Taking its name from the 500 miles it covers, this north coast touring route takes in some of the most Highland’s most impressive scenery. Also known as the NC500, it covers a loop, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. Easter and Wester Ross, Sutherland, Applecross, Ullapool and Caithness are all notable stops on the majestic trail. Around five days are needed to complete it at a reasonably leisurely pace by car, although it’s best enjoyed over a long period. And of course, you’ll need somewhere suitably stunning to lay your head at the end of each day’s motoring.
The Glenmorangie House
Found in a remote nook of the Highlands overlooking the Moray Firth, Glenmorangie House provides beautiful surroundings in which to enjoy a few drams. The entire house pays homage to the drink; the decor reflects the liquid’s varying shades, ornaments point to the brand’s story and the menus incorporate the Glenmorangie flavours. The dinner party style restaurant has two Red AA Rosettes and the food created and served by their chef Joe belongs in the best 5 star hotels around the world. The hotel itself boasts three Red Stars and was included in the influential 5 Best Hotel Experiences 2016 by Forbes.com. With just nine bedrooms, a stay here feels very exclusive.
Built in 1887 by the then Earl of Lovelace, this 18 bedroomed baronial hunting lodge is filled with original features. While the hotel’s design certainly harks back to the building’s former life, the decor has splashes of bright accented colour. A kitchen garden supplies a multitude of organic produce, along with local meats and fish. And Highland cows can often be spotted wandering past the grounds. If travelling with kids, or those seeking some thrills, Torridon Outdoors is conveniently located on the doorstep, providing a range of outward bound activities. Be sure to take a peek at the hotel’s drawing-room, with its unusual zodiac designed ceiling and to sample the hotel’s own Arcturus gin.
Links House at Royal Dornoch
Ultra boutique with just 15 rooms, Links House has a prime location, just steps away from the Royal Dornoch’s first tee and a short walk to the beach. Clubs are available to borrow if you’re unable to bring your own, along with a range of other activity supplies. Play the neighbouring course ranked #2 in Scotland and #4 in the world by Golf Digest, as well as a further four championship course nearby. It’s not only golf that’s the highlight of a stay at Links House – the two AA Rosette-awarded restaurant offers some of the finest food in the region. The 19th-century hotel also benefits from two honesty bars and sumptuous furnishings.
Stroll a mere ten minutes from the centre of Inverness to discover this uber-trendy hotel – the city’s only to have five stars. The sleek, modern Rocpool Reserve, is contained in a Georgian mansion house and overlooks the River Ness. It has its own moody cocktail ‘r bar’ and Chez Roux (part of the wider Roux group) serving everything from amuse-bouche to hearty high-end fare and even special meals for your pooch. Four categories of bedroom (11 in total) offer delights such as hot tubs, cabin style saunas, balconies, oversized beds and Tassimo coffee machines, along with dark and dramatic decor. Valet services and beauty treatments are available on request.