Castle Hotel Category: 5 Star Castle Hotels, B&B Castle Hotels, Family Friendly Castle Hotels, and Dog/Pet Friendly Castle HotelsCastle Hotel Tags: Castle Hotels Scotland and Castle Hotels Scottish Highlands
Most Famous Guests: Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1873 curiosity led Queen Victoria to forgo her usual holiday home at Balmoral, Scotland and instead spend a week at Inverlochy Castle near Fort William. “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot” she noted in her diary and this is as true today as it was then.
The 5 Star Inverlochy Castle Hotel is truly a very special place; an imposing loch side baronial mansion near Fort William and in the foothills of the highest peak of the Scottish Highlands, Ben Nevis.
In later years, in its present incarnation as a hotel, it would also play host to the present Queen; HM Queen Elizabeth and her husband HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, as well as a long list of foreign dignitaries and royalty, and various celebrities including the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Elton John and Anthony Hopkins.
The 5 Star Inverlochy Castle is the ultimate in old fashioned sophistication and luxury and it has the added attraction of having one of Scotland’s finest restaurants, with food from the renowned father and son chef team; Albert and Michel Roux Jnr.
There are 17 quite fabulous B&B rooms to choose from in this 5 Star Hotel, starting with what may be referred to as a basic double room here but might just be considered a luxury suite in many other hotels, to junior suites and one particularly opulent and spacious full suite. (Check your options on the booking page here.)
You can expect lots of space and comfortable elegant furnishings. The bathrooms too are spacious and well appointed and all come with a bathtub. As you can imagine some of the views from the castle and from the rooms can really be spectacular in all seasons.
The restaurant is of course a huge attraction at the castle, the food, generally described as modern British cuisine with French influences, is famously excellent and even if not dining for lunch or dinner you will still be treated to a really sumptuous breakfast. (Be aware though that the dress code for dinner requires men to wear a jacket.)
In the castle there are also also various lounges, bars and drawing rooms to relax in, with the spectacular Grand Hall and its enormous chandeliers and beautifully frescoed ceiling being a particularly impressive sight. There is also a games room for children and a billiard room at the property.
The castle grounds and the entire estate, all 42,000 acres of it are wonderful to explore. You can take a pleasant stroll through the gardens or head off on more strenuous hikes around forests, rivers, mountains and lochs, and all without leaving the estate.
There is plenty of wildlife to be seen too, the area and the estate particularly is well preserved and is the natural habitat of such birdlife as golden eagles, ospreys, buzzards, pheasants and grouse, and animals such as red deer, pine martens, foxes and highland cattle.
If hiking all the way up the mountains sounds too much like work 4WD tours can also be organized from the castle. They can take you to spots up to 2000 feet high where you will be free to enjoy some of the most magnificent views in the country but without the aching legs.
There are also other wildlife and photography tours that can be arranged as can picnics and sporting activities such as horse riding, golf, white water rafting, mountaineering (including Ben Nevis climbs), clay pigeon shooting, archery, winter sports, boat trips, mountain biking and Rolls Royce Phantom tours, just ask the helpful hotel staff to arrange.
Note: children under 8 are welcome to stay but are not permitted in the Great Hall or the Drawing Room after 18:00 when dinner service begins. There is a baby sitting/child minding service on offer though for any time you may need.
Inverlochy Castle is very near Fort William, about three miles in fact, which is probably the most popular starting point for exploring the Scottish Highlands, and the most breathtaking scenery in Britain.
So contained though is the estate, you have pretty much everything the Scottish Highlands have to offer within its boundaries, that the average visitor will be guaranteed the ultimate Highland experience without ever leaving Inverlochy.
If you do feel the need to venture further you also have many beautiful and iconic places to explore. Relatively nearby there is Glencoe, Glengarry, Glenfinnan and the Cairngorm mountains for example, while a little farther south lies Loch Lomond and farther north there is of course the infamous Loch Ness.
To get to the castle just take the A82 road from Glasgow to Inverness or the A9 from Perth or Edinburgh and follow the signs at Fort William. Airport transfers can also be organized from any airport in Scotland, including, for ultimate style and panache, transfers by Rolls Royce Phantom. Just let the hotel know at least a day before arrival if possible.
During the 19th century the Scottish Highlands became a very favoured place for the rich and powerful from England and southern Scotland to visit and to buy or construct what we would now refer to as summer houses or holiday homes.
An accompanying estate was also obligatory for the most wealthy, especially where it allowed opportunities for deer hunting, fishing and grouse shooting.
Inverlochy Estate, 42,000 acres of moors, mountains, croft and farmland, was one such property, which the original owner, the Marquis of Huntly, was forced by impending bankruptcy into selling.
It was bought by the Hon. William Scarlett, 3rd Baron Abinger for 76,000 sterling, a very large fortune in those days and was initially used for summer holidays where the Scarlett family would stay at Torlundie, a manor house that was originally the main building of the estate.
As time went on though the Baron found himself spending more and more time at Inverlochy and made the decision to leave the family estate in Surrey, England behind and move north for good.
First though he wanted to build a grand mansion house on the estate, a mansion house to rival any in the Highlands or indeed the entire country. Plans were drawn up in the early 1860’s with the building taking almost ten years to fully complete. Then, in 1870, William and his American wife Helen finally took up residence and it was here that they raised their four children.
In 1944 Joseph Hobbs, a Canadian born businessman, and the soon to be owner of both the Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis Whisky Distilleries, bought the estate. He moved into the castle and immediately got to work with turning the estate into a North American style cattle ranch.
He developed the land, purchased a large herd of Scotland’s most famous cattle; the Aberdeen Angus, and what became known as the Great Glen Cattle Ranch was born.
Upon his death in 1963 his son Joseph Jr. and his Danish wife Grete took over the estate and within a few years Inverlochy had been transformed into its present incarnation; as a luxury hotel. It hosted its first guests in 1969 and such was the quality of the place even then that by 1971 it had the honour of being named Britain’s number one hotel by the highly respected Egon Ronay hotel and restaurant guides.
WHAT OTHER GUESTS SAY:
“It is the totality of elegance and charm. Good, decoration, ambiance, service, I have never experienced anything even vaguely similar. It was an experience. Honestly I felt like I was in an episode of Downton Abbey…”
“This hotel is an absolute dream come true. Myself and my husband had visited for a meal last year and decided to return to celebrate our wedding anniversary this year so we treated ourselves to a room! We were not disappointed. It is the most romantic place we have ever been. The staff are incredible. The room was insane. The view was spectacular, as were the grounds. The food sensational. Could not wish for anything more…”
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