What does your dream Highlands escape look like? Days spent adventuring in Scotland’s epic outdoors, and nights spent enjoying amazing food – and perhaps a wee dram – in the cosy surrounds of a characterful hotel. If that sounds like your perfect trip, I’ve found it for you at Black Sheep Hotels!
Relatively new additions to the Highlands, these hotels all offer warm Scottish character, rich history, and just the right touch of luxury. And they’re all housed in period properties amidst stunning landscapes. So each one has its own unique character and history.
Whispering Pine Lodge, Cluanie Inn, and Rokeby Manor bring some of the world-famous Indian hospitality to the Highlands. Expect incredible service, a warm welcome, and amazing food!
My stay and meals at the Black Sheep Hotels properties, and my fuel costs, were covered by the company in exchange for this review. As always all words and opinions are my own and unbiased.
Meet the Black Sheep Hotels
After two days of driving through England and into the Scottish Highlands, I peeled away from the traffic around Fort William and found myself on the road to Skye. The route meandered past steely lochs, sweeping moorland, and dense pine forests, all tucked beneath towering snow-capped mountains.
Beyond the village of Invergarry, I passed few other signs of human life. The winding mountain road felt like it was leading me into the middle of nowhere. And finally, tucked into that Tolkien-esque landscape, I found the cosy warmth of Cluanie Inn.
Painted brilliant white, with a grey slate roof, the 200-year-old roadside inn is the most welcoming sight for a weary road tripper.
The location makes it a popular stopping off point en route to Skye, but it’s also ideal for anyone looking for a true escape. There’s not another house or village for miles!
Wild deer graze right outside the Inn, and besides the occasional car passing, the only sounds are the wind, the birds, and the silence of the looming mountains.
Respite from the Road
Inside, the property felt rustic and cosy – a brilliant blend of understated and luxurious. Flagstone floors, antique furnishings, and a true reflection of the property’s history and location.
Room 4 had one of the best views in the house, its window facing the dramatic snowcapped mountains right behind the Inn. There was also a huge four-poster bed, gorgeous local-themed decor, and a luxurious bathroom – complete with a jacuzzi bath.
From dinner in the cosy restaurant – incredible local cuisine with mountain views – to a restful night enjoying the silence of the remote landscape, there was nothing I didn’t enjoy about my stay at Cluanie Inn. A true respite for the weary traveller.
Just 30 minutes down the road from Cluanie Inn, Rokeby Manor felt like another world. It’s closer to civilisation, for one thing, tucked on the outskirts of Invergarry halfway between Fort Augustus and Fort William.
But the property itself also felt a bit more contemporary – despite the fact that this Victorian manor house dates back to 1840!
Original stone fireplaces and wooden floorboards add to the period charm. The rooms are decorated in a Victorian style, with bright floral wallpaper to offset the heavy antique furniture.
I stopped by for lunch on my way back towards Fort William. Emily’s Byre, housed inside an old cowshed with exposed wood walls, had a cosy and casual feel – and the same exceptional service you can expect from all the Black Sheep Hotels.
Given the setting, I was somewhat surprised by the menu. Emily’s Byre specialises in Indian cuisine, particularly food from the Northern Frontier.
This is where you can really tell that an Indian company is behind the hotel chain! The food was spectacular, and also super authentic – taking me right back to one of my favourite countries in the world!
Whispering Pine Lodge, the Black Sheep Flagship Hotel
Finally, I spent two nights at the brand’s flagship hotel. Whispering Pine Lodge sits on the banks of Loch Lochy, just 20 minutes or so from the tourist hub of Fort William. So you have the best of both worlds here. A serene and peaceful location with loch and mountain views, but the town still within easy reach.
There’s a great story behind the Whispering Pine Lodge. Formerly the Letterfinlay Lodge, it started life as a hunting lodge built in the 1800s and become a hotel in the mid-1900s. When founder Mr Narang stayed there, the property wasn’t for sale – but he made an offer anyway!
He’d seen the potential in the beautiful lodge’s loch-side location, and his subsequent refurbishment truly brought that potential to life.
Home from Home
Stunning rooms with unique antique furnishings and touches of tartan make you feel like you’re staying in someone’s cosy, historic home. Mine, a Luxury Loch View Room, had a balcony with stunning views across the loch to forest-covered mountains.
The rest of the property is beautifully and eclectically decorated. Portraits of famous Scots adorn the walls, and there was so much cosy furniture in the welcoming lobby area that it felt more like popping into a friend’s living room for a chat than checking into a hotel!
I particularly loved the intimate feel of the Burns Bar; a warm, cosy space with wood-panelled walls, lots of tartan, and an old gas fireplace which looks perfect for winter!
But the beautiful Lochside Brasserie stole the show. The exterior wall is entirely floor-to-ceiling windows, so you have a view of the loch wherever you’re sat.
This also fills the room with light, creating a lovely atmosphere on spring and summer evenings. There’s a big loch-side terrace for warmer weather, too.
Every meal I had here was incredible, especially the salmon. Although the overall focus is on seafood, the menu is fantastically varied, so there’s definitely something to suit all tastes.
The Little Salon and Spa
One of my highlights at Whispering Pine Lodge was a visit to the Little Salon and Spa. Little is the right word! It’s a small but wonderfully decorated space; tranquil and bright and perfect for an hour or two of “me time”.
I had a full-body deep tissue massage to work out the kinks from a few long days of driving. The masseuse was excellent, and I left feeling happy and rejuvenated. Definitely worth the treat – especially if you’ve been hiking in the mountains all day!
Indian Hospitality in the Highlands
As mentioned, the Black Sheep Hotels chain was founded by an Indian company. I’ve never experienced hospitality like that I’ve received in India. And the three hotels bring a little slice of that into the Scottish Highlands.
It’s the kind of service where staff remember you – and your favourite drinks order! Formal enough for the luxurious setting of the hotels, but still friendly and warm. And perhaps it was the post-covid excitement of finally being allowed guests again, but everyone seemed genuinely welcoming.
Cuisine at Black Sheep Hotels
Probably my favourite thing about all the Black Sheep Hotels properties was the cuisine! Food is always such a big part of travel, so it’s nice to see a hotel chain put so much import on their dining experiences.
The best part is that every single restaurant has a different menu. Some dishes overlap, but each property has a unique menu that’s suited to its style and setting.
So you can find more seafood at the loch-side Whispering Pine Lodge, while Rokeby focuses on authentic Indian food. Cluanie Inn caters for hikers with hearty local fare and mountain-inspired cuisine, as well as grill dishes like burgers and steaks.
Then there’s Tiger on the Wall, a pop-up Indian restaurant in Fort William. Here they’re especially passionate about showcasing “real” Indian food. Look out for their elevated takes on traditional street food dishes, like Dahi Chat and Gulab Jamun.
Tiger on the Wall is housed in what used to be an Italian restaurant, so they’ve also added a few pizzas to the menu. Including a unique fusion concept: the tikka masala pizza. I wasn’t sure it would work, but it really does – a must-try if you visit!
If you’re staying in one of the hotels, I recommend visiting the restaurants at all of them. Try something new every day, and experience different settings for each meal.
Everything was beautifully presented and wonderfully flavoured. I loved discovering local dishes – like pan-seared Scottish salmon or the decadent bread pudding with whisky sauce. But I also loved the Indian dishes.
It’s this unique blend of Scottish and Indian that really makes the Black Sheep Hotels brand stand out. Dreamy hotels in magical settings – the ultimate Scottish Highlands escape!