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.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £190.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include a generous multi-course, multi-coffee farmhouse breakfast in the light-bathed barn-style dining room.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Informal but impeccably prepared food is available in the hotel’s dining room on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. 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.
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.
Breakfast is available 8–10.30am; an evening menu is served in the dining room on Wednesday to Saturday from 6.30–9.30pm; and the Ginza-style bar is open from 3pm ‘til late except Sunday evening.
The three-course hampers allow for pre-arranged in-room dining, but there’s no à la carte room service offering as yet.
Newhall Mains sits on the sleepy Black Isle: a destination in itself, but also an ideal bookend to the iconic NC500 route.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 Allangrangein Munlochy; or grab a takeaway at sea-front Sutor Creek– a family-run restaurant focused on wood-fired pizzas and seafood.
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.
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 Balblairare well worth your while, even if the idea of a sip of single malt makes you blech.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this heritage-filled hotel in Scotland and unpacked their woollen layers and Glenmorangie single malt, a full account of their highland break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Newhall Mains in the Black Isle…
Sitting in the hotel courtyard, Japanese whisky-based cocktail in hand, you’ll be able to picture the grounds as their previous use: a busy working farm ringing with the associated clamour of cogs turning, cattle hooves and chickens. Even today, the family’s beloved flock of Jacob sheep are a mere hop over the fence; part of their expansive farmland bordering the Mains building. But in the present day, it’s a much more peaceful affair where time flies – one that undoubtedly meets the needs of modern travellers, with every upholstered seat chosen with precision and purpose (this is one Highland retreat without the imposing need for tartan everything); every cosy corner bathed in natural light.
Despite Scotland’s cooler climate, Newhall Mains is a year-round destination. In spring, you’ll enjoy the pastel glows of sunset over the bay; in summer, alfresco drinking and dining in the courtyard; the warmth of the fire pits and log burners come autumn; and the crisp, occasionally snow-covered days of winter.