When it comes to making bucket lists for the New Year, there is one ‘to-do’ that should be added to everyone’s list: spend a night in a Highland castle.
Whether it’s one night or a long weekend, venturing out into the fresh countryside air and returning to an historic, cosy castle for a tipple or two serves as a restorative break like no other. Dornoch Castle Hotel, based on the seaside town’s main street, is one such destination – and it has kicked-started its anniversary year as it bids to become Scotland’s Best Castle Hotel.
Dornoch Castle Hotel, owned by the Thompson family for the past 20 years, has put itself forward for the Prestige Hotel Awards Scotland. Now in its fourth year, the awards showcase and reward outstanding service within the hotel industry in Scotland. Public votes are collated, and the hotels with the most nominations are then assessed by mystery guests before the winning venues are chosen.
‘It has been a very eventful two decades for sure,’ says Colin Thompson, managing director of Dornoch Castle Hotel. ‘We’re very grateful to still be here, running this historic building as a profitable hotel, and now with the distillery adding a new dimension altogether.’
Their in-house Thompson Bros Organic gin, which is named after brothers Philip and Simon Thompson, is distilled in a traditional, organic micro-distillery within the Old Fire Station nearby. It is served in Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar – which won Scottish Field’s Whisky Bar of the Year Award in 2019 – with fresh lemon peel.
‘We feel that we are already one of Scotland’s most beloved castle hotels – we even have our own resident ghost – but it would be fantastic to receive public votes from guests past and present to secure this title in this prestigious awards scheme,’ says Colin. ‘It would go perfectly with our recent award as Scottish Field’s Whisky Bar of the Year.’
Also on offer throughout the year is a private dining option in the hotel’s The Vault. Here they offer six-course fine dining tasting menus which are paired with wine or whisky – a bespoke wine list and menu is put together by their head chef, Grant MacNicol.
Their newly refurbished Grant MacNicol at the Castle restaurant also offers seasonal, local menus throughout the year. On top of that, the team at the hotel host a number of whisky and gourmet dinners, showcasing their wine suppliers and in-house gin.
To find out more about Dornoch Castle Hotel, visit their website.