“My heart is in the highlands” is how Robert Burns’ famous poem goes, and after four days at Whispering Pine Lodge on Loch Lochy, I agree. Mountains with cascading forest, snow-capped peaks and endless lochs filled with still dark waters; the scenery is tranquil and breathtaking.
The journey from Inverness airport to the hotel follows winding highland roads, passing Loch Ness near Fort William, with Ben Nevis in the background – it’s stunning – but when I stopped at the Whispering Pine Lodge, I was surprised. The photos don’t do the views justice; Loch Lochy stretches as far as the eye can see, there is a private pebble beach and mountains lining the water. There’s a stillness, a peaceful calm, that instantly makes my shoulders drop and my jaw clench.
The hotel is a refurbished hunting lodge, built in the 1800s and acquired by the Black Sheep group in 2018. Whatever your plans, whether it’s a stopover in Ben Nevis or a place to relax for a week, with 25 rooms, there is an option for every budget. I was lucky enough to stay in one of their cabins, located near the private beach, perfect for families or group getaways. I imagine it’s just as magical in the winter, sitting by a fire, whiskey in hand, watching the snow. Interiors feel traditionally Scottish, with tartan throws, wildlife paintings, and wood finishes.
If the stunning location and spacious rooms aren’t enough to sway you, the food will be. The waterside ‘on the loch’ restaurant has a menu to suit everyone, with traditional Indian dishes, seasonal seafood and some Scottish classics like ‘haggis, need ‘n’ tatties’. Very few places in the UK have a Dal Makhani (a dish from New Delhi, India based on urad ki dal) in their arsenal, so finding it at this highland retreat was a surprise ( very welcome). Rokeby Manor, another Black Sheep Hotels property in the area, has an even more extensive Indian menu — with dishes like Dahi Chaat, Bombay Cheese Toast, Samosas and more. If that’s not your thing, their third establishment in the highlands, The Cluanie Inn, offers mountain-inspired cuisine with plenty of burgers and steaks.