THE Highlands are world-renowned as one of the most breathtaking places on earth - and with good reason.
Whether it’s the rolling, heather-covered hills, glistening lochs or magnificent castles, the area has cultivated a mystique that has lasted for generations.
Thousands flock there every year simply to experience the outstanding natural beauty for themselves.
If you’re considering joining them, have a look at our list below for five of the best Scottish Highland hotels.
INVERLOCHY CASTLE HOTEL
(Torlundy, Fort William PH33 6SN, 01397 702177)
The rise of gothic revival architecture in the 19th century led to the Highlands being covered with baronial castle-like buildings, with Inverlochy House a perfect example of the style.
Previously owned and operated by the former owner of the nearby Ben Nevis distillery, the mansion house was named one of the best hotels in Europe in 2001 and with 17 lavish rooms, it’s easy to see why.
Situated right at the foot of Ben Nevis, Inverlochy House is steeped in luxury. The kitchens are under the watchful eye of Albert and Michel Roux Jr, while Queen Victoria paid her own testament to its hospitality saying she “never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot,” when she stayed there in 1873.
For an even more exclusive feel, international guests can even be picked up and transported to the hotel in the back of a Rolls Royce Phantom, for an extra charge.
Price per night...From £335
(63 Academy Street, Inverness IV1 1LU, 01463 228850)
While it is possibly the only hotel on this list that doesn’t look like it belongs on the lid of a shortbread tin, Pentahotel offers a budget-friendly, functional alternative to the tartan-clad - dare we say stuffier - boutique hotels that populate large parts of the highlands.
Instead, this cool, contemporary hotel looks as if it’s been plucked from the centre of Edinburgh or Glasgow and set against the picturesque backdrop of the Highlands. The location, right in the heart of Inverness, means it’s the perfect base to go and explore some of Scotland’s mystical landscapes.
Rooms are well equipped with comfortable beds and 42” screens on the wall, while downstairs the lounge bar is open ‘til late.
Price per night...From £49
(Golf Road, Dornoch IV25 3LW, 01862 810279)
With only eight rooms, Links House is by far the smallest hotel on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less luxurious than its competitors. Located adjacent to the first tee at Royal Dornoch Golf Club - ranked among the best links courses anywhere in the world - it is a golfers paradise.
In fact, there are eight of Scotland’s best courses in the surrounding area, meaning there are plenty of holes to play and plenty of 19th’s to sink a few at.
As for the hotel itself, each of the rooms comes with an en-suite marble bathroom with cavernous baths designed to help guests feel as relaxed as possible.
In the public areas, the wood-panelled library is fitted with deep sofas and a peat fire, giving a distinctly homely feel.
Price per night...From £215
INVER LODGE HOTEL
(Iolaire Road, Lochinver, Lairg IV27 4LU, 01571 844496)
With beautiful views over the scenic Loch Inver from many of the bedrooms, the Inver Lodge can certainly stake a claim to be one of the most picturesque hotels in the Highlands.
A favourite with hillwalkers, It’s perfectly situated in the Sutherland hills - where some of the Highlands most spectacular hikes can be found - while four-legged companions are not only welcome, but encouraged.
The restaurant is part of the Albert Roux portfolio and combines traditional Scottish fayre with the finest local produce - some of which has been fished out the Loch earlier in the day.
Top-of-the-range rooms come with free standing baths and seating areas in addition to comfortable king-sized beds, while the Iolaire Suite adds panoramic views of the nearby Loch and surrounding hills for a truly immersive stay.
Price per night...From £189
(Ackergill Tower, Ackergill, Wick KW1 4RG, 01955 603556)
Looming over the shimmering waters of Sinclair Bay, this castle has been in constant use since the late 15th century. Converted into a hotel in 2009, it now stands on a secluded 3000-acre estate in an area of unspoiled natural beauty. Even the drive to the front door takes in some pretty dramatic scenery.
Inside, guests are able to enjoy a variety of comfortable rooms to suit any budget. From the cosy, more budget friendly classic tower room, to the lavish, boutique setting of their executive suite.
However, if staying in the castle itself isn’t appealing enough, guests can also treat themselves to a few nights in Europe’s largest treehouse, complete with 180 degree views of the surrounding woodland.
Price per night...From £101