Located within the distant wilderness of the picturesque Glen Shiel, which lies alongside the path to the Isle of Skye, The Cluanie Inn oozes rustic Scottish appeal and character, however with a quite distinctive Indian-inspired twist that shines by means of with a number of the delicacies. The inn kinds a part of Black Sheep Motels, a small group of boutique resorts, lodges and eating places in Lochaber and Inverness-shire, owned by Mumbai-based hospitality firm, Mars Hospitality Group.
After a protracted drive, we got a heat welcome by Sara on reception, earlier than being proven to our room personally. In every single place was very homely and welcoming, with seating areas the place you may simply sit and skim a guide or take pleasure in a wee dram – identical to a standard Scottish inn must be. We have been travelling with our canine for this journey, so have been additionally proven designated areas the place four-legged mates might be exercised.
We stayed in room 4 – a dog-friendly Highland Suite with a picket 4 poster mattress. The décor may be very becoming with an previous world appeal about it, tartan-esque wallpaper, all historically furnished with vintage pottery and ornaments, and with Scottish artworks adorning the partitions.
Tea and occasional amenities and complimentary Highland Spring water are offered, as is a collection of magazines – Nationwide Geographic Traveller, Nation Life, Condé Nast Traveller and a information to the most effective locations to go to in Skye and Lochalsh.
Within the wardrobe there’s a protected, and an ironing board and iron, and the in-room phone hyperlinks to reception, housekeeping and the responsibility supervisor, to the spa at sister lodge The Whispering Pine Lodge, in addition to to the varied eating choices at every of the Black Sheep Motels.
The home windows from the room look out over the hills and on one night we have been fortunate sufficient to identify wild deer proper exterior our window.
Our en suite rest room consisted of a big whirlpool bathtub, full with jets and colored lights, with a bathe over it, in addition to a basin and WC. Don’t be alarmed by the water which might be brown in look – like a lot of Scotland, the water is derived from catchments dominated by wholesome peatlands that are the truth is naturally of top quality however do include dissolved natural carbon.
Equipped toiletries are from the Highland Cleaning soap Co. – aloe vera shampoo, physique wash, conditioner and cleaning soap with a delicate, woody perfume of untamed nettle and heather. Robes and slippers, and a hairdyrer, are additionally provided.
Impressed by the rugged lifetime of Highlanders, The Cluanie Bar & Kitchen serves mountain-inspired delicacies; a menu of American and Scottish classics resembling burgers, ribs and steaks, in addition to worldwide favourites, significantly Indian and pan-Asian selections. You may dine within the bar or eating areas – each provide a full of life and informal atmosphere for travellers and locals alike.
The Chargrilled Broccoli Florets – broccoli marinated with yoghurt and garlic, topped with toasted pine nuts – are a wholesome and appetising selection from the starters, while the Crunchy Lentil Bites served with a coconut mustard seed dip will make sure to fulfill the hungriest of walkers.
My favorite was the Trio of Prawns, Mussels and Calamari – seafood cooked in a chilli coriander broth served with a slice of grilled sourdough.
However look out additionally for the Cajun Rooster Quesadillas – toasted tortillas with Cajun-spiced rooster, candy peppers, pink onion and Monterey Jack cheese – for an equally fulfilling various.
Mains embrace The Highlander Cheeseburger – chargrilled beef patty topped with cheese and served with fries, a collection of pizzas such because the Out within the Wild pizza (chorizo, Italian sausage, ham, mozzarella and mustard greens) and quite a lot of worldwide specials.
The Dal Makhani is a basic North Indian slow-cooked lentil curry that I can extremely advocate. Alternatively strive the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio – spaghetti tossed in garlic, olive oil, chilli flakes and Parmesan, with the choice so as to add rooster, prawns or salmon.
The intimate bar is a beautiful space to chill out, serving wines, beers and ciders, to not point out an intensive collection of whisky.
Free WiFi is out there at The Cluanie Inn and we discovered that it labored nicely all through the constructing, regardless of the distant location.
The inn additionally doubles as a self-service petrol station which I’m certain has been a welcome sight for a lot of a traveller frantically worrying concerning the subsequent alternative to re-fuel. And throughout the street, Black Sheep Motels’ newest addition is the Landour Bakehouse – an amazing stop-off for freshly-baked items, some from recipes courting again to the 1900s. The bakehouse will get its title from the British-era cantonment of Landour, at an elevation of seven,000 toes within the Himalayas, the place Scottish residents are mentioned to have as soon as exchanged recipes and high-altitude baking suggestions, first by means of dialog however then subsequently in a number of editions of The Landour Cookbook.
The bakehouse is a relaxed and enjoyable stop-off; inside an indication reads “We shouldn’t have WiFi. Speak to one another. Faux it’s 1895.” while one other with an arrow pointing up the street reads “Complaints Division – 100 miles”.
The Cluanie Inn is situated alongside the A87 within the Scottish Highlands, on the Moor of A’Chralaig on Glen Shiel, on the western finish of Cluanie Loch. Walks can be found from the doorstep of the inn – inside The Cluanie Property – in addition to on close by hills and Munros together with, amongst others, the seven Munros of the South Glen Shiel Ridge.
One of many nearest points of interest of word is Eilean Donan Fortress, which is a 30-minute drive away and sits on the confluence of Loch Duich, Loch Lengthy and Loch Alsh. This iconic thirteenth Century Scottish fortress has featured in lots of an Instagram feed in addition to movies resembling Highlander (1986) and James Bond – The World is Not Sufficient (1999).
While in that space, we additionally took the chance to go to the gorgeous village of Plockton and the Kyle of Lochalsh. Plockton enjoys a light local weather by Scottish requirements, due to going through east, away from the prevailing winds, and you’ll even see palm bushes rising there.
Our drive from The Cluanie Inn in the wrong way to our subsequent cease, Whispering Pine Lodge, was additionally very picturesque with lovely loch views, the bonus of recognizing a lone piper greet a small tour firm, and the chance for a beautiful woodland stroll in Glen Garry pinewoods managed by the Foresty Fee.
Different good touches
A welcome platter on arrival with fruit, cookies and the phrases ‘Welcome To The Inn….” written in chocolate greeted us in our room on arrival.
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Glen Twin or Glen Double rooms begin from £130 per night time.
The Highland Suite begins from £168 per night time.
The very best bit
While The Cluanie Inn is filled with rustic appeal, arguably the most effective factor about it’s its distant setting. Few locations within the UK provide this degree of solitude – a novel Scottish wilderness that’s round half-hour’ drive from wherever of word, but is surrounded by 21 easily-accessible Munros. The Glen Shiel valley is a spot the place you may actually get away from all of it.
Despite the fact that we dwell comparatively near the border with Scotland, our 6-7 hour drive to The Cluanie Inn makes you recognize the vastness of Scotland, significantly when you think about that it will take one other 4 hours nonetheless to drive to John O’Groats.
The ultimate verdict
The Cluanie Inn is a welcome stopover for guests en path to Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye, while additionally appearing as a vacation spot in its personal proper – not only for walkers excited by Munro-bagging however for friends in search of a distant reprieve from the hustle and bustle of their common every day lives.
Disclosure: Our keep was courtesy of The Cluanie Inn from Black Sheep Motels.