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Skye’s Not The Limit

07.04.22

Abode2 takes a visit to Kinloch Lodge, Skye’s finest hotel, as it looks towards its 50th anniversary with a fresh direction

Skye’s historic Kinloch Lodge, on the shores of Loch Na Dal and with the Cuillins in the distance, has become renowned across the UK and the world for offering a taste of classic Scottish hospitality. Think roaring fires, luxurious rooms and suites, and an exhaustive whisky menu. Built as a farmhouse, it was converted into a shooting lodge for the Macdonalds of Skye in the 18th century. Today Isabella Macdonald is at the helm, welcoming guests into not just a hotel, but her ancestral, family home. It was opened as a hotel by Isabella’s father Godfrey, Lord Macdonald and High Chief of Clan Donald, and his wife, world-renowned cook Claire, in 1972. Now, as the hotel looks towards its 50th anniversary in 2022, there is a new fresher and more modern course being charted. The hotel’s menus are being refined, with a new head chef and renewed focus on seasonality and ingredients grown in the hotel’s new poly-tunnels, the wine list is highlighting biodynamic and organic vintages, and rooms are being redesigned using textiles from local weavers.

Commenting, Isabella Macdonald said: “When my parents first opened up our family home into a hotel half a century ago, the aim was to showcase and celebrate our beautiful corner of Skye, working with the seasons and the local community - offering a real sense of place. As we look towards our landmark anniversary, we want to reaffirm that spirit and to offer guests a feeling of home-from-home in the Highlands.”

Kinloch’s food offering has long been a crowning part of the hotel experience. In July 2020, Kinloch appointed a brilliant and inventive new head chef, Jordan Webb, who is taking a fresh approach to the hotel’s dining. Eschewing the previous lengthy tasting menus, Webb is refocusing Kinloch’s food on being ingredient-led, seasonal and local with a fresher daily-changing dinner menu. He has planted his own herb, vegetable and fruit gardens in the hotel’s grounds, and forages for ingredients each and every day on both the shoreline and on the hill behind Kinloch. His haul varies on the season but wild treats such as chanterelles, bilberries and meadowsweet from the estate, and seaweeds, sea herbs and sea vegetables from beside the waters of Loch Na Dal make their way onto the menus. The result is a refined and yet approachable dining experience that offers a distilled essence of Skye’s landscapes and community. Drinks are from the crafted wine list that is now highlighting organic and biodynamic producers, or cocktails from the whisky bar, where again foraged ingredients are used creatively and unexpectedly.

In both the original farmhouse, dating back to 1676, and in the newer South Lodge, Kinloch offers 18 rooms and suites, each individually designed. All the rooms are furnished with antiques and paintings from the Macdonald family’s history, be that portraits of clansmen or framed letters. These personal touches not only reveal the heritage and history of Kinloch but its ethos too, that of being welcomed into a family home. Some of the most extraordinary rooms are the suites that look out over Loch na Dal; each has a huge king-sized bed, a separate sitting room and a romantic roll-top bath. Many of the rooms have been refurbished in the last year, with new touches including tweed headboards woven by the local Skye Weavers. All rooms, however, promise a cosy night’s sleep with luxurious goose feather duvets and mattress toppers, and 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Within the grounds there is an abundance of walks. Spend the days beachcombing down at the loch when the tide is out, or hill walking up to the former settlement behind the lodge, Leitir Fura, where the views defy description. There are countless routes to fill your lungs and plenty of vistas to take your breath away.

Guests keen to play their own part in Kinloch’s story can book one of the many packages offered by the hotel. These are led by Mitchell Partridge, the hotel’s own ghillie. His knowledge of, and love for, Skye’s landscapes and wildlife is second to none. As well as his work at Kinloch, he monitors Skye’s white-tailed eagles for the RSPB and is a trained Marine Mammal Medic.  Guests can join him for a foraging session, cooking treats over an open fire in the woods, for stalking deer on the hotel’s estate, for fly-fishing on one of Skye’s gin-clear streams or simply for a ‘Wild Walk’ in which his intimate passion and knowledge of the land will be shared. There are wild packages for families too, in which children will explore the woodlands and seashore, learning about its wildlife and wild food and be encouraged to protect it. The packages fit holistically into Kinloch’s ethos, with the foraged ingredients that guests and families return with in their baskets used and cooked for their evening meal by Webb and the kitchen team.

One night in a cosy double at Kinloch Lodge including dinner, bed and breakfast costs from £160 per person. Luxury rooms are from £200pp and Suites from £220pp. Wilderness Experiences start from £240 for two people. Open year-round.

Kinloch-lodge.co.uk

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