Last week I spent 2 nights at The Lovat Loch Ness Hotel which sits near to the shores of Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal in the village of Fort Augustus. I have stopped off at Fort Augustus fairly regularly to stretch my legs on journeys from Fort William to Inverness but never really stayed long enough to explore properly.
Through my itinerary planning service I also get asked a lot about this area as it is a popular tourist route so I felt it was time to get much better acquainted. It is also important to me that I can personally endorse accommodation based on my own experience whenever possible.
- spoiler - I will definitely be recommending The Lovat Loch Ness!
The Lovat Loch Ness Hotel is centrally situated in the village of Fort Augustus which sits on the shores of Loch Ness, about half way between Fort William and Inverness. If you head west rather than north to Inverness, you can reach the Isle of Skye in about 90 minutes. This makes it a great base for those wanting to explore some classic Scotland tourist spots.
However, Fort Augustus and the surrounding area have their own attractions too. From the hotel you are a short stroll from the southern extremity of Loch Ness where you may be lucky enough to spot the elusive Nessie. The famous Caledonian Canal is also on the doorstep and you can join the gongoozlers watching an endless variety of vessels negotiate the flight of six canal locks.
Numerous shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants complete the offering in the village. I've listed the places I visited during my trip at the bottom of this blog post if you are looking for more ideas.
Check out my Highland travel blogs for more inspiration
I do love a hotel that has an interesting past, so you can bet one of the first things I did when I spotted a folder in the lounge with all the local history was to plonk myself by the fire and read every page!
I discovered that the hotel stands on the site of Kilwhimen Barracks, one of four Hanoverian Barracks built after the 1715 Jacobite Rising to control the Highlands. Some of the west curtain wall remains in the hotel grounds (see photo below) and is a monument of national importance.
The first recording of a hotel on the site was in 1869 when it was a station hotel. Since then it has changed hands multiple times until 2005 when David and Geraldine Gregory took over. It is now in the second generation of the family, with daughter Caroline and husband Sean currently owning and running The Lovat Loch Ness since 2015.
The Victorian building still has many period features and has a quaint charm. I was particularly fascinated by the old telephone booth in the reception - not Victorian but already a relic from a bygone age before mobile phones existed.
The hotel has 28 bedrooms of varying styles. I stayed in one of the loft rooms which you might have guessed are located on the top floor of the main building.
My room was fresh and modern with everything I needed for a comfortable stay and a few luxurious extras including a coffee pod machine, bathrobe, kingsize bed and en-suite with a walk-in shower and a bath (which I savoured a long bubbly soak in) - total bliss.
It was also my first experience of a TV bed and after spending all day exploring, sprawling out on my big bed watching the built in telly was the perfect lazy end to the day and something I don't ever get the chance to do at home!
The best thing about my room though was the view overlooking the front garden and out towards the hills, Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal. It really was Highland picture postcard.
THE REST OF THE HOTEL
The hotel also has two homely guest lounges which both have plenty of big comfy chairs and sofas. I found them the ideal spot to sit after dinner in front of the fire and plan my adventures out for the next day.
THE WAYPOINT BAR
The Waypoint Bar is well stocked and local tipples are a speciality. Whisky fans can choose from over 100 single malts and gin fans will also be in their element with over 50 Scottish gins to pick from. If it is too early in the day to start working your way through the bar, or you are suffering because it is the morning after you worked your way through the bar, then coffee and afternoon tea are also available.
Both the Waypoint Bar and the adjacent Brasserie where dinner is served, have a contemporary feel with some rustic touches and speaking of dinner, this was a highlight of my stay...
My review of dinner could easily be summed up as a 'mouthwatering taste sensation that is up there with the best food I have ever eaten' - well apart from the Marmite butter which the jury is still out on. But you probably want some more details than that, am I right? Like what did I actually eat, what made it so good etc etc? So here are a few more facts...
Owner and Head Chef, Sean Kelly, is the genius in the kitchen but what delights did myself and my dining partner choose from the menu?
For starters we had -
Home cured salmon/salted cucumber/yuzu
followed by mains of
Lamb loin/onion tart tatin/barley/wild garlic
Roasted venison/salt baked carrots/lentils/mustard
for desserts we finished off with
Lemon cheescake/lemon & buttermilk ice-cream
Whisky/honey/oatmeal parfait/poached rhubarb
As I'm still on a gluten free diet, I was delighted that just about all dishes could be easily adapted and the staff were very proactive in sorting this out without me asking. The only thing missing for me was the provenance of the ingredients on the menu other than that the meal, presentation and service were perfection.
Breakfast choices included a range of cold buffet options and cooked options from a menu. I went straight for the hot food in anticipation of it being as good as my dinner and I wasn't disappointed. On both mornings my choices were again absolutely delicious and beautifully presented.
The care and attention given to the food at The Lovat Loch Ness is enough of a reason to stay but here are a few more reasons why I can highly recommend it...
WHAT ELSE DID I LOVE ABOUT THE LOVAT?
WHERE I WENT DURING MY STAY
Even with only 2 nights at The Lovat, I managed to pack in quite a lot and hopefully this gives you some inspiration for your own stay -
WOULD I RECOMMEND STAYING AT THE LOVAT LOCH NESS?
Disclaimer - My accommodation and food was provided for the purposes of a review and my opinions are based on my own experience. However, I always carry out additional independent research to ensure my own experience matches up with that of other guests. This way I feel I can confidently recommend featured accommodation to my readers.
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