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One of the most unique and special of our Castle hotels, and proudly ‘in the middle of nowhere’, 13th century Mingary Castle has a huge history but had been lying in ruins for 150 years before some very delicate renovation work was undertaken in 2014. Two years of great craft and care was needed to preserve the integrity of the castle, its very impressive 9 feet thick defensive walls, and the Georgian era residence which stood within. So that now, with just five bedrooms, it has come to be one of Scotland‘s, and Britain’s, most unique luxury boutique hotels.
Its location was pivotal to its strategic importance as a defensive castle, lying outside the tiny village of Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, the most westerly point on the British mainland. And it is also pivotal to its modern success as a castle hotel, where the views over the Atlantic and the Hebrides Islands to the west, and the iconic Scottish Highlands to the east, are truly inspiring.
There is a choice of four suites and a self-catering apartment in the west wing of the castle, which is accessed through its own front door through the main courtyard. All the suites, and the apartment, are elegantly decorated and furnished; mainly pastel shades but with some firm splashes of vibrant colour thrown in. All the beds are classic four posters and the bathrooms are particularly impressive.
Mingary Castle is part of the 10,000 acre Ardnamurchan Private Estate which guests are free to explore. Much of it is wild and rugged terrain, ideal for hiking and hill walking, there is a private beach too and all around there are some spectacular views to be enjoyed. Some of the estate is also farmed and it is from here that the castle gets much of the ingredients for its quite excellent food.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served up in the beautiful dining room and you can expect all to be top class, locally sourced Scottish seasonal food but with various modern creative touches. Dinner is especially opulent with a menu that constantly varies and can include up to 15 courses, and you can also arrange picnic hampers to take with you for days out on the estate or surrounding countryside. There is a drawing room at the castle too which has an elegant, old style bar, a good selection of fine whiskeys and where complimentary tea, coffee, cakes and snacks are served throughout the day.
The Ardnamurchan peninsula, the westernmost point of the British mainland was, as described above, of huge strategic importance to the various warring clans and armies of Scotland. It overlooks the Isle of Mull, one of Scotland’s loveliest Islands where you can visit (but not stay in!) another fine 13th century castle; Duart Castle, or Caisteal Dhubhairt in Gaelic, the ancient seat of clan Maclean of Duart, who, as mentioned above, once laid siege to Mingary Castle with the help of the Spanish Armada.
Mull can also be a good base for touring some of the other Hebridean Islands too. To get there from Mingary there is a ferry port about a mile away in the village of Kilchoan that can take you direct to Mull’s main town and port, Tobermory, in about a half an hour.
And of course back to the east are the glorious Scottish Highlands. A two hour drive through the mountains will take you to such places like Fort William, Glencoe and of course Britain’s highest peak Ben Nevis, and the journey is beautiful, passing through much classically rugged Highland territory, with forests, lakes and mountain peaks all around.
Glasgow Airport is the nearest International airport, about 3 and a half hours away. Airport transfers can be arranged to and from there by the hotel, with the journey north along the A82 passing through some really iconic scenery; Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and Glencoe, just south of Ben Nevis, before switching westward across Loch Linnhe and Loch Sunart.
There is also the option of following the A82 west to Oban then taking the car ferry across to Craignure on the southside of the Isle of Mull. There you can take in some Island scenery before catching the ferry from Tobermory across to Kilchoan and your final destination; Mingary Castle Hotel. If coming by train from Glasgow you would be best getting off at Oban (About 3 hours) and catching the ferry from there.
Note: As mentioned this castle hotel is small, with just five spaces available, and is also extremely highly rated, so you’re very much advised to book ahead!
The castle’s origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery, and it is still not known which of two important Highland clans, the MacDougalls or the MacIains/MacDonalds of Ardnamurchan, were responsible for its construction. About a hundred years later though it came to prominence when it was used by King James IV of Scotland as a fortress in his campaigns against Clan Donald in the late 1400s.
The castle changed ownership (forcibly, of course) many times through the centuries and was once even laid siege to by a force from a Spanish ship which has dropped anchor on the nearby Isle of Mull. This was in 1588 and they were escaping the disastrous defeat of the fabled Spanish Armada by the English under Queen Elizabeth I. They were there on the invite of the MacLeans of Duart who having already captured the head of the MacIain clan now wanted the castle and did a deal with the, by now, desperate Spanish to swap some of their soldiers and advanced weaponry for supplies and a temporary safe haven from the English.
Later, in 1612, it was to be taken by the Campbell Earls of Argyll for about thirty years before Scottish Royalists under Alasdair MacColla took it from them during the English Civil War. But for only two years as they were soon ejected by a force of Covenanter Presbyterians under David Leslie who then returned it straight back to the Campbells. At around the turn of the 18th century Alexander Campbell of Lochnell was to undertake some major rebuilding of the castle so that now, though the walls can be dated back to the 13th century, the current residential buildings date from the early 18th.
The Campbells were to occupy Mingary for over the next hundred years, having escaped the fate of many dispossessed Highland clans by opposing the Jacobite Rebellions of the mid 1700s, and the castle would lay witness to, amongst other things, the surrender of the prominent Jacobites MacDonalds of Glencoe. It would start to decay in the late 1700s though it was still somewhat inhabited until about 1848. Thereafter, though the walls remained as sturdy as ever, the residential quarters were left to crumble away. Fast forward one hundred and fifty years though to 2016, and the castle can drop its drawbridge again, restored and re-inhabited, as one of Scotland’s most unique and special castle hotels.
Address: PH36 4LH
- Airport Transfers