Scottish Highlands Accommodation - a cosy image.
Scottish Highlands accommodation isn’t all log fires and lolling Labradors. There's a huge variety of hotels. But the log fire is still an attraction!
Scottish Highlands Accommodation
Scottish Highlands accommodation on this page means places to stay in the north and west of Scotland. Right here I don’t intend to get into defining the Highlands exactly! (There's s link on this topic at the foot of the page.) In general, apart from Inverness, towns are small, so there is a good choice out in the country or certainly in quiet little places. Former shooting lodges, former factors’ houses on Highland estates (the factor was the manager), or the energy efficient modern builds run by folk who have got out of the rat race ‘down south’: these are the sort of Scottish Highlands accommodation establishments you can easily find.
We can start from Inverness. As a major centre, the ‘Highland Capital’ has every kind of place to stay, whatever the budget – including, as Johanna points out, a perfectly reasonable Premier Inn in Huntly Street ( there are four Premier Inns in Inverness but Huntly St is the most central). (I mention this just as a reminder that it isn’t always about fine dining and turn-down services. Sometimes you just need a no-frills place to lay your head…) However, she has also spoken highly of Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel on Ness Bank and, of course, if you are not on a budget, then Culloden House Hotel on the eastern edge of the city has a great reputation and her clients always enjoy it there.
Travelling north, we enjoyed the Royal Marine Hotel at Golspie, some years ago. (It's popular with golfers too.) On another trip, we did not want to tear ourselves away from Culgower House, just south of Helmsdale– simply everything a B&B should be – full of character, great breakfast and a charming and helpful hostess.
(There is a choice of places to eat in Helmsdale, just minutes away and your hostess will advise here. In general you’ll find that many B&Bs are very well informed about where to go locally for an evening meal.)
The other splendid discovery we made on the same trip was West House B&B in Ullapool. It’s a former manse, tastefully converted. Richard and Colleen Lindsay run it as a bed and breakfast with a difference: your room has a fridge filled with Continental breakfast goodies. Its DIY luxury. Get up when you like - make your own breakfast. Very relaxing.
(Pictured) View of Loch Broom from West House B&B, Ullapool. NB The two glasses of wine in the pic are not part of breakfast!
Eat in your own room, sitting in your dressing gown (if you like), watching the ferry dock and the mist rise over Loch Broom. Very relaxing and laid back. (Richard also has a substantial hand in the Ullapool Guitar Festival, so competent former folkies, finger-pickers and the like are made especially welcome.) We rate it as a real find.
So what else came to mind when we sat down and went through some sample places to stay in the Scottish Highlands? Well, a whole cluster of places in the West Highlands. On the way down you could stay at The Rumblie Guest House at Laggan (not far off the A9 at Newtonmore). We did – and would do so again as soon as we find ourselves in Speyside. This is a modern house with an ultra-modern green heating system that the owner is rightfully proud of. Oh, and they are on first-name terms with their hens.
Right, onwards to the West Highlands and head west of Fort William on the Road to the Isles - the A830 to Mallaig and ferry to the Isle of Skye.
Just before the village of Arisaig, you'll find the imposing Victorian mansion of Arisaig House. It is run as an upmarket B&B with self-catering apartments - they serve lovely dinners too! It’s a superb historic building, very plush but welcoming and cosy, with lovely grounds and beautiful mountain views – Johanna loved it. (Her forebears came from that part of the world – so she has a soft spot for her Arisaig connections. Her great grandparents ran Arisaig Hotel from 1919 to 1960 and her Mum was born there.)
Scotland's Highland Hotels
Back near the start of today’s ‘Road to the Isles’, from personal experience on guiding trips, Johanna recommends the Leasona B&B at Torlundy, Fort William. Clients meanwhile stayed at the 5 star Inverlochy Castle Hotel, which has enjoyed a top-of-the-range reputation for a long time. Faultless but most definitely not inexpensive. (Don’t know why I am being circumlocutory here.) Jefferson Davies - President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War - stayed here in 1869 - plus quite a few famous people since then too! Looking a bit further south in the Highlands, our brain-storming ‘something for everyone’ Scottish Highlands accommodation session came up with the fabulous 4 star B&B Glenburnie Hotel in Oban, and, if you can afford it, the Isle of Eriska Hotel (you get a private island with golf course and spa!) and The Airds Hotel. Oh, and she has just remembered the Knap Guest House in Tarbert, further south again.
Some suggestions in the southern Highlands
Then we thought about places in and around the southern edge of the Highlands and again found a cluster. Johanna is impressed (she tells me) by the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, in Luss, on the popular west side of Loch Lomond (which has a good accommodation choice). We love Balmillig B&B in Helensburgh, because the hosts, John and Anne Urquhart, are just so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their patch – and it’s a big patch – all the way up Loch Long, over to Loch Lomond and beyond….Besides, the house is their home, and it’s modern and immaculate, with great breakfasts. A good base, for example, for exploring the Three Lochs Way, see picture here, looking back over Loch Long, next stop Arrochar.
Moving east, on the edge of the Trossachs, the twisty little drive up Balquhidder Glen to Monachyle Mhor – a luxury boutique hotel– is always worth it. Johanna is a great fan – she says” the food is amazing, owner-chef Tom Lewis and his team produce delicious food!” (Me? Oh, that time?…I just stayed at home and looked after the dogs. Bitter? No, I’m fine. Really.) The Lewis family also run Mhor 84 - a stylish budget version too.
Anyway, thinking of staying in Perthshire? We had a lovely time at Coshieville B&B, near Aberfeldy. Staying in one evening, I found myself in charge of a log stove and loved that. And I also identified bramblings on their bird table at breakfast, so that was a bonus, as indeed was the very fine breakfast. Actually, Coshieville is just a classic Scottish b&b, on the site of an old coaching inn. (We had our evening meal along the road at Ailean Chraggan at Weem and really enjoyed that too.)
And that is our ‘off-the-top-of our-heads’ filtered selection of Scottish Highlands accommodation. Except Johanna has just remembered she ate at Yann's at Glenearn House in Crieff . Wait a minute, strictly speaking, that’s just below the Highland Boundary Fault, so, technically can’t be included in a sample of Scottish Highlands accommodation. Still, a nice place to stay is worth mentioning, wouldn’t you say?