The Highlands are staggeringly beautiful and an ideal destination for anyone who loves fresh air, tranquillity and the great outdoors. Chic Retreats recommended boutique hotels in the Highlands, Scotland includes Loch Ness Lodge, an intimate 7 room bolthole overlooking Loch Ness on an 18-acre estate not far from Inverness. It has a spa and treatment area, excellent Franco-Scottish cuisine from head chef Ross Fraser and a private stretch of shoreline where you can go kayaking. Alternatively, stay at the eco friendly, 5 room Pool House on Loch Ewe, another Highlands boutique hotel. Dinner at the hotel’s ‘North by North-West’ restaurant is a highlight: think lots of local seafood on the menu, rare Scots Malts (the Highlands offers the only Malt Whisky trail in the world) and glorious views out over the Loch.
As you’d expect in the Highlands, there are outdoor activities galore from white water rafting and mountain biking to shooting. An hour’s drive from Loch Ness Lodge, the Rothiemurcas Estate, offers husky dog sledding, raft building and gorge walking. Walkers come here to tackle Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak but wildlife enthusiasts will be happy too: go bottlenose dolphin spotting on a boat trip on the Moray Firth, cruise Loch Ness to search out the elusive monster or see the seals on the Cromarty Firth. If you’re lucky, during the summer months, you might also be able to catch a glimpse of humpback whales off the north and west coasts. Equally tweeters in the Highlands for the birds should head to the cliff tops of the north coast for puffins and razorbills, the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garton for nesting ospreys and the Abernethy Forest Nature Reserve, home to Scottish crossbills.
When you want to swap the countryside for a town, spend a pleasant day in the compact city of Inverness. Stroll along the banks of the River Ness where St andrew’s cathedral and Inverness Castle fill the skyline, visit the Inverness Museum and art gallery and browse in Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop, Leakey’s. Stop for a bite to eat at Cafe 1 (gnocchi, steaks and lemon steamed halibut are all on the menu) or at The Mustard Seed, a European restaurant serving dishes made from seasonal, Scottish ingredients. The setting, in a converted church is lovely. Recently the Scottish Highlands has also become known for its music festivals RockNess on the banks of Loch Ness and Loopallu, held in the remote village of Ullapool.
At Thurso on the northern tip of Scotland, you’ll find the Castle and Gardens of Mey which was once the favourite summer home of the Queen Mother (from the gardens you can see across the Pentland Firth to Hoy, the nearest of the Orkney Islands). And on theIsle of Skye (a 2 hour trip from Inverness), you can eat like a king at renowned restaurant The Three Chimneys owned by chef Michael Smith. Instead of travelling back that night, why not check into another of our recommended boutique hotels in the Highlands, the romantic Duisdale House.
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At the tip of the Scottish Highlands lies Ackergill Tower, the most luxurious exclusive venue the Highlands have to offer. Weddings, girls weekends and celebrations are perfectly suited to this Chic Retreat and its stunning seaside location.
Loch Ness Lodge is a small boutique hotel by Loch Ness, Inverness. Traditional Scottish architecture and contemporary design are brought together in this stylish chic retreat complete with a spa & gourmet dining - also available exclusively.