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Issue 25 - A slice of paradise

Scotland Magazine Issue 25
February 2006

 

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A slice of paradise

The Loch Torridon Hotel takes some getting to, but as Dominic Roskrow finds out, it's worth the effort

The journey from Inverness to Torridon in terms of miles isn’t that far – less than the distance from Aberdeen to Inverness.

But as you make your way west and the roads become increasingly track-like, as you cut through the stunning mountainous terrain, perhaps pulling up just to breathe the air and admire the views, and as you manoeuvre in and out of passing points as the track dwindles away, it seems to take an age to get there.

When you do finally reach the edge of the loch you feel totally immersed in an alien landscape, as far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life as you can get in Britain. And by now you’ve been acclimatised, so when the hotel springs in to view, it’s just not possible to be disappointed.

Mind you, the Australian accent that greets you at the door serves as something of a reality check. There are a a fair few Antipodeans working out here. Surprising? Not according to owner Daniel Rose-Bristow.

“In some ways it makes total sense to have staff from New Zealand or Australia,” he says. “They feel at home with the outdoor environment, and have a love for it, and they understand the remoteness of a place like this.

“A young Briton might feel isolated in a place like this. But Australians and New Zealanders think nothing of travelling considerable distances to find a town with a social life.”

The expansion of Inverness Airport and the influx of North Europeans is helping to open up this region, but it remains one of the most underrated and impressive areas of Scotland. And the Loch Torridon Hotel has established itself as a luxurious base camp for anyone wishing to explore the area, from families and casual walkers to mountaineers and climbing experts.

The range of activities is comprehensive – falconry, sea and loch fishing, golf, shooting, trekking, bird watching even scenic driving are all on offer and a local ghillie will provide up to the date information.

You can pretty much write your own holiday script here. Daniel and wife Rohaise have owned the hotel for four years after buying it from Rohaise’s parents. But before that they managed it, and in that time they were able to formulate a clear view as to where they wanted to take it.

“I think it’s fair to say that we had a slightly different idea as to where we wanted to take the business,” says Daniel. “We wanted to open it out and make it available for all sorts of different types of guest but without sacrificing any of the luxury and style. So we put an emphasise on the very highest standards of service, food and drink, but we have made it more contemporary so people can choose the sort of stay they have. If they want to dress or dine more informally, then that option is available to them.”

A key part of this has been the development of the Ben Damph Inn, a pub-style venue with 12 refurbished value for money rooms attached and a more down to earth approach to dining. With young children we preferred this option, and as a result other guests could enjoy their evening meal without the distraction of over-excited offspring.

The inclusive approach extends to the bar, too, where the whisky includes great value for money offerings among the single malts while offering a fine range of higher quality products too. As with service throughout the hotel, which was not only impeccable but demonstrated a happy and engaged team spirit, the staff in the whisky bar were a pleasure to spend some time with.

Make the effort to drive further up the west coast too, to Inverewe Gardens, the stunning coast line up to Gairloch – it is the Highlands at its most rugged and astounding.

Even by Scotland’s high standards this is a region that stands out and we all fell in love with it. So much so that the windy road back seemed twice as long. Without doubt we’ll be braving it again soon. Highly recommended.

Loch Torridon Country House Hotel,
Torridon, By Achnasheen,
Wester Ross,
Scotland,
IV22 2EY
Tel: +44 (0)1445 791242
www.lochtorridonhotel.com