If you love Scotland’s rich history and are looking to stay the night near the Culloden Battlefield, then the Culloden House Hotel is the place for you. Okay, full disclosure, you also need to be willing to drop a cool £295 on a standard room, and you cannot be sensitive to smells reminiscent of your grandparents’ attic. But those details aside, the beautiful Culloden House is worth a visit, if only to stop in for a dram or to explore the property.
Our original plan was to lodge at a charming bed and breakfast with beautiful views and fluffy sheep frolicking in the pasture. However, once the ivy-faced estate of the Culloden House was on our radar, what with its beautiful grounds and historical ties, we were hooked. Really, we had no choice!
Pulling up to Culloden House makes quite an impression. This regal mansion stands with dignity, boasting over 400 years of history. The grounds were originally home to a 16th-century castle turned 18th-century mansion that even had a part in the Battle of Culloden, as it was requisitioned by the Bonnie Prince Charlie as his battle headquarters. The Culloden House now hosts visitors from near and far, offering a unique luxury experience.
Because Culloden House takes pride in their history, the hotel is filled with beautiful furnishings and decor that bring guests back to to years past. Upon checking in, the bellman dutifully hauled our [8,000 lb] bags through the narrow halls, up the stairs, down the corridors, and into our rooms, unwilling to relinquish the burden of our luggage no matter how many times we offered to take it off his hands. Once he showed us to our rooms, we were able to settle in and soak in the Culloden House experience.
Having not recently inherited a large sum of money or purchased a winning lottery ticket, our only real option was booking the least expensive room category, a classic double. The first thing I noticed was how light and spacious the room was, particularly for a standard room. The second thing I noticed was, well, the smell. Much like my grandparents’ old cottage, I think the halls and guests rooms would appreciate some airing out. But with the window open for a while, the dissipation of the smell and the slow death of our olfactory receptors rendered the mustiness obsolete. Next on the list of mentionable room amenities was the wardrobe that creaked and moaned and threatened to tip with every step taken in the room. Our first thought was obviously that a resident ghost of Culloden was sharing our room. A local? A soldier? The Bonnie Prince himself? But upon closer inspection, we found that we were alone and our wardrobe was merely enjoying the life of unleveled furniture in an old home. Finally and most importantly, we found the room to be very comfortable. Cozy bed, terrific water pressure, and nice toiletries.
The rest of Culloden House is wonderful. Lacking the quirks of the guest rooms (you know, creaky floors, ill-fitted carpeting, musty air, that kind of stuff…), the public spaces are perfect for relaxing or exploring. The lounges are comfortable and the dining room menu is filled with rich and indulgent offerings. But my very favorite thing to do was wander the grounds. In the front of the estate is an expansive yard with a beautiful little duck pond. Heading out behind the house, you will find a small cottage, the garden mansion, and the Forbes’ Walled Garden, which is, without question, one of the loveliest and most peaceful gardens I have ever seen.
Here is the Forbes Garden. Forgive the insane number of pictures–I just can’t help it!
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- The Culloden House Hotel is not cheap, so if you are hesitant to splurge on a room, you can still enjoy the property if you stop in to visit the lounge or restaurant.
- Be sure to wander around the different areas of the hotel. The antique furniture and decor make a self-guided tour a worthwhile venture.
- The Forbes Walled Garden requires a key to enter, so be aware that if you are not staying the night, you may not have access.
- Dinner is available at the hotel, but if you are looking for lunch, you will need to find food elsewhere. The Culloden Moor Inn is a good place to stop, offering a range of food from light sandwiches to full Scottish fare and only about 10 minutes from the hotel. Our lunch was good, but listen, friend to friend, I wouldn’t order the Scottish nachos. 😉
A Day in Inverness