Inverlochy touts itself (for example on its website) through a number of awards won as the best hotel in Europe, best hotel in the UK and best value hotel in the UK. This is so far off the mark as to be laughable.
To be best hotel in Europe (voted by travellers, but by putting this on their website, it is also a representation made by the hotel itself), they are up against the best that London, Paris, Monaco et al have to offer. There is no way Inverlochy is in the same league. I stayed for 2 nights in one of the large double bedrooms (£576 per night for bed, breakfast and dinner). These are some of my gripes:
1. Bathrooms were pretty bad. To many guests like me they are the true indicator of the hotel's quality and, incredible as it may seem, I have seen better at Holiday Inn hotels. The grouting was flakey and mouldy. Tiles were chipped. Some tiles had holes in them that had been sloppilly fixed with plaster that was not even sanded down. At least those tiles were the few lucky ones to be fixed at all. The fittings (taps etc) were poor quality, the type you install in a London flat you are trying to rent out to students. Armitage Shanks 1970s stuff. The net curtain in the bathroom (net curtain!) was a tad depressing and brown. The bottled water was complimentary (which does not happen in most hotels). There were no cotton earbuds or any of the various extras you find in semi-decent 5-star hotels (picky, perhaps, but this is supposed to be the best hotel in Europe).
2. The bedroom. The main room was OK. It was a good size, maybe about 35 square metres. The bed was a good canopy design. There was a flat screen TV, a bit small (about 30 inches?) especially since the bed was around 8 metres away and the lights glared onto the screen making it difficult to watch. A laptop was provided, which was a nice touch. The complimentary fruit was pretty tired. All of that I could forgive, but weird grey/black streaks on the (poor quality, low thread count) sheets I could not. No deep satisfaction from sinking into bliss here. No, more Holiday Inn utilitarianism, only with dirty streaks.
3. The communal areas of the hotel are great, just as pictured on the website, calming and impressive without being intimidating. Quadruple height, full of sofas, excellent pianist, good cornice work and general paintwork/wallpaper/carpets. Impressive Murano-style chandeliers. This is certainly where the hotel's work and money has gone.The gardens are perfectly manicured while not too dry and formal. There is a walled garden full of flowers and vegetables which is well worth a visit. And as I said, the views are excellent. There is also a small lake on which you can take a boat, which they provide (I did not do this, so can't provide details). Also part of the communal areas are your fellow guests. If you like hanging out with people around 50-70 years old, who speak quietly and dress well and add to the calm and dignified atmosphere, this is a good hotel for you.
4. Service. The staff are hit and miss. The senior staff (Graeme and Jane) did a great job, when they were available. I ambled past reception many times a day trying to find someone but it was permanently empty. The junior staff generally did a good job but there was some sloppiness, requests not met properly, food orders mixed up and from some employees an air of flippancy that was not appropriate to the dialogue I was having with them.
5. Value for money. The fact that Inverlochy is on a par with the most expensive hotels in Paris and London (look it up on Expedia - the Georges V, the Bristol, the Lanesborough etc) is not in itself a problem. True, Inverlochy is in the middle of nowhere ("Scotland"), in country one normally associates with bed and breakfasts. True it is multiples more expensive than anything else in the area. But I don't mind how expensive it is. What I do mind is what you get for that money. It's not like £500 a night hotels are rare these days. They are all over the place, and many offer great service, and (heresy) clean sheets. What I would love to know, objectively, is Inverlochy's profit and loss account. Assuming they are not creaming off huge profits, what exactly does £500 a night get spent on? Their best feature, the view, is free. The building is also fantastic but was built in Victorian times, and they certainly spend little maintaining most of it. This is most certainly the worst value for money hotel at which I have stayed.
If you are visiting the Highlands and want to stay in a luxury hotel, you don't have a lot of choice. Inverlochy is one of the few options, and perhaps the lack of competition has made it complacent. Is it better than a bed and breakfast? Yes certainly. Is it ten times better? I doubt it. Is it the Lanesborough transplanted to Scotland? Definitely not.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Inverlochy Castle Hotel and Restaurant, Fort William, Scotland.Inverlochy is Scotland's finest luxury hotel and restaurant uniquely located amongst the glens, lochs and mountains of the West Highlands of Scotland.At Inverlochy you will experience one of the most relaxing and exciting vacations of a lifetime, where every detail for your comfort and enjoyment has been carefully considered.Rooms & ReservationsEach of the 17 bedrooms, all with private bathroom, have their own individual design and character, along with splendid views of the grounds and surrounding mountains. Room facilities include 30 inch Phillips mirror televisions, personal laptop computer with internet access, personal safe, cd player, radio, iron/ironing board. DVD player and video player as well as Playstation II available upon request.Below are small images of our rooms at Inverlochy. By clicking on the images you will be taken to a page with a 360°, interactive image of the entire room. This allows you to capture the unique atmosphere of our very individual rooms and make the choice of which of our luxury rooms you would like to reserve.Dining at InverlochyDinner at Inverlochy is an experience to savour in any of our three dining rooms, each decorated with period and elaborate furniture presented as gifts to Inverlochy Castle from the King of Norway.Dining at InverlochyDinner at Inverlochy is an experience to savour in any of our three dining rooms, each decorated with period and elaborate furniture presented as gifts to Inverlochy Castle from the King of Norway. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Inverlochy Castle Hotel Fort William, Scotland