What could be more romantically Scottish than spending a weekend in a country house, with views out to sea, beautiful walks, a golf course nearby and lots of drams of whisky beside a roaring log fire each evening! Well you can have that exact experience at Glenmorangie House in Tain. TLE were kindly invited along recently to discover more about this quite unique 5 star hotel in the Scottish Highlands.
Background and Concept
Located in Easter Ross and looking out to the Moray Firth, this Highland hideaway is owned by Glenmorangie Distillery. It was originally bought as the distillery’s corporate entertainment venue in 1989, but proved so popular that they started to open the house up to guests in 1998 and the hotel was born. I say hotel, but it is so far removed from the concept of a hotel, think of Glenmorangie House as your home for the weekend. There are no formalities here, doors are left unlocked, not a key in sight, staff know your name, there is no formal set menu dinner it is created each evening, no TV’s in your room, log fires each evening and there is even a room full of every size of wellington boot and Barbour jacket for guests to use.
It’s not called Glen of Tranquillity for nothing, this part of Scotland is incredibly serene and beautiful. Glenmorangie House is located on the shores of the Dornoch Firth approx. one hour drive from Inverness and four hours drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh. You really are in the middle of the Scottish countryside, looking out from the house you have an uninterrupted view out to sea and the estates private beach. The nearest village Hilton of Cabdoll is around a one mile walk from the house if you head along via the beach and on the way you can see The Cadboll Stone.
The area surrounding Glenmorangie House was the heartlands of the Picts, the stone was originally carved in 800 AD and can be found in the National Museum of Scotland. Local artist and sculptor Barry Grove has painstakingly recreated and reimagined the Stone. So you can still experience its beauty and mystery for yourself, right on the spot it was found.
Service and Check In
After a long drive from Edinburgh we were greeted with a warm welcome from the house manager as we entered. There is no formal reception or ‘check in’ and no keys, remember this is your home now during your stay, it feels like you have just arrived at some wealthy relatives country home.
Rooms and Cottages
The house has six en-suite rooms, two of which are larger master bedrooms that look out to the front and behind the house are a collection of cosy cottages which are ideal for families and guest with pets. All the rooms in the house are furnished as you would expect a Scottish country house to be, think tweed, tartan and brocade fabrics, plenty of scatter cushions and antique wooden furniture which gives that warm cosy feeling. Worth noting that rooms can also be changed from doubles to twins too.
Rooms feature everything you could need, Wifi, Bose Speaker, Tea and Coffee making facilities, while there are glorious Arran Aromatic products in the bathrooms and welcome miniatures of Glenmorangie Original in every room. One thing rooms lack is a TV (they are available on request however) at first I was surprised when I couldn’t find the TV, but during the stay I didn’t even miss it and actually was quite glad not to have one.
We stayed in one of the master bedrooms the Morayshire, which sits above the Morning Room. Five magnificent windows look out to the Moray Firth, beach and gardens, when we arrived we sat down enjoyed a whisky at the sofas by the windows and looking out at the incredible view.
The bed is king size and both sides of the bed have plugs for that all important phone charging. and in the evening there is a turn down service. One thing to note is the lack of any noise at all, I had one of the best sleeps ever, partly down to copious amounts of wine and whisky, but also the peacefulness of the area, there is no noise pollution here.
All the bathrooms in the house are marble in finish, the Morayshire bathroom includes both a corner bath, walk in shower and beautifully thick bathrobes.
The house dates back to the 17th century and is steeped in history, it is L shaped in design, the front of the house featuring the Morning Room. It’s called the Morning Room but actually it is used more in the evening. Before dinner guests can enjoy cocktails and canapés before dinner while you get to know the other guests. When we were staying we were treated to a personal whisky tasting, where we explored some of Glenmorangie’s premium expressions.
The giraffe as I learnt is a reference to the size of the Glenmorangie Distillery Pots which are the highest of any distillery and as high as a fully grown giraffe.
In the evening the Buffalo Room, set just off the dining room, is where you reside after dinner, there is always a log fire burning every night of the year and a piano sits temping you to play it and I was told it gets some good use out of it whether guests can play the piano or not!
The grounds of the house include an immaculate lawned garden which I was told is where cocktails are served before dinner in the summer. Next to the lawned garden, the walled kitchen garden is where a range of herbs and vegetables are grown and used in the cooking.
Food & Drink
Taking the home from home experience right though to the dining element of your stay, there are no separate tables in the dining room, instead just one long table where everyone dines. The evening starts at 7.30pm in the Morning Room for pre-dinner drinks and canapés and I think there is something quite lovely about having a set dining time, there is no formal dress code enforced but everyone does make an effort to dress up. By around 8pm you are shown through to the dining room and by that point everyone knows each other. If you have any food allergies fear not, when you arrive at the house you are asked if you have any allergies and the four course menu is created for that evening.
The mahogany dinner table is elegantly set and glistening with silverware and wine glasses ready for an evening of fine food and wine. The ingredients of the dishes are all locally sourced where possible, meat comes from Fearn and Black Isle for the lamb, seafood is Scottish, Orcadian scallops, langoustines from Plockton and most importantly dishes are created with thought put into the seasonality. Dinner at Glenmorangie House is a celebration of Scotland’s rich larder and you can tell as each dish is theatrically brought out and explained to you that all the staff have an incredible passion for the food that is being served.
I was told friendships are made over this dinner table and I think that is quite true as we ended up having a great time chatting with the other guests and before we knew it, it was 11pm and we were still talking away in the Buffalo Room. If friendships are made here, others are rediscovered as by wonderful coincidence one of my long lost friends from Glasgow is the chef here and we hadn’t spoken for a long time, so for me this really was the perfect home from home – having a good friend cook your dinner into the bargain!
In the morning breakfast is served in the breakfast room, there is a range of cold cuts and smoked salmon, cereals and fruits to get you started and a menu of hot dishes is cooked to order which ranges from porridge through to eggs Benedict and a full Scottish breakfast.
Glenmorangie Distillery is a 20 minute drive (9 miles) and the house can organise a driver to take you there and bring you back. A tour is quite fascinating and embarrassingly my first tour of a distillery in my 38 years in Scotland. They will take you around all parts of the distillery and you will learn the whole process, it is quite incredible how much whisky this small space produces each year it is into the millions of litres. After the tour you can sample the whisky and if you are driving a “drivers dram” is provided so you can enjoy it later on.
I went to Glenmorangie House not knowing what to expect, I was slightly apprehensive being so used to a hotel experience where you do your own thing, to an experience where you you have to mix with other guests, but you know what I loved it. It was my first time being so far north in Scotland too and it was truly a magical, the countryside around the house is spectacular and Glenmorangie House itself is so unique it’s just wonderful, it’s no wonder guests return year after year, it mixes relaxed and casual with sophistication perfectly. I recommend anyone looking for something truly Scottish and unique to give Glenmorangie House a try.
Address: Fearn by Tain, Tain IV20 1XP