Luxury Highland Hospitality at the Torridon Hotel

by Keith Savage · 8 comments

The Torridon Hotel, Wester Ross, Scotland

In the far northern highlands, where you base yourself is more about specific accommodations and less about particular towns since so much of the region is empty, beautiful wilderness. The Torridon Hotel was one of the first places I bookmarked when I began planning my trip around Scotland’s North Coast 500. The enchanting Victorian facade, luxury amenities and activities, and glittering reputation were enough to snag my interest, but its position in the heart of Wester Ross made it an ideal base for exploring many of the area’s natural treasures.

My journey led from Kinlochewe west to Torridon, and that single-track road winding through a valley surrounded by mountains is one for the ages. The road is so narrow that it felt like I was driving on a sidewalk at times, but the absent traffic afforded many views of the stunning peaks. The Torridon Hotel stands on the southern shore of Loch Torridon, on the opposite bank from tiny Torridon town, and it was immediately clear that I was in for a treat.

Like many luxury hotels in Scotland, the Torridon Hotel was originally built as a shooting lodge in the 19th Century. The first Earl of Lovelace spent twenty years building it, and the lodge was completed in 1887, the 50th year of Queen Victoria’s reign. You have to realize that the Torridon Hotel is out there in the Scottish wilderness, and in the 19th Century this was even more true (though less than you’d expect) — all of the materials for the lodge were brought in by boat, even the dirt in the garden! In fact, the lodge didn’t become a hotel until 1960 when a main road between Torridon and Shieldaig was constructed. Today, The Torridon is a family-run establishment with scads of accolades to its name, including Scottish Hotel of the Year twice.

I pulled down the lane and entered the Torridon Hotel for my first look inside. The reception retains its Victorian shooting lodge heritage, but where other properties might show the ravages of time the Torridon Hotel reflects subtle, luxurious touches. The wood panelling is warm, the upholstery is supple, and the ceiling and moulding are crisp and free from water damage. Cozy benches surround a wood-burning fireplace and invite weary travelers to relax with a dram. After the strong first impression, the receptionist led us to our rooms.

Our room was down a softly-lit hallway on the first floor. A huge, plush bed anchored the snug room, which was lit by a massive window on one wall. The adjoining bathroom showed a modern refurbishment with gleaming tiles, shining chrome fixtures, and a fantastic walk-in shower. From the multi-port charging station to the tubes of foot salve we found on our pillows at night, the Torridon Hotel pays attention to the details, and they’re often the difference between a good and great stay. While the magenta tartan decor was not to my tastes, my parents’ room, upstairs on the second level, was much larger and decorated with a more subdued palette.

After settling into our rooms we headed into the drawing room with its wide, picture-window view of the Torridon Mountains. Afternoon sun filtered in as we enjoyed tea and these delicious cake bites. I have to make a special mention to the Torridon Hotel’s house-blend black tea — we all thought it was truly incredible. This is the perfect place to plot out the day’s adventures and soak in the beautiful vistas of Loch Torridon. The refreshing repast over, we went our separate ways — I took a walk to explore the Torridon Hotel’s grounds.

There are 58 acres of parkland to explore while you stay at the Torridon Hotel. A lot of attention has been paid to keep the grounds in tip-top shape, and while I was there flowers bloomed everywhere. I found sequoias growing here and there and looked upon the huge garden that provides fresh produce for the hotel’s restaurant. If I’d had more time I would have considered doing one of the hotel’s many activities — everything from archery to clay-pigeon shooting to gorge scrambling and pony trekking. If you were so inclined you could use the Torridon Hotel as the base from which to undertake all your Scottish adventures.

As afternoon gave way to evening, we found ourselves dressed for dinner and enjoying an aperitif with snacks in the drawing room. We looked over the menus and placed our orders. Relaxing with a dram and anticipating what promised to be an amazing dinner is just about the perfect way to spend an evening. Then I noticed the drawing room’s curious zodiac ceiling, which I learned later was another tribute to Queen Victoria and her fascination with astrology. Dinner was…well you’ll have to wait until a future post. 🙂

The Torridon Hotel possesses the best selection of malt whiskies on the northwest coast. I can’t promise that’s certainly true, but in my travels through the region I’ve found no place that comes close to rivaling what the hotel offers. The drawing room leads into the whisky lounge with its bar-to-ceiling shelves filled with bottles arrayed alphabetically by distillery and whisky region. It was a good thing I wasn’t here alone because left to my own devices I might have sacrificed far too much time and money on the endless options before me. I settled on a Jura Tastival while my dad sipped Bowmore as the last light of the day fell behind the mountains.

A clear blue morning dawned after a wonderful sleep. The bed would have pleased Goldilocks, and our room was surprisingly quiet given its position in the hotel. We made our way to the dining room and broke our fasts on delicious fare. The Scottish breakfast was both artful and delectable, and the haggis and black pudding were both remarkable. I especially appreciated the portion size that left me feeling full but not bloated.

The Torridon Hotel is a gem. It has everything: Beautiful surroundings, historic heritage, luxury accoutrements, delicious food, and that special something. Highland hospitality. You feel welcome here, and though it is a high-end, luxury hotel you’ll find no snobbery. Daniel and Rohaise Rose-Bristow have put a lot of work into the Torridon Hotel in the last 15+ years, and all that love and care is clear in the quality of the stay. If you’re looking for a luxury highland experience, an adventure basecamp, or a romantic getaway, look no further.

Disclosure: The Torridon Hotel provided me with a complimentary night’s stay. All thoughts and opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.

Patsy TartNo Gravatar July 21, 2016 at 6:43 AM

Hi Keith, you do love luxury accommodations and so do I. I keep a record of the ones you mention in case the need arises. I returned to Scotland this June, with friends, on a CIE tour so finding our own accommodations was not necessary. I hope my next trip will be driving on my own. Done with tours. My husband hates driving there so I will do it myself. Soon approaching the age where they will not let me rent a car…lol. My next trip will be next summer and I can’t wait. I usually go in June to avoid the busiest tourist season. Now I have to decide where I will go. You will be hearing from me. I love your posts and read them faithfully and share with others.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 26, 2016 at 8:17 AM

That’s great to hear, Patsy! Drive yourself – you won’t regret it. Thanks for reading. Looking forward to working with you again 🙂

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