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Food hotel: Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye

Food hotel: Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye
Overlooking the sea-loch Na Dal in Sleat at the southern end of the Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, Kinloch Lodge retains the mystical other-worldliness so sought out by travellers the world over. With nothing but the loch, the mountains and the sky to hinder your view, the ancestral home of the Macdonald clan of Sleat is perfectly located and breathtaking from the outset.

Scotland’s first lady of cookery Claire Macdonald and her impeccable taste for interiors dominate the hotel’s two buildings, North and South, which date from the seventeenth century. Operated as a hotel since 1973 and by Claire’s welcoming daughter Isabella and husband Tom since 2002, there is an unspeakable charm and effortless elegance which pervades the hotel. Offering twenty gloriously decorated rooms and suites, no detail is forgotten. From turned-down sheets each evening to the ‘honesty bar’ in one of the two sumptuously furnished reception rooms and the constantly roaring fires throughout, guests can’t help but be impressed.

Many rooms overlook the loch and are accentuated by heathers, creams and tartans while oversized armchairs and beds accommodate weary bodies. But most guests are lured here by the imaginative menus expertly crafted by Head Chef Marcello Tully. Having previously worked under the Roux brothers at London’s Le Gavroche, Marcello knows how to present top-notch dishes to demanding diners. What a larder he has to choose from. From the three-course breakfast menu featuring eggs from Drumfearn, a mere mile away, to smoked haddock kedgeree, Buccleuch sausages and Stornoway black pudding, there is a remarkable attention to local provenance and a consistency and inventiveness to Marcello’s execution of dishes that is quite remarkable.

For most guests however, the unreserved highlight of any stay must be dinner. Had I not noticed the intent from a refreshing
Food hotel: Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye
bloody mary aperitif taken in the drawing room which included a lime and sweet chilli sauce, the bread and butters would have given it away in a second. Any kitchen that makes three different butters (anchovy, coriander and chilli and salted) simply to accompany its home-baked bread is one demanding respect. What followed was an array of local produce, delicately flavoured and all mesmerising.

A substantial six-course dinner from the daily-changing menu was awash with local produce – herbs and salads from Bridget Hagmann at Glendale Salads, mussels from Peter MacAskill at Loch Eishort, Isle of Skye lamb and Mallaig hake from Skye’s own waters. Interspersed between a soupcon of roast red pepper with black olives and an intermediary special of seared west coast scallop, leaf spinach and caper sauce was a roll-call of superb modern Scottish cuisine. Roast Mallaig monkfish with Moray pork cheeks and caramelised passion fruit jus was superbly balanced, while the fillet of Isle of Skye venison, wilted leaf spinach and sautéed leeks was a hearty, warming main course. A dessert of lemon and vanilla chiboust, fruit jelly and crème anglaise was a zippy and light palate-cleanser which negated the urge for the impressive-sounding Scottish cheese course.

The drinks list is exemplary and their extensive cellar equally capable of matching such well-crafted fare. Choose from the wine list or push the boat out with Tom’s own ‘wine flight’ selections (three smaller glasses hand-picked for each dish), or beer and whisky flights which operate on the same principle and include local producers. Offering tremendous variety and the opportunity to experiment, these flights are indicative of the imagination well-matched in the execution at this wonderful Scottish retreat.

Kinloch Lodge,
Sleat, Isle of Skye,
Scotland IV43 8QY
Tel: 01471 833333
Food hotel: Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye
3 Comments | Add a comment


Gavin Nicholson
I had the most wonderful night at Kinloch Lodge with my girlfriend. It's not hard to see why it was voted Romantic Hotel of the Year 2009! The food is out of this world and the staff are so friendly, nothing was too much trouble for them. Everyone should experience Kinloch at least once in their lives!
Susan Selkirk
I read the above article with interest. I felt the food was adequate, but the whole experience was badly let down by poor and sloppy service and rather tired surroundings. In comparison with the Three Chimney's (also on Skye, although at the other end of the island), Kinloch Lodge is living in a bygone era, which is a great shame, as I understand it used to be good. I would spend my money at the Three Chimney's any day and would suggest anyone reading this should do the same. Kinloch doesn't deserve patronage until they get their house in order and on the evidence of my recent visit, this isn't about to happen any time soon.
rachel taylor
For June 25, 26, 27, we would need accomodation for 4 adults. Two bedrooms with beds for two in each room would be fine. Could you please email me if you have available rooms and the prices. Thank you, Rachel Taylor


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17 July 2009
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