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“Could this be any more overhyped?”

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Inverlochy Castle Hotel
Ranked #3 of 21 Hotels in Fort William
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 27, 2006

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.

  • Stayed: August 2006, traveled as a couple
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25  Thank countofmontecristo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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543 - 549 of 626 reviews

Reviewed July 31, 2006

We were really pleased with the Factors Inn, at £85.00 per head for Dinner Bed and scrumptious breakfast in the Castle, we thought the package offered a bit of romance without too much pain to our credit card.

Didn't get off to a good start though, we arrived about 5.00ish, we couldn't find any staff.The place isn't staffed till 6.30pm, we were expected to check in at the castle, didn't say that on our confirmation letter though, after a frantic phone call this was explained and normal service was resumed.

Dinner at the Factors Inn well was well cooked so long as you enjoy steaks, lacked a bit of atmosphere, we put that down to a foul wet evening and a Monday.

We took coffee in the main hotel no problem, dodged the showers. We arrived and as expected we were treated professionally like any other guest ( £20 for the night- cap glass of Talisker was a bit rich though -ouch!) very friendly and efficient service.

We had originally booked room 5 , but quickly found out it was the noisy room, next to the generator so declined it and we were transfered to room 3 much larger and really comfortable, proper fluffy pillows and queen size bed to boot. Tea & coffee making facilites, but no tea pot . high quality modern bath fittings with plenty of hot water.

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank steeny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 25, 2006

We arrived at Inverlochy Castle on the very day Travel + Leisure trumpeted the estate as the Best Hotel in Europe. I regret to inform T+L that reviewers must have been sampling the nearby Ben Nevis distillery when making these observations. While Inverlochy is a very beautiful setting, with estate and in-room amenities properly described, as a hotel is is operated like a bed and breakfast with rigid management more concerned about keeping to the staff schedule than accommodating well-paying guests.

Just one example: Following dinner in Fort William our party passed on desert in hopes of enjoying sweets and beverages at the castle. Management at both restaurants actually said they didn't know if this could be accommodated as they had to take care of guests who were "dining." Can you imagine any five-star hotel in Europe responding similarly to such a request? There were other subtle and not so subtle gestures that cemented our observations.

Flat screen TV's and laptops in each room were a nice touch, but not enough to offset staff woes. Make sure to obtain prices and terms of on-site activities. Vendors are used but guests may get the impression they are operated by the hotel. This may be a place where "if you have to ask the price you can't afford it" but just a note--at the Castle "bar" a 50 ml glass of Ben Nevis scotch sells for 20 GBP. In town, an entire bottle goes for 54 GBP. The quick math places the gross profit at 2500 GBP per bottle. That's nearly $5,000 US.

Our European travels included hotel stays at London's Mandarin Oriental, St. Andrews Bay Resort and Dornoch's Glenmorangie. I can earnestly say (and without benefit of a Nevis 12-year old Scotch) that we enjoyed our visits at these locations far more than Inverlochy Castle.

For travelers accustomed to accommodations that truly accommodate, the Travel + Leisure designation will surely be misleading.

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled with friends
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16  Thank kwflash
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 7, 2006

Well this was an interesting experience.

Without doubt the Inverlochy Castle is one of Scotlands finest hotels.

But that does not mean it is everyones first choice and it certainly would not be ours again.

The hotel itself is superb... a lovely building in a lovely setting...quite delightful in fact.

We stayed in the Queens suite... a lovely view from the cracked and badly damaged
windows... watched cranes fishing on the small loch in front of the mountains.

We arrived about 6 o'clock and ordered tea in our room as there are no facilities to make
tea or coffee in the room.
Ok maybe folk that are paying nearly £600 per night for bed & breakfast do not want to make tea in the room themselves but it would be nice to have the option.
Or maybe I am just an old cynic but it is because they want to charge you £6:50 for a cup of weak tea and a small biscuit!

We then thought that we would skip dinner as it had been a busy day traveling and we had stopped for a full lunch earlier. Also we did not fancy changing for dinner. So we ordered sandwiches in the room. Now this is a 5 star hotel with a michelin starred chef.
What we got was a chicken sandwich complete with bits of bone and fatty bits in very ordinary granary bread. Talk about disapointed! You would think that some effort would be put into this.... or perhaps you wouldn't. But it was only £12:50 a round.

This continued the next day with breakfast in the room very ordinary indeed.
Never mind at £1,200 for two nights Bed & Breakfast we had a lovely view.

Without doubt the Inverlochy Castle is one of Scotlands finest hotels.
But that does not mean it is everyones first choice and it certainly would not be ours again.

If you do decide to stay here I stongly suggest that you do not use room service!

Stephen - Southampton

  • Stayed: June 2006
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17  Thank Vintagemalt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2006

...well it seems this doesn't go with the trend..... we weren't up for a £430 B&B rate in the main hotel but were offered up a room in the factors inn (an adjoining building that they own) at a rate of £120 per person dinner, bed and breakfast (this gets you really nice places else where

we were so disappointed with the room we refused to take it.... it was small, badly decorated, and noisy from the road and a fan from the kitchen.

So it maybe ok in the main castle, but frankly don't bother with their other offers - they damage their brand by offering this.

We drove on to the Glengarry Castle hotel which is in a much nicer location (although the food was a bit average)

Stayed: April 2006
19  Thank rpembr69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 21, 2006

We spent a night here last year and it is, without doubt, the best hotel we have stayed in. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left the service was second to none, the food was to die for (no wonder the people who own The Three Chimneys visit Inverlochy when they have a night off!) and the room was like something from a film! (we were given a free upgrade to the King's Suite). I can't recommend this hotel highly enough and we will definitely return again and again.

  • Stayed: February 2005
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5  Thank Ian W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 16, 2006

My husband and I stayed here for a weekend in January. I loved the discretion and under-statement of the hotel from the moment of check through to departure. The serice was friendly and relaxed but at all times professional. We had the Queen's Suite which was beautifully appointed in the traditional style but still with mod cons such as plasma TV and Internet access - but did you really need them? People who moan about 'old furnishings' such as mirrors and curtains are obviously not used to the style of other world class hotels such as The Splendido, Pellicano and The Cipriani.

  • Stayed: January 2006
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5  Thank hf128219
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Address: Torlundy, Fort William PH33 6SN, Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > Scottish Highlands > Lochaber > Fort William
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 21 Hotels in Fort William
Price Range: $429 - $862 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Inverlochy Castle Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 17
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

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