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‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – Mingary Castle in Lochaber, Scotland

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Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Scotland.

Due to a continued strong response from readers, we are running another batch of ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews over the next few weeks. This time we wanted to hear about your ‘unique’ experiences and we received some great suggestions. Hopefully you will enjoy reading these reviews. As always you can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews by clicking here

Today’s hotel is Mingary Castle – a 13th century castle which has undergone three years of meticulously orchestrated restoration work which can now accommodate guests in one of just four suites.  Here is reader Julie’s review:

Review, Mingary Castle, Lochaber, Scotland

For the ultimate castle-lover’s staycation, how could you resist a fortress overlooking the sea where your once-hidden bathroom has arrow-slits for windows?  Come with me then to a place known in Gaelic as the Headland of the Great Seas: the remote and peaceful Ardnamurchan Peninsula of Scotland. 

We’ll follow a single-track road, so empty that the sheep are convinced it’s all theirs. Shortly before reaching the westernmost point of mainland Great Britain we’ll turn off to discover a stunning fortification that until recently was slowly falling into the Sound of Mull. 

This is Mingary Castle, a hotel with just four rooms on offer to those who have made the long journey, so you can roam the battlements feeling like a medieval queen. 

Some of its story of attacks and sieges is lost in the mists of time, but visiting history buffs are welcome to read the 19th century memoir of Margaret McDougall. She remembered great fields of wool drying in the sun and seeing the weavers spread damask to bleach on the beach, but the busy kitchen was off-limits to her because it would mean exposure to the servants’ Gaelic.

When the last residents left in 1838, Mingary was abandoned and slowly started to crumble.  Recently the local laird took the decision to restore it, and a meticulous multi-year restoration project got underway: today’s guests discover a luxurious Georgian-style house inside the formidable walls. 

Review, Mingary Castle, Lochaber, Scotland

As I entered my room, MacDougall, my eye was immediately drawn to the fine craftsmanship of the centrepiece, an inviting four-poster bed with crewel work in the bedspread, curtains, and cushions.  More crewel work appeared in the wonderfully textured fabric panels on the walls, patiently created by hand in Bangladesh. 

My bathroom was built into the thick walls and as well as a rolltop bath and those wonderful arrow-slit windows, it offered a modern shower: the best of both worlds.  Intriguingly, it was once part of a secret passage that was sealed hundreds of years ago to strengthen Mingary’s defences.

Review, Mingary Castle, Lochaber, Scotland

If thoughts of archery, sieges, and secrets give you an appetite, you’ll be pleased to know that the castle’s food has drastically improved since the last garrison was hosted here.  The artistic breakfast was certainly fit for a queen: four tiny courses served simultaneously, with a personal explanation from the chef, as well as home-made sourdough and even home-made butter.  My favourite course was “the last of the smoked Mingary wild salmon with almost-burnt cream”. 

I thought the meal was a truly exquisite spread, but it clearly didn’t suit everyone: one morning my neighbouring diner whispered to her companion, “When I get home tomorrow I’m going to have a Full Scottish!”

For castle-lovers, the roaming of the battlements is an essential component of any fortress visit.  Following in the footsteps of the one-time Earl of Argyll, I too looked out from here, but instead of fretting about an attacking clan I admired the irregular crenellations, indulged in a little ferry-spotting, and was awe-struck by a perfect sunset over the sea. 

Review, Mingary Castle, Lochaber, Scotland

The restorers have thoughtfully built in a wooden seat where I happily put my feet up, enjoying the view and listening to the waves breaking on the rocks below.  It was the only throne I needed, and it even had wifi access.

But if the Earl of Argyll could manage without wifi, then so could I, and the promise of a sunny day tempted me to explore just a little further.  At my request, my hosts provided a packed lunch, and thanks to their constant (much-appreciated) attention to detail it came complete with backpack and picnic blanket.  I let myself through a gate or two, and wandered off to see where the path would take me.  It led to a lovely photo op, with Mingary framed by a spreading tree. 

I spread my blanket nearby and enjoyed a castle-view lunch, rejoicing in the tranquil seascape and the solitude.  Al fresco October dining in Scotland (admittedly of the hiking-jacket-and-scarf variety) was an unlooked-for treat.

Review, Mingary Castle, Lochaber, Scotland

Later, riding the ferry over to Mull, I looked back at Mingary, feeling grateful to those dedicated workers who stitched, sanded, and lugged stones to bring this remarkable stronghold on the edge of Scotland back to life. I also pondered its multi-faceted appeal: history aficionado, food-loving shutterbug, searcher for quietude, or thalassophile?  Mingary is the place for you. 

Mingary Castle’s website is here.


Hotel offers update – October 2021:

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Comments (26)

  • ChrisD says:

    Wow, what a journey! Thank you Julie!

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    I don’t think this review should have been published as it insensitively harks back to a bygone feudal era of peasant exploitation by the ruling nobility.

    Only joking … great stuff, although I’m with the other diner – breakfast is not the time for artistic gastronomy.

    • Spursdebs says:

      I’m sure the woke folk will be along soon.It’s how I know it’s the weekend HFP turns into the Guardian. As normal they really don’t represent the views of the majority, but good for a laugh or a wind up.

      • BS says:

        The Observer on Sunday…!

      • ChrisBCN says:

        What’s with all the ‘them vs us’ schoolyard mentality? It used to be acceptable to hold a different view to the next person, now it’s all about grouping all of the ‘opposition’ into a current bucket and throwing out those bucket names as insults.

        • zgt says:

          Hear, hear..

        • Novice says:

          Agree… And I also don’t like this whole belief that only young people are ‘woke’… XR are mostly old hippies organising stuff…

          Having said that, a person can be ‘woke’ without having an issue with different viewpoints. I don’t really care if nobody agrees with me and I’m pretty ‘woke’. Most of the time my family and friends don’t agree with me but it doesn’t bother this ‘woke’ person.

      • Lady London says:

        They have done a lot of damage on weekends in the past, though. Luckily most of the really unreasonable disrespectful ones seem to have moved on though.

        I’m a fan of The Guardian I think it’s a very important balancer in the British journalistic scene.

      • James says:

        How pathetic some of you are. Its a hotel review, and you’re that thin-skinned and triggered that something as innocuous as this sets you off railing against the (not even commenting) “liberal elite”. You also no doubt fail to see that you’re the other side of the same coin you profess to hate: you’re just the right-wing version of ‘woke’.

    • BS says:

      Haha! I was thinking of posting similar, but you beat me to it!
      Great review. It is really leaving me pining for the availability of easy travel. And also makes me realise despite all the worldwide travel options, some of the beautiful options are right here in the UK.

    • Sapiens says:

      Lol

  • Pid says:

    Looks a great break so thought I would check out availability – currently none showing 🙁

  • Etk says:

    Sounds great, but it looks like it closed to guests in January :/

  • Grant says:

    Nicely written

  • alex says:

    Very interesting and informative, I wasn’t aware this existed so thank you and here’s to travel restarting soon.

  • Novice says:

    Awesome review… well-written too…

    Place looks great..

  • Nick says:

    Sounds fantastic… BUT no mention of the cost! Are we talking ‘reasonable’, ‘expensive but not excessively’ or ‘rich twats only’? Surely an integral part of the review?!

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Depends. At what level of wealth do you become a twat….?

    • Lady London says:

      This has been asked before i this hotel series. It hasn’t happened so I an speculating if HfP has made a deliberate policy decision of never differentiating ‘rich twat’ price levels as such to avoid upsetting so many of the loyal HfP readers.

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