Our trip to the Whispering Pine Lodge and Black Sheep Hotels was gifted. This post uses affiliate links at no cost to you.
Fancy curling up in front of the fire in a cosy Scottish hunting lodge? In the heart of Scotland’s spectacular Great Glen near Fort William is The Whispering Pine Lodge*, a gorgeous highland retreat serving up some seriously good Indian food. Let’s check-into Black Sheep Hotels for a winter weekend in Scotland.
Welcome to the Whispering Pine Lodge
Stretching coast to coast from Fort William beneath the mighty Ben Nevis, across five huge lochs, the Great Glen is one of Scotland’s most special landscapes. Halfway up the glen, on the banks of the best-named loch in Scotland (yes, there is actually a loch called Loch Lochy!) is The Whispering Pine Lodge*, the perfect spot from which to explore.
Owned by Black Sheep Hotels – otherwise known as Mumbai-based siblings, Sanjay and Rachna Narang who have taken over and refurbished three small lodge Scottish Highland hotels – the Whispering Pine Lodge, along with Rokeby Manor at Invergarry and the Cluanie Inn on the road to Skye. All three hotels now have a quirky, relaxed style.
Inside the lodge, there are 25 bedrooms including two gorgeous ‘hunting lodge style’ suites, cosy cottage rooms in the original building and ‘spa’ rooms in a more modern wing – with incredible balconies right on to the loch, perfect for watching the sun go down over the hills.
Little touches of fabulous service are everywhere – nothing is any trouble for the genuinely friendly staff – from the night town turndown complete with Tunnocks Tea Cakes, takeaway breakfasts for early risers, along with little luxuries such as underfloor heating and log fires as standard – this is a seriously comforting and cosy boutique hotel.
Fancy some Indian food in the Scottish Highlands?
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 both the Whispering Pine Lodge’s Lochside Restaurant and 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.
For veggies, we loved the hotel’s delicious black dahl, tasty bbq corn ‘ribs’, rich asparagus risotto and delicious bite-sized Dahi Chaat in crispy shells. For the meat-eaters, there was spicy chicken tikka, rich slow-roasted Hyderabadi Lamb Shank, gorgeous butter chicken and paprika prawns served with calamari. After dinner, we headed to the lodge’s cosy Robert Burns bar which served up a great selection of local beers, whiskies and good value wines in front of another roaring real fire.
The next morning, breakfast was served overlooking the loch and offered everything from healthy smoothies and to a full cooked breakfast – I went for eggs served with a crispy and tasty hash brown which set me up for the day. We also returned to the hotel for a late lunch after a freezing cold morning exploring the Caledonian Canal and Loch Lochy – and found the lodge serving up a traditional afternoon tea. I loved the peppery cucumber sandwiches, tasty lemon drizzle cake, crumbly scones and excellent coffee (rare in the Highlands!) and of course, the great view.
Things to do at the Whispering Pine Lodge
Built in the 1800s and sitting right on Loch Lochy, the views from the Whispering Pine Lodge are extensive – stretching 9 miles from Gairlochy to Laggan, and above the hotel looms two towering Munros – Sron a’ Choire Ghairbh and Meall na Teanga – 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 Whispering Pine Lodge in including exploring the Great Glen, walking along the Caledonian Canal, visiting Glencoe and Fort William and heading north to the Highland capital of Inverness.
- Right on the hotel’s doorstep is the gorgeous Loch Lochy. You can walk the length of the loch along on the Great Glen way from Gairlochy up to the Laggan Locks. Further north, take a short walk along the tree-lined Caledonian Canal as it meaders up Laggan Avenue to pretty Loch Oich. The Loch Lochy Munros are also just across from the hotel and offer a full day out in the hills.
- Just 20 minutes from the hotel is Loch Ness and Fort Augustus where you can watch the sailing boats and cruisers tackle the locks as the canal reaches Loch Ness and then explore the massive Urquhart Castle with its prominent position on the banks of the loch. Cruise Loch Ness run RIB trips up to Urquhart Castle – travelling at 35 mph you scoot up the loch, stopping occasionally to wildlife spot, it is a completely different way to see the loch – brilliant fun.
- Looking for a day trip? Head to the Highland capital of Inverness, around 1.5 hours north – don’t miss the Culloden Battlefield, walk along the River Ness, discover Leakey’s Bookshop, and walk to the end of the canal where it meets to Beauly Firth to spot dolphins.
- Looking for a great view? Climb up the Corrieyairack Pass – a remote pass across the 760m high Monadhliath Mountains from Laggan on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park to Fort Augustus on Loch Ness. You don’t need to climb far up the pass for an incredible view of Loch Ness and Fort Augustus. Further south, the rugged Pap of Glencoe gives incredible views over Loch Linnhe and Loch Leven all the way to Kinlochleven.
- Feeling even more energetic? The UK’s highest mountain is just down the road. The climb up Ben Nevis via the Pony Track will take between 5-8 hours. If you don’t fancy climbing the Ben, explore Glen Nevis instead – a walk to the Steal Falls and the Nevis Gorge will take around 2 hours. The bustling town of Fort William is 25 minutes south of the hotel.
Cosy, comfy, stylish and ooh that food – thanks for having us at the Whispering Pine Lodge, we loved our stay!
Love, from Scotland x