The views from The Torridon are breathtaking.
The views from The Torridon are breathtaking.

The Torridon review: a slice of paradise

To say that the road to The Torridon is dramatic doesn’t quite cover it. Rounding the corner and passing a sign signalling ten miles until I reached my destination, I felt as if I’d driven straight onto the set of a Hollywood blockbuster.

The single track road was glistening in Narnia style, while the snow-capped mountains and mirrored waters that enveloped me were worthy of any James Bond set. This was easily one of the most magnificent landscapes I’d had the pleasure of driving through – and was one I vowed to return to very soon.

A few deer stood gazing into the low winter sun, but I was otherwise completely alone. Soon enough, The Torridon’s turreted silhouette appeared in front of me, and after one large intake of fresh west Highland air, the tensions of city life melted away. At last the luxury escape could begin – and the hotel’s own Highland cattle were there to act as a majestic welcome party.

The Torridon dates back to the Victorian era, and upon its opening in 1887 served as a hunting lodge, welcoming countless shots through the door until the 1960s when it relaunched as a hotel. Owned and run by Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow, it is now part of the Pride of Britain Hotel collection and Luxury Scotland, holds 3 AA Rosettes, 5 AA stars, and 5 VisitScotland Gold Stars.

It is set in a spectacularly beautiful 58-acre estate at the head of a sea loch, Loch Torridon, and its peace and tranquillity is deafening. A magnificent base for walkers, the Shieldaig Peninsula, Falls of Slioch, Loch Damph and Balgy Falls, and the Maol Chean-dearg Circuit sit right on the doorstep.

The views from The Torridon are breathtaking.

Walking into the grand reception, the first thing to hit was the homely smell of a roaring wood fire, which was incredibly welcome having braved the remaining chills of Storm Dennis. Rosie Wilkins, front of house manager, kindly took my bags upstairs while I drank in the views from the reception window, as well as a glass of their homemade sparkling elderflower juice – a complimentary arrival drink.

The reception area has a large open fire to keep guests cosy in the winter months.

The hotel has 18 individually-designed rooms, each with their own aspects to enjoy. My room, a Deluxe room called Daibaig, looked out over Loch Torridon and the mountains, and had a super king size bed, a roll-top bath and rainfall shower with Cowshed Toiletries, and – much to my delight – Tunnock’s Teacakes and a selection of teas and coffees awaiting my arrival. Tempting though it was to stay put in such a comfortable, cosy room, there was much to explore in and around the hotel.

Even the bathroom boasted beautiful views.

Afternoon Tea was first on the cards, taken in the Drawing Room, and The Torridon’s own Arcturus Gin was served alongside an array of delicious sweet and savoury dishes. The classic homemade scones, served with garden jam and clotted cream, were dusted with just the right amount of icing sugar and were seriously hard to beat, but the impressive tarts, cakes and sandwiches left me and my fellow diners wanting for nothing.

The Gin Afternoon Tea kick-started the luxury stay in magnificent style.

Their Arcturus Gin, named after the fourth brightest star in the sky and the brightest star in the constellation of Bootes, is produced using foraged local botanicals from the surrounding land, sea and mountains, including Scots lovage, kelp seaweed, blaeberries and rowanberries. Their latest Arcturus Scots Pine Gin release is just as crisp – the sweet and citrus flavour from the pine and verbena proved incredibly refreshing.

The Torridon’s own gin, Arcturus Gin, is made using foraged botanicals from the surrounding land, sea and mountains.

In the evening we were treated to The Torridon’s Gin Tasting with food and beverages supervisor Shane Sliwinski – a font of gin and whisky knowledge – allowing us to sample the Arcturus, Isle of Harris, Rock Rose and Ginabelle gins. Their bar is a sight to behold – floor to ceiling with glimmering bottles, there are 365 whiskies to choose from – one for each day of the year – and 120 gins. The whisky and gin tastings are £30 per person, and are an informative and entertaining way to kick-start the evening.

The Whisky & Gin Bar boasts 365 whiskies and 120 gins.

By the time we rounded up the last of our drinks, we were all ready to head to the 1887 Restaurant for a bite to eat. The menu was brimming with Scottish produce, much of which came from the fields and Kitchen Garden outside. With some helpful recommendations from our server Gautier Carton I opted for the pigeon with miso barley to start. The meat was tender and juicy, while the accompaniments were creamy and seasoned beautifully. Brahan Estate Venison Loin served with heritage carrots, bramble and oyster mushroom was next up. The meat had been cooked to perfection, and the sour bursts of fruit surrounding the game balanced the dish beautifully.

The Kitchen Garden is at the heart of the hotel’s field to fork ethos.

I chose the Baked Alaska with yoghurt parfait, grilled pear and smoked butterscotch for dessert, because there is always room on the dessert shelf for a sweet treat. While we all agreed the smokiness was a little too overwhelming, the main event itself was impressively presented and rounded off the dinner in style. Three courses are priced at £62.50pp, while four courses with cheese is £80pp.

After a very comfortable night’s sleep with nothing but the distant cheeping of birds to wake me, it was time for breakfast. Looking out over the loch, a red kite flew down in dramatic style to entertain us while we tucked into some delicious Scottish offerings, including smoked salmon, free range eggs and crispy bacon, as well as continental options.

The Torridon truly is a slice of paradise. Far removed from the bustle of everyday routine, just one night at the hotel was incredibly restorative.

Find out more about the accommodation, and food and drink options on The Torridon’s website.