Inverlochy Castle describes itself as "Scotland's finest luxury hotel". This is a bold claim, but one unlikely to be challenged by anyone who has had the pleasure of staying here. As a hotel it has been awarded Five Gold Stars by VisitScotland and Five Red Stars by the AA, and it has also won a series of prestigious awards. As a restaurant, Inverlochy Castle has been awarded 3 Rosettes by the AA. You can read our dining review for Inverlochy Castle Hotel here.
Inverlochy Castle Hotel stands just three miles north-east of the centre of Fort William, yet feels very secluded. It was built above sloping gardens on the east side of the valley of the River Lochy and enjoys superb distant views west to the mountains flanking the Road to the Isles. To the east the views are dominated by the imposing presence of Aonach Mor, while to the south-east is Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain. You reach Inverlochy Castle Hotel from the A82: though if travelling from Fort William, be aware that there is another Inverlochy Castle signposted from the A82 closer to the town. This is a ruined medieval fortress, and although it is a fascinating place to visit, the original fortress offers rather less luxurious accommodation than you find at the Inverlochy Castle you actually want, a little over a mile further from Fort William.
The second Inverlochy Castle was built in 1863 by William Frederick Scarlett, the 3rd Lord Abinger to a Scots Baronial design by the London architect, George Hesketh. Inverlochy Castle was extended in 1889 to incorporate a four storey tower, a new turret, and a range of bay windows, turning it into the magnificent building which greets you today. By then the castle had already received two notable visitors. Queen Victoria stayed here in 1873 and wrote: "I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot." A more unexpected visitor had stayed four years earlier in 1869, in the person of Jefferson Davies, the former President of the Confederate States of America. His visit left him feeling that: "If I were not an American, I would wish to be a Scotchman."
The main entrance to Inverlochy Castle is under the carriage arch on the east front. Beyond the entrance hall is the real heart of the castle, the Great Hall. Double height and with huge windows along its front face, this is a room which manages to feel at the same time both magnificent and comfortable: something which set the tone for our entire stay at the the hotel. A log fire provides a focus for the room, though your attention rapidly moves past to the huge oak staircase and then to the beautiful fresco on the ceiling, high above. Most of the public rooms are accessed directly from the Great Hall, including the fine Drawing Room, which takes full advantage of the hotel's views. There are three dining rooms. The Green Room is on the south side of the hotel, while the Red Room enjoys a western aspect. The more intimate Library is accessed by a secret door from the Great Hall. On the first floor is the Lord Abinger Trophy Room, complete with a full size billiard table.
Inverlochy Castle hotel has 17 superbly equipped and furnished en suite guest rooms. Most are on the upper two floors of the main castle, while one is in the gatehouse. The hotel's website (see link, above right) has 360° views of all the rooms and it is no surprise to find that many returning visitors develop favourites they ask for each time they stay. The rooms come in gradings from "standard" rooms to suites, though it has to be said that what passes for a standard room at Inverlochy Castle would be considered fairly generous in most places.
The setting and character of the hotel make it a highly attractive option for weddings: as well as for business gatherings where a change of pace is seen as important. The extensive grounds and gardens are home to pastimes such as tennis, croquet and outdoor chess, while other activities from fishing to falconry can be organised. Being an old building, disabled access was not designed in: but space throughout the hotel is generous and disabled guests can be accommodated with assistance that staff are more than happy to provide.
Inverlochy Castle has an enviable reputation as one of the world's leading hotels: and on our visit we found its reputation to be amply justified. The setting is sublime, the accommodation is superb, the service is outstanding, and the food is exquisite: you can read our dining review for Inverlochy Castle Hotel here. Inverlochy Castle Hotel is one of those rare hotels you genuinely regret leaving at the end of your stay.