On the road between Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye sits the Cluanie Inn, a grand dame of a Highland Hotel and a beacon for those who want to experience the grandeur of the mighty mountains of dramatic Glen Shiel.
First opened in 1787, the Cluanie Inn (pronounced Cloony) was once home to cattle drovers, construction crews building the King Road to Skye. Now owned by Black Sheep Hotels who have renovated three lodge-style Scottish Highland hotels, the Whispering Pine Lodge at Loch Lochy along with Rokeby Manor at Invergarry, along with the Cluanie Inn.
A great overnight stop on the way to Skye, or a base for exploring the area, even if you don’t want to get up into the hills, let’s check into the Cluanie Inn.
Our trip to the Cluanie Inn and Black Sheep Hotels was gifted. This post uses affiliate links at no cost to you.
The Cluanie Inn is a traditional Scottish Highlands Inn, with a range of rooms, a bar, restaurant and lounges for guests. There is also a drying room for windswept hillwalkers.
Rooms at the Cluanie Inn
Rooms at The Cluanie Inn range from gorgeous Highland Suites with four posters and incredible views over the surrounding mountains along with seating areas and spa baths – one even has a sauna. Our Highland Suite room looked out to the rear of the hotel to the mountains and deer grazing outside.
Glen Rooms come in twins and doubles and have a ‘Mountain Cottage’ style, with hardwood floors and chunky furnishings. There is also a family room (a double and a twin) and a quad room with four beds perfect for hikers. All rooms come with goose down duvets and pillows and bathrobes.
Dog friendly accommodation in the Highlands of Scotland
All Black Sheep Hotels have dog-friendly rooms. Our Highland Suite had plenty of space for all of us – and even Hugo’s crate. He was also allowed in the Cluanie hotel bar and the restaurant. Emily’s Byre at Rokeby Manor also had a dog friendly section and dogs are allowed at The Whispering Pine Lodge.
We particularly liked that there was an enclosed and gated designated doggy area provided outside the Cluanie Inn for dog walking – we could let the pup run around safely.
Food at the Cluanie Inn [and lunch at Rokeby Manor]
Great Indian food is scarce in the Scottish Highlands, which has long been a shame. Enter Black Sheep Hotels.
We were invited to dine at The Cluanie Inn Bar and Kitchen and had lunch at Emily’s Byre over at Black Sheep Hotel’s sister lodge, Rokeby Manor – and found seriously good Indian food on offer, especially friendly to both vegans and veggies. On our visit we also ate at the Lochside Brasserie at The Whispering Pine Lodge.
For veggies, we loved the Black Sheep’s delicious black dahl, the lentil bites with mustard yoghurt dip and Emily’s Byre’s bite-sized Dahi Chaat with tamarind chutney in crispy shells. The star of the show was The Cluanie Inn’s Bombay cheese toastie with spiced potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, mint chutney and cheese. We even had one for breakfast!
For the meat-eaters, at The Cluanie Inn there are lots of things for hungry walkers including firecracker chicken burgers, Middle Eastern spiced wings and classic butter chicken curry. We particularly loved a dish of prawns, mussels and calamari in a chilli coriander broth with sourdough toast for dipping. Over at Emily’s Byre the ‘naanwich’ with chicken pudina tikka and the chicken biryani were absolutely delicious!
At The Cluanie breakfast was served overlooking the glen and offered everything from healthy smoothies and to a full cooked breakfast – I went for eggs and homemade hash browns – oh and another Bombay toastie, I couldn’t resist.
Recently opened at The Cluanie Inn is the 19th-century style Landour Bakehouse, a cafe and takeaway for those passing through Glen Shiel serving up sweet and savoury treats including samosas, sandwiches, cakes and cookies. A great stopping point on the way to Skye.
Things to do at The Cluanie Inn
Sitting on the banks of Loch Cluanie, the views from the Whispering Pine Lodge are extensive above the hotel looms two towering mountains – you could spend your time curled up in front of the view, glass in hand. However, whatever the time of year, there are lots of things to get up to around The Cluanie Inn.
Go Munro bagging from the Cluanie Inn
Surrounded by some of Scotland’s best hill walks and ridges, the main draw of the Cluanie Inn is for Munro bagging. You can climb many Munros directly from the hotel including:
- The 7 Munros of the South Glen Shiel Ridge – one of Scotland’s ultimate hill ridge walks over 17 miles and 10 hours, you will need a car left at the end of the ridge to get back to the hotel.
- A’Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire – two very steep but rewarding Munros above the Cluanie Inn.
- Ciste Dhubh and Am Bathach – climb Ciste Dhubh, a fabulous munro along with the neighbouring Am Bathach, a corbett.
Further afield, the Five Sisters of Kintail is a classic ridge walk, and one of the best views near the hotel – don’t miss driving up to the Ratagan viewpoint. Next to the sisters is the Brother’s Ridge – the three munros of Sgùrr a Bhealaich Dheirg, Sàileag and Aonach Meadhoin.
The Munros above the Cluanie Inn are some of Scotland’s biggest and hardest, and are really for serious Munro baggers.
Visit Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle (Island of the sacred saint ‘Donnan’) is probably the most iconic of all of Scotland’s castles. It is also right on the road to Skye – you really can’t miss it! Eilean Donan Castle sits at the junction of three beautiful lochs – Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh and was made famous by the film Highlander and now constant Instagram photos.
Drive over the Mam Ratagan Pass to Glenelg
Across the sound of Sleat from Skye is the remote region of Glenelg. Drive across the Mam Ratagan Pass to discover this beautiful peninsula. Eat at the Glenelg Inn and explore tiny coves, my favourite spot is to look for otters at Sandaig (Camusfearna) made famous by Gavin Maxwell in his book Ring of Bright Water about living here with his pet otter!
Explore the Isle of Skye
(1-1.5 hours drive)
The Isle of Skye is top of most people’s lists of Scottish islands to visit – and it is no wonder. With the natural wonders such as the Black Cuillin, the Fairy Pools, the majestic Quiraing and Old Man of Storr, remote Neist Point Lighthouse and the waterfall pouring over the cliff (or Kilt Rock) to visit, the Isle of Skye’s outdoor attractions are legendary.
Read more – my complete guide to the Isle of Skye
Go for lunch at Plockton
One of my favourite villages in Scotland, the pretty town of Plockton has a mild climate which allows palm trees to prosper on the waterfront. The weather might even be nice enough to have lunch outside one of the two friendly Plockton pubs!
Hike out from spectacular Kinloch Hourn
At the end of a 22 mile single track road is Kinloch Hourn and Loch Hourn, an incredibly stunning sea loch, which on a still day mirrors the mountains surrounding it. You can hike out along the side of the loch to a hidden bay at Barrisdale, or walk as long as time allows, the bay is a 14 mile round trip.