Where to Stay in the Highlands | The Whispering Pine Lodge & Black Sheep Hotels Cabins
[Disclosure: we visisted Whispering Pine Lodge courtesy of the hotel. All opinions are my own.]
When Terry told me we were going to be spending the last few days of our Highland vacation at a place called The Whispering Pine Lodge, I was almost beside myself with excitement: not just because it looked amazing, but also because the name strongly suggested we were about to step right into a mystery novel, and, Lord knows, I am ALL ABOUT that.
Well, spoiler alert: there were no mysteries or spooky goings-on at The Whispering Pine Lodge. There was, however, some of the best hospitality and most beautiful views we’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing, so I’m just going to give you fair warning – this post is going to be long, and you’re going to see a LOT of photos of lochs. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
First up, the Lodge itself:
The Whispering Pine lodge is located just a short drive from Fort William, in the Highlands, and is set amongst some appropriately whispering pines on the banks of the really quite excellently-named Loch Lochy.
OK, I’m joking: Loch Lochy is a terrible name for a loch, isn’t it? It’s like calling a beach Beach Beachy, or a moutain Mountain McMountainface. You’re going to want to forgive it for that, though, because while Loch Lochy might not have the most exciting name in the world, it makes up for it by being absolutely beautiful. Look at how beautiful it is:
This is the view from the hotel’s Lochview Bar and Grill – an outdoor patio area which serves wood-fired pizzas and the most delicious cocktails, with heat lamps and a fire pit to keep you warm. But more on that later. For now, back to the Lodge, which was built in the 1800s as a hunting lodge, but which has been in use as a hotel for over a century.
Its present incarnation, however, started in 2018 when owner Sanjay Narang fell in love with Highlands during a visit from his native India, and saw an opportunity to expand his existing Mumbai-based hotel group. Black Sheep Hotels now owns four properties in the Highlands, and Whispering Pine has undergone extensive renovations. Although we weren’t staying in the Lodge itself, we were fortunate to be given a guided tour of the building before the other guests checked in, so here’s just a few of the amazing interiors:
The interior of the hotel is everything you’d expect from a Highland lodge, all roaring fires and traditional Scottish design, but with all the modern conveniences you’d expect, like waterfall showers, flat-screen TVs, and glass-fronted balconies on the rooms facing the loch:
There’s also a spa on site, which we didn’t have time to try, but which would be the perfect place to relax after a day in the hills.
I particularly liked all of the quotes that are sprinkled around the place, both in the hotel itself, and in the cabins next to it:
“With great power comes great electricity bill” hits particularly hard right now, doesn’t it?
But I mentioned the lodges that are part of the Whispering Pine complex, and that’s where we were off to next, as Terry, Max and I had been booked into one of the Black Sheep Hotels Cabins, which are on the same site:
Our cabin was called Pebble Shore, and the word “cabin” doesn’t really seem adequate for it, because it’s a two-storey house with two bedrooms (both of which are en-suite), a downstairs washroom, plus full-sized open-plan kitchen, living room and even a little laundry room/cupboard. Here’s a look inside:
Honestly, it was much nicer than our house, which is why, as soon as we walked in, I had to restrain the impulse to just throw myself on the floor and refuse to ever leave. And I’d have been quite comfortable there too, as it happens, because under-floor heating, people. Yes.
Not only did the cabin look comfortable, though, it also contained everything we could possibly need for our stay. I’m talking here about things like:
* full-sized toiletries in all of the bathrooms
* slippers and robes for each guest
* iron, ironing board and – best of all – a washing machine, so you don’t have to go home with piles of dirty laundry.
* fluffy blankets
* selection of books and magazines
* board games
* tea and coffee
There was even a little child-sized chair for Max, which he immediately turned into a fort using the aforementioned fluffy blankets (I’ve never known anyone who loves a good blanket as much as Max does), so that was him instantly at home.
I’ve saved the best bit for last, though, because would you just take a look at this view from our window and balcony:
I mean, SERIOUSLY, guys. If you’re wondering how many photos one woman can take of the view from a window, then A LOT is the answer. Because this window – and the balcony on the floor above – is basically my life’s dream. I’ve always, always wanted a window seat with an amazing view, and I could have quite happily have sat there all day, with my coffee (ahem, WINE) and my laptop (ahem, BOOK), watching the colours change by the minute, which is the way of things in the Highlands. It was just spectacular, and if I sound like I’m gushing here, it’s just because it was worth gushing over. LOOK:
(Oh, it’s also worth noting here that there are different sizes of cabin available here, and they’re all individually decorated, so no two are the same. I think I might make it my life’s goal to visit them all…)
Although the cabins are self-catering, we were keen to check out the restaurant at The Whispering Pine Lodge, so once we’d unpacked, we headed back up the hill to The Lochside Brasserie:
As I mentioned, Black Sheep Hotels is an Indian-owned group, and the dinner menu is a fun mix of Scottish and Indian cuisine, as evidenced by the fact that I had haggis, and Terry had the Malabar fish curry, both of which were absolutely delicious – as was Max’s artisan cheeseburger. (Take a look at the full menu here.) We also had breakfast at the hotel on each morning of our stay: breakfast is served buffet-style in the same restaurant, and I was apparently too busy eating it to take any photos, but imagine me making a chef’s kiss gesture, and you’ll get the picture, I’m sure.
As for the Lochview Bar and Grill, meanwhile, because the seating here is all outdoors, I initially assumed we wouldn’t get much of an opportunity to use it, the Highlands not being exactly known for their balmy temperatures (and me not being known for my ability to tolerate the cold). When we got back from exploring the area on our last day, however, the sky had cleared, and as we were well wrapped up in our coats, we decided to have some drinks and snacks, and watch the sun go down.
This actually ended up being one of my favourite memories from our trip. There’s just something magical about watching the sun set over the water. While it was still light out, we took our drinks and wandered down to the hotel’s little private beach, which was right in front of our cabin:
This, of course, is the ‘pebble shore’ our cabin is named after. Max had a lot of fun throwing stones into the water, and it was just a lovely way to end our stay in the Highlands.
If you’d like to book your own stay, meanwhile, you’ll find the Black Sheep Hotels website here, which has details of all of their properties. Your challenge now is to see if you can take nearly as many photos as I did…