Scotland on Sunday’s Do Not Disturb
Amid 58 acres of estate grounds is the 18-room hotel, an inn, Boat House cottage, gardens and Highland coos – one of the indigenous bovines peers forlornly through dripping fringe on arrival during a slate-grey storm of horizontal rain. Through the hotel’s front door, a neat row of welly boots and umbrellas greets those guests either too optimistic or ill-prepared to have remembered their own.
Past these is a crackling fireplace and sumptuous leather chairs, transporting the visitor to the country comfort of a bygone age.
Budget or boutique?
Country pile turned boutique hotel. Owners Dan Rose-Bristow and his wife, Rohaise, have effectively maintained the feel of the shooting lodge that was built here in 1887 by mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace, when she married William King, the 8th Baron King.
Wining and dining
Through the wood-lined walls adorned by trophies and antique rifles is the whisky bar where pre- and post-dinner drinks are served. Here, service is as exquisite as the barman’s moustache. From behind hirsute twirls, he enthusiastically tells of a collection that took more than 20 years to assemble and boasts enough variety for a different tipple every day of the year.
One, the Imperial from a now long-since abandoned distillery, costs £100 a dram. A Belhaven it will be then.
So sideways was the weather, the warmth of whiskies and gins on offer provided the perfect shelter from the storm. Staff hurriedly scaled a library-style sliding ladder to retrieve ever rarer and more limited editions from towering shelves. Warm lighting, oak walls and soft furnishings completing the sense of seclusion while a telescope offered mist-piercing sights of heather-encrusted hills.
Worth getting out of bed for
Should suffocating clouds ever lift, The Torridon’s custom has always been to encourage visitors to engage in outdoor pursuits. Where once they would have taken to the hills to hunt, today’s attractions have taken on a more contemporary, adrenaline-pumped feel. There is mountain biking and canoeing among the most instantly recognisable pastimes just a kayak roll away, and gorge scrambling and coasteering are also available for the more adventurous.
Torridon village is strung along one side of the loch while a network of arterial single-track roads lead into the Highlands.
The Torridon’s ethos is “a luxury stay where muddy boots are welcome” and it certainly lives up to this. It never feels snooty, being both welcoming and prodigious with a serene atmosphere that emanates from abundance and comfort. There is a level of care in the details that makes The Torridon feel special. Its rooms are individually designed and stocked with items such as bathrobes (non-complimentary), slippers, Cowshed bath products and speciality teas. If a free-standing bath, waterfall shower and king-size bed aren’t enough to spoil you, a toy Highland Cow (also not complimentary), spectacular views or Sky TV are there to comfort you on a lazy day.
Adjacent to The Torridon is the traditional styled Inn, which provides a refuge for wet or weary walkers. It has a comfortable atmosphere and a selection of warming meals, Skye ales and whiskies to while away the hours. A range of baguettes on the lunch menu will provide necessary sustenance for even the most intrepid walker. Dinner is filling country fair with pies and burgers – more than enough to block out the elements for the short walk back to the hotel. Once there, a return to the whisky bar for a nightcap is a must before heading up the impressive banister-lined staircase.
Pampered dreams of walks through rolling mists followed by bar-room drinks. Then that choice of a full breakfast – offering all the traditional favourites yet with contemporary presentation. Not unlike The Torridon itself.
Classic rooms at The Torridon start from £225. The Torridon, by Achnasheen, Wester Ross IV22 2EY (01445 791 242, www.thetorridon.com)