling bought her very own Hogwarts in Perthshire, Paul McCartney serenades his livestock to the sounds of "Mull of Kintyre" on his farmhouse retreat near Campbeltown and Mohamed Al Fayed, father of Dodi, uses the peace and quiet of Balnagowan Castle to conjure up his latest conspiracy theories.

While Scotland has for years endured an unflattering reputation--bleak isolation, bad weather and terrible diet (deep-fried Mars bars, anyone?)--its days in the mist seem to be over. Since Madonna's wedding, gossip pages have run rampant, with nearly one new celebrity supposedly buying a Scottish property each week. Michael Jackson, Robin Williams, Jennifer Lopez and Jerry Springer have all been rumored to be "interested" in Scottish properties, according to the local press.

Housing prices around Edinburgh have shot up over the past year, but the extortionate value of a local castle has remained stable, as such a pricey property so rarely comes on the market. Clearly, however, demand outstrips supply, and the selling situation could soon change. Emma Bishop, of the swanky British real-estate firm Strutt & Parker, expects that this year "many more estates will be placed on the market to meet the demand." The world's wealthy must be salivating. As Phillip Hall, editor of Hello magazine, says, "Scotland is hipper than ever." And with such a steady influx of superstars, it's likely to continue getting hipper.

Lords Of The Lochs | News