“I never saw a lovelier or more  romantic spot,” said Queen Victoria about Inverlochy Castle a century before the private estate in Fort William, in the 
western Scottish Highlands, was turned into a fivestar hotel and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Over the years, other royals from around the world have stayed in the lavish rooms, but hotel manager Jane Watson, who has worked at the hotel for 36 years, says the appeal of Inverlochy lies in the ease with which guests feel at home, cosying up next to the fire with a book, playing billiards or outdoor chess, or relaxing on the lawn with a glass of wine. 

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
Image: Sarah Duff

The best local pub? Ben Nevis Inn, at the foot of the UK’s highest peak, has great live music and a casual atmosphere and is always filled with the happy faces of hikers who have just defeated the mighty mountain.

The perfect Highlands day? When the weather’s good, long walks are the perfect way to take in the beautiful Scottish scenery. Hike up to the top of a mountain or take a ramble along one of the many lochs for a picnic.

Inverlochy Castle used to be a private estate
Inverlochy Castle used to be a private estate
Image: Sarah Duff

Unmissable castles in the Highlands? Eilean Donan Castle on the Isle of Skye and Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness.

A great day trip? Head out to the Isle of Skye for hikes to the Fairy Pools and Old Man of Storr (a rocky pinnacle), driving to Mallaig and crossing on the ferry and passing the Glenfinnan Viaduct en route.

What is the signature dish of Scotland and where can the best example be found? Local seafood and venison are definitely top ingredients in Scotland and are found on many menus of independent restaurants throughout the Highlands. At Inverlochy Castle, the menu features locally sourced oysters, scallops, langoustines and lobster.

You can’t come to the Highlands without seeing…? Experiencing a Highland ceilidh (an evening of traditional Scottish music and dancing) is a must, but be prepared for sore legs and arms in the morning from all the dancing! 

Image: Sarah Duff
Image: Sarah Duff
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