Tranquil spa retreat in the Scottish Highlands
Located 16 miles north of Fort William (a 25-minute car journey) and 15 miles south of Fort Augustus (21-minutes by car), The Whispering Pine Lodge spa hotel is stunningly situated right next to Scotland’s most ‘lochy’ loch, Loch Lochy 😉 ensuring that all loch-side rooms have excellent views of the water and hills on the other side of the glen.
Pre-lockdown we had actually driven past the hotel at night time in winter and thought ‘ooh’ as it looked so cosy. Now, we had the opportunity to spend a night here.
We arrived by car. There is on-site parking but you can also visit by bus. The Glasgow-Portree 915, Glasgow-Uig 916, Fort William – Inverness 919 / 920 all stop here. The stop is listed on timetables as Letterfinlay hotel on A82 (this is what the hotel was called a long time ago). The nearest train station is at Spean Bridge and from there you could also take a taxi.
On entry, the bar is to the left before the staircase while reception is on the right, and behind here is the restaurant and beer terrace. Check-in was quick and easy.
Our room with a view had a loch-side balcony with two chairs. Also included in the room was a selection of tea, coffee and hot chocolate; two bottles of Highland Spring water; a large flat screen TV; an iron / ironing board; a hairdryer; and a safe.
The power sockets also had USB ports which is always a bonus if you forget a phone charger.
Check out the view from our balcony!
It was a bit chilly but idyllic and looking westwards so you might be lucky and catch the sun setting over the hills.
The beer terrace, overlooking the water, was just below our room on the right.
The hotel is part of the Black Sheep group. You can find the other hotels a little further north at Invergarry and Cluanie, Glen Shiel, on the way to Lochalsh and Skye.
We always like the simple touches and the ‘Do not disturb’ signs fit in with the Black Sheep theme.
A sparklingly clean bathroom that looked like no one had ever used it before. Toiletries were from the Highland Soap Company in nearby Fort William.
The Burn’s Bar
The hotel bar, named after Scotland’s bard, Rabbie Burns, is dark and cosy. There is a real fire though it wasn’t lit on our visit. If the weather is favourable you can take drinks outside (like we did).
Their beer selection included an ale from Glen Spean Brewing Co who are based a mere 8 miles south of the hotel. They also have ales from Skye, Orkney and Black Sheep plus plenty of Scottish whisky but not much by way of Scottish gin.
For some reason you can’t add drinks to your room so we paid for ours and then headed out past the restaurant onto the beer terrace overlooking Loch Lochy. You could of course have tea or coffee, or any other drink out here as well.
It was chilly but thankfully dry so we had the terrace all to ourselves! (there is also a pebbled beach at the loch)
We enjoyed a Glen Spean pale blonde and a gin before heading inside for dinner.
The Lochside Brasserie is aptly named as the glass-fronted restaurant looks out onto Loch Lochy. We took our seats just before sunset so could enjoy the view. As the Black Sheep hotels are Indian-owned, this is reflected in the food available for lunch and dinner.
Specials on our visit included 2 cocktails, 1 starter (soup), 2 main course and 1 dessert. Vegetarian items were listed; nothing was marked as vegan though the menu advises you to speak to your server for both vegan and gluten-free options.
Much of the food is Indian but the menu is split into Starters, International dishes, Seafood and Scottish dishes, with sides and a kids‘ menu also listed.
A veggie starter of charred broccoli florets marinated with yogurt and garlic, sprinkled with pine nuts and served alongside a cucumber, mint and coriander dip. Simple but tasty.
A smooth haddock chowder with a bit of fish on the surface and served with toasted sourdough. It tasted the part but there’s something satisfying about having big chunks of haddock throughout.
Described as a Punjabi fish curry with mini poppadums, and the option of steamed rice rice or a naan, which we chose, so got a full one cut into four pieces. We love fish curries and this was really tasty.
Tandoori Tiger Prawn Biryani
Massive tasty prawns on a mound of mixed, flavoursome rice. It was good but a bit dry and we’re used to having a sauce with biryani but none was provided.
Scottish bread pudding
An ideal dessert for winter. Served on a skillet with creme Anglaise and whisky sauce, this was soft, spongey and moist, with tart redcurrants, dusted with icing sugar for a frosted snow look.
Being Indian-run we expected to see gulab jamun on the menu. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but kheer, Indian rice pudding, was, so we ordered that instead. Fragrantly spiced, it was topped with cardamom and raisins and flavoured with saffron.
Night time at Whispering Pine Lodge
Due to the hotel’s location there is very little light pollution so if you’re a stargazer then this is a great place to see the night sky (weather permitting of course).
The above is a long exposure taken from our balcony at night, using a DSLR on a 30-second exposure.
We slept well and awoke to a Good morning from The Whispering Pine!
The breakfast menu covered buffet items like cereal and yogurt, eggs, a fry up and porridge but unfortunately no Indian-style breakfast items. Some Dishoom-style bacon naans or spicy scrambled eggs could be a good future addition.
What we did have was a cooked breakfast with scrambled egg and another with an omelette. Both with well-cooked bacon, a sausage, hash brown (sadly no potato scone 🙁 ), basked beans and grilled tomato, with a basket of croissants on the side.
Whispering Pine Lodge is a cosy, picturesque hotel, which is actually very modern inside, with USB sockets in the bedroom and a sparkling bathroom that could have been fitted yesterday.
The location is ideal for scenery, relaxation and star gazing – even better when you have a balcony which looks out onto the loch and hills. They have an onsite spa, which unfortunately, we didn’t have time to utilise.
The food was good but they were trying to cater to many different tastes with a huge menu that covered a mix of Scottish, international and Indian dishes. The menu has changed since our visit and we’re glad to report that it looks better now.
The odd thing about the hotel was that they couldn’t charge food or drinks to the room so each visit to the bar or restaurant had to be settled separately. Still, we would definitely stay here again and visit some of the other Black Sheep hotels to see how they compare.
Background music in public areas was mainly from the 60s and included the Beatles.
+ Unobstructed views of loch and hills from room
+ Balcony with two chairs provided
+ Restaurant and terrace overlooking loch
+ Bar has a real fire
+ USB power sockets in room
+ Highland Soaps toiletries provided
+ Spa facilities
+ Great location for star gazing
+ On site parking and bus stop
– You can’t add bar drinks to your room so need to pay for each round
– No bath, shower only
– Hash browns instead of potato scones
– Limited Scottish gin available
The Whispering Pine Lodge
PH34 4DZ, Scotland
Tel : +44 1397 713966
Monday to Saturday 9 am to 6 pm
Tel: +44 1809 335021 / +44 1809335023
For Information email: email@example.com
Disclaimer: we received a DBB complimentary stay so only had to pay for drinks.