Killiehuntly House, Kingussie, Scotland
12 April, 2019
A successful dinner is one that lasts a while and one where everyone leaves happy. It's a meal where we didn't just wolf food down, rather, something else happened at the table.Laurie David
At Killiehuntly Farmhouse the focus is on food and a sense of home. It's also about time spent and conversation. To start there are no televisions on the premises; kitchen is the hearth here and all meals are served family style. If you don't like company, don't stay here.
A place to relax and recharge, over the course of a weekend at Killiehuntly House days are likely to be spent braving the elements and exploring the hinterland. Come evening, take in crackling fires in the lounge (Harris gin in hand) as the sun downs and the landscape fades from lavender to burgundy and then to an inky blue; cackling over dinner conversations with friends (both quickly made and long-standing).
Lovers of design, nature, food, conversation and solitude will find solace in this upscaled farmstead.
Fusing Scottish farmhouse with contemporary Danish design, expect to find curly sheepskin draped over Bamse chairs and traditional sash windows framed by billowing white-linen curtains. Killienhuntly's self-dubbed "Scandi-Scot" style rooms are simple and pared back and, much like the rest of the house, they're finished in a palette of greys.
Most of the farmhouse rooms (four in total) are not en suite but with private bathrooms right next door, you'd hardly notice. If an en suite is non-negotiable, the Alder Room (the largest double at Killiehuntly Farmhouse) is best booked well in advance. Complete with four-poster bed, two writing desks and the private bathroom it's arguably the best room in the house. Beyond the farmhouse, choose to stay at the Cottage, the Bothy (a cosy four-person self-catered hideaway) or in the snug Hayloft.
What's for breakfast?
Food at Killiehuntly is local, simple and homemade. Come morning, Farmhouse rooms are served a homemade breakfast, whipped up by in-house chef Tom. To start, chomp on granola with yoghurt and poached fruit before tucking into your hot breakfast. The menu changes daily - expect homemade jams and freshly baked bread, farmhouse eggs and varying sides ranging from Macsween black pudding to smashed avocado and smoked salmon.
How about lunch and dinner?
Assuming you will take to the mountains shortly after breakfast, lunch (a hearty sandwich and nibble of something sweet) comes wrapped in greaseproof paper. Pop it in your knapsack (which you will find hanging on a peg in your room) and head for the high hills. Depending on how far you stray, enjoy afternoon tea and biscuits, dried fruits and nuts at the communal kitchen tables before changing into another woollen jumper or tartan fashioning for dinner.
A three-course dinner is served Thursday through Monday evening (no dinner is served on Tuesday or Wednesday). In the summer, its bums on seats at 8pm (7.30pm in the winter). Dinner is family style with dietary requirements are noted at time of booking. Menus are based around seasonality. Starters range from walnut, radicchio and apple salad to potted crab and toast while main courses of bream with curried cauliflower and succulent spring lamb highlight the variety on offer. Finish nightly meals off with dessert - creme brulee on Friday, pecan pie on Saturday - and a cup of tea before falling into bed (which is rather handily only one floor up).
Don't grimace at the thought of communal meals; these are likely to be a highlight of your time in Killiehuntly. Breaking bread with strangers is increasingly appealing after days spent in remote locations, and often in total isolation. You'll get recommendations of where to venture the following day, alongside stories (scandalous and sobering) to harbour after your departure.
Is there a bar?
An honesty bar operates in the front sitting room and the kitchen. Well stocked with local gins, rotate between Harris and Inshriach. The front sitting room is a particularly fine spot for a dram.
Complimentary mountain bikes, a sauna yurt and plunge pool.
Things you should know
The sauna yurt takes an hour and a half to warm up, so let staff know in advance if you're planning on being spontaneous later. The rate quoted for Farmhouse rooms includes breakfast, a packed sandwich (tied up with string), afternoon biscuit with tea or coffee and three-course dinner.
Within a short walk you'll find
Go wild swimming in clear highland loch water with Cairngorms Mountains as your backdrop or hike through the beautiful ancient Caledonian woods. Alternatively, book in for a tour and tasting at Dalwhinnie Distillery - the highest distillery in the Highlands.