Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Inverlochy Castle

United Kingdom

A 5 star castle hotel with a proud history and spectacular views of mighty Ben Nevis

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Inverlochy Castle
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Inverlochy Castle

Location

Torlundy, Fort William, Scotland

Travel Information

Fort William Railway station - 5 mins
Inverness airport - 1 hour 50
Inverlochy Castle also has its own helipad

Top Tips

The dress code for dinner in the restaurant is jacket and tie

5-Star X-Factors

The food! Big Phil Carnegie, the head chef, whips up never-ending taste sensations. Don't miss out on the wild salmon!

Highland fling

Picture this: a Highland castle nestled beneath the mighty Ben Nevis with dreamy views across a lake, meadows, forests, mountains and a valley of rolling hills. Then, imagine this: succulent Scottish blue lobster, cooked to perfection, scallops so sweet they defied the salt in which they bathed, and wild salmon so fresh it literally melts in your mouth. This is how I remember Inverlochy Castle. A gourmet experience set in outstanding scenery in one of Scotland's finest luxury landmark hotels.

It is a traditional experience staying at Inverlochy Castle. But, to be honest, it would feel out of place if it was high-end contemporary instead of adhering to grand heritage. It has absorbed the necessary requirements of today's touch-screen life with subtle ease so you don't by any means feel cut-off, though you feel blissfully remote. This is a castle after all, but not too old and certainly not 'creepy'. It's a grand Victorian edifice, built in 1863 by Lord Abinger.

There are 17 boudoirs, each individually decorated, as you would your own home, making it rather cosy for a castle. This homely feel does not detract from the grandness of its roots or from the stately feel that wafts across the drawing room and into the fine dining room, with views to the lakeoch and hills. Instead, it makes you feel relaxed, in touch with the surroundings rather than overwhelmed, and in tune with what does become a most remarkable Highland fling.

Season's bliss

We went with our young daughter, and though families are more than welcome, children have their place here, and what a great place it is. While we had the luxury and privacy of a private dining room experience, I noticed a couple of older children working on their chess technique, with pieces not much smaller than themselves. This larger than life chess set sits on the front manicured lawn, encircled by (as it was June) the most vibrant and beautiful rhododendrons I have ever seen. They were bursting in shades of pink and purple against a blissfully pale blue sky, as the summer days linger for a magically long time.

Notwithstanding the time of year, the regal fireplaces at Inverlochy Castle are always glowing with aromatic embers. They may roar a little more in the winter months, but this place would not be the same without the wonderful aroma of smouldering cedar that wafts as far as your boudoir. Decoratively, the traditional chintz, stripe, velvet and chandelier aesthetic is both befitting and tasteful, while the somewhat aristocratic touches from the impressively stocked whisky cabinet to the show-stopping period French piano, to the impressive oil paintings hanging proudly heavy in ornate antique frames are a reminder of just how exclusive this castle is.

Finest fare

It is a privilege staying here, not only because of its setting and illustrious assets but also because of the staff. They are perhaps the most important 'asset' of all, while the person who captured us hook, line and sinker was the amazing head chef, Philip Carnegie, now working under Albert and Michel Roux Jnr's direction in the Michelin-starred restaurant. Impressed? We were blown away.

We dined, just the three of us, in the dining/library room, which is accessed through a secret door off the Great Hall. We felt really special in here, surrounded by leather-bound books and a few stuffed animals startled inside glass homes. It was a venue unlike any other: brilliant in burgundy with that all-important glow flickering in the grand fireplace. The table was beautifully set with tapered candles, cream roses, the finest silver, crystal glasses and a high-chair for the little one (she also had the finest of place settings I might add).

We enjoyed one taste sensation after the next, accompanied by some staggeringly good wine, starting with an impressive amuse bouche that set the culinary standard. The Scottish blue lobster was so delicately cooked that not a flavour had escaped, while the lettuce risotto on which it rested was divine. This heavenly combination was cloaked in a froth of bacon foam, a finishing touch that halted the hand from ever reaching for the seasoning. It really was sublime.

Then it just continued, scoring a ten out of ten with each course, from a chunky piece of grilled turbot perfectly pitched with wild garlic, pearl barley, and crispy frogs legs to a warm white chocolate delice with thyme honey ice cream.

At one with nature

The next day, following a stroll across meadows of cowslips, buttercups, and mellow long-horned cattle, we savoured 'catch of the day', a wild beast of a salmon, on the terrace overlooking the meadows, lake and valley. Philip Carnegie was to the castle born; his culinary skills with sea and river fare are supreme.

Our stay was brief and we didn't manage to explore the surrounding region, which is astonishingly magnificent. However, driving back to Inverness is a treat too. The lochs have a glass-like stillness that is quite arresting, so much so that you are impelled to pull over on several occasions and just admire their entrancing beauty. Each season brings with it an extraordinary aura; however the lochs remain constantly reflective, both in their alluring mirror finish and in what feels like a very deep soul.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer

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