MICHELIN Travel Discover the world
Home > > > > > > Coul House Hotel Scotland

Leaving for Great Britain

Nearby Restaurants

See all restaurants Scotland

Coul House Hotel

Coul House Hotel

Jane O’Connor - 2010-01-12

Don’t let the remote location fool you. Whether searching for the Loch Ness monster or stopping for a wee dram in one of the many local distilleries is your thing, you won’t be short of things to do in the Scottish Highlands. If, at the end of a full day, you’re looking for something good to eat and somewhere to rest your head, you could do worse than stop off at Coul House Hotel in Contin, a beautiful Grade A listed country house surrounded by mountains and thick forests in the Northern Highlands.

When we arrive, the mountains are capped with snow and we get our first look at Coul House Hotel and its substantial grounds. It feels like the perfect place to arrive on a frosty winter’s evening and we’re greeted by a roaring log fire and the equally warm smiles of welcoming staff.
 
Coul House was built in 1821 when the Mackenzies of Coul decided to build a mansion in the “low Indian Pavilion style.” Visited by Queen Victoria in 1888 it was bought sight unseen by the current and proud owners Susannah and Stuart MacPherson in 2003. 
 
MacPherson has known Head Chef, Garry Kenley, for 25 years and worked with him for 14 of those. Kenley started out with a four year apprenticeship with British Transport Hotels in Kyle of Lochalsh, working under Jim Macdonald and then Denis Woodli, before spending seven years as Head Chef at the Atlantique Hotel in Guernsey during which time it was awarded two AA rosettes and was double winner of the Guernsey Restaurant of the year award. For six years Kenley and MacPherson also worked together in the US, winning the Georgia Trend Magazine's Restaurant of the Year award.
 
Kenley admires chefs such as Charlie Trotter and David Everett Matthias of Champignon Sauvage. Asked to describe his own cuisine, Kenley says, “With my classical French apprenticeship and appreciation for the more eclectic computations it’s hard to be too specific but I would say it is Contemporary Scottish”.  He thinks it’s important not to compromise and makes everything from scratch, from the breakfast jam to the pastry in the game pies. “I always enjoy seeing our huge stock pot simmering away to make another pot of consommé to use for the base of our sauces”.
 
This is no mean feat considering the three menus Kenley works from each day. Diners have a choice of traditional, gourmet or vegetarian cuisine. With three or four mains and starters on each menu, diners also have the great option to swap between menus. Vegetarians will find themselves spoilt for choice, a rare thing indeed even in this day and age.
 
The traditional cuisine includes Scottish favourites such as haggis, home smoked salmon or rib of Scottish beef. Kenley’s gourmet cuisine features more adventurous dishes such as quail, chermoula and date ravioli and his vegetarian food is equally impressive with mains that include ‘Japanese style roasted vegetables and egg noodles with ponzu sauce and fried seaweed.’ Truly eclectic and intriguing, the flavours match up to their mouth watering descriptions. 
 
Local produce is used whenever possible with meat coming from local supplier Stuart Grant of Grantown on Spey. Fish and shellfish are from Billy McGlinn of Highland Seafood and Keltic Seafare in Dingwall that also provides seafood to Buckingham Palace and Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.
 
The hotel’s name is associated with local produce such as the Coul Beef cattle registered at a nearby farm and another great British apple, the UK’s most northerly variety, will soon be reintroduced in the form of the Coul apple.
 
Things to do
The hotel’s rooms are basic but functional while the bathrooms are a work in progress, but this is clearly stated in the hotel’s website. There is a choice of garden or mountain view and prices start from £150 for a double room and includes an a la carte breakfast.
 
Dogs are also welcome, another great reason for pet owners to visit. We took our dogs on some of the area’s numerous walks including Achility Forest and Rogie falls, though sadly it was the wrong time of year for us to see the leaping salmon. For nature lovers there are RSPB reserves, nature reserves and from June to September you can visit the North Kessock Dolphin and Seal centre. The area is also teeming with distilleries including Glen Ord, Glenmorangie and Clynelish, as well as the Black Isle Brewery, a small independent organic brewery. If you want to join the hunt for Nessie you can take a boat cruise or drive round the Loch itself. Nearby Brodie castle or the fairytale-like Cawdor Castle linked by Shakespeare with Macbeth are both worth a visit. The Strathpeffer Highland Museum of Childhood may prove to be a nostalgic trip, while military enthusiasts might enjoy a visit to Fort George, the oldest manned fort in the UK.
In August nearby Beauly is home to the increasingly popular Tartan heart/Belladrum festival.
 
Coul House Hotel
Contin, Ross & Cromarty
Scotland IV14 9ES
Tel: +44 (0)1997 421487

Don’t let the remote location fool you. Whether searching for the Loch Ness monster or stopping for a wee dram in one of the many local distilleries is your thing, you won’t be short of things to do in the Scottish Highlands. If, at the end of a full day, you’re looking for something good to eat and somewhere to rest your head, you could do worse than stop off at Coul House Hotel in Contin, a beautiful Grade A listed country house surrounded by mountains and thick forests in the Northern Highlands.

Top of page