Black Isle, United Kingdom

Newhall Mains

Price per night from$324.18

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (inclusive of taxes and fees) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP250.75), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

High-flying farmland

Setting

Burns, bays and Bens

Your arrival at Newhall Mains affords views across the Black Isle’s barley fields and rolling hills; especially if you’re landing onto its private airfield. Once operating as a farm building, Newhall Mains has been carefully renovated – without losing its heritage. Notes of its gothic past, such as hand-crafted iron gates forged by local artist Adam Booth, inject character, and its location gives you the opportunity for private flights to the Isle of Skye for lunch, say; or to a certain loch to look for Nessie before dinner. But despite its sky-high possibilities, the Mains is a reassuringly down-to-earth Scottish stay.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

Complimentary minibar for stays in the Double Rooms; a welcome bottle of wine for stays in the Cottages.

Facilities

Photos Newhall Mains facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Nine rooms, five of which are cottages.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £250.75, including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include a continental breakfast in the light-bathed barn-style dining room.

Also

The Black Isle is one of the driest parts of Scotland, affording relatively mild temperatures. That being said, bring layers to keep yourself warm when exploring the Bens, bays and burns nearby.

Hotel closed

The hotel takes a well deserved break from mid-October to the start of April.

At the hotel

Free WiFi, on-site parking, electric charging stations, board games, courtyard, fire pits, private airfield. In rooms: underfloor heating, tea- and coffee-making kit, Smart TV, fridge, fresh milk, Aromatherapy Associates toiletries. Cottages have fully equipped kitchens with dishwashers, some have a washing machine and dryer, some have log burners.

Our favourite rooms

The five cottages provide real country-life feel, and with each so individually styled, it’s impossible to pick a favourite. If romance is on the cards, Catriona is the most lust-worthy, thanks to its log burner, free-standing bed-side bath tub and regal dressing room.

Packing tips

The hotel places importance on individuality and character, so bring yours. Pack the dress you’ve never worn; the tie you’ve renounced as too jazzy; the industrial wellies that never leave the boot room. Self-expression is top of the agenda.

Also

Newhall Mains are working with locals to organise fishing trips and excursions, so if lobster pots and dolphin spotting are your thing then make sure to let the front desk know.

Pet‐friendly

Dogs are welcome in Red Gates, Irene, and a couple of Fraser Double Rooms for £15 a night. See more pet-friendly hotels in Black Isle.

Children

Cots can be added to rooms free of charge.

Food and Drink

Photos Newhall Mains food and drink

Top Table

Paradoxically, a seat at your cottage’s dining table might be where you feel most on holiday; the hotel’s wicker hampers provide exceptional in-room dining to enjoy in private.

Dress Code

Anything self-expressive or slightly sultry – with only a handful of rooms, the hotel is intimate enough to flounce about in your favourite ‘fits without reserve.

Hotel restaurant

Informal but impeccably prepared food is available in the hotel’s dining room. Expect a daily changing menu that highlights the Highland's haughty produce. Take your pick of Hebridean dived scallops, locally reared rib of beef, fresh halibut or mulligatawny roasted cauliflower – and finish off with a cheese board or homemade apple crumble. Guests staying in cottages can enjoy chef-prepared meals from the comfort of their kitchen – have three high-quality courses delivered with care in a wicker hamper (when pre-ordered). And just when you thought your trip couldn’t get any more wholesome, the hotel’s asado offers grilled meats and seasonal vegetables, Argentinian barbeque style – book in advance for a Highland-air infused feast.

Hotel bar

The Japanese-inspired bar mirrors the small counter-style aesthetic of those found in Ginza, Tokyo, offering just a handful of seats. Negronis and Japanese whiskies come highly recommended – without any judgement on how you take your single malts.

Last orders

Breakfast is available 8–10.30am; an evening menu is served in the dining room daily from 6.30–9.30pm; and the Ginza-style bar is open from 3pm ‘til late.

Room service

The three-course hampers allow for pre-arranged in-room dining, but there’s no à la carte room service offering as yet.

Location

Photos Newhall Mains location
Address
Newhall Mains
Newhall Mains Balblair, By Dingwall
Balblair
IV7 8LQ
United Kingdom

Newhall Mains sits on the sleepy Black Isle: a destination in itself, but also an ideal bookend to the iconic NC500 route.

