Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, will become even more accessible to central belters such as me when the ambitious A9 dualling project completes in 2025. On reaching the city itself there can surely be no finer serviced apartment in which to lay your hat than Highland Apartments by Mansley, situated in the very centre of Inverness, opposite the castle and on the banks of the River Ness.
Sadly, civic leaders have yet to rid the town centre of the hideous brutalist concrete block that houses the city’s museum and art gallery and stands between the apartments and the castle. But aside from that hulking great blot on the landscape, the flats could not be better located, with a wealth of shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes on your doorstep.
Budget or boutique?
The apartments are comfortable but with a functional feel. The solid oak flooring adds a touch of luxury to the furnishings, and there are some beautiful paintings on the walls. These are flats that somehow manage to feel like a home from home and yet at the same time give the impression of being a good hotel.
Our apartment had a balcony overlooking Bridge Street and the castle (and the museum and gallery, but let’s draw a veil over that, figuratively at least). The balcony was an ideal spot to observe some well-refreshed locals and tourists alike enjoying a lively Friday night out before it all became too much and we retreated to the sound-proofed, soft-lit haven of tranquillity inside.
Wining and dining
If you want to dine in, the kitchen is very well equipped and there is a supermarket close by to stock up on supplies. For those staying in the apartments, discounts are offered at Zizzi, which is on the ground floor of the same building. If Zizzi is not your thing however, there are various excellent alternatives available. I recommend the Mustard Seed, which also overlooks the River Ness, and, for excellent Italian food, Riva on the opposite river bank.
The unassuming Shapla boasts that it is the best Indian restaurant in Inverness and I certainly don’t know of any better. Perhaps the best thing about it is its location, on the corner of Bridge Street and Castle Road. This is the best view in Inverness. You will not see the 1960s act of vandalism for the very good reason that you are inside it. Afterwards head for Hootananny round the corner for a lively nightcap or two. The live traditional Scottish music never disappoints. As it says on the way in: “If it’s Highland culture you want, Hootananny is the place.”
Worth getting out of bed for
Despite its own charms, the best thing about Inverness is its location. This is a frontier town, the gateway to the Highlands. A great way to get to know Loch Ness is simply to drive around it. We started with the south shore, enjoying lunch at the Dores Inn, which sits at the northernmost tip of the loch and serves excellent pub fare. Further south, we walked off our lunch at the Falls of Foyers before returning to Inverness via Fort Augustus and Urquhart Castle.
If you are feeling energetic enough, the nearest Munro is Ben Wyvis and it is well worth a climb. Its name means “Awesome Mountain” and, particularly on a clear day, it is easy to understand why, with views across a vast swathe of northern Scotland, from Torridon in the west to the Black Isle in the east.
The flats have private secure underground parking and video phone entry. The apartment was also very baby friendly, with a cot for our year-old daughter, and even a few toys for her to play with. A breakfast of croissants and orange juice was provided.
Guest book comments
These are stylish and spacious apartments in the very centre of Inverness with parking and wifi, providing the perfect base from which to explore this part of the Highlands.
Highland Apartments by Mansley, Bridge House, Bridge Street, Inverness IV1 1HD (01463 237137, www.bymansley.com/location/highland-apartments)