Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye
Perched on southern Skye’s windswept Sound of Sleat, this Scottish beauty is the epitome of a traditional country lodge retreat
23 August, 2022
A whitewashed former hunting lodge that has been in the hands of the Macdonald clan for centuries, Kinloch Lodge is now headed up by Isabella Macdonald, the daughter of Lord Godfrey and Lady Claire Macdonald, who opened the hotel in 1972. Often shrouded in mist swept up from the sleepy southern banks of Loch na Dal, a sea loch in southern Skye, Kinloch's setting is spectacular, even by Scottish standards. Picture crisp, cold, shimmering waters, wild hills and complete - almost eerie - silence.
Outside, there's foraging, fishing and stalking to be done, all accompanied by Kinloch Lodge's resident ghillie, the aptly named Mitchell Patridge, while the hotel's seasonal, sea-to-plate restaurant offering takes centre stage when you're back at base.
Considering the fact that the lodge used to be the Macdonalds' home, hosting seems to have come incredibly naturally to the family - in particular, to Isabella, whose effervescent hospitality will likely have you feeling more like friends by the end of your stay.
Window views from a bedroom, left, and the Lodge's drawing room.
Thanks to a tasteful renovation in 2016, the rooms all exude a country-home charm - think muted colour palettes, Cole & Son wallpaper and fabrics from the local crafters at Skye Weavers. All bedrooms and suites look out onto majestic Loch na Dal, so, come morning, you can sweep open your curtains for misty views over the water. And the beds? They're all super-kings, with soft, goose-feather mattress toppers and luxurious Egyptian cotton bed linen. The bedrooms are all individually designed, the pulse of history still coursing through their veins in subtle ways, with old Macdonald family portraits and paintings on walls, and small trinkets and memorabilia on bedside tables. In the bathroom there are huge walk-in showers and roll-top baths, and shelves stocked with L'Occitane toiletries.
What's for breakfast?
The most important meal of the day is taken seriously here, although the menu may err on the side of simple. But what it lacks in variety, it makes up for in flavour and strong Scottish sustenance. There's an award-winning creamy porridge spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon and hearty cooked breakfast options like smoked salmon with scrambled eggs on granary toast. For those who prefer their first meal cold, there's a deliciously nutty homemade granola, and fruit salad.
Dinner by candlelight, left, and fresh loch mussels on the menu.
How about lunch and dinner?
Luckily for us, head chef Jordan Webb is a stickler for cooking from nature's larder, so you'll find an abundance of locally foraged fare on the lunch and dinner menus, much of which is plucked straight from the loch, surrounding shores and the restaurant's impressive kitchen garden. Webb, who joined the team in 2020, has had a tough act to follow - Lady Claire Macdonald left a remarkable culinary legacy, following her 40 years in the lodge's kitchen, during which she penned a remarkable 20 cookbooks.
Webb has quite literally stepped up to the plate, though, with an unfussy approach and focus on hyperlocal produce. Favourites on his daily-changing menu include North Skye venison dhal, Sconser scallops, and halibut in a creamy vermouth sauce. For those not wanting to be bound by the set lunch and dinner times, there's an appetising all-day menu offering sandwiches, cheese and Kinloch Lodge s'mores.
Is there a bar?
Yes, there is - a cosy, firelit den with an extensive whisky collection of over 122 bottles.
Kinloch's resident ghillie, Mitchell Partridge, is on hand for outdoor pursuits including foraging, fishing, wild walks and stalking - all accompanied by his exquisitely trained collie, Millie. And what to do with those tired, aching post-walk limbs? Leave yourself in the capable hands of Anita, a holistic masseuse who mixes her own oils, and you'll come away as good as new, if not better.
Take a look inside the Scottish lodge...
How about their green credentials?
Lady Claire's emphasis on seasonality and local ingredients was groundbreaking when she first introduced it in the 70s, and the hotel's food ethos is still very much geared around locality. You'll also find an impressive list of biodynamic and organic wines, as well as filtered water drafted straight from the nearby natural spring.
What about accessibility?
All communal areas of the main lodge - the dining room, bar and drawing room - are on the ground floor, as are three ground-floor rooms that allow wheelchair access. One of the three ground-floor bathrooms is fully adapted, and the others are all particularly large.
What's the crowd?
Kinloch's relaxed, informal style draws guests from all over. In recent years the hotel has been particularly popular with families, thanks in no small part to Mitchell Partridge's wealth of wild, outdoor experiences that cater to children of all ages.
Within a short walk I can find…
The cast of wildlife that roams the lodge's spectacularly remote surroundings includes stags, otters and golden eagles - you'll likely not come across another building on your walk, let alone a human.
Things I should know…
The yellowish water that sometimes runs from the bathroom taps - a totally natural (and harmless) effect of the area's peat-rich soil - may be off-putting for some, but we think it just adds to this earthy bolthole's Scottish charm.