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Issue 41 - Highland chic

Scotland Magazine Issue 41
October 2008


This article is 10 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Highland chic

Rocpool Reserve Inverness Tel: +44 (0)1463 240 089 The white Georgian frontage of this luxurious hotel stands out from the surrounding buildings. This façade conceals something special.

Now in the ownership and management of multiple award-winning Inverlochy Castle, Rocpool Reserve is utterly on form.

A dramatic entrance hall awaits, a combination of lipstick-red carpet, white ceramic floor tiles, mirrors and three exquisite floorstanding sculptures. There is no reception desk – five-star service meets you at the car and shows you straight to your room. Passing through the hallway, to the left, is the Red Room, a bold guest lounge with hints of the Orient. It’s fitted-out with gorgeous customised furniture and the latest state of the art multi-media system. To the right is the elegant White Room Restaurant, a beautiful space with doors out to a terrace with fantastic views over the city. The food is first-rate and 2009 will see very exciting developments here.

R Bar is on two levels and again stunningly decorated in shades of cream and black, complemented by Italian contemporary crystal chandeliers. The centrepiece is the bar itself, a cool glass top lit from below, with cream leather frontage and leather bar chairs.

Every bedroom is recommendable: choose from Hip, Chic, Decadent or Extra Decadent. Each one is very highly equipped and serviced. Room One has a huge bathroom downstairs – stunning.

Room Five has a canopied terrace with outdoor hot tub.

Duisdale House Hotel Isle of Skye Tel: +44 (0)1471 833 202 The southwest of the island is known as ‘the garden of Skye’ and is a magnificent part of Scotland, home to the national Gaelic college.

Duisdale House – unusually for Skye, three storeys high – is pristine and handsome in natural stone with white-painted window frames and, in season, window boxes and hanging baskets.

Step inside and the Victorian hotel has been utterly transformed into a dramatically modern and chic boutique hotel. The hall and adjacent lounge with flickering real, open fire set the tone with a sassy, stylish mix of black and mushroom colours, truly designer furnishings in gold stripes, opulent lighting and drapes. Someone said it’s a bit like a sleek city boutique hotel transported to the wilds of Skye and, décorwise, that’s quite correct. But the magnificent setting is a different story. And the bedrooms: marvellous. Read the online review for the full list of our room tips.

Past the plush sofas by the fire are the dining room with real fire and conservatory area, plus the splendid open terrace where drinks and food can be enjoyed al fresco. At the front of the hotel is the bar which has suitably apt yacht theme as the hotel owns Solus na Mara which offers guests from spring to autumn fabulous days out – enjoy a glass of champers and lunch while watching basking sharks, seals or even whales. One of the owners, Ken, was formerly master of the five-star Hebridean Princess. You can even get married onboard.

Inverbeg Inn by Loch Lomond Tel: +44 (0)1436 860 678 Loch Lomond is one of Scotland’s best-known locations and is at the centre of a beautiful national park. The A82 has always been an important road to the Highlands, so there grew up several inns and coach-houses along it. This inn has just been completely refurbished.

The front is fresh and white with window boxes adding colour, antlers and a large, canopied terrace. Inside it’s a handsomely toned stripped-back-to-naturals look that’s been adopted. Pale plaid carpets, detailed stone walls, plenty of wood, modern leather seating, some sofas wittily set off with cowskin finishes, sleek modern fireplaces. It’s open-plan and the theme of ‘Mister C’s Fish & Whisky Bar’ is that you choose the area you fancy best and everyone drinks or dines from the same menu. The bar is very good looking and home to a plethora of malt whiskies and cask ales. In the dining room area you’ll find matt mushroom walls, dark wood chairs with heavy, comfy seats, chunky tables and views to the loch.

All accommodation has been given a fresh, contemporary Scottish look with soft, quiet plaids, leather tub chairs, good double-glazing and fixtures of commendable quality. On the last note, sleek and solid wooden doors keep rooms and loos private. For the bathrooms we’ve much praise: top-notch sinks, loos and showers are set off with quality tiling and recessed lighting. And for dramatic big suites – book a room at The Beach House.

3 more ideas for you Kinloch Lodge Isle of Skye Tel: +44 (0)1471 833 333 Kinloch Lodge is one of Scotland’s most characteristic hotels, home to the chief of clan Macdonald and his wife Claire, the best selling food book writer and cook. But changes over the past year have seen some rooms get a chic, sassy new look – so there’s an alluring weave of traditional and modern; and choice.

In the dining room chef Marcello Tully (pictured with his team) is on top form and his cuisine is sensationally good.

The Torridon Ross-shire Tel: +44 (0)1445 791 242 Few hotels are set amongst such magnificent scenery, and fewer still offer the all-round inspiration and excellence of The Torridon.

There’s a wide range of accommodation choice and much of it is the epitome of ‘Highland chic.’ Head chef Kevin Broome is passionate about seasonal food and his cuisine is served in a beautiful dining room with flickering fire and loch and mountain views.

Ardanaiseig by Loch Awe Tel: +44 (0)1866 833 333 Loch Awe is a magical setting for one of the most colourful and idiosyncratic, decidedly romantic hotels we know of. Rooms range from classic country house – often full of antiques as the owner is a dealer – to the standalone Boat House Suite with its away-from-it-all joys and peace. Split-level, with a balcony overlooking the loch and a buggy with which to get to the hotel for a fabulous dinner... Chic enough?

Some others worth considering...

Cameron House by Loch Lomond is nearing completion of a massive regeneration and its new look rooms and public areas are more than a little dramatic.

This hotel has an amazing spa, by the way, so you can get your fix of style and sensory indulgence in the one place.

Away up in the northwest in Durness, Mackay’s Rooms and Restaurant is a modestly-priced small hotel and it offers lovely and well-designed, fresh rooms and excellent home cooking at meal times.

In Inverness itself the highly acclaimed (particularly for food) Glenmoriston Town House Hotel on the banks of the River Ness offers guests a dazzlingly chic piano bar and restaurant plus, new for 2009, a range of re-designed bedrooms.

At Lochinver in Sutherland – an area of incomparable wildness and grandeur – one of our favourite places, The Albannach, awaits… and this year it’s with the amazing new designer Byre Suite which offers an outdoor hot tub with views to the massive shapes of Assynt’s wild mountains.

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