Planes

Inverness airport is a 40-minute drive away, but the hotel’s private airfield offers cockpit-to-cottage in a matter of minutes; touch base with the hotel directly to arrange your descent.

Trains

Trains to Inverness will drop you right in the centre of the city, so contact our in-house travel team to arrange your transfer to the Black Isle; it’s an easy 30-minute journey.

Automobiles

The hotel is half an hour from Inverness and its multitude of car-hire companies. A car, while not imperative, does make exploring the surrounding areas far more accessible; especially important when some of the most scenic roads in the country are nearby.

Other

There's free landing fees for guests arriving in their own aircraft.

Worth getting out of bed for

The Black Isle has long been flying under the radar despite its proximity to the NC500; Scotland’s answer to Route 66. But it has much to offer of its own – including 18th century harbour towns, iconic castles, renowned golf courses and exceptional wildlife. For hardy hikers, the area affords walks past Udale bay, alongside Newhall burn, or up Ben Wyvis, and it’s also a great place to touch down from day trips further afield to the north and west coasts of Scotland.  

Local restaurants

IV10 is a relaxed spot with an extensive tapas menu and alfresco seating. Food is responsibly sourced, uncomplicated and uncompromising on flavour. Inventive takes on Scottish classics such as haggis pakora – as well as much-loved fish and chips – are served at The Allangrange in Munlochy; or grab a takeaway at sea-front Sutor Creek – a family-run restaurant focused on wood-fired pizzas and seafood.

Local cafés

Pick up an artisan brew at Slaughterhouse Coffee (added bonus: a chance to spot dolphins in the bay); sip a latte on the shore of Rosemarkie beach at Crofters café – open daily and serving snacks and lunches made from local ingredients; or slightly further afield you’ll find independent deli and eatery, Corner on the Square.

Local bars

Whisky is as synonymous with Scottish culture as haggis and highlands, and so further investigation through tastings and tours at nearby distilleries such as Glenmorangie, Dalmore and Balblair are well worth your while, even if the idea of a sip of single malt makes you blech.

Reviews

Photos Newhall Mains reviews
Chloe Frost-Smith

Anonymous review

By Chloe Frost-Smith, Writerly roamer

Two words: Beechcraft Bonanza. Unless you’re avidly into aviation, it’s unlikely you’ll have heard of this tiny six-seater plane from the Forties. All you need to know is that they’re as fun as they sound – and there’s one in a secret hangar tucked within the 900-acre grounds of Scottish hideaway Newhall Mains. It’s been affectionately nicknamed Bessy by the estate’s 30-something owner and gung-ho pilot, Euan Ramsay. And we’d been given a taster of the airborne adventure that awaited us the previous evening, as we watched Euan and his charming co-pilot Venetia wing their way onto the private airstrip after casually picking some guests up from London. Rather than the zippy A-to-B form of transport on offer to tight-on-time travellers, our flight was purely for pleasure. Our mission? Castle-spotting from the sky, with our sights set on the stately Dunrobin Castle with its manicured gardens overlooking the Dornoch Firth; and the dusky-pink Balnagown Castle, topped by fairy-tale turrets (rescued from dereliction by Harrods’ Mohamed al-Fayed). Our castle-counting tally came to a premature end when the gusty conditions started to get the better of us, so we headed back to base before the large fish and chips I’d unwisely inhaled before take-off made a dramatic return. 

Fortunately, the hotel has several stomach-settling tonics in store for any Iceman who may have temporarily lost their cool (or the Maverick who’s looking to just kick back and relax). A ramble around the hay-bale-strewn fields for a blast of fresh Black Isle air does the trick, followed by a soak in your statement bath tub (mine a wood-panelled number painted in post-box red). Then it’s time to pile up the log-burner and settle in for a cosy evening by the fire, ordering negronis to sip over card games played across the ottoman – positioned as close as you can possibly get to those crackling flames. A true Iceman will appreciate the crystal-clear cubes in each cocktail, which have been personally flown in by Euan and stamped with the hotel’s specially crafted seal to bear the Y-shaped horns of the Jacob sheep. These local characters graze in the nearby paddocks and their piebald wool has been spun into the rugs and herringbone blankets you’ll find dotted around your cottage.

