Kinloch Lodge is a very, very special place. It is somewhere to escape the noise and speed of modern life. Somewhere to relax and recharge, where you can take things at your own pace.
The Isle of Skye is frequently and justly described as one of the most spectacular places on earth and Kinloch is in a particularly beautiful part of the island: down a long drive, at the foot of a mountain and at the head of Loch na Dal. Kinloch offers some of Scotland’s best food, roaring fires, whisky on tap and giant cloud like beds.
Isabella Macdonald now runs the Lodge, having grown up in the hotel and she took over from her parents Claire and Godfrey Macdonald some years ago. Her approach is to nurture the ‘Kinloch Family Team’ and this is apparent as soon as you arrive; you are made to feel ‘t home immediately, as if staying with old family friends.
Having recently rescued a puppy we opted for a staycation this year so set about finding a dog friendly hotel. Frankly, I wasn’t convinced, surely any hotel being dog friendly would be, well, weird? Not so! Kinloch Lodge is not only dog friendly but has extensive grounds, a private beach and fabulous forest walks, a dog heaven in fact.
I won’t be going into detail about the fabulously sumptuous bedrooms, the roll top vintage baths that are raised just enough so you can sit in bubble heaven and gaze over the mesmerising Loch with a glass of champagne each night, or the beautifully decorated, relaxing and altogether splendid communal living rooms with the prerequisite open fires and staggering amount of bottles of whisky to help yourself to whilst surrounded by Macdonald family portraits, photographs and memorabilia going back literally centuries. You feel at home. It’s a great thing if a hotel can achieve this, especially, a dog friendly one.
However, I am going to wax lyrically about the food. The food is the crowning part of the Kinloch experience. Feeding you well at every opportunity is something they take extremely seriously.
Marcello Tulley, Brazilian-Scottish Chef and his Michelin-starred dining room (for 7 consecutive years) are a force to be reckoned with. Each day your menu is different. I’ve never been to a restaurant and taken the menu away to keep, I did this time. For example: roasted young grouse and passionfruit sauce, slow-roast Moray pork, Portree Bay monkfish and madeira sauce (HEAVEN), Scrabster cod, caper and pistachio pesto, cucumber and shallot dressing and caramelised orange crème, dark chocolate, orange and mint sorbet. Unbelievable.
However, the dish I literally can now not live without is his Pinhead Oat porridge! Every morning you start the day with the perfect size bowl of rich nutmeg and cinnamon creamy delight! I bought the book**, I bought the pinhead oats and followed the recipe to the letter but sadly, so not the same, whatever the man is doing with his pinhead oats is pure magic! You can recreate this recipe yourself – it’s in the Larder section of Magpie Anthology.
Whilst in the dining room, or any room in fact, you are drawn to the numerous gold leaf or gilt framed family portraits of the most beautiful women if fine, fine dresses or sterling, good looking men, all part of the Macdonald clan throughout the generations. You couldn’t help but wonder what the stories were behind these arresting faces and then I read a post that Isabelle had just posted on Instagram about the portrait I was actually looking at: “Lady Maria Macdonald was married to the 4th Lord Macdonald and was Lady-In-Waiting to Queen Victoria. As well as her companion at court, they were great friends; Queen Victoria was also godmother to her twins – Alexandria Victoria and Victoria Alexandria. Tragically both babies died young and the letters of condolence from Queen Victoria to Maria are in a glass cabinet in the drawing room.
Coincidently, our Magpie Anthology office is in a wonderful stately home called Northwood House, in Cowes, Isle Of Wight and was once owned by the Ward family who were great friends with Queen Victoria and Albert and it has been said, that our actual office was Queen Victoria’s bedroom when the couple sailed around from Osbourne House to visit! I was greatly moved by the painting, not least because of her sad loss but also because it’s not inconceivable that this beautiful lady had once actually been into my now office.
Another stunning portrait that hangs in the dining room is of THE Flora Macdonald. “Flora helped Bonny Prince Charlie escape government troops following the Battle of Culloden in 1746. She was a remarkable woman, even more remarkable due to the era she lived in. She was arrested and taken to London for the part she played in helping Charles Stuart. Although being captured, she was much admired by all and had a visit from the prince of Wales whilst in prison. She was released in 1747 and emigrated to North Carolina, where she continued to fight for what she thought was right in the American War of Independence. She returned to Scotland in 1779 and died in 1790 and buried with her grave looking out to the Outer Hebrides”.
The ancestral portraits of Kinloch Lodge and hugely impressive and each has a fascinating story to tell and honestly, I would like to know and write about each and every one of them.
Our 5 day staycation at the former hunting lodge ended all too soon but I did pick up a leaflet about their Fishing, Foraging and Stalking Wilderness Experiential Weekends. Ah, now that would make a great Christmas present !!!
For information about Kinloch Lodge Hotel & Restaurant go to www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk or call 01471 833333 or email email@example.com
**’Marcello Tulley – The Key Ingredient’ signed cook book is now on The Magpie Anthology’s Instagram account as a competition give away @the_magpie_anthology or can be bought from the Kinloch Lodge website directly www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk Definitely worth looking at.
Words: Christine Taylor
Pictures: Kinloch Lodge & Christinetaylor.photos