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Bunchrew House Hotel stands on the southern shore of the Beauly Firth some three miles west of the centre of Inverness. With wooded gardens to the south and the river behind, it has a superb setting, and it is fitting that such a classically charming Scottish mansion should be home to a superb country house hotel, offering splendid public rooms and guest accommodation, excellent dining, and great service. And magnificent views across the Beauly Firth to the Black Isle and distant Ben Wyvis. You can read our dining review for Bunchrew House Hotel here.
The origins of Bunchrew House date back to 1505, when a small two roomed stone and turf house was built here. Parts of this first structure still exist within what followed, but the first substantial house was built by Simon Fraser, 6th Lord Lovat, to to mark his marriage to Lady Jane, a cousin of the Earl of Moray. Their crests are still carved into the stone wall above one of the fireplaces in the drawing room. By some accounts the house at this time was surrounded by a moat, though this appears to have been filled by the time Bunchrew was sold to an Inverness tea merchant, John Fraser, in 1842. His family, later known as the Fraser Mackenzies, significantly extended Bunchrew into the remarkable Scots baronial mansion you see today, with its towers, turrets and tall conical roofs, in the late 1800s. The house remains in the family, and still carries many family portraits on the walls. It has served as a country house hotel since 1986.
The main door in the base of an angled tower leads into the wonderful reception hall. From here a door on your right leads through to the atmospheric cocktail bar: next to the door is a portrait of Isobel Mackenzie, wife of the 12th Clan Chief. She looks formidable, but her ghostly presence wandering the hotel at night is said to be wholly benign. Turn to the left in the entrance hall and you come to the magnificent drawing room, the heart of the 1621 house. At the far end of the drawing room a short passage flanked by busts leads to the dining room, another superb room, with huge bay windows to the west and looking north over the Beauly Firth. Next to the dining room is the Mackenzie Room, a private dining or function room with river views.
Bunchrew House Hotel has 16 en suite guest bedrooms including four classified as suites and three classified as superior rooms. Accommodation throughout Bunchrew House is on a generous scale, and this extends to the guest rooms. The smallest guest room is in the upper floor of the turret housing the main entrance, and is well sized by most standards and extremely charming. Rooms tend to have views either over the grounds and gardens or over the Beauly Firth: but because the building is laid out in a series of offset blocks, a surprisingly large number of guest rooms have double outlooks (or in one case a triple outlook). All rooms are equipped to a high standard, as you would expect from a good four star hotel, and all are individually furnished. It is not surprising that returning guests develop favourite rooms they ask for when booking.
With its stunning looks and huge character, Bunchrew House is an attractive wedding venue: though to ensure the very best experience both for wedding parties and other guests, weddings are almost always booked on an exclusive use basis. The small number of large public rooms reduces flexibility for other functions and events, though Bunchrew House does make an exceptional exclusive use venue.
For an old building, disabled access is surprisingly good. There is a ground floor suite to the rear of the hotel (with river views) which has private parking and can be fully equipped for use by a disabled guest: and from here there is level access to the main floor of the hotel, where wide doors and generously sized rooms allow easy passage.
Bunchrew House hides behind its wooded gardens, so is invisible from the main road west from Inverness. We had briefly called in once before, to buy a bottle of wine for Dutch friends who were due to be celebrating their honeymoon here, so knew just what a superstar of Scottishness it really is. We therefore approached our visit with very high expectations, which we found to be surpassed in just about every respect. It is the sort of hotel you would unhesitatingly recommend to friends and family wanting a quiet break in superb surroundings, and with excellent food. You can read our dining review for Bunchrew House Hotel here.