The Inver Lodge Hotel stands high on the rocky hillside to the east of the fishing village of Lochinver and is accessed up a road that climbs steeply from the southern end of the main street as it runs alongside Loch Inver. What you find is a superb hotel whose accommodation and quality of service amply justify its 4 Star awards from the AA and VisitScotland, and whose Chez Roux Restaurant serves outstanding food well deserving of its 2 AA Rosettes. Intending visitors should note that the hotel is open from 1 April to 31 October each year. You can read our dining review for Inver Lodge Hotel here.
Inver Lodge Hotel was built between 1986 and 1988 on a site that in part had to be cut out of the rock of the hillside on which it stands. The hotel itself is visually unassuming, appearing in views from Lochinver as a long brown building just below the skyline. This was deliberate: the aim was to avoid what is actually quite a large building intruding too obviously into the landscape of this beautiful part of Sutherland. In essence this is a hotel to enjoy the views from, rather than the views of. The views west over Lochinver are ever changing and magnificent, and extend on a clear day to the distant Isle of Lewis and Harris. The views inland are equally striking, taking in the distinctive mountains of Canisp and Suilven.
The hotel can be thought of as a main building housing the public areas, with a two storey accommodation wing extending to its south along the line of the hillside. The car park lies behind the hotel and as you enter the main door the contrast between the slightly utilitarian exterior and the sumptuous interior becomes immediately obvious. The dark wood of the reception area opens out into an extensive lounge full of comfy chairs and sofas, with a log fire at one end and stags' heads around the upper wall. A small shop behind the reception allows you to stock up on everything from toiletries to fishing flies.
Move from the lounge towards the front of the hotel and you come to the large hotel bar, with more comfortable seating, and if you continue in this direction you come to the magnificent Chez Roux Restaurant. This is a space you would appreciate in any setting, but what really makes it stand out are the views from the windows, especially those facing west. The setting and size of the public rooms makes Inver Lodge suitable for functions, and the hotel is licenced for weddings.
Inver Lodge has 21 en suite guest rooms. All are roomy and offer 6ft doubles or extra wide twin beds, all are very highly specified and equipped, and all enjoy the view west over Lochinver. Four rooms are graded as "superior", offering additional space, while two executive rooms, Canisp and Suilven, offer additional dining and sitting areas and views in two directions, to the west and back towards the mountains they are named after. Meanwhile the Iolaire suite (the name comes from the Gaelic for "eagles nest") is very large and offers truly panoramic views west, as well as a log fire, plus a separate dressing area, bathroom, and toilet.
Level access and plenty of space means that the whole ground floor of the hotel, including all the public rooms, are accessible to disabled guests, and there is a disabled toilet. The eleven guest rooms on the ground floor of the accommodation wing are also easily accessible, though none have been specifically converted for use by disabled guests.
Lochinver is at the heart of our favourite part of Scotland, and we were expecting great things of our visit to Inver Lodge Hotel. In the event, our expectations were exceeded in just about every way, and it is easy to see why 85% of those staying here are returning guests. The public rooms are very spacious yet comfortable, and we'd be more than happy to stay in any of the guest rooms. Meanwhile the quality of the service delivered by an enthusiastic team of staff is outstanding: professional yet friendly, and always there when needed without being intrusive. The standard of the housekeeping is especially high, and this doubtless helps explain why a hotel in this beautiful but exposed location feels far younger than its 20+ years. You can read our dining review for Inver Lodge Hotel here.