Organising Places to Stay
For some who have voyaged to this website across the ether of the web, booking accommodation is as simple as finding a place to pitch a tent in a quiet spot that does not disturb anyone. There is a name for this and it's wild camping, something that's legal in Scotland so long as you leave no trace after you. Also, I expect that it means keeping away from other more permanent habitations and intensively farmed land. Most wild campers are bound for the empty fastnesses of the Highlands where no conflict is likely anyway but it's always best to make things clear for those encountering the idea for the first time. There are bothies (simple isolated shelters among the hills) available for similarly independent-minded individuals too but the main underlying requirement is a decent dollop of self-reliance and being equipped with experience and knowledge of what is being done along with possessing the right kit and sufficient food and drink.
In contrast, many prefer a less rustic approach and hostelling provides the first steps towards greater human comforts on this sliding scale and at a reasonable cost too. My first ever independent multi-day trip in Scotland, to Skye in fact, made use of two independent hostels in Portree. It horrifies me to think back to it now but I simply turned on the doorsteps of both asking about a bed for the night and there was one, saving me the sort of open air sleeping arrangements that I think to be far from ideal. In contrast, last years trip to the Western Isles saw me eschewing those tactics and making advance bookings for peace of mind. Thinking back, I could have got away with using Gatliffe hostels but I'd arm myself with camping gear just in case. Recent trips this year have seen me going for the SYHA option, looking on its website to see what's available and I can vouch for the convenience that this offers for independent travellers like me.
Other than those, there is a reasonable supply of guest accommodation throughout the country, ranging from guesthouses to hotels. In the busy periods, finding one of these can be tricky in busier spots (think Fort William in July) and that's why I have often turned to VisitScotland to sort it all for me; their local knowledge makes it easier for them to do what would have felt to be the location of a needle within a haystack otherwise.
That's never to say that I haven't approached actual accommodation providers directly too. It is true to say that the approach works best in the quieter parts of the year. Picking an establishment that you know helps too. Some may be surprised that this had worked for me in Fort William.
Following on from this discourse, I have collected a few dedicated websites where accommodation information is on offer with the ability to get some bookings done. The usual visitor information portals will do the deed too but it's always good to have options.
Both of these offer a place to look for inexpensive accommodation for your stay in Scotland: the former is an association owning of its hostels while the latter is an association of privately owned hostels.
The name says it all: an independent resource for booking bed and breakfast accommodation. Otherwise, its function is cornered by the mainstream tourist websites.
If camping is more your thing and you'd rather having a modicum of facilities to the basics of wild camping, then this might be a good place to look.