Wondering what some hotels did when they were closed during lockdown? At Mackays Hotel in Wick the owners Murray and Ellie Lamont and daughter Jennifer worked with Legion Scotland to provide Caithness veterans and pensioners with regular hot meals and companionship whilst self-isolating at home, as well as a meals on wheels home delivery service for people in and around Wick. Accommodation was also let out to key workers shielding from their families. Now the 30-bedroom family run hotel is ready to welcome back guests, taking bookings for travellers in mainland Scotland ahead of its re-opening on April 26.
Situated on the North Coast 500 route right next to the River Wick, it’s an ideal stop off for those following the route and those keen to linger and explore Caithness’ breathtaking views, clear skies and sandy beaches a little longer. It’s also located on the iconic landmark of Ebenezer Place, the world’s shortest street, named in recognition of the kindness of the townsfolk to Alexander Sinclair, who built the hotel in the 1880s.
Owned by the same family for more than 60 years, the hotel with its 25 staff has picked up various accolades, including Caithness Business of the Year in the Highland Business Awards 2016, overall winner of the Developing the Young Workforce category at the Awards in 2017, an AA Rosette for its No1 Bistro in 2014, plus a Gold Tourism Award as part of The Green Tourism Business Scheme.
Dogs are very welcome so you don’t need to leave them at home, and with numerous places to stretch the legs, you’ll be glad you brought them.
AA Covid Confident accreditation and Visit Scotland Good to Go. All staff will undergo retraining before the hotel fully reopens and there is a one-way system in operation and guests are required to wear masks when moving around the hotel. Guest and staff adhere to the current Scottish Government regulations.
Budget or boutique?
It’s a family-run hotel where comfort and a warm welcome are paramount and room rates won’t break the budget.
The 30 en-suite rooms all have wifi access, tea and coffee, hairdryers, flatscreen TVs and are decorated in tactile textiles in neutral tones that complement the Highland setting. Apartments, three-bedroom townhouses and a five-bedroom villa are also available.
Wining and Dining
The AA rosette denotes the quality standard of the food and the No1 Bistro uses as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible on a seasonally changing menu.
Dishes feature Mey Selections beef and lamb, reared within a 100 mile radius of the Castle of Mey and they’ve bought the Champion Beast from Aberdeen and Northern Marts Christmas sale for the last 21 years.
The hotel hosts a Taste of Caithness Champions’ Dinner once a year, celebrating their local produce with a six- course tasting menu.
The largest temperance hotel in Scotland when it was built in 1883, it now serves specially selected wines and spirits and has a remarkable whisky collection that includes a rare 1938 Mortlach and a 1940 Macallan, as well as having its own cask 37 Year Old Old Pulteney Whisky and special bottlings.
As well as lunches and dinners, there is afternoon tea, and whisky and gin tastings by pre-arrangement.
Worth Getting Out of Bed For
An early rise for the sunrises delivers a sight to behold and at certain times of the year the Northern Lights are spectacular and definitely worth a 3am alarm. If you prefer daytime then Duncansby Stacks, Whaligoe Steps, Badbea (known as the Clearance Village), Camster Cairns and Wick Heritage Museum wave wonderful tales of Caithness heritage. Guests are encouraged to ask at the hotel reception and they can point them in the direction of information to help them discover the magic of Caithness.
Dog friendly with dining in the bar and holiday apartments providing dog-friendly accommodation, plus resident dogs Max and Bria giving a warm welcome too.
As a family owned hotel for over 65 years, Mackays gives guests’ a ‘home from home’ experience.
Prices Start from £75 for a single room, £99 for a double and £129 for a superior room in the low season to £93, £132 and £170 respectively in the high season.
One night B&B, glass of fizz, four-course dinner, bottle of house wine and petit fours from £239. Two nights B&B, dinner on the first night with £35 allowance pp, packed lunch for day of exploring from £314. For room options, see website.
Mackays Hotel, Union Street, Wick, Caithness, Scotland, KW1 5ED, (01955 602323, www.mackayshotel.co.uk) https://www.northcoast500.com/listing/mackays-hotel/ and follow on social media at www.facebook.com/mackayshotelwick, https://twitter.com/MackaysHotel and www.instagram.com/mackayshotel