Hotel of the Week: Mullardoch House Hotel, Scotland

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The Independent Travel

Paradise for Munro baggers is a range of peaks surrounding three glorious glens in the Highlands: Affric, Cannich and Strathfarrar. Here the hardship of bouncing through heather to the top of a Scottish mountain is mitigated by the considerable comforts of the Mullardoch House Hotel.

Paradise for Munro baggers is a range of peaks surrounding three glorious glens in the Highlands: Affric, Cannich and Strathfarrar. Here the hardship of bouncing through heather to the top of a Scottish mountain is mitigated by the considerable comforts of the Mullardoch House Hotel.

Not that you need to head for the clouds or, on a clear day, the Highland heights, to enjoy a break at the former hunting lodge of Chisholm of Chisholm. Fishing, shooting, golf, horse riding - you name it and this small and (almost) perfectly situated hotel can provide whatever tweedy activity you like.

Best of all, though, is simply chilling out in the tranqillity of this remote location: the peace is practically palpable.

And at the end of a hard day's (non)-activity there's the option of a reasonably priced four-course dinner (£27 and a wine list, thankfully lacking a huge mark up). A cosmopolitan crew of staff (currently including an American chef and Danish sous chef) serve up scallops, monkfish, Scottish beef and the like, and generally add to the unique flavour of this haven.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Mullardoch House Hotel is at Glen Cannich, by Beauly, Inverness-shire IV4 7LX (tel: 01456 415460; website: www.mullhouse1.demon.co.uk). Despite the fact that this elegantly restored 1912 building feels blissfully in the middle of nowhere, it actually takes just an hour to drive from Inverness airport (with flights from Luton on easyJet and Gatwick on British Airways).

This is a wild world away from any craft shops, Loch Ness memorabilia (all too prevalent nearby) and the general day-trippery that descends on the adjacent beauty spot of Glen Affric.

You reach the village of Cannich, plunge down an implausible-looking single track road behind the Glen Affric hotel and, after four miles, start to think you've made a mistake. Then an encouraging signpost to the Mullardoch Hotel pops up to lead you on another four miles to well-furnished comfort. Andy Johnston, an entrepreneurial Yorkshire farmer who bought and refurbished the hotel six years ago, says that his guests are either unnerved by the quiet informality here or they love it. No doubt they learn to overlook the concrete eyesore of Mullardoch dam at the head of the glen. This almost ruins the setting, but is shielded from sight of the hotel by a row of pine trees - and it certainly doesn't seem to worry the red deer as they wander through the garden that rolls down to the shores of Loch Mullardoch.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

There are just seven bedrooms here (and a couple of cottage bedrooms in the grounds) so choice of accommodation is not large. (One advantage of a hotel this size is that you can take the whole place over for a weekend house party - which Johnston is quite happy to arrange.) All the bedrooms are soothingly furnished, without too much chintz and fussiness. I cantestify to the spaciousness of the green room above the dining room: it has great garden views, a huge bathroom (with Scottish Bell Heather toiletries, of course) and a sleep-enhancing bed. Perhaps you're meant to dream of Munros here: it's called Coile Buidhe after one of them.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Prices per person per night are £48-54, and there's a single supplement of £14. A slap-up Scottish breakfast is included. Special deals for dinner, bed and breakfast are available, as are reduced rates for winter breaks.

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