Scotland on Sunday Travel Wishlist: Altnaharra Hotel, by Lairg, Sutherland

This former drovers’ inn offers fishing, fine dining and a flavour of Highland hospitality in a spectacular setting.

By Janet Christie
Sunday, 21st March 2021, 7:00 am
A daily changing a la carte menu, along with lighter bites served in the bar, make Altnaharra a destination for foodies.
A daily changing a la carte menu, along with lighter bites served in the bar, make Altnaharra a destination for foodies.

With travel restrictions about to ease, why not head north to the wide open spaces of Sutherland, where the Altnaharra fishing hotel is celebrating 200 years of welcoming travellers, especially those who enjoy nothing more than standing in a loch or river up to their waders surrounded by trout. With 14 rooms and two self-catering cottages each sleeping four, it’s an ideal destination for anglers and those who like to strike out and explore the spectacular landscape, returning to the luxury and comfort of a la carte dinners and log fires in one of the region’s top destinations.

An hour’s drive north from Inverness and close to the North Coast 500 tourist it’s remote yet easy to reach - simply turn off the A9 and 17 miles later you’re at the hotel.

lan Berwick and Cami Cozma, who lease Altnaharra, along with the Stronlossit Inn at Roy Bridge, have also just bought the Golspie Inn in the eponymous North East coastal town, with plans to open later this year after refurbishment and renovation.

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Covid precautions

Altnaharra adheres to the Scottish government guidelines with regard to wearing masks and cleaning procedures. Holiday accommodation will reopen on 26 April, subject to restrictions and the hotel is taking bookings. Contact the hotel for further details.

Budget or boutique?

Neither, it’s a 200 year old former drovers’ inn that delivers a traditional high end Highland welcome.

Altnaharra's catering team is led by head chef Brian Donaldson who has worked in a series of AA Rosette restaurants and prestigious eateries around Scotland.

Room Service

Altnaharra has 14 rooms plus two self-catering cottages and there’s free wifi for those who can’t quite let go. Decorated in traditional Scottish style, most of the rooms have stunning loch and highland views to enjoy. There’s also a simple log cabin in the grounds offering low cost accommodation for cyclists, with three single rooms and shared bathroom facilities.

Wining and Dining

Expect classic and fine dining options as head chef Brian Donaldson has worked in a series of AA Rosette restaurants including the Ubiquitous Chip and Hanoi Bike Shop in Glasgow and Knockinaam Lodge in Portpatrick, as well as Ardeonaig Hotel in Killin, Ackergill Tower near Wick and the Albert Hotel in Kirkwall. The menu changes daily and it’s not just residents who enjoy the fruits of the local larder as the restaurant is also a destination for those looking for special meal with highlights such as potted brown shrimps, new season Angus asparagus or pheasant and burgundy pate, loin of Ardgay Farm venison and fillet of seabass, followed by chocolate mousse and Scottish cheese.

Fish is everywhere you look at Altnaharra.

For lighter alternatives, there’s a bar menu, with snacks and light lunches served in the comfortable bar area, and packed lunches are available for those who want to take a taste of Altnaharra out with them.

Worth Getting Out of Bed For

Altnaharra has its own boats on several local lochs and its own, private stretch of the River Mudale, while fishing on a number of other Highland rivers including The Strathmore, the Naver and The Borgie, all famous for seasonal salmon and trout fishing, can be arranged.

The area is a paradise for walkers, bird watchers and climbers and has Scotland’s most northerly Munro, Ben Hope and the intriguing Smoo Cave waiting to be explored. There are numerous walking routes in the hills, forests and along beaches, and driving tours, distilleries, falconry and historic sites like Dunrobin Castle. Just ask the staff and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Altnaharra has 14 rooms in the main hotel and two self-catering cottages, each of which sleep four.

Little Extras

The hotel has experienced ghillies available to help and advise guests, with casting tuition also available by prior arrangement. There’s a drying room and tackle and equipment to buy or hire.

Guestbook Comments

Explore Sutherland’s spectacular scenery at this hotel with a long history of warm welcomes. Don’t let Altnaharra be the one that got away.

Prices Rooms from from £129 for a double or twin room, bed and breakfast.

Address, Altnaharra Hotel, by Lairg, Sutherland, IV27 4UF (01549 411222,

Altnaharra has lochs and rivers that have seen anglers beating a path to its door for 200 years.

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Log fires are a feature at Altnaharra.
Cosy up and enjoy a dram by the log fire in the lounge bar.