“The approach is splendid; the loch is very wide; straight before you a fine range of mountains splendidly lit up: green, pink, and lilac; to the left the little town of Inveraray; and above it, surrounded by pine woods, stands the Castle of Inveraray, square, with turrets at the corner," wrote Queen Victoria in 1874, and it’s still as beautiful today.
Since 1755 The Inveraray Inn has been welcoming travellers arriving at its enviable location at the head of the village on the shores of Loch Fyne. Designed by John Adam it exudes history and Highland hospitality with spacious public areas and nooks including dining room, hall, conservatory and bar, and cosy ensuite rooms. Throughout there are subtle touches of traditional and contemporary decor that complements the lilac, blues and greys of the landscape.
What really makes The Inveraray Inn special are the friendly and helpful staff who go the extra mile to make sure you’re feeling looked after and have everything you need. Realise you’ve forgotten your hairdryer and there isn’t one in the Covid-clean rooms? Collect one bagged up from reception. Need gluten-free catering? The proof was in the pudding as the coeliac in our midst experienced none of the all-too-frequent consequences of cross-contamination, thanks to the care taken by the attentive staff and was able to relax and enjoy the fresh Highland produce served up. Celebrating a birthday? Candles and banners are produced to make your Covid celebrations special.
The hotel complies with government guidelines and the rooms show the results of careful cleaning. Tea and coffee making facilities are sealed in plastic before guest arrival, staff wear face masks and hand sanitizer is available throughout.
Budget or boutique?
It’s a historic inn with architecture to match that won’t break the bank.
Currently 35 ensuite rooms - twins or doubles and family rooms - are available (Executive, Loch View and Standard), with the best views over the loch and of the hills beyond, at the front. The room and ensuite were spotless, as is the rest of the hotel as it re-emerges looking refreshed from lookdown. There are TVs and free wifi in the rooms and Scottish Fine Soaps toiletries in the ensuites.
Wining and Dining
Local meat and seafood are to the fore, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, and a choice of venues: the Argyll bar with its wood panels and floor, the dining room all white table clothes and sparkling glassware, or the light-filled conservatory along the front of the hotel. Highlights included Loch Fyne salmon and grilled sea bass with leek mash, smoked mussel broth and sprouting broccoli.
To eat out there are other hotels in and around Inveraray worth visiting such as The George (with beer garden), Brambles Cafe & Bistro (check out the breakfast and cakes), Samphire Seafood Restaurant and The Loch Fyne Hotel, plus a short drive away the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.
Worth Getting Out of Bed For
There are walks and cycle routes aplenty - head for Kilmartin Glen’s stone circles, Auchindrain Township for a taste of post farming township life or the plants and paths of Crarae Garden.
Browsing souvenir shops in the main streets is fun, with whisky, wellies and woollens to the fore and no less than two traditional sweet shops for soor plums and Spanish Gold sweet tobacco.
We wandered up to the Dun Na Cuaiche folly on the hill behind the temporarily closed castle, from which the views are spectacular. When rain drove us indoors we spent an entertaining morning in Inveraray Jail. Lockdown’s a breeze compared to what went down in the town’s cells in the past.
Ground floor or first floor rooms are available if you’re unable to negotiate the curves of the original staircase. Shortbread biscuits are welcome alongside the kettle and the hotel is pet friendly.
Highland hospitality and views to match in a one-off location.
Prices vary so check website, but in June weekday nights currently start from £139 B&B for a standard double and £149 at weekends. Three for one and Sunday special offers are available. The Inverary Inn, Front Street, Inveraray PA32 8XB,( 01499 302466, https://inveraray-inn.co.uk)