We took up residence in the two-bedroom, split-level hideaway dubbed Irene. It’s named after one of Euan’s sisters, with the other rooms – Catriona and Ruaridh – completing the roll-call of siblings who grew up on the estate, and an additional three-bedroom cottage claiming Newhall’s former coach house as a rather stonking standalone retreat. ‘I’m always a bit embarrassed when checking guests into the Euan cottage’, Euan sheepishly admits, and is even considering changing this category’s name to avoid any more stick from teasing visitors (like my sister and I, who also come from a large family and enjoy a good jest). 

Originally intended as long-term holiday lets, the so-called ‘cottages’ (really, they’re more like full-blown farmhouses) are the epitome of lived-in, home-from-home luxury. Each stone-clad dwelling has been individually decorated by a Norfolk-based interiors studio (coincidentally where my family usually staycations each summer – no wonder we felt so at home), creating an air of country-meets-coastal cool with a refreshingly restrained hint of tartan – a soft whisper of its Black Isle setting, without screaming ‘we’re in the Highlands’. 

Our bedrooms look out across the sprawling grounds towards the brooding slopes of Ben Wyvis, and are bedecked with Firmdale-esque patterned headboards, jazzy rugs, and rustic cabinetry. My hound Humphrey – who couldn’t believe his luck when presented with his own bed and bowl of treats – was delighted by the upstairs window seat, from which he could keep watch and dutifully protect us from the hotel’s robotic lawnmower, Ronnie. He also enjoyed looking longingly at the chef firing up the pizza oven and tossed freshly caught langoustines and locally reared lamb onto the charcoal Parilla grill in the central courtyard below. Sadly, my shellfish allergy prevented me from sampling the best part of the Black Isle’s bounty (no Cumbrae oysters or native lobsters for me – sad face); but my sister assured me with a buttery grin that the seared West Coast scallops were caramelised to perfection. The gravy lavishly poured over my rack of lamb was so blow-your-socks-off delicious that I almost asked for a takeaway flask, but opted for the politer table etiquette of mopping it up using chunky sourdough slices. 

I awoke at sunrise from my bread-induced slumber to a low growl from Humphrey, as he stalked Ronnie (on early patrol) from his protective perch. If you’re not travelling with a dog alarm-clock, you could easily lie-in very late. It’s blissfully silent here, with only the distant sounds of trundling tractors and occasional rumble of Bessy taking-off and landing to disturb the otherwise unbroken peace. I did, however, have an additional incentive to get my morning off to a – more grounded – flying start, with the promise of the hotel’s farmhouse breakfast. I pulled on wellies and made haste across the courtyard, lured by the homemade granola-and-honey pots, as well as estate-pressed apple juice made using fruit grown in Newhall’s orchards.

The feast was wonderfully unhurried, and I lingered to converse with Euan’s friendly crew while piling my plate higher and higher. I bonded with equally dog-mad Michelle, who came over to Scotland from South Africa with five canine companions, having rescued one from the Congo along the way. Then there’s the affable JD from Kansas, a self-proclaimed country bumpkin with a rock-star soul, who toured the Highlands as the bass player for the Rusty Miller band. These days, he performs with the more low-key Devil’s Lettuce outfit on local whisky nights, and is rumoured to be a regular on Inverness’ slam-poetry scene. He reeled off a list of local things to see and do in his Midland accent, which, miraculously, hasn’t faded after 20 years of Highland living. 

We enthusiastically followed his post-it note-scrawled trail, starting with a blustery beach stroll along the remarkably quiet Rosemarkie Bay (we almost had the shingle to ourselves, save a few other dog-walkers), which felt like a scene straight from Five Children and It. A sandy track led off into enchanting woodland known as Fairy Glen, where we followed a babbling brook towards two tumbling waterfalls. Spotting dolphins at Chanonry Point would have made the outing even more magical, but we contented ourselves with watching the waves roll across the Moray Firth from the comfort of our Jeep (AKA Hamish).
 
Our drive back to Edinburgh was broken up by yet more brilliant recommendations (this time, from Euan): stretching our legs in Culbin Forest, then rewarding ourselves with some proper pub grub at the Kimberley Inn from a sea-facing table, wrapped up in the quaint village charms of Findhorn. And, as much as we loved our stop-offs on the way down, we couldn’t help but think we’d have had time for a few more negronis by the Newhall fire had we buzzed back in Bessy…

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Price per night from $324.18