Where to stay on your North Coast 500 road trip

Jenna Maxwell


With stunning white beaches to rival those found in the Caribbean, world-famous chefs serving up the best local produce on every shore, and with crags, castles, and caves to suit both adventurers and history buffs, it’s easy to see why more and more travellers are realising just how awesome Scotland is. If you’re a newbie to this fair land, a great place to start is to travel the North Coast 500. Known as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66, the 500-mile journey around the Scottish Highlands gives the discerning traveller a fabulous introduction to the country. With five-star estates and hotels, quirky cottages and even bonafide castles offering accommodation, here are the top five places to stay along the way.

St Andrew’s Chapel – for history lovers

What could be cooler than sleeping in a piece of history? For those who really like to discover the past and appreciate gothic grandeur, St Andrew’s Chapel is for you. The two-bedroom apartment was formally used as a chapel. Designed by Augustus Pugin, it has elaborate gothic features which differ from the main Abbey Church which was designed in Norman style. Guests can marvel at the beautiful stained-glass windows in the main living area, illustrating the Scottish Saints – forget Instagram walls, this place has Instagram windows. 

The apartment is set in 20 acres of private gardens on the shores of Loch Ness. So, after a day of exploring the Highlands and hunting for Nessie, you can curl up in front of the stunning windows with a hot toddy. The Highlands offer countless things to do, from white-water rafting to whisky trails. The Chapel is one of the premium properties at The Highland Club and is located near the spa and pool. The private grounds have picnic tables with barbecues provided, tennis courts, outdoor table tennis, croquet, a children’s adventure play area and even giant chess.

St Andrews Chapel, Scotland

Photographer: Lori Ellis

The Golf View Hotel and Spa – for golfers and spa seekers

Along with Nessie and haggis, Scotland is also famous around the world as the home of golf. The Golf Hotel and Spa is the perfect place to get pampered after a hard day on the fairways. With the famous Nairn golf courses on its doorstep, the hotel is a great place to work on your handicap but it offers so much more. Boasting stunning views over the Moray Firth to the Black Isle, the hotel also has gardens leading down to the seashore, which is just, steps away. It’s perfectly suited for exploring the historic city of Inverness – the capital of the Highlands. 

Several bedrooms are sea-facing with traditional features, which offer guests a luxurious and relaxing place to stay. The spa is what sets it apart though, with a heated indoor pool and jacuzzi. Spa treatments include ishga, organic skincare from the Hebrides. Derived from the Gaelic word for water, Ishga is created from Hebridean seaweed to rejuvenate the skin. It is used for massage and facial treatments and is proven to naturally detoxify, nourish, firm and hydrate skin and help preserve collagen-creating anti-ageing properties.

Nairn, Scotland

Photographer: Bildagentur Zoonar

The Dornoch Castle Hotel – for foodies

Like something straight out of a fairy tale, the 15th-century Dornoch Castle Hotel is set in private manicured gardens. The castle is steeped in history – not to mention supposed hauntings – and is home to an AA Rosette restaurant as well as an award-winning whisky bar. This is the perfect place to indulge. Chefs at the Dornoch Castle Hotel have worked hard to maintain the AA Rosette Status for six years and use locally sourced produce to highlight the very best of Scottish cuisine. 

The whisky bar has won several awards and hosts a vast selection of rare drams. The owners have also created their own distillery in the grounds of the hotel where they make their own whisky and gin for guests to sample. With all that amazing food and drink, you’ll have to stagger up to your deluxe four-poster bed.

Donorch Castle in Scotland

Photographer: WanderingFunk009

The Torridon Hotel – for total seclusion

For some, a holiday isn’t a holiday unless you can get away from it all. The Torridon Hotel offers a reviving outdoor escape or relaxing break away. Set in 58 acres of parkland at the end of a stunning sea loch, the hotel was originally built as a shooting lodge in 1887. It has since been lovingly restored to its Victorian splendour and features 18 individually-designed bedrooms. The hotel prides itself on offering an exclusive luxury experience with a personal touch, with staff doing all they can to make sure each guest’s stay is one to remember. 

The onsite restaurant – 1887 – means you’ll never have to leave the grounds. The restaurant is headed up by Head Chef Ross Stovold who champions local suppliers and maintains its three AA Rosettes. Guests also visit the two-acre kitchen garden before they eat. Food doesn’t get much more local than that.

Torridon, Scotland

Photographer: Grafxart

The Stonehouses - For something a bit different

For a truly unique but also luxurious stay on the North Coast 500, then look no further than the Stonehouses in Ullapool. Two luxurious equipped retreats with panoramic views across Loch Broom and out to the majestic Summer Isles, the houses each include saunas and freestanding baths. Designed by a local Hebridean architect and built by the owners along with local craftspeople and artisans, the properties are sculpted from stone, turf and glass and are a sight to behold. 

By staying in one of these stunning cottages, you’ll be helping the environment too. They are cocooned with recycled insulation. Underfloor heating is by air-source heat pumps with solar water heating, while a wood-burning stove provides a warming focal point. If Bilbo Baggins did luxury, this would be it!

Ullapool, Scotland

Photographer: Bildagentur Zoonar

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