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TEN HISTORIC HOTELS IN THE HIGHLANDS

Adrian Mourby

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The history of the Scottish Highlands has a very different narrative from the rest of Great Britain, even from the rest of Scotland. The clans ruled this rugged landscape for centuries, based around powerful families like the Mackenzies, Urquharts, Campbells and Frasers, whose names you will encounter everywhere. The other names you'll notice - Fort Augustus and Fort William - are associated with the Hanoverian troops who built garrisons and military roads across the Highlands after the rebellions of 1715, 1719 and 1745. The third great influence on the landscape is whisky, where whole communities have grown up around a distillery of which there are nearly a hundred in Scotland today.
Coul House Hotel

Sir George Steuart (SIC) Mackenzie, seventh baronet of Coul, built this remarkable house in 1821. The design is based on a central octagon, an idea fashionable in Scotland, and North America in the early nineteenth century. Mackenzie's octagon is now the hotel's august dining room with two diamond-shaped bedrooms on the floor above. Sir George was a noted mineralogist while his son, Robert went on to be governor general of Queensland.

Airds Hotel & Restaurant

The earliest reference to this harbour hotel goes back to 1720 when there were 24 rooms and the customers were drovers en route to market in Glasgow. The years have been kind to Airds and today it revels in its Relais & Chateau status and sumptuous decor. The Airds House nearby in Appin was built in 1738 for Donald Campbell of Airds who commanded a pro-Hanoverian militia at the Battle of Culloden. Campbell of Airds is remembered for his leniency to the defeated Jacobites.

Loch Ness Lodge & Spa

This modern hotel in the style of a Scots hunting lodge is built in the grounds of a crofter's cottage known as Brachla. At the end of the nineteenth century the owner of Brachla played an on-going game of cat and mouse with the excise men, getting neighbours to light decoy fires whenever he was operating his illicit still. When he grew too old for the danger the canny crofter handed in his still, claiming he'd found it, and retired on the substantial reward.